Kentucky Football Three Keys: Vanderbilt

Three-keys-Kentucky vs Abilene Christian

The Kentucky Wildcats watched their punter take one for the team last week. With a game potentially slipping away against Missouri, punter Colin Goodfellow tracked down a loose ball and managed to get off a punt in the face of pressure.

By Matt Zemek

Had the punt been blocked or had Goodfellow failed to attempt a punt on the loose-ball scramble, Missouri would have been able to score a go-ahead touchdown. Goodfellow’s hustle and his willingness to put his body on the line saved the game, but it came at a cost. Goodfellow was injured and knocked out for the remainder of the season.

You can bet that coach Mark Stoops has held up the example of Colin Goodfellow as an example of what it means to play for your teammates and sacrifice for the good of the team. The cost was severe, but everyone in that locker room appreciates what their punter did for the Wildcats. That forms the backdrop for this Saturday’s home game versus Vanderbilt.

1 – Offensive line playing with pride

The Kentucky offensive line knew going into the Missouri game, as it has known over the past several weeks, that Will Levis is nowhere close to 100 percent healthy. Levis was a running quarterback at Penn State, and his value as an offensive weapon comes from his dual-threat ability. Levis not being able to run very well (or often) makes him a lot more limited as a quarterback. He therefore needs great pass protection for the Kentucky offense to function well.

Against Missouri, the Kentucky O-line allowed six sacks. That’s embarrassing. Missouri’s defense is good, but Kentucky should not be giving up six sacks to any non-Georgia, non-Alabama defensive line. It’s time for these guys to care about protecting their quarterback … and prove they are worthy of the task.

2 – Clean it up

Kentucky committed 12 penalties, missed two field goals, and botched that late punt snap on which Colin Goodfellow saved the day. There’s a ton to clean up for the Cats, and if they can simply eliminate mistakes, that will go a long way toward beating a team they are fully expected to beat. Everyone on the UK offense and special teams units should be ready to play at a much higher level than what Big Blue showed against Mizzou.

3 – Throw for dough

Vanderbilt has one of the worst passing defenses in the FBS and the Power Five conferences. Will Levis’s mobility might not be that great, but if he gets protection, he should be able to stand in the pocket and find open receivers against VU’s subpar secondary. The matchup fits what Levis is currently able to do. Kentucky needs to take advantage.

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