Kentucky Football Three Keys: Louisville

Kentucky football Three keys-

The Kentucky Wildcats played championship-level defense against the Georgia Bulldogs this past weekend. Holding Georgia to 16 points is a tremendous feat.

By Matt Zemek

Georgia might not be as good as it was last season, but the Bulldogs still have plenty of NFL-level talent up front. They still have some noticeably developed runners and pass catchers. Some weaknesses exist, but Georgia’s strength in the trenches is what makes the functioning of their offense possible. You have to be tough and physical to stand up to Georgia’s offense and contain the Dawgs. Kentucky didn’t merely contain UGA; it outplayed Georgia’s offense. Giving up 16 points should be enough to win games most days. Given that Georgia has allowed more than 16 points on several different occasions this season, the idea of UGA losing seemed very possible if you had told a UK fan the Dawgs would score that many points.

Yet, Kentucky not only failed to win; it didn’t even come within one score of Georgia. Special teams disasters, untimely mistakes, and a general inability to finish drives all punched Big Blue in the gut. The result was wrenching for a team whose defense played a million times better than it did the week before against Vanderbilt. It was frustrating to see the Kentucky defense make dramatic improvements but still lose because the offense couldn’t hold up its part of the bargain. The Wildcats are stuck in a cycle where both units aren’t playing well at the same time. One unit plays well, but not enough to win. UK has to break that cycle for its rivalry game against Louisville.

Let’s look at the keys for UK:

1 – Third downs and the red zone

Kentucky showed an ability to move the ball against Georgia, and it had little problem moving the ball down the field against Vanderbilt, but third downs and red-zone possessions have been nightmares for this team in 2022. Sometimes, the throw isn’t right from Will Levis; sometimes, a dropped pass comes into play; sometimes the play call is bad. It’s always something. In this game, Kentucky can’t have something happen. It needs to get out of its own way and execute the play. Easy to say, harder to do, but necessary in the pursuit of victory.

2 – Defense gets it done

If Kentucky plays defense against Louisville the way it played defense versus Georgia, UK wins. Kentucky’s defense played against Georgia as though it was embarrassed by its effort against Vanderbilt. That was a great response. Now let’s see that same attention to detail versus Louisville. If this defense can deliver a repeat of the UGA game, the Cats should prevail.

3 – Ride Rodriguez

Kentucky needs to turn to Chris Rodriguez in big moments. Against Georgia, Rodriguez did not have much room to run. UGA’s defensive front seven was too good. Louisville is not Georgia up front. Rodriguez needs to barrel ahead for tough yards and send an early message to the Cardinals. He should be able to make the timely plays which keep drives going and score sevens in the red zone.

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