Kentucky Football Three Keys: Mississippi State

Three-keys-Kentucky

Kentucky visits Mississippi State on Saturday in Starkville. Here are your three keys to a Kentucky win over Mississippi State.

By Steve Wright

Kentucky let one slip last Saturday when the team failed to extend their lead against Florida, eventually falling 29-21 to the ninth-ranked Florida Gators. This week the Wildcats face a Mississippi State team fresh off of an underwhelming home loss to Kansas State.

Key 1 – Get after the Mississippi State QB

It looks like Tommy Stevens is likely to be available again for the Bulldogs on Saturday after leaving their game against Kansas State early in the third quarter. That was the second straight game this season where Stevens has left early because of a niggly shoulder injury. It is up to the Wildcats to take advantage of this situation.

Stevens did not look great in his half of action against Kansas State. He passed for 100 yards on just 7-of-15 through the air. He also tossed a pair of interceptions and had just one touchdown pass. Kentucky needs to (legally) be sure to hit and pressure Stevens whenever the change is there to do so.

Key 2 – Be better in short-yardage situations.

The Wildcats lost to Florida because the team couldn’t convert on third or fourth and one opportunities. A big series at the end of the third/beginning of the fourth quarter saw the Wildcats fail on back to back plays with one yard to go for a first down. The push from the offensive line just isn’t there and the running backs aren’t doing enough to make defenders miss. Kentucky was the better team against the Gators, but key, drive extending plays didn’t happen. They need to happen on Saturday.

Key 3 – Be better against the long pass

We all know that the secondary is a work in progress. The Wildcats lost so many players in the defensive backfield to the NFL that expecting anything different this season would have been folly. This problem has shown its hand more often by the opposition team completing big passes for long yardage. The Wildcats have given up 12 passes of at least 20 yards in three games this year. That is simply too many. Part of closing games is stopping those big, momentum-shifting passes. It is a skill that this defense needs to learn starting this weekend.

Saturday‘s game kicks off at 3:00 PM CT (4:00 PM ET). Watch on the SEC Network.

This Week’s SEC Football News and Analysis

GameFirst Looks3 Keys
Game
Preview
HighlightsFinal Stats
Southern Miss vs. AlabamaUSMBamaPreviewBama 49, USM 7Stats
San Jose State vs. ArkansasSan Jose StArkansasPreviewSJSU 31, Arkansas 24Stats
Tennessee vs. FloridaUT / UFFloridaPreviewUF 34, Tennessee 3Stats
Notre Dame vs. GeorgiaUNDGeorgiaPreviewUGA 23, UND 17Stats
Cal vs. Ole MissCalOle MissPreviewCal 28, OM 20Stats
Kentucky vs. Mississippi StateMSUUK / MSUPreviewMSU 28, UK 13Stats
South Carolina vs. MissouriUSC / MizzouUSC / MizzouPreviewMizzou 34, USC 14Stats
Auburn vs. Texas A&MAuburn / A&MAuburn / A&MPreviewAuburn 28, TAMU 20Stats
LSU vs. VanderbiltLSU / VandyLSU / VandyPreviewLSU 66, Vandy 38Stats
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