If you follow the SEC, then you’ve already seen the notable victories Kentucky has piled up over the last six weeks, including against Florida and LSU. You also likely know they will try and pull the upset again this weekend in Athens. You have to give credit to Mark Stoops and his coaching staff for finding ways to win, even when the offense isn’t playing their best.
That brings us to Saturday, when Kentucky will face off against Georgia as 23.5 point underdogs. Now, most of you witnessed the upset in College Station and are wondering whether Kentucky can do the same against the Dawgs this weekend. The easy answer is no, but the more complicated answer considers whether Georgia can keep Kentucky QB Will Levis in the pocket and force him to throw and not use his legs. We witnessed Auburn try and pull off the Georgia upset last weekend, but the Dawgs forced Bo Nix to try and make plays on the run, which didn’t work in Auburn’s favor. You will see more of this again on Saturday.
When Kirby Smart was asked about Will Levis on Wednesday, he described a quarterback who has a flare for making something out of nothing.
“Toughness, a quick decision-maker, the ability to run, and having to defend the 11th man. He’s a really good zone-read runner. He does a tremendous job of keeping the ball in the belly and reading it a long time. He’s very accurate in his decision-making in terms of pull it. He’s a physical runner and puts his shoulder down. There are 10-15 times this year where he’s willed himself to a conversion. That is challenging when you have an extra guy that can do that.”
The Kentucky offensive line will end up being one of the toughest Georgia will face this season, and that’s not an exaggeration. The problem for Kentucky is that they haven’t played a defense like Georgia’s yet and won’t play one like it again this season.
The key for Georgia is to force Kentucky into turnovers, which have hurt the Wildcats. Make this Kentucky team try and beat you deep when they’d much rather let Chris Rodriguez run it down your throat.
When asked about the Kentucky defense, which caused a lot of problems for both LSU and Florida, Kirby Smart pointed out that the Wildcats have so many different looks, that it can become confusing if you’re not prepared.
“It’s tough. They have a lot of different looks. They match their fronts with their coverages. They change up their coverages. They have three high looks, quarters looks, and really good disguises. They have some twitchy guys up front. You have to be physical. It’s hard to play-action those guys because more depth in their defense in terms of how deep they play. They prevent a lot of that, and they confuse you. Their looks are very similar. You have to have a smart person to know where to go with the ball, and execute all around.”
If Stetson Bennett gets the start on Saturday, than the game plan should stay the same. The Dawgs must break down the Kentucky defense by running the football, and then running it some more. What has worked for the Dawgs under Bennett is the ability to set up the play-action pass, which can also lead to a few busted coverages in the Kentucky secondary. Bennett also has the ability to scramble, as we witnessed against Auburn, and the Cats would be wise not to forget it.
It feels as though this game will come down to Georgia playing the hits, as they’ve done through six games this season. Run, Run, Pass, and then do it over again until they hit pay dirt. If they want to stave off the upset, the Dawgs cannot allow Kentucky to be in this game, come the fourth quarter. Giving life to a Mark Stoops team could cause the Dawgs to panic, as the only close game they’ve had this season was the opener against Clemson.
So, if Georgia can take care of the football, contain Will Levis and bring the same intensity we’ve seen all season, then this should be another win.
But if they give Kentucky life, like Alabama did last weekend against the Aggies, we could end up having ourselves a ball game.