Kentucky’s deflating 20-10 loss at Missouri on Saturday sparked frustration across the Bluegrass State. Due to disappointment from the loss, the Joe Craft Football Facility has had a more focused feel according to sophomore nose guard Marquan McCall.
“We’re taking everything more serious. No more playing. No more joking around. This is serious business. We gotta stay focused at all times,” he said.
UK Defensive Coordinator Brad White echoed McCall’s comments on Wednesday, telling the media that fans are not alone in their frustration stemming from Saturday’s defeat.
“I don’t think you have to do much to get ’em up. I think our guys — they’re ready. It’s not just aggravating for people watching off the field. It’s aggravating to the guys on it,” he said.
The schedule will only get more challenging for Kentucky, as they host No. 5 Georgia at Kroger Field this Saturday. The Bulldogs pose a physical offensive line that leads the charge for tough running back Zamir White, who is averaging 4.2 yards per carry so far this season. Freshman quarterback Stetson Bennett IV also has solidified his role as the starter for UGA, and has multiple options to throw to downfield.
Brad White said on Wednesday that containing White and his teammate running backs will be the No. 1 priority for the Cats, while keeping Bennett from maintaining a rhythm will also be crucial.
“It’s going to start with the run game. They’re going to try to be real physical at the offensive line, try to move you off the point. Their running backs are as talented a group as we’ve seen and they can go three, four, five deep. They’re really strong. The wide receivers have a lot of talent. No. 10 (Kearis Jackson) can flat roll in the slot and No. 1 (George Pickens) is a good, big-bodied wide receiver with great body control, strong hands. No. 7 (Jermaine Burton) is really coming along as a freshman and the quarterback (Stetson Bennett IV) is doing a nice job. He understands where to go with the football. He understands how to manage the game,” he continued.
“They get explosive when they have the opportunity, but it starts up front. They want to run that football and we’ve gotta try to limit that. When they do throw the ball downfield we’ve gotta try to affect the QB so he doesn’t have all day to throw to some of those guys on their deeper routes.”
Along with limiting the run, forcing pressure in the pocket could be key for the Cats, as Bennett threw three interceptions in their last outing against Alabama. As we’ve seen in Kentucky’s two wins (+8 turnover margin) so far this year, and in any college football game generally, winning the turnover battle gives you a shot at victory.
With that said, Georgia will be UK’s toughest opponent yet this season, and maintaining focus throughout this week will be key in preparation to battle the Dawgs.