LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (2-0) AT KENTUCKY WILDCATS (1-1)
Game Time: Noon
Location: Commonwealth Stadium: Lexington, Ky.
Announcers: Beth Mowins (play-by-play), Joey Galloway (analyst) and Paul Carcaterra (sidelines)
Favorite: Louisville by 14.5
All-Time Series: Kentucky leads 14-11
Modern Series: Louisville leads 11-8
|Date||Site||Winning team||Losing team||Series|
|2002-09-01||Louisville||Kentucky||22||Louisville (17)||17||UK 10-5|
|2005-09-04||Lexington||Louisville (12)||31||Kentucky||24||UK 10-8|
|2006-09-03||Louisville||Louisville (13)||59||Kentucky||28||UK 10-9|
|2007-09-15||Lexington||Kentucky||40||Louisville (9)||34||UK 11-9|
|2012-09-02||Louisville||Louisville (25)||32||Kentucky||14||UK 14-11
The Governor’s Cup was created in 1994 as the trophy for the winner of the Kentucky-Louisville game.
Donated by The Kroger Company at a cost of $23,000, the Governor’s Cup stands 33 inches tall and weighs 110 pounds. The trophy’s base and upright columns are hand-milled black marble. The glass components are optic-grade crystal. All metal parts are 23-karat, gold-plated brass. The cup itself is made of pewter with a 23-karat gold-plated finish.
The cup was designed by Kendall Costner and sculpted by James Corcoran of Bruce Fox, Inc. The Kroger Company also is involved in sup- porting academic pursuits at the schools. Kroger is donating $10,000 to each school for each year the game is played. Kroger’s donations now total $360,000 - $180,000 to each school.
It currently resides in Louisville.
Cardinal Depth Chart:
First and foremost, the "Air Raid" offense UK has implemented is much closer to a spread offense than it is to the attack we saw back when Tim Couch was slinging the ball around. Kentucky doesn't have the depth or talent at certain positions to be able to do some of the things Offensive Coordinator Neal Brown wants to do. But, Brown deserves a lot of credit. He's taken what he has and made it work pretty well. Putting your best players in space and letting them create plays sounds pretty easy, but when you only have a couple of guys that can do that, its not so simple. Brown has still utilized formations and motion to create confusion for defenses and it has paid dividends. UK had eight plays for more than 20 yards this past week and a few of them had players running freely down the field. Controlled chaos is how I describe high tempo offenses. That's what they always look like to me. Brown's offense looked the part at the beginning of the Miami of Ohio game. His concern has to be that the team could convert back to just chaos like it did against Western.
Maxwell Smith and Jalen Whitlow were both utilized last week against the Redhawks. The offense drastically changes with Smith in the game because he can't run the read option like Whitlow. I honestly expect to see a lot more Whitlow this week than most do. Whitlow has been very good in the short passing game and he can flat out fly. Louisville hasn't handled the read option very well in the past and every coordinator on the schedule knows that. Smith has better numbers. That's obvious. But he took two more snaps than Whitlow this past week and he was a wide open receiver away from the offense having a pretty even day than with Whitlow at the helm.
Smith is a better passer but he limits the offense in my opinion. Why not go with the guy that can help you keep Teddy off the field? We will have to wait and see how Brown goes about splitting their time, but his offense looked its best when he played both guys on the same possession. Brown will more than likely stick with this attack because it would keep the defense on its heels. Vance Bedford loves to stay aggressive, but it is somewhat hard to do when you don't know which quarterback will be behind center from one play to the next.
UK has three capable backs like Louisville. Raymond Sanders is the starter and the most complete back in the offense while Jonathan George and Jojo Kemp provide a "Thunder and Lightning" factor. Sanders has broken a few big runs so far this season and honestly looks much quicker than he did last year. He has also been utilized in the passing game very well so far when Smith has been pressured. If there is one thing that is known, its that Sanders will be where he's supposed to be on every play. Reliability isn't guaranteed with some of the younger players. Louisville is going to bring a ton of pressure and Sanders could be needed in pass protection. His experience could come in handy with blitz pickup.
George is the teams big back and he's seen a lot of time in an H-Back type of role. He scored a nice touchdown on a fake jet sweep this past weekend. George was used as a blocker on the first possession on a jet sweep, but on the second possession the pitch was faked and George leaked past the defense for an easy 48-yard catch. Look for more plays like this early on in the game Saturday. Kemp got a lot of carries this past week and he showed flashes of his big play ability. He didn't break loose for a big run, but he is extremely quick and if he gets the edge on the defense he could do some serious damage.
Javess Blue, Ryan Timmons, Alex Montgomery, and Jeff Badet are the new additions to the wide receiver group this year and they all had breakout games this past weekend. They gave the quarterbacks options to spread the ball around and they give their coach versatility. Both Blue and Timmons were used on jet sweeps, while Badet scored on a deep post route that Blue scored on earlier in the game. Montgomery is the possession guy that provides a bigger target for the quarterbacks.
Blue is your best bet to catch a pass in space and test Louisville's new emphasis on tackling. He's super quick and does a good job of making guys miss without losing speed. Timmons is being used all over the field and he has made some significant big plays. He just hasn't broken one for a touchdown. He is a smaller guy and has gone down pretty easy. Louisville needs to be sound with their tackling because if he gets out in space he more than likely won't be caught from behind. Those two guys are the keys to the offense in my opinion. Louisville will more than likely decide to take the aggressive approach Western Kentucky did. They lined up in press coverage and made UK beat them before the blitzers got to the quarterback. It didn't work out too well for UK and Whitlow and Smith both struggled to be accurate with pressure in their face. These receivers have the ability to get open. The question is how the offense adjusts to the pressure. Brown wasn't able to really utilize a lot of the deception and motion two weeks ago because his quarterbacks didn't have the time to let plays develop. Louisville will need to apply the same pressure Saturday.
Right guard Kevin Mitchell is coming off of a week in which he was named SEC offensive lineman of the week. He had nine knockdown blocks in the win. The matchup to watch in my opinion will be right tackle Jordan Swindle against Lorenzo Mauldin. Swindle struggled against Western and Mauldin is the same type of relentless pass rusher that gave Swindle trouble two weeks ago. Roy Philondominated at Commonwealth two years ago and he will lock up with Mitchell when we go to our base defense. That battle will be a fun one. Mitchell is no slouch and Philon really likes playing in his hometown. He has a bone to pick with UK and it shows.
UK's line, as well as pretty much every position group looked really good against a pretty terrible Miami of Ohio team after looking over-matched against WKU. It will be interesting to see if the confidence that was gained last week will translate into success on the field Saturday. The mental aspect of the game couldn't be more important when you have to rely on young players. UK is still green at key positions but the veterans on the line and in the backfield will need to build on last week to have success against Louisville's defense.
KEY PLAYERS: RB Raymond Sanders, WR Javiss Blue, RG Kevin Mitchell
I don't drink the kool-aid that most do when it comes to UK's defensive line. We all heard the same thing last year because, to be honest, no one could find any other position to highlight. The line is better this year. But not nearly as improved as some of that talk would lead you to believe. Zadarius Smith is a very good player. He's very talented, and more importantly, he plays with a great motor. I always say that playing defensive line is more about effort than anything else and he brings it. But there's not much else to call home about. Alvin Dupree is back opposite Smith and he had a really good game against Miami (As did the entire defense). But he was shut down by Western's offensive line and flat out didn't look any different than he did last year. The defensive tackle tandem of Donte Rumph and Mister Cobble have combined for six total tackles and one tackle for loss. To put that into context, backup Mike Douglass has five tackles and a sack (which counts as a TFL). Both are seniors. Both have been overrated for years. Not to be too critical, but numbers don't lie. Smith has put up good numbers in his first two games. Rumph and Cobble haven't. They do a decent job of taking up blockers, but at some point they should be making a play or two themselves.
Some have said that Kentucky owns the advantage against Louisville's offensive line, which struggled last weekend with run blocking. I would say that the addition of Smith and freshman Jason Hatcher, along with Douglass, should make the matchup more important. But the line was dominated by Western and I would compare Louisville's line to them before I compared them to Miami.
Avery Williamson continues the tradition of one UK linebacker racking up an absurd amount of tackles and landing on an All-SEC team. He's a legit talent like the rest of them too. Williamson plays the run extremely well. He's an angle guy that uses his speed to track down guys on outside runs, but he isn't afraid to stick his nose in there with the big guys. He is the unquestioned leader of the defense and he had his guys ready to play against Miami. He's joined at linebacker by Kory Brown, Khalid Henderson, and TraVaughn Paschal. All three have played significant minutes and I think the coaches will continue to rotate them to some degree. Brown has been banged up leading the coaches to utilize more Nickel but he is listed on the depth chart this week unlike last week. Paschal has been the big story over the last few weeks. Stoops thinks that he could be the fastest player on his defense and compared him favorably to some very talented players he coached at Florida State.
Teddy Bridgewater set the school record last year when he completed 90% of his passes against an extremely young Kentucky defense. Well, UK's secondary is still fairly young. Cornerback Fred Tiller is a sophomore. Opposite him is JUCO transfer Nate Willis, who is playing in his third game at this level. Nickel back Blake McClainwas playing high school ball at this time last year. And Cody Quinn, who has been out injured, has only one year under his belt.
The bigger issue for the secondary in my opinion is that they weren't tested last week. They looked flat out bad against Petrino's passing attack in week one and more than anything they needed some game action last week to tighten up in coverage. However, Miami only threw the ball fourteen times. To be honest Miami has the worst offense in the country. That doesn't help a secondary that was picked apart the week before. Nate Willis has to live up to the lofty expectations put on him this summer. If he can make a couple of plays on his side of the field and make Teddy think twice about going after him, it will go a long way with how Stoops and Defensive Coordinator D.J. Eliot scheme and adjust. If the corners can't keep up with Louisville's receivers, the previous 1,999 words I've typed were a waste of time.
Eliot and Stoops run a basic 4-3 defense. Stoops didn't reinvent the wheel when he took over at Florida State. He reinvigorated their defensive intensity. Stoops had three defensive ends drafted last year. Only two play at a time obviously. It goes to show how much talent he had at his disposal. His system is simple: Be as aggressive as possible and challenge the offense to beat you. It rarely worked for opposing offenses. Last week against Miami he was really able to implement his defense and he showed some wrinkles against Miami's Flexbone offense. He routinely brought either safety Ashely Lowery or Eric Dixon into the box, and left one safety high. I'd be shocked if that happens against Louisville but it shows that Eliot is willing to adjust his defense a bit. It really was rare to see Stoops to adjust his defense at FSU because he simply didn't have to very often.
Lowery and Dixon are both very solid tacklers and very physical guys. But neither are burners. Louisville will more than likely spread the field and try to create favorable numbers for the run game. They will also try to make sure that they get single coverage on the outside and test the corners with DeVante Parker and Damien Copeland. Lowery and Dixon will have to cover a lot of ground to give support over top for the inexperienced corners. They will also have to try to take away the seams from Gerald Christian and Ryan Hubbell. They honestly might have the toughest task of anyone on either side of the ball.
Watching the WKU game showed one major issue that UK has to fix this week. The defense was always a step behind wide receivers and tight ends. The defensive systems relies on its coverage to create smaller windows for the quarterback to throw into. With Teddy's accuracy, it will be a long day for the defense if he can distribute the ball to open receivers like he has so far this year. The secondary and linebackers will have to stay with their man while the defensive line tries to rush Teddy.
KEY PLAYERS: DE Zadarius Smith, DE Alvin Dupree, MLB Avery Williamson, S Ashley Lowery
Excitement Level: 9.5
Just seeing the Louisville and Kentucky logos next to one another is enough to elicit goosebumps the size of the Colgate clock. It's a very special holiday in the Bluegrass State that we only get to celebrate once a year. Add in the fact that this is a golden opportunity for the Cards to turn some heads in front of national TV audience and, well, I don't think I need to justify the 9.5 any further.
Rain or shine. Early or late. Sky-high.
Game Attire: New red Teddy Heisman shirt, old white and red cardinal bird hat, red Cardinal shoes.
That's right, I'M GETTIN' CRAZY. Call it a hunch, call it intuition, call it the dumbest f---ing thing you've ever heard, but I know this is the right play. Also, I feel like you always have to wear red to Louisville/Kentucky games.
Pregame Meal: I have absolutely no idea about anything other than that I have beer and am leaving for Lexington at 7:45. Anything else is icing on the (cookie) cake.
Bold Prediction: Kentucky attempts an onside kick to start the game.
Mark Stoops will do something to try and galvanize the BBN faithful right off the bat. If it's not this, I expect that it's a trick play of some sorts. He knows the home crowd wants to see the underdogs at least attempt some uppercuts, and he's not going to be afraid to let a few fly.
Playing Alert Level: Jazzberry Jam (stronger than Seth Cohen's love for Death Cab)
Predicted Star of the Game: Michael Dyer
This has become a bit of a trendy pick, but I've been saying since fall camp that the Kentucky game has the potential to be the day the staff unleashes the Dyer.
Also, Ted...oh, he gon' Ted.
Motivational Opposing Player Tweet(s):
Miami Ohio down...now it's on to them dirty birds. Lets eat!!— Avery Williamson (@awill40) September 7, 2013
--The team that has rushed for more yards has won the last 17 meetings between Louisville and Kentucky.
--In 11 of the last 13 years, the leading rusher on the victorious team has outrushed the entire losing squad. The exceptions are when Vic Anderson was the game's leading rusher in 2009, and when Bilal Powell got loose for 153 yards in 2010.
--The team that has scored first has gone on to win 11 of the last 12 times these two have met. The lone exception is the 2011 game, when Louisville overcame an early 3-0 deficit to win 24-17.
--The team that has produced the least turnovers has won 12 of the last 14 meetings in this series.
--The favorite is just 11-8 straight up in the modern era of the series.
--Home teams are just 8-11 in the modern era of the series.
--Louisville is 16-3 under Charlie Strong when limiting opponents to 20 points or less.
--The Cards are 13-6 in non-conference games under Charlie Strong.
--U of L is 10-3 in September games under Charlie Strong.
--Dating back to 1980, Louisville is 137-14 when scoring 30 or more points in a game.
--Saturday will mark the sixth time that Louisville has carried a national ranking into the Battle for the Governor's Cup. The Cards are 3-2 in those games.
--Kentucky has never been ranked in the top 25 when playing Louisville.
--"All games are big games, but let's face it, some games are bigger than others. Some carry a little more significance than others, and this is one of those games." --Charlie Strong
--"I'm never going to shy away from a big game and a rivalry, let's put it that way. We know it's important. We've also learned from Week 1, trying to get them hyped up and amped up maybe wasn't the answer. We have to go about our business to prepare to win." --Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops
--"We haven't spent a whole lot of time building it up. It's out there. Everybody in their classes is talking about it. Their families are talking about it. They realize the importance." --Kentucky OC Neal Brown
--"We know the environment we're going into. We've got to pack our defense, our kicking game, our discipline and our togetherness and play a complete game for 60 minutes." --Charlie Strong
--"I wasn't recruited by Louisville in high school. Everything happens for a reason. They didn't recruit me, so I just gotta go out there and play against them. I never really got recruited or talked to any Louisville coaches at all, at any point, so I really don't know how they feel about me. But this is not a personal game; it's just the next team ahead, so I have to play the game like I do any other." --Kentucky WR Ryan Timmons
--"(Kentucky) was one of my dream schools - to play at home. I definitely have a chip on my shoulder when I go out there on the field, just to let them know that ‘Hey, I could have played with you guys. You missed out on me.' I try to show that in my performance." --Roy Philon
--"I know all the fans hate Louisville, so we just gotta go out there and win for them. I don't think (coaches) will treat it (like just another game). I think everyone already knows what's at stake with this game, including our family members who aren't from Kentucky. They already know what kind of game this is for the program." --Kentucky DE Bud Dupree
--"Beating Louisville is one of those main goals. Older guys such as myself need to kind of put a little extra emphasis on this game because it is a big game. It's the Governor's Cup, it's basically the title for the state, so we need to come out and be focused." --Kentucky RB Jonathan George
Card Chronicle Prediction: Louisville 45, Kentucky 20
No more Twitter wars, no more matchup breakdowns, no more trash talk. Let's play football.
Go Louisville, beat Kentucky.