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What To Watch For: Kentucky Wildcats

NCAA Football: Louisville at Miami Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

LOUISVILLE'S PASS DEFENSE NEEDS TO SNAP BACK

UofL has one of the best defenses in the country but over the last two weeks, they’ve really struggled to slow down the passing game of Virginia and Miami. UVA started their true freshman backup and though he has a bright future ahead of him, he had not played well coming into that game. Tyler Van Dyke hadn’t thrown a touchdown pass in a month before Louisville got him back on track.

The Cards have allowed more quarterbacks to have good games against them than not but in the middle of the season when the defense started to gain its footing, they shut down the opposing quarterbacks. They need to find a way to get back to that level of play this weekend. Devin Leary has not had a good season for Kentucky but he has all of the talent and experience needed to make them pay if they allow it.

KENTUCKY WILL FOCUS ON RUNNING THE BALL

Kentucky likes to run the football and that’s been a staple for a while now. However, they haven’t been running the ball this year like they have in the past. UK ranks 131st in rushing attempts per game this year and they’ve run the ball about 10 fewer times per game compared to last year. They have become a pass-heavy team this year for whatever reason and it obviously hasn’t worked out as planned.

I fully expect this to change on Saturday with Ray Davis being the key to this offense. Kentucky will want to control the clock and keep Jeff Brohm’s offense on the sideline. While they already do a good job of just being slow on offense, they will have to run the ball to sustain drives as well as hit big plays which Davis has done well with this year.

CAN LOUISVILLE FIX THE SPECIAL TEAMS ISSUES?

Brock Travelstead started the season as the ACC specialist of the week. He made four field goals in the season opener which included the game-winner. Since then, he has struggled to be consistent and there hasn’t been much of a trend to make note of. He’s missed long kicks as well as short kicks and he even had an extra point blocked last weekend because he didn’t get enough lift on the ball.

Field goals haven’t been the only issue. Louisville hasn’t been able to get much of anything going in the return game. Kentucky will limit the possessions in this game as that is what they’re built to do. Any opportunity to score on returns will be big for the Cards. But, more than that, getting positive field position will help them to shorten drives and make it easier to get into field position or create a long field for UK after a punt.

LOUISVILLE PLAYERS CAN’T GET INTO THE TRASH TALK AND RETALIATION

Kirby Smart had to tell his team to prepare for cheap shots and late hits before they played Kentucky. What he predicted came to fruition as UK was called for multiple late hits while Georgia reaped the benefits. Cats fans have grown tired of players like Jager Burton who has picked up a few personal fouls alone this year. This team plays with the discipline of a squad with a coach that hasn’t built a culture.

The issue for Louisville is that I’m not sure they’re going to be able to handle their emotions either. Multiple times last weekend, they were jawing and getting in the faces of Miami players. UofL has plenty of players from Florida so you expect some of it. But it harkens back to the UK game over the last seven or so years where no matter what, Cards players haven’t been able to keep their cool. It’s possible that Jeff Brohm can get through to them like Smart did, but I’d have to see it to believe it.