May 24, 2018

Kentucky Preview: Not Dead Yet

After a much-needed win down on The Plains, the Razorbacks return home this week to host the Kentucky Wildcats (1-5, 0-3).  The 6:00 kickoff will be televised by FSN.

“Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.” – Mark Twain

Wow…what a great win last week.  If there ever was a team that needed to taste victory, it was this Razorback team going into the Auburn game.  Some wondered if they had forgotten the fight song it had been so long since they won.

The balance on offense, coupled with the ‘dial-a-blitz’ approach on defense, made for a 24-7 fun day at the expense of the Tigers and their faithful.  Could that be the Hogs recipe for success the rest of the way?

No doubt, the Razorbacks played their best game of the season last Saturday, but the lasting thought we had after the game was over was, “Man, Auburn is really, really bad.”

If you thought that too, wait till you see Kentucky.

The Wildcats are coached by Joker Phillips (12-19, 3rd year) and come into the game fresh off a 27-14 loss to Mississippi State last week in Lexington.  Like the Hogs, Kentucky lost earlier in the season to a Sun Belt member (Western Kentucky), 32-31, in overtime.

Injuries have decimated UK in the first half of the season.  They are down to their third quarterback — Jalen Whitlow, a true freshman — after Maxwell Smith (ankle) and Patrick Towles (ankle) were lost.  Senior Morgan Newton (shoulder) is back, but not 100 percent, and will backup Whitlow this week.

With Towles and Whitlow at the helm last week, the offense sputtered, only gaining 228 total yards.  ‘Playground’ doesn’t begin to explain the numerous plays that turned into scramble situations.  It’s a mess and OC Randy Sanders and Phillips know it.

“[Towles] has to get the ball out of his hands quicker,” Phillips said.  “Again, decisions, he has to make decisions a lot quicker.  Is he open?  Is he open?  No.  Let’s go.  Go.  Run it.  Throw it.  Get it out of your hands.  Let’s not get ourselves in a broken play situation.”

Veteran running back Raymond Sanders (303 RuYds, 2TDs) and wide receiver La’Rod King (30 catches, 290 yards, 3 TDs) are about the only weapons the Wildcats have.  King ranks ninth on the Wildcats career receptions list.

On defense, injuries have so plagued the unit, the Wildcats finished the Mississippi State game with just six able bodies in the secondary….sound familiar?  Freshmen litter the two-deep.

The Hogs should have a field day against this weak Wildcat team, but with the way the season has gone so far, neither side — especially the Razorbacks — should take anything for granted.

One thing we do expect is for Hog DC Paul Haynes to continue to ‘bring the house’ like he did last week vs. Kiehl Frazier.  If he does, the inexperienced Whitlow could be in for a long night, resulting in a party on Dickson Street for the first time this season.

The Hogs are favored by 17.

  • Daniel

    Interesting title “….not dead yet”. I think most of us expected to be National Championship contenders or at least contend for the SEC championship this year having LSU and Bama at home and Tyler Wilson coming back. I guess “not dead yet” is referring that we might be able to still make the Independence Bowl or something. Count me as seeing this team dead until we actually have named our coach.