The Kentucky Offense
The Passing Game
The Kentucky Wildcat passing game is all about the short passes. With our corners not really feeling comfortable yet in man to man and playing up close, look for Kentucky to throw a lot of short hitch routes and screens and the like. Also, with an athletic quarterback, look for them to get outside the pocket.
Here we see all short hitches. Kentucky actually throws hitches in the 4-5 yard range and much shorter than other teams including the Gators. They don't want to rely on protection with their rather small offensive line. Notice the outside receivers could have a hot read to run a fade if the corners come up to press on them.
The quarterback moves around a lot in the pocket. Look for plays like this where he rolls to one area and has several options to throw to receivers heading in the same direction. The Gators used something very similar succesfully against Tennessee and Eastern Michigan and I believe Tennessee did the same to the Gators.
The Running Game
Along with a lot of quarterback runs, designed specifically to get their best athlete to be the ball carrier, the Gators will also see Kentucky run a few option plays. The Wildcats have a quick option, which is very similar to the one the Gators use, if they do. They also implre a dive option which actually gives the quarterback a chance to hand off to the fullback, keep it himself or pitch it to the tailback flowing with him.
On the speed option there are two main things that need to happen. First, the defense can't be overloaded to the side of the option. Second, the defensive end is supposed to be released freely from the offensive tackle and the quarterback makes a play off of the defensive end. The object is to wait as long as he can to pitch it so the defensive end is the only defender on that side and not blocked and has to take the quarterback.
The dive option gives the quarterback another option to hand the ball off. He can give right away to the fullback that runs underneath him, but more often than not, the fake gets the flow of the defense in the opposite direction of the other option. You can see above, he would fake to the fullback lined up to the quarterback's left and run the speed option to the left and pitch it when the defensive end was on him.
The Kentucky defense has shown a propensity to run a bunch of man coverage with one deep safety or robber; we would call it a Cover 1. Here we see they have the free safety deep, a five man rush and five defenders playing man defense against the five eligible receivers. The corners on the outside should have inside leverage using the sidelines as their help deep. Fade routes are good here but the fades are very difficult to complete. (The red areas are areas of vulnerability.) The inside coverage guys use outside leverage and force the receivers to run inside towards their help, the free safety. Crossing patterns and patterns where they criss-cross would be helpful to clutter the path of the defenders.
The Wildcats also incorporate a lot of Cover 3 base coverage. As you can see, they get their fourth rusher a lot of times from one of the linebackers. The hashes are where the quarterback needs to be looking here. Skinny posts or seam routes would probably work. Also, let the underneath clear out and throw to the middle and short.