Dawgs & Cats: Emerson's Look at the Game

LEXINGTON - Seth Emerson's look at Georgia's game with Kentucky.

Georgia at Kentucky

Where: Commonwealth Stadium, Lexington, Ky.

When: 7:30 p.m.

TV: CSS

Last meeting: Kentucky won, 34-27, in 2009.

Offense

Georgia can only hope it keeps chugging along as it has the past two weeks. A.J. Green has been pretty much unstoppable, and Aaron Murray a revelation. But the big success last week was the burst of the tailbacks, especially Washaun Ealey. The run-blocking was pretty good too. Kentucky has the second-worst ranked defense in the SEC, so it could be another big game for Ealey and Carlton Thomas.

Most of the attention will be on Randall Cobb, whom Georgia head coach Mark Richt called "maybe the No. 1 player in the Southeast Conference." He'll line up most of the time at receiver but also in the Wildcat formation. Cobb has caught five TDs this year, rushed for three more and passed for three. But the play of Kentucky QB Mike Hartline (second in the SEC in passing yards) will also make the Bulldogs nervous. The good news for Georgia is tailback Derrick Locke, the league's third-leading rusher will be out with a shoulder injury.

EDGE: Even.

Defense

Georgia's pass defense has stiffened up the past couple games, but Hartline, Cobb and Kentucky should be a bigger test than Tennessee or Vanderbilt. The versatility of Cobb will also be a major test, considering Georgia's earlier problems against athletic quarterbacks. Hartline won't run, but Cobb will out of the Wildcat formation. Justin Houston will be looking to expand his SEC sack lead, but it will be a challenge: Kentucky has only allowed six this year, the lowest in the league.

Kentucky's defense is yielding nearly 30 points and 361 points a game. Its biggest problem has been stopping the run. But linebacker Danny Trevathan, who leads the league in tackles, has a nose for the ball. The Wildcats haven't been getting a tremendous amount of pressure on the quarterback.

EDGE: Georgia

Special teams

Like the offense, Georgia can only hope its special team units keep on the current track. The kick coverage has been fantastic, Blair Walsh and punter Drew Butler have been nearly perfect, and the kick return units seem on the verge of breaking one soon.

Kentucky's are just as good as Georgia, even ranking second to the Bulldogs in kick coverage. Cobb has been returning punts and kicks, which will be a test for Georgia's sterling coverage numbers. Cobb has returned one punt for a touchdown this year, and is averaging 23.4 yards per kickoff return. Punter Ryan Tydlacka has been just as good as Butler. Kicker Craig McIntosh is 7-for-9 and has a 50-yarder to his credit.

EDGE: Even.

Coaching

Thanks to the past two weeks, the wolves have taken a few steps from Richt and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo's door. They would be right back with a loss in Lexington.

Joker Phillips, who spent two years as the coach-in-waiting to Rich Brooks, is off to a solid start. He gave up play-calling duties to new offensive coordinator Randy Sanders, who held that title at Tennessee from 1999-2005. Steve Brown is in his fourth year as defensive coordinator, having been retained by Phillips.

EDGE: Georgia.

Key matchup

Ealey vs. Kentucky's defensive line: If the Wildcats live up to their run-defense ranking, allowing Ealey to move the football, it should be a big day for Georgia.

EDGE: Georgia.

Kentucky WR Chris Matthews vs. Georgia CB Brandon Boykin

The 6-foot-4 Matthews is the tallest receiver Georgia has faced since South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery in week two. That didn't go so well, and would've been worse if the Gamecocks didn't run the ball so well. The fact Georgia has to worry so much about Cobb means Matthews should see a lot of single coverage.

EDGE: Kentucky

Prediction: Georgia 27, Kentucky 26

- Seth Emerson


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