2011 Media Days: Legge's Look at Kentucky

BIRMINGHAM - Dean Legge's look at the Kentucky Wildcats.

November 19, 2011
Sanford Stadium
Overall Record: 50-12-2
Last 10 Meetings: 8-2
Richt vs. Kentucky: 8-2
In the past few seasons Kentucky has knocked off Georgia on the road and topped #10 South Carolina at home. The Cats have beaten Florida State and Clemson in bowl games as well.

As good as things have gone for Big Blue, they still have yet to bust through to the upper half of the SEC East. Kentucky hasn't beaten Tennessee since Columbus discovered the Americas; Florida hasn't lost a significant game to the Cats since the 1980s.

Still, football is third fiddle to basketball and basketball recruiting in the Blue Grass. That doesn't mean the Cats can't jump up and upset an SEC rival. Georgia needs to be wary of Kentucky. Sure, the Cats can't match the Dawgs in terms of talent, but turnovers are the biggest way to eliminate the talent gap – and in 2009 Georgia was very good at turning the ball over in the upset loss to Kentucky.

Kentucky player to watch:
Matt Smith
6-4, 297

Smith started all 13 games at center as a sophomore in 2010. While Kentucky's offense must replace many key figures (most notably do-it-all Randall Cobb), the Wildcats do return four starters along the offensive line. From his anchoring position on the line, Smith should lead Kentucky's strongest unit in 2011.

What the Dawgs must do:

Hold on to the ball. The last three times Georgia has lost to Kentucky – 1996, 2006 and 2009 – the Bulldogs lost the game more than Kentucky won it. Turnovers, turnovers and more turnovers – that's the way Georgia loses to Kentucky. If Georgia holds on to the football – if they are just within a turnover or so – they should win.

Inside the numbers:
The Cats return 17 starters from their 6-7 season a year ago – that's third best in the SEC. But Kentucky returns nine players on defense, which is tied with Alabama for the most in the conference. All players from the Cats' secondary return from a season ago. Kentucky was ranked 4th in the SEC in pass defense and 14th in the NCAA last season.

Recruiting Implications:
Very little. There are times when Kentucky comes to Georgia to pick up the crumbs left over after Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Clemson and others have their dinner. The fact of the matter is that Kentucky couldn't get the top player from Georgia if they had to, and Georgia could be in the mix for the top player in the Commonwealth if the situation were to occur.

Last year's prediction: Concentrate. It will be easy to look past Kentucky and towards the annual slugfest with Florida. The Florida game is going to happen no matter if Georgia wins or loses the Kentucky game, so they may as well win in Lexington.

Washuan Ealey had the most productive game of his career – cashing in five touchdown runs as the Dawgs ran away from the Cats in late October.

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