One reason why Kentucky came away with the victory was that they kept it simple. Despite the rigors of the SEC and how difficult it has been for the Wildcats to impose their will against teams like LSU, Florida and South Carolina, they were able to push Jacksonville State around quite a bit yesterday on the way to the victory.
Kentucky had a season high of 445 yards and they only threw the ball for 105 yards. They rushed the ball for 340 yards on 55 carries against the Gamecocks.
With the struggles of the wide receivers and quarterback Morgan Newton, the most obvious thing for the Cats to focus on is running the ball, especially against a smaller opponent.
Kentucky won't play another team the caliber of Jacksonville State, but they won't play another LSU either. Games against Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Georgia, Tennessee and Vanderbilt loom. Kentucky won't be favored to win any of them, more than likely, but if the Wildcats want to be competitive and have a chance to win those contests, they'll have to find a way to capitalize on the defensive effort and minimize turnovers.
In this writer's opinion, the Wildcats need to run the ball on first down. Run the ball again on second down and then if feasible, run it again on third. That's overly simplified, but being a run-heavy offense is the best way for UK to minimize turnovers, control the clock and play to their own strengths.
Kentucky's top two running backs, Raymond Sanders and Josh Clemons, have both struggled with injuries. Sanders has been hurt on and off all season and Clemons is out for the season with a knee injury. That leaves Coshik Williams, Jon George and Brandon Gainer to carry the load and if yesterday is any kind of indication, they are capable this team get better each week.
Mississippi State will be a test next week and if Kentucky can show a consistent running game against the Bulldogs, Joker Phillips and his staff may have found the answer to saving their season.
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