GAMEDAY: UK vs. TENNESSEE-MARTIN

This AllWildcats.com feature gives you everything you need to know about the Wildcats' season opener against the UT-Martin Skyhawks on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium.

KENTUCKY vs. UT-MARTIN
Saturday, Noon ET
Commonwealth Stadium, Lexington, KY.

TV • SEC NETWORK
SATELLITE RADIO • Channel 190 – XM, Channel 108 – Sirius

KENTUCKY WILDCATS:
Record: 0-0, 0-0 Southeastern Conference
Ranking: Not ranked
Coach: Mark Stoops (Iowa, 1989)
Record: 2-10 (Second season)
at UK: 2-10 (Second season)
vs. UTM: 0-0

UT-MARTIN SKYHAWKS:
Record: 0-0, 0-0 Ohio Valley Conference
Ranking: Not ranked
Coach: Jason Simpson (Southern Miss, 1995)
Record: 52-39 (Ninth season)
at UTM: 52-39 (Ninth season)
vs. UK: 0-0

SERIES RECORD:
First meeting between Kentucky and UT-Martin.

KENTUCKY SCHEDULE, RESULTS:
8/30 UT Martin [SEC Network] Noon
9/6 Ohio [ESPNU] 3:30 p.m.
9/13 at Florida* [SEC Network] 7:30 p.m.
9/27 Vanderbilt* TBA
10/4 South Carolina* TBA
10/11 ULM TBA
10/18 at LSU* TBA
10/25 Mississippi State* TBA
11/1 at Missouri* TBA
11/8 Georgia* TBA
11/15 at Tennessee* TBA
11/29 at Louisville TBA
All times ET; * SEC game

UT-MARTIN SCHEDULE, RESULTS:
8/30 at Kentucky Noon
9/6 at Central Arkansas 7 p.m.
9/11 vs. Cumberland 7:30 p.m.
9/20 vs. Eastern Kentucky* 1 p.m.
9/27 vs. Southeast Missouri* 7 p.m.
10/4 at Jacksonville State* 4 p.m.
10/9 vs. Tennessee Tech* 7:30 p.m.
10/18 at Tennessee State* 3 p.m.
10/25 vs. Austin Peay* 3 p.m.
11/1 at Murray State* 2 p.m.
11/8 at Mississippi State TBA
11/22 at Eastern Illinois* 1 p.m.
All times ET; * OVC game

WILDCAT KEYS TO THE GAME:
When Kentucky has the ball… The Wildcats want to get out of the gates early and play fast and furious in the opener. Offensive coordinator Neal Brown said he craves a higher tempo from his unit this season and thinks he has the personnel to do it. All eyes will be on sophomore quarterback Patrick Towles, who will make his first career start, but don’t be surprised if it’s not the UK running game that sets the tone. The Cats will look to feed talented backs Braylon Heard and JoJo Kemp early and often. A secondary storyline to watch is the performance (and cohesion) of the UK offensive line, which features a pair of first-time starters on the right side in redshirt freshmen Ramsey Meyers and Kyle Meadows, the latter who is filling in for senior Darrian Miller at tackle while he serves a one-game suspension for a violation of team rules. The Cats must account for UTM’s best player, senior linebacker Tony Bell, who had 15 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, eight quarterback hurries and three forced fumbles last season. Stoops said earlier this week that Bell is talented enough to play for almost any program in the country.

When UT-Martin has the ball… The Wildcats have a wealth of talent on the defensive line that should prove to be a major problem for the Skyhawks. All-American candidate Alvin “Bud” Dupree and Za’Darius Smith should be able to wreak havoc off the edge if UK can play strong on first and second down and force UT-Martin into obvious passing situations. They could be chasing a familiar name at times: Favre. The nephew of NFL legend Brett Favre is a quarterback for UTM who split time last season for the Skyhawks. Fans will be excited to get their first glimpse at several newcomers on the D-Line, including U.S. Army All-American Matt Elam (a 6-foot-7, 370-pound mountain of a defensive tackle) and juco transfers Cory Johnson and Melvin Lewis. The big question mark is how will the linebacker corps fare without the trusty Avery Williamson in the middle? Can Josh Forrest hold up against the run at that spot? Can juco transfer Ryan Flannigan excel on the weakside? Is this a breakout year for veterans like Khalid Henderson and TraVaughn Paschal?

MILESTONE WATCH:
Senior defensive end Bud Dupree has 16 career sacks, needing 1.0 more to tie for fourth most all-time in school history.

ON THIS DAY IN UK HISTORY:
Kentucky defeated Louisville 38-24 at Commonwealth Stadium as Tim Couch threw for 398 yards and four touchdowns against the Cardinals in Hal Mumme’s “Air Raid” debut.

NOTES:
• Kentucky has an all-time record of 83-35-5 (.695) in season openers, including a 70-15-4 (.801) mark in season openers at home. Saturday marks the first time since 2007 that UK has opened a season at home.

• UT-Martin has seven players on its 2014 roster from the Commonwealth of Kentucky: junior wide receiver Ben Axline (Shelbyville), senior offensive lineman Matt Axline (Shelbyville), senior defensive end Nick Brown (Louisville), junior offensive lineman Corey Rogers (Winchester), sophomore Tyler Sweeden (Louisville), senior offensive lineman Anthony Topps (Fort Campbell) and senior defensive lineman Dean Wathen (Henderson).

• Current UT-Martin senior wide receiver William Tanner started his career at Kentucky and was with the Wildcats from 2010-12 but did not see game action. Tanner is from Nashville, Tenn.


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