Scout.com/Jeff Drummond

GAMEDAY: Kentucky vs. UL Lafayette

This AllWildcats.com "GAMEDAY" feature gives you everything you need to know about the Kentucky Wildcats' season-opening matchup against the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns.

KENTUCKY vs. UL LAFAYETTE

WHEN: SATURDAY, SEPT. 5, 7:00 P.M. ET

WHERE: COMMONWEALTH STADIUM (61,000) LEXINGTON, KY.

TV: ESPNU

 

KENTUCKY WILDCATS

Record: 0-0, 0-0 Southeastern Conference

Ranking: Receiving vote (AP)

Coach: Mark Stoops (Iowa, 1989)

Record: 7-17 (Third season), at UK: 7-17 (Third season), vs. ULL: 0-0

Series Record vs. UL Lafayette: Overall: First meeting

Previoius Game: n/a

Next Game: 9/12 at South Carolina

 

UL LAFAYETTE RAGIN’ CAJUNS

Record: 0-0, 0-0 Sun Belt Conference

Ranking: Not ranked

Coach: Mark Hudspeth (Delta State, 1992)

Record: 102-37 (12th season), at ULL: 36-16 (Fifth season), vs. UK: 0-0

Previous Game: n/a

Next Game: 9/12 Northwestern State

 

BIG BLUE KEYS TO THE GAME:

When Kentucky has the ball The Cats want to get out of the gates fast in this one, primarily for two reasons: (1) they’ll be playing their first game under new offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, and it’s always important to make a strong first impression; (2) they’ll be facing a ULL program that has won nine games in four consecutive seasons, and the Ragin’ Cajuns won’t come into Commonwealth Stadium intimidated. This could be a much more challenging game than many fans expect in an opener. Kentucky needs to take advantage of what is expected to be a high-powered passing attack led by junior quarterback Patrick Towles and a deep corps of receivers. ULL will be playing without arguably its best corner, 6-foot-3 Simeon Thomas (currently ineligible), so UK’s big receivers like Dorian Baker (6-3, 208) and Blake Bone (6-5, 208) could have a field day against the smaller DBs attempting to fill the void. Look for freshman tight end C.J. Conrad to be a major focal point on offense as well. UK hasn’t had a pass-catching threat at that position like Conrad since Jacob Tamme wore the blue and white.

When UL Lafayette has the ball The Cats will get a great test of what is expected to be a much-improved rush defense as ULL brings one of the nation’s top running backs to town in the form of Elijah McGuire. The 5-foot-11, 208-pound junior rushed for 1,264 yards on only 166 carries last season, averaging 7.61 yards per attempt (third in the nation). He’s also a dangerous receiving threat, and that could be a big test for UK’s young linebacker corps that will be playing without an injured Ryan Flannigan. Look for ULL head coach Mark Hudspeth to create some mismatches early in the game and see if the less-experienced members of the Cats’ defense can make adjustments. The Cajuns are expected to run out of a read-option/spread formation with the quarterback getting his fair share of rushing attempts as well, although it’s uncertain who will get that starting nod for ULL. Kentucky has struggled against this type of offensive attack in the past. When the Cajuns looks to test UK with the pass, keep an eye on wide receiver Jamal Robinson (No. 4, 6-4, 205, Sr.) who has 102 receptions and 1,829 yards during his career. He could pose a real interesting challenge for UK “true” freshman corner Chris Westry (also 6-4) in his collegiate debut. This is the type of opponent that prompted the UK staff to aggressively recruit taller, longer DBs like Westry.

MILESTONE WATCH:

Sophomore kicker Austin MacGinnis has an active streak of nine consecutive made field goals, tying the school record. A 10th would give him sole possession of the record, the seventh he will have set during his first 13 games with the Cats.

ON THIS DAY IN UK HISTORY:

Kentucky is 3-1 all-time on Sept. 5. The Cats’ last game on this date was a 42-0 win over Miami (Ohio) in Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium. In 1998, UK whipped arch-rival Louisville 68-34 to break in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Tim Couch threw for 498 yards and seven touchdowns to lead the Cats. Craig Yeast caught nine passes for 150 yards and two scores. Derek Homer rushed for 123 yards and one touchdown.

NOTES:

  • Kentucky begins its 125th season of intercollegiate football.
  • The Cats have an all-time record of 84-35-5 (.699) in season openers, including an .825 winning percentage in home openers.
  • UK expects to play as many as 19 freshmen (10 RS, 9 HS) in the opener.
  • Kentucky features only two seniors (OT Jordan Swindle and OG Zach West) on the entire offensive two-deep depth chart.
  • Five of the nine players listed on UK’s linebacker depth chart are freshmen or redshirts.
  • ULL is coming off its fourth-consecutive 9-4 season, the winningest stretch in school history.
  • The Cajuns return 13 starters (8 offense, 5 defense) from last year’s New Orleans Bowl champions team.
  • Three ULL offensive linemen (left guard Mykhael Quave, right guard Donovan Williams and right tackle Octravian Anderson) have combined for 78 career starts.




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