Over the past few weeks Sunday afternoon's 3:30 pm game between Kentucky and Louisville has been dissected every way possible. Despite all the analysis at the end of the day the game will be won based on play in the trenches and the turnover battle.
Uncharacteristically the only Cardinals that have been chirping leading up to this game are the state birds that hang out in the trees. Therefore there has been far less juice for this rivalry match-up than we have seen of late.
Below is the way we see the game's positional match-ups:
Coaches – Rich Brooks has to get the nod over Steve Kragthorpe for where he has brought the UK program to under the weight of probation duress. Kragthorpe was handed the keys to a high price luxury car and then forgot to change the oil. Given the influx of new Louisville assistants, UK gets a huge thumb's up for their assistants.
Quarterback – Hunter Cantwell having started four games (120-66-5, 8 touchdowns), one of those being the Gator Bowl, he threw 14 passes last season with 8 completions. Mike Hartline has never started a game. Advantage Louisville.
Running Back – UK has a four-headed monster that have all played in a SEC game. By all accounts Tony Dixon has conquered the fumble bug that mysteriously appeared last season. He averaged 5.7 yards/carry last season. Alfonso Smith proved he could carry the ball 20 plus times in a game when the started at Mississippi State in 2006 when Rafael Little and Tony Dixon were sidelined by injury, a game that turned the program around. U of L has a workhorse back in the Brock Bolen, who is very dependable. Bilal Powell is a very dangerous back with excellent speed. Victor Anderson offers dangerous backup. If one wanted to argue the teams are even at tailback, have at it. The difference is the UK's fullback John Conner, who running backs coach Larry Brinson said will play in the NFL. Advantage UK.
Offensive Line – Two of U of L's starters center Eric Wood and left tackle George Bussey are both strong NFL prospects. Brooks says that this will be the best offensive line he's had since he's been at UK. With three starters back he has at times this fall camp, been less than satisfied. Advantage Louisville.
Tight End – It will be difficult for the Cardinals to replace the productivity of Gary Barnidge and Scott Kuhn. Kentucky lost Jacob Tamme that basically was a slot receiver playing tight end. He is now with the Indianapolis Colts. The Wildcats three tight ends T. C. Drake, Maurice Grinter, and Ross Bogue have good but not great hands but the greatest asset is their blocking ability. This allows the dangerous running backs to get on the edge. Advantage UK.
Wide Receiver – thingyy Lyons' fifty plus catches each of the last two seasons puts UK out in front. Louisville lost its most experience receiver Scott Long to injury, Juan Spillman to dismissal, and Trent Guy to gunshot wound. Advantage UK.
Defensive Line – This is the strength of the U of L defense, however the UK d-line has depth that trumps U of L. Advantage UK.
Linebacker – Louisville lost Lamar Myles the leading tackler, Malik Jackson, and Preston Smith, all starters. The replacements have played but there's reason why they were subs. Though UK lost Wesley Woodyard, it returns a bevy of linebackers that have played significant downs in the SEC. Advantage UK.
Secondary – UK boast perhaps one of the best cover corners in the SEC Trevard Lindley. Louisville counters with Woody Turenne. Though the Cardinals return Latarius Thomas from injury who, was slated to be a star safety in 2007, Kentucky has battle tested defensive backs. Cornerback David Jones came on strong at the end of last season and should be set for a breakout season. Marcus McClinton gets the edge over U of L's Bobby Buchanan at safety. Advantage UK.
The Mayor breaks down 'The Game'
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