Know Your Foe: Kentucky

LSU guns for its second SEC win in a row Saturday night when an improved Kentucky team comes calling on Baton Rouge. Jeff Drummond, publisher of AllWildcats.com, shares the latest scoop on Kentucky football inside.

1. A controversial non-call away from being undefeated, has this program finally reached a point where fans aren't just counting down the days to basketball season?

Drummond: The thing that surprises a lot of people from outside of the state, Kentucky fans were already at that point before the good start to the season. People here have always had a tremendous passion for football. Even in the lean years, UK was finishing top 25 nationally in attendance. But fans have really fallen head-over-heels for Mark Stoops and what he's been able to accomplish in a very short amount of time. His unprecedented recruiting ability really set the stage for what we're seeing now, in terms of fans not being in a hurry to get to Big Blue Madness as quickly as possible.

2. How did Mark Stoops approach rebuilding Kentucky football? In his second year, where is he in terms of that progress, and how has the fan base embraced him?

Drummond: He was brutally honest. When he arrived, he said none of what UK featured at the time was good enough: talent level, development and training, facilities, mindset, etc., etc. It's been a complete overhaul. But it has started with "Jimmys and Joes," and UK finally looks like an SEC football team when it steps off the bus. I've covered the team since 1989 in some capacity, and it's the first time I've ever seen the Cats go into games like this one not hoping to win, but expecting to win.

3. How much do we really know about this Kentucky team? Is the 5-1 start a product of the schedule, and how will they handle coming to Tiger Stadium for what's probably their biggest challenge yet?

Drummond: It's hard to say. They've played two solid teams in South Carolina and Florida, though, and the results have been fairly impressive. They're still angry that they didn't finish off Florida in the Swamp. They feel like they should have won that game handily. But it's clear that the balance of power in the SEC currently resides in the West, and UK really needs to play well against the Tigers to prove it's not just a product of a down year in the East.

4. LSU fans probably aren't too familiar with Patrick Towles. What's his style and how will he attack the LSU defense? How will he adjust to a hostile environment?

Drummond: Patrick Towles is a traditional pro-style QB with surprisingly good mobility. He's an extremely good runner, although he'll never be labeled a "dual-threat" quarterback. He's got a big arm and has dramatically improved his accuracy thanks to better mechanics and footwork he addressed during his redshirt season. He's a real confident kid, so I don't see him getting rattled by the tremendous environment on Saturday night. He faced a similar situation at Florida and performed at a remarkably high level. I'd be more concerned by the O-Line if I was on the UK staff. They've had some pre-snap issues.

5. LSU's offensive line is coming off its best performance of the season, but in comes Bud Dupree, who's probably one of the best defensive ends in the SEC. What challenge will he bring and who else on that Kentucky defense should LSU fans worry about?

Drummond: Bud Dupree is probably the best defensive player in the country that nobody really talks about much. Stoops & Co. have guaranteed he'll be a first-round pick in next year's NFL Draft. He's a freakishly-athletic, disruptive guy in the pass game. The UK defensive tackles have been flying under the radar a bit. Thanks in part to the attention Dupree receives coming off the edge, guys like Melvin Lewis, Regie Meant and Cory Johnson have really done well pressuring the quarterback from their interior D-Line spots. On the back end, safety A.J. Stamps has been a huge playmaker. The Tigers will have to be aware of where he is at all times. Kentucky's defense finished LAST in the country with three interceptions a season ago. Now through six games, they have 11, and three of them have been returned for touchdowns. It's an opportunistic bunch.

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