Kentucky Scouting Report

The Ole Miss Rebels hit the road again this weekend for their SEC opening game in Commonwealth Stadium at the University of Kentucky. Both teams enter this game with 1-1 records, the Rebels opening with a home win over Memphis and a loss last week at Missouri. Kentucky lost their opening game at Louisville 59-28 and won their home opener last week against Division I-AA Texas State 41-7.

Kentucky fans, players and coaches look upon the Ole Miss game as a winnable game. Ole Miss holds a 26-12-1 winning record over the Wildcats going back to the first meeting in 1944, won by Kentucky 27-7 in Lexington. In 19 games played at Lexington, the Rebels and Wildcats are deadlocked at 9-9-1. Ole Miss has won the last three games in the series, 35-17 in 2000 at Ole Miss, 42-31 in 2001 at Lexington and 13-7 last year at Oxford.

Rich Brooks, the Kentucky head coach, is in his fourth year heading up the Cats football program. Brooks is 10-26 at Kentucky going into Saturday's game and according to Kentucky media, Brooks needs a break-even season to maintain his job. This puts added importance on the Ole Miss game because the Cats still must face all their eastern division opponents, LSU and Mississippi State from the West, plus out-of-conference games with Central Michigan and Louisiana-Monroe. Brooks has 32 years experience in coaching, 22 as a head coach with an overall head coaching record of 101-135-4. Brooks coached the St. Louis Rams two years, 1995-‘96, finishing with a 13-19 record. He played his college football at Oregon State.

Neither Ole Miss or Kentucky is setting the SEC on fire in the statistical catergories. Kentucky after two games is seventh in total offense, averaging 342.5 yards per game while Ole Miss is tenth with a 249.5 yards per game average. The Cats are eleventh in total defense giving up 420.5 yards per game while the Rebels are dead last in total defense allowing 422.5 yards per game. The good news for Ole Miss is the fact Louisville rushed for 363 yards against the young Cats defense. The Cardinals' defense held Kentucky to 22 yards rushing but the Cats threw for 238 yards.

The Rebels have struggled the first two games against spread offenses. This week Kentucky will be a multiple two-back offense. Joker Phillips is in his second year as the Wildcats offensive coordinator and wide receiver's coach. In the first two games, Philips and his Cats have rushed the football 59 times and passed 52, yet 70%, 485 of 685 total yards, of their offense has come from passing the football. Kentucky's offensive line averages 301 pounds, they will likely start on offense three seniors, four juniors, four sophomores and one freshman.

KEY KENTUCKY OFFENSIVE PLAYERS: - QB # 3 Andre' Woodson, Jr., 6-5, 232 - 22-44-428yards, 50%, 6 TD's, 1 INT, 6th SEC passing; - RB # 22 Rafael Little, Jr., 5-10, 188 - 19-112 yards, 5.9ave, 7th best rushing in SEC, 1 TD's, 39 yards receiving; - TE # 18 Jacob Tamme, Jr., 6-5, 240 - 2-12 yards, his backup is #81 Zipp Duncan, 6-5, 250; - FB # 33 John Conner, Fr., 5-11, 233 - Blocker, No carries, 1 reception for 17 yards; - C # 62 Matt McCutchan, Sr, 6-3, 310 - Senior anchor in the offensive line, received a special 6th year due to injuries; - WR # 10 Keenan Burton, Jr., 6-2,195 - 9 catches for 207 yards, ave 23.0, 1TD, fastest player; and, - WR #12 Dickie Lyons, So, 5-11, 190 - 5 catches for 138 yds, 4 TDs.
,br> Kentucky plays a 4-3-4 defense. They are a young defensive team, starting three seniors, two juniors, two sophomores, and four freshmen. A fifth freshman could start this game, their defensive front four average 268 pounds. Mike Archer, who in his fourth season as defensive coordinator, is well respected in coaching circles as a defensive coach. In 1988 Archer led LSU to a SEC Championship as the Tiger's head coach.

KEY KENTUCKY DEFENSIVE PLAYERS: - WLB # 16 Wesley Woodyard, Jr., 6-1, 212 - 14 solo tackles, 6 assist for 20 total tackles; - SS # 35 Roger Williams, Jr., 6-0, 210 - 6 solo tackles, 5 assist for a total of 11 tackles; - FS # 2 Marcus McClinton, So., 6-1, 210 - 6 solo tackles, 5 assist for 11 total, plus 1 interception; - MLB # 4 Micah Johnson, Fr., 6-2, 255 - 8 solo tackles, 1 assist for 9 total tackles; and, - CB # 10 Karl Booker, Sr., 6-1, 190 - Most experienced cover corner.

SPECIAL TEAM PLAYERS: Punter - # 44 Tim Masthay, So. - 11 punts for a 40.8 ave, long punt of 53 yards; Punt Returns - # 22 Rafael Little, Jr - 6 returns for 148 yards, 24.7 ave; Place Kicker - # 97 J. J. Housley, So. - 0-1 FG, 7-8 PATs; and, Kickoff Returns - # 10 Keenan Burton, Jr - 5 returns for 195 yards, 1 for 100 yard TD.

THOUGHTS - Kentucky sportswriters are calling the Ole Miss game a must-win game. The Rebels need to pressure Andre Woodsen in the pocket or he will nickel and dime them to death. Rebels need to get the lead and keep the lead in order to keep the pressure on Kentucky's young players.

Contributed by Don Whitten

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