Scouting Report: Kentucky

Vanderbilt travels to Lexington Ky., after a three game home stretch that saw the 'Dores finish 2-1. Kentucky is a team that has played better at home, leading South Carolina 17-3 at half time, and more recently falling 29-24 to a top ranked Georgia team. The Wildcats have one of the youngest teams in the country with 26 freshman, including 14 true freshman seeing playing time.

Vanderbilt travels to Lexington Ky., after a three game home stretch that saw the 'Dores finish 2-1. Kentucky is a team that has played better at home, leading South Carolina 17-3 at half time, and more recently falling 29-24 to a top ranked Georgia team. The Wildcats have one of the youngest teams in the country with 26 freshman, including 14 true freshman seeing playing time.

Last season in Nashville the 'Dores dominated the Wildcats behind a 135-yard, three touchdown performance by Zac Stacy. Jordan Rodgers had one his best games of the season with 207 yards passing and two touchdown scores.

The Wildcats did not have an answer for Mizzou senior tailback Kendial Lawrence who rushed for 108 yards and two scores on 23 carries in the 33-10 victory against the Wildcats. Kentucky freshman quarterback Jalen Whitlow started the Wildcats off with a 10-play, 65-yard drive inside the Mizzou 15-yard line. A costly fumble by junior running back Jonathan George was returned 60 yards to the Kentucky 25 and resulted in a Missouri touchdown.

Kentucky held Missouri quarterback Corbin Berkstresser to 10 for 18 for 71 yards passing. Berkstresser was intercepted on consecutive plays by freshman walk on J.D. Harmon, who added a career-best seven tackles. Junior quarterback James Franklin replaced the freshman shortly after but managed just 6 for 9 passing for 16 yards.

The Wildcats created a season-high three turnovers. Junior linebacker Avery Williamson tied a career-best 14 tackles and added his first career sack against the Tigers. Defensive end Collins Ukwu added two tackles for loss, a sack, and blocked an extra point for the Wildcats.

Kentucky has had to deal with injuries to quarterbacks since Week 4 at Florida. Sophomore Maxwell Smith started the first three games and senior Morgan Newton started the next matchup at Florida. Smith returned from an injury for South Carolina game but was injured on the second play of the game, and true freshman Jalen Whitlow has started the last four for the Wildcats.

Jalen Whitlow is 43 for 91 for 444 yards passing and a touchdown with an 0-4 record as a starter. True freshman Patrick Towles has also seen playing time, completing 6 for 10 pass attempts for 73 yards and a touchdown. Towles is listed second on the depth chart and played well against Mississippi State before suffering an ankle injury.

Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips has said they'll use Whitlow for the first two series and then give Patrick Towles a shot in the third.

The Wildcats have also felt the injury bug at tailback where fifth-year senior Coshik Williams suffered a season-ending injury in week three against Western Kentucky.

Junior tailbacks Raymond Sanders and Jonathan George have the Wildcat offense averaging 4.9 yards per carry on 181 rushing attempts. Sanders leads the group with 460 yards rushing, averaging a team-high 5.3 yards per carry, with 4 touchdowns. George follows up with 325 yards on 69 carries, with 3 scores. Sophomore D.J. Warren lead blocks for the group at fullback.

Kentucky's offensive line paved the way for a season-best, 206 yards on 43 carries against Georgia. Sophomore left tackle Darrian Miller, redshirt freshman left guard Zach West and junior right tackle Kevin Mitchell earned starting jobs over the spring for the Wildcats. Senior center Matt Smith has been a constant presence on the offensive line with 31 starts, including 18 consecutive starts. Right guard Larry Warford leads the team with 34 consecutive starts and topped the team with 26 knockdown blocks in the first six games.

The Kentucky receiving corps is led by La'Rod King who has a team-high 36 receptions for 402 yards receiving and 4 touchdowns. King is one of the top receivers in school history with 122 receptions for 1,620 yards, and 17 scores.

Sophomore Demarco Robinson led the Wildcats with three catches for 56 yards last week against Missouri. The second year receiver is currently second on the team with 25 receptions for 250 yards.

In his first career start against Louisville, redshirt freshman Daryl Collins posted seven catches for 64 receiving yards. Collins has tallied 15 catches for 156 yards receiving this year. Senior receiver Aaron Boyd is third on the team with 19 receptions for 172 yards and two scores.

The Wildcats switch between a 3-4 and a 4-3 defense with a hybrid defensive end/linebacker position played by Taylor Wyndham. Wyndham has started seven games this season and tallied 24 tackles, including 6 for a loss, and 2 sacks.

Defensive end Collins Ukwu is a huge source of experience for the Wildcats playing in 47 games and is second on the team with 33 starts. Ukwu is fifth on the team with 37 tackles, including 5 for a loss, 4 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles.

Junior defensive tackle Donte Rumph posted a career-best six tackles and a sack against South Carolina. Rumph has 29 tackles, including 4 for a loss, and 3 sacks this season and is listed as day-to-day with a right knee injury. Sophomore Alvin Davis backs Rumph up, and has seen action in all nine games with 5 tackles and a sack.

Tristian Johnson has started six consecutive games at defensive tackle and contributed 21 tackles, including 2½ for a loss, and 1½ sacks. Junior defensive tackle Mister Cobble has also seen playing time in seven games this year with 21 tackles and a sack.

Avery Williamson has a nose for the ball with an SEC leading 95 tackles, including 2½ for a loss, and a forced fumble. Williamson posted 13 tackles against Georgia and led Kentucky with 14 tackles and an interception against WKU.

At weakside linebacker sophomore Alvin Dupree is second on the team with 64 tackles, a team-high 6½ tackles for a loss, and 3½ sacks. Dupree had a career-best 12 tackles, including a tackle for a loss against Western Kentucky.

Sophomore Miles Simpson holds down the Wildcat's hybrid safety/linebacker position and is third on the team with 50 tackles, 2 passes deflected, and a fumble recovery.

True freshman Cody Quinn posted a career-high 7 tackles against the Razorbacks. Quinn has tallied 19 tackles and 3 passes deflected in 8 games played.

Safety Ashely Lowery has started six games for the Wildcats and sat out the others due to concussion-like symptoms. The sophomore has posted 34 tackles, including one for a loss in seven games played.

Opposite Lowery, senior Martavius Neloms leads the secondary with 41 tackles, an interception, and is tied for a team-high 2 forced fumbles. Neloms has been dealing with a hamstring injury suffered against Mississippi State and did not play against Arkansas or Georgia.

Senior Cartier Rice holds down the cornerback position with 34 tackles and two passes defended. All the other cornerbacks are true freshman with Fred Tiller and walk on J.D. Harmon seeing significant action.

Craig McIntosh has not fared well in his third season handling place kicking duties, hitting 5 for 10 this season. The senior has a career record of 28 of 39 from field goal range.

Freshman Landon Foster has been excellent averaging 42.6 yards per punt. Foster has booted 10 punts inside opponent 20-yard line in his rookie season, and kicked a career-long 58-yard punt against Arkansas.

Freshman DeMarcus Sweat blocked a punt against South Carolina and Collins Ukwu has blocked an extra point and a field goal this season. Sweat also returns kickoffs for the Wildcats averaging 20.5 yards per return. Sophomore Demarco Robinson averages 6.3 yards per punt return.

The Wildcats will enjoy a bye week after the matchup, and then host Division I-AA opponent Samford, before a final conference showdown with Tennessee. Kentucky has taken eight of the last 11 meetings with the Commodores and currently leads the all-time series 41-39-4.

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