Kentucky Completes SEC Home Schedule Against Vanderbilt
Nov. 1, 2012
Kentucky will complete its Southeastern Conference home schedule on Saturday, Nov. 3, when it plays host to Vanderbilt at Commonwealth Stadium. UK will enter a bye week after the contest before hosting Samford in the final home game of the year on Nov. 17 and ending the season at Tennessee on Nov. 24.
The Wildcats are coming off a 33-10 loss at Missouri last weekend. The UK defense continued to improve, limiting Missouri to 273 yards of total offense which was the lowest number of yards UK has allowed all season. UK's pass defense allowed only 87 passing yards which was the lowest number of passing yards allowed this season. The Wildcat defense also created a season-high three turnovers in the game, getting two interceptions from freshman cornerback J.D. Harmon and a fumble recovery.
Harmon was impressive in the effort for Kentucky, earning a career-best seven tackles on top of the two interceptions. Harmon became the first UK player to have two picks in one game since Winston Guy in the 2011 season opener against Western Kentucky. Junior linebacker Avery Williamson led UK with a career-high-tying 14 tackles, including the first quarterback sack of his career. It was Williamson's sixth double-figure tackle game of the season. Senior Collins Ukwu had two tackles for loss, including a sack, and added a blocked extra point.
UK struggled to find a rhythm offensively, posting 179 yards of total offense. Junior Raymond Sanders rushed 11 times for 64 yards and a touchdown, while fellow junior Jonathan George earned 37 rushing yards. Sophomore Demarco Robinson led the team in receiving with three catches for 56 yards. Saturday's contest marks the 85th time the teams have faced each other -- more than any UK opponent except Tennessee -- with the Cats holding a 41-39-4 edge in the series. UK has won eight of the last 11.
Cat Scratches: UK keeping focus in present for Vandy game
One of the lasting images from the 2011 Kentucky football season was one the Wildcats would rather forget. It was in the final quarter of UK's 38-8 loss at Vanderbilt when running back Zac Stacy carried the ball and multiple members of the Wildcat defense 18 yards for the game's final touchdown.
The Cats remembered anyway, but the week leading up to UK's first game against the Commodores since that defeat has been a reminder of Stacy's bruising run. Players and coaches aren't dwelling on it though.
If the Cats are going to take anything from that play or that loss, head coach Joker Phillips wants it to be the way they responded to it. UK followed the Vandy loss with its two best performances of the season, taking Southeastern Conference East champion Georgia to the wire on the road before delivering unquestionably most indelible moment from 2011: Matt Roark being carried off the field after the streak-busting victory over Tennessee... read the full preview
After winning three of their last four games, the Commodores have bowl eligibility in their sights as they enter Commonwealth Stadium. Vanderbilt is coming off back-to-back home wins against Auburn and Massachusetts, moving its record to 4-4, 2-3 in the Southeastern Conference.
Defense has been the story for the Commodores under second-year head coach James Franklin. VU ranks high in almost every defensive category, including third in the conference and fifth in the nation in passing defense allowing only 151 passing yards a game. Vanderbilt is also 12th nationally in pass efficiency defense and 21st nationally in both scoring defense and total defense. Top-10 ranked Florida and Georgia are the only teams this season to score more than 15 points against the Commodores.
Three Vanderbilt players have seven or more tackles for loss this season, including linebacker Chase Garnham, who has 50 tackles, seven tackles for loss, five sacks and two quarterback hurries. Safety/linebacker Karl Butler leads the team in tackles for loss with eight, while defensive tackle Jared Morse has seven. Defensive back Andre Hal paces the team with six pass breakups, while defensive back Trey Wilson has two interceptions. Safety Kenny Ladler leads the team in tackles with 51.
Offensively, Vanderbilt is coming off a strong 49-point performance last week against Massachusetts. Running back Zac Stacy has been the top rusher this season for VU, gaining 683 yards on 131 carries for five touchdowns, while Wesley Tate has four touchdowns on 57 carries. Quarterback Jordan Rogers has been strong this season, completing 58.9 percent of his passes for 1,458 yards and five touchdowns. Rogers favorite receiver has been Jordan Matthews, who has 56 carries for 775 yards and three touchdowns. Matthews ranks second in the conference and tied for 16th nationally in receptions per game, while Chris Boyd ranks fifth in the conference with 29 catches and a touchdown.
Vanderbilt has also done a great job controlling field position this season, ranking 14th nationally and third in the conference in net punting at 40.55. Richard Kent has handled the punting this season with an average of 45.56 to rank top-10 nationally.