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UK’s commitment to Wildcat formation impresses Petrino

Bobby Petrino (Vicky Graff Photo)

Bobby Petrino (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Louisville has the nation’s sixth best rushing defense during November as the Cardinals are allowing just 67.4 yards per game. Yet coach Bobby Petrino knows Louisville’s run defense will be tested Saturday by Kentucky.

The Wildcats have two 1,000-yard rushers — Boom Williams and Benny Snell — and are averaging 303 yards per game rushing this month.

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops knows his team needs to run the ball and keep it away from Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson.

“I definitely think that’s a big piece of it. That’s been our best recipe. We’ve had some sustained drives. But against quality teams you have to be able to find some big plays as well. You have to be able to get it in the end zone. There will be a balance there,” Stoops said.

“It’s always a team effort. You know we have to play good in all areas. And I think that was part of it last year. It’s always part of it in games. When one side or the other is having issues, the other side has to pick it up. When you go bad in two phases or three phases big shifts are going to happen, and that you have to try to offset.”

Still, Petrino knows that running the ball is what the UK offense has done best.

“They’ve made a commitment to running the football . . . They now have a quarterback (Stephen Johnson) who can also run the ball and throw the ball deep. And they’re running a lot of the Wildcat came,” Petrino said Monday. “They switch it up. The installation of the quarterback has really helped because he has a strong arm and he can throw the deep ball.

“Once you loosen people up you can throw the ball better. But they also throw the ball a lot out of the Wildcat. More than anybody we’ve played, they’ve made that commitment to that formation.”

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