By LARRY VAUGHT
Statistically, there are some areas where Georgia has an edge over Kentucky, others where UK has the edge and some areas where the two teams are about even.
Like Kentucky, Georgia has also had what UK coach Rich Brooks calls Ã¢â‚¬Å“some ups and downsÃ¢â‚¬Â this year.
However, Brooks knows the Bulldogs are coming into SaturdayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s game against the visiting Wildcats on an uptick after they rallied to beat Auburn last week.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The second half they played against Auburn was very impressive. They decided to run the football down Auburn’s throat, and that is just what they did. They took it to them and got after it,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Brooks.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“They didn’t turn the ball over, which has been one of their problems and is probably why they are 6-4 right now, because they’re minus a few more than we are in the turnovers/takeaways. For them to go through that game without turning the ball over is significant.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This is a huge football game for both teams, obviously for very obvious reasons Ã¢â‚¬â€ in the standings in the SEC East, as well as bowl eligibility.Ã¢â‚¬Â
If Kentucky (6-4, 2-4 SEC) could beat Georgia and Tennessee to end the season, it would finish second in the SEC East behind Florida and be positioned for a bid to either the Outback Bowl or Chick-fil-A Bowl.
However, when Kentucky came off a win at Auburn, it lost at home to Mississippi State when players openly talked about improving UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s bowl stock.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We have to learn from that and not make that mistake again,Ã¢â‚¬Â said UK receiver/quarterback Randall Cobb.
Brooks hopes watching game film of Georgia (6-4, 4-3 SEC) will do that.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“They are a very talented team. They have a lot of speed and athletic ability on defense. Their numbers donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t tell the story of how good a players and defense they have,Ã¢â‚¬Â Brooks said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“They are one of the leading teams in the conference in sacking the quarterback as well as tackles for loss.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Offensively they looked like a little different team in the second half (against Auburn) when they became a physical downhill running team. They looked more like the Georgia of old as far as being able to pound the football at you. They run the ball very well, and they play-action as well as anybody in the passing game.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Georgia will be without two key players who were injured against Auburn. Safety Barcarri Rambo wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t play because of a concussion and leading receiver A.J. Green has a shoulder separation.
Green has 47 catches for 751 yards. Michael Moore is GeorgiaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s second leading receiver with 21 catches for 187 yards and four scores.
Brooks says Green not playing would allow UK cornerback Trevard Lindley to stay on one side of the field versus changing spots to match up with Green on each play.
Georgia quarterback Joe Cox has thrown for 2,059 yards and 18 scores compared to 402 yards and two scores by UK freshman Morgan Newton, who will be starting his sixth game.
However, the Wildcats are running for 203.5 yards per game compared to 135 for Georgia. In last yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 42-38 loss to the Bulldogs, Kentucky ran for 226 yards, its highest total against a SEC team in six years. Last week the Cats had 308 yards rushing in a 24-13 win at Vanderbilt.
Brooks says receivers LaRod King and Chris Matthews deserve partial credit for UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s running game.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I know that in the seven years I have been here, we haven’t had two guys as physical and as willing to block as those two,Ã¢â‚¬Â Brooks said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Randall (Cobb) is like a banty rooster out there, a little guy who is in their face and getting after it. The blocking by our wide receivers has been very impressive.Ã¢â‚¬Â
While both Cobb and running back Derrick Locke have been proven playmakers, Brooks says the Cats must get more from Newton and the passing game at Georgia.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Morgan is much better now at his decision making than in the past games. We just have to loosen it up a little bit, and allow him to either do it or not do it,Ã¢â‚¬Â Brooks said.