2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 8 - JSU at Kentucky
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Oct. 22 at Kentucky 38 …Jacksonville State 14
CFN Analysis: For one week, the passing game wasn't totally miserable. Morgan Newton only threw for 105 yards and two scores, but he didn't make any major mistakes and didn't turn the ball over. He ran for 75 yards and a score, and CoShik Wiliams tore of 148 yards helping the Wildcats roll for 340 yards and two scores, but the offense can't rely on this on a regular basis. Winston Guy continues to be a tackling machine, making 12 stops, but the run defense was soft against former Georgia runner Washaun Ealey, who ran for 120 yards on 16 carries. It wasn't pretty, but it was a nice stopper to the four game losing streak before hosting Mississippi State and Ole Miss. Those two games are winnable before going to Vanderbilt, but the offense has to prove it can do something through the air.
(AP) LEXINGTON, Ky. -- CoShik Williams ran for a career-high 148 yards and Kentucky snapped a four-game losing streak with a 38-14 win over Jacksonville State on Saturday.
With injuries in the backfield, Williams took up the slack as the primary ball carrier after sophomore Raymond Sanders left in the first quarter with an ankle injury. Williams, a junior, finished with 22 carries.
Freshman Josh Clemons, the Wildcats' leading rusher on the season, had already been ruled out for the season with a knee injury.
Williams' previous career best was 95 yards rushing -- set against Charleston Southern last season.
The Wildcats were able to break out after a bye week, earning a season-best 445 yards of total offense and 340 yards of total offense despite missing their two primary tailbacks.
Kentucky (3-4) struggled to move the ball in the first quarter with its first three possessions ended with two punts and a lost fumble. The Wildcats entered this game ranked 118th out of 120 FBS teams in total offense, earning just 229 yards per game this season. Their first three possessions carried held true to that reputation, ending with only one first down, two punts and a lost fumble.
But with 3:33 left in the first, safety Martavius Neloms sacked Jacksonville State quarterback Coty Blanchard, forced a fumble and ran it back 40 yards for the game's first score.
The offense began clicking in the second quarter for the Wildcats, and they finished with 253 yards of total offense at halftime. They had gained a total of 251 yards in their previous two games combined.
Washaun Ealey rushed for 120 yards for the Gamecocks (5-2). He ran for 157 yards and five touchdowns against the Wildcats last year for Georgia before transferring to Jacksonville State in the spring.
Jacksonville State (5-1) at Kentucky (2-4) Oct. 22, 12:00, ESPNU
Here's The Deal … Is Kentucky so lousy that it can lose to a team from the Ohio Valley Conference? Jacksonville State isn't just some FCS team; it's good enough to potentially win the national title if it can improve a little bit defensively. At 5-1, and with a big win over Murray State, this has been a great start to the season. A win over Kentucky would be truly special.
Kentucky has been a mess offensively, with just one game this season scoring more than 17 points – a 27-13 win over Central Michigan – and things have gone from bad to worse in SEC play scoring a grand total of 20 points against Florida, LSU, and South Carolina. Even with all the problems and all the issues on offense, the defense is just good enough to potentially go to a bowl game if it comes up with a win this week and it can take care of winnable games against Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. But first, the offense has to show it can work in some way.
Jacksonville State is hardly great in any one area but running the ball, and while the competition is at a much lower level than UK has played, the offense has scored under 20 points once in the 38-17 loss to Chattanooga. Would 20 points get it done against the Wildcats? UK might have to find out against the team that shocked Ole Miss in the 2010 season opener.
Why Jacksonville State Might Win: The running game has been terrific, and it might be just good enough to be able to sneak its way past the UK defense just enough to control the game. Former Georgia running back Washaun Ealey has been on fire, running for 588 yards and five scores on the year cranking out 155 yards, 143, and 124 yards in his last three games as he found his groove after just a few weeks. An SEC caliber back, he's better than anyone Kentucky has, and he knows how to rip through the Cats coming up with 157 yards and five touchdowns in Georgia's 44-31 win last season. Yes, Kentucky hasn't faced an FCS defense yet, but the offense still has to prove it can do something right with the second least efficient passing game in America and the third worst offense.
Why Kentucky Might Win: If it's going to happen for the UK attack, it's going to be this week against a JSU pass defense that's giving up yards by the truckload. With absolutely no pass rush to worry about, the Wildcat quarterbacks should finally be able to start pushing the ball down the field a bit. The Gamecock secondary has been great at picking off passes, coming up with ten on the year and five last week against Austin Peay, but it'll also get beaten on a regular basis.
If the game comes down to field position, and it might considering JSU's running game needs a good starting point and UK's offense needs all the help it can get, the special teams should play a big role. The JSU punting game isn't working, averaging a mere 31.8 yards per try, while punting has been one of UK's biggest strengths thanks to …
What To Watch Out For: Ryan Tydlacka, who's been brilliant so far averaging 43.85 yards per boot. He's not quite doing enough to pin teams deep – the offense isn't getting a good enough push to put him a position to down it inside the 20 on a regular basis, but he's consistent and he's enough of a weapon to bail out the miserable attack time and again.
Besides Ealey, JSU has a nice weapon in sophomore quarterback Coty Blanchard, a good enough passer to get by and a great runner. Against Ole Miss he made a national name for himself on all the highlight reels by completing 9-of-13 passes for 126 yards and two scores, along with a two-point conversion, to get the win, and he's been ultra-steady this year. However, he needs to get on the move. It's no coincidence that his worst rushing game this season – finishing with -7 yards – came in the loss to Chattanooga. In last year's loss to Eastern Kentucky he finished with -18 yards and against Wofford in the shocking first round playoff loss he ran for just seven yards. When he runs for just 15 yards or more over the last two years, JSU is 12-1.
What Will Happen: Finally, the Kentucky passing game will show a few signs of life and the offense will show just enough balance to get by. The one-dimensional Gamecock offense will be slowed down with Danny Trevathan and the Wildcat linebacking corps dialed in, and Blanchard won't do enough for the passing game to pick up the slack.
CFN Prediction: Kentucky 31 … Jacksonville State 20
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