Staff predictions for UK-EMU

Justin Rowland, Publisher
Cats Illustrated

How will the Cats bounce back after that tough loss to Florida last Saturday?

The Cats Illustrated staff goes to the round table to discuss just that.

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What kind of Kentucky team do you think we'll see on Saturday? Energized, focus and ready to get back on track, or sluggish?

T.J. Walker, Basketball Recruiting Analyst: Kentucky will be ready to rock-and-roll out of the gate against EMU, but I think the better question is what kind of game plan will the coaches call on Saturday. Will they be aggressive offensively? Will they play off defensively like they did against Eastern Kentucky? If UK's coaches call another conservative style, the Cats will win by single digits.

Jeff Drummond, Managing Editor: I think we'll see the Cats respond well and bounce back strong in this game. In the past, I'd be very leary of a letdown, but I think the program is past that point now. I'm betting they want to come out and prove that they were the team that got the best of Florida for most of the night.

Adam Luckett, Special Contributor: I think you’ll see a pretty motivated team on Saturday. Both sides of the ball have had things that ticked them off from the past game against Florida. On the offensive side, the holding call really bothered the offensive line and I believe you’ll see this group play their best football of the year on Saturday. Defensively, the lack of communication in back seven has been talked about all week and that may be just the focus this team needs as they will be taking on a solid Group of Five passing attack behind quarterback Brogan Roback.

Justin Rowland, Publisher: I do think Kentucky is ripe for a letdown or a sluggish performance. I spoke with a couple of people this week and it's undeniable that there's a sense of, "Man, what coulda/shoulda been." It would be a surprise to me if they came out firing on all cylinders. Then again, it would be to their credit. It's a good sign that people were saying there was a good week of practice.

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Aside from a win, what are some things you'll be looking for from Kentucky this weekend?

T.J. Walker, Basketball Recruiting Analyst: I want to see the coaches trust Stephen Johnson on Saturday. Let him take shots deep. Throw the ball 30 or 40 times. Let's see Bowden get comfortable at wide receiver. We know Kentucky can run the football, but UK lost to Florida because the Cats took the ball away from Johnson. Let him show you what he can do on Saturday.

Jeff Drummond, Managing Editor: The biggest thing is watching to see if the Cats have fixed their defensive communication issues that cost them 14 freebie points against Florida. Aside from that, can they get their snap issues resolved on offense? It cost them another six potential points in the loss to the Gators. Will this be the game that former U.S. Army All-American center Drake Jackson emerged as the new guy at center?

Adam Luckett, Special Contributor: Outside of producing some big plays, the Kentucky offense has not been very efficient this season. More times than not, they’ve been stuck with a lot of second and longs. Last week that ended up biting them as they were horrible on third downs against Florida’s defense. This week they’ll be facing an EMU defense that has played very well to this point in the season. If UK is able to consistently move the football and avoid negative plays, that will be a great sign as they head into October.

Justin Rowland, Publisher: Fixing the snap issues would be the number one thing for me. I think everyone would love to think that avoiding leaving a receiver wide open would mean that potential problem is solved, but that's a bigger picture concern for me. I'd also like to see Lynn Bowden and Sihiem King continue to become more involved in the offense. But the No. 1 thing I'll be looking for is for the defense to turn in a dominating performance, especially against the run. They need to rebound and quickly regain that pride after some embarrassments last weekend.

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Who's your prediction for Kentucky's MVP on Saturday?

T.J. Walker, Basketball Recruiting Analyst: Saturday's MVP will be Stephen Johnson. He may be the most underrated player in UK history, but the coaching staff knows they have to be able to trust him more than we saw last week. He will have a big game against a solid Eastern Michigan team.

Jeff Drummond, Managing Editor: I see Eddie Gran looking to spread the ball around to more guys this week, including a break-out game for freshman Lynn Bowden. He's yet to do much in the downfield passing game, but that changes against Eastern Michigan as he scores his first collegiate touchdown.

Adam Luckett, Special Contributor: Courtney Love. The senior linebacker has been very active early in the season as he’s recorded 30 tackles and two tackles for loss early in the season. EMU features an offense that struggles to run the ball and I think Love has a real shot to make a ton of tackles close to the line of scrimmage. Defensive coordinator Matt House has used Love a lot on blitzes over the A gap and I believe that will be used frequently Saturday to try to create some pressure on Roback. Expect a big day for the senior from Youngstown.

Justin Rowland, Publisher: I'll go with Benny Snell. I think he'll get a lot of carries in this game and the EMU defense has been stingy against the pass but less so against the run.

What's your score prediction and why?

T.J. Walker, Basketball Recruiting Analyst: Kentucky 38, Eastern Michigan 17. Kentucky won't look perfect on Saturday but the Cats will do enough to win and the offense will look solid.

Jeff Drummond, Managing Editor: Kentucky 38, Eastern Michigan 17. The Cats put together a strong all-around effort on both sides of the ball and have little trouble dispatching the Eagles on their way to a 4-1 record.

Adam Luckett, Special Contributor: Kentucky 33, Eastern Michigan 14. Remember how EKU played Kentucky? Expect much of the same on Saturday. The Eagles will throw much more than they run as they’ll attempt right at 50 passes. A lot of these throws will be quick so the pass rush will be negated most of the game. However, with a veteran squad, I believe UK will be pretty motivated in this one. This is a one possession game for two and a half quarters before the UK rushing attack starts to get going in the second half. A late turnover makes the final score seem worse than it really was.

Justin Rowland, Publisher: Kentucky 26, EMU 17. Eastern Michigan's defense, their team really, isn't imposing. If you watch them, there's not a lot that jumps out. But they play blue collar football and will come into this game with a very experienced quarterback, a feisty defense and a chip on their shoulders.

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