Early opponent analysis: Vanderbilt needs to rely on its defense
If Vanderbilt could do anything on offense, it would be a very dangerous team. But as long as its defense continues to perform well, it won’t need much offense to beat Kentucky on Saturday.
The Wildcats (4-5, 2-5 SEC) are suffering through another late-season collapse, losing four games in a row. They managed only 180 total yards of offense against Georgia on Saturday and turned the ball over three times.
Kentucky’s offense won’t find it any easier going up against Vanderbilt’s defense. The Commodores’ defense is allowing only 352.8 yards and 17.8 points per game in conference play (ranking sixth in the SEC in both categories). Vanderbilt (3-6, 1-4 SEC) has surrendered just nine touchdowns to SEC opponents, ranking second in the conference in that statistical category.
To understand the dominance of the Vanderbilt defense consider Saturday’s 9-7 loss to Florida, in which the Gators managed only 258 yards and committed four turnovers.
Vanderbilt’s formula for winning this game is simple: continue to play solid defense and force Kentucky’s offense to make the mistakes it has been making during its four-game losing skid.
KENTUCKY WILDCATS: A CLOSER LOOK
Best offensive player: RB Stanley “Boom” Williams — The sophomore leads Kentucky’s rushing attack with 563 yards and 3 TDs.
Best defensive player: ILB Josh Forrest — The senior has 76 tackles, 3.5 sacks and one interception so far this season.
Best special teams player: PK Austin MacGinnis — The sophomore is 12 for 14 on field- goal attempts, including 4 of 6 from 40 yards and beyond.