Kentucky Wildcats at Vanderbilt Commodores Preview

Kentucky Wildcats At Vanderbilt Commodores Preview
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Kentucky Wildcats at Vanderbilt Commodores Preview

Kentucky tries to bounce back once again from a heartbreaking loss when they travel to Nashville on Saturday. This is an important game as in many ways the fate of the season and mood of the fan base depends on the outcome. In order to have any chance of playing in a good bowl game, this is now a must win. We will preview the game and tell you who wins on Saturday with the Kentucky Wildcats at Vanderbilt Commodores Preview. Before we break down this week’s contest let’s take a look back at last week’s agonizing loss.

Another Heartbreaking Loss

For the second time this season Mark Stoops‘ Cats let one slip away they should have won. In dropping a 37-34 heartbreaker to Ole Miss the Wildcats chances of playing in a New Year’s Eve Bowl took a major hit.

Things were looking good for Kentucky as Benjamin Snell Jr. scored late in the second quarter 20-17 lead at the half. A Stephen Johnson to C.J. Conrad 46 yard touchdown pass put the Cats up by 10. However much like the Florida game, the Cats offense sputtered in the second half. Four straight three and outs led to the Rebels running off 13 straight to take a three-point lead.

Snell’s third touchdown of the game put the Cats up 34-30 with two minutes remaining. However many of the 55,000 at Kroger Field had an overwhelming sense of dread that the Cats left too much time on the clock. In fact on the final two plays of the drive, the Kentucky offense left around ten seconds on the play clock.

Jordan Ta’amu looked like Tom Brady in calmly leading Ole Miss down the field. With five seconds remaining he hit D.K. Metcalf on a seven-yard touchdown to give them the win and more heartbreak for Kentucky. To his credit, Lonnie Johnson was right there in coverage but Metcalf made an incredible play.

Not Living Up To Expectations

In only his second start Ta’amu torched the Kentucky secondary for 380 yards and four touchdowns. That follows what has been a bad trend for the Cats in 2017. During the course of this season, Kentucky has given over 300 yards passing four times. In another game against Eastern Michigan, they gave up 299.

What was supposed to be the biggest strength on the defense has been a big disappointment. For whatever the reason the highly touted secondary has not delivered and has regressed in 2017. As a former defensive backs coach, this can’t sit well with Stoops.

For the season Kentucky ranks last in the SEC in pass defense and 119th in the country giving up 279 yards per game.

Scouting The Commodores

As we continue with the Kentucky Wildcats at Vanderbilt Commodores Preview it is time to look at Vandy. Derek Mason’s club snapped a five-game losing streak with a 31-17 win over Western Kentucky. After starting the season 3-0 including a win over then 15th ranked Kansas State, the Commodores came crashing back to earth once they hit SEC play.

They are led by the tandem of quarterback Kyle Shurmur and running back Ralph Webb. The school’s all-time leading rusher Webb has run for 543 yards and six touchdowns. Shurmur has thrown for 20 touchdowns against only three picks in 2017. Overall the Commodores rank fifth in the SEC in passing offense. That stat has to worry the Big Blue Nation.

On the other side of the ball, they are led by linebackers Charles Wright and Oren Burks. Wright is fifth in the nation with nine sacks while Burks is second on the team with 62 tackles. However, they rank 13th in the SEC allowing 237 yards rushing per game. Those stats are a little skewed as they gave up over 400 yards to both Georgia and Alabama. On paper that looks like a big day for the Wildcat offense.

Who Wins On Saturday?

It’s prediction time for the Kentucky Wildcats Versus Vanderbilt Commodores Preview. Look for Kentucky to do what they have done all season, control the ball behind Snell. Over the last two games, Snell has been on fire rushing for 356 yards and six touchdowns. In fact, he is now the leading rusher in the SEC with 897 yards.

On the other side of the ball look for Shurmur to exploit the Kentucky secondary as many opponents have done this year. Vandy needs to win two of their last three in order to make a bowl game and it is certainly doable. The Commodores are breaking out special uniforms for Saturday’s game.

Two weeks ago we said the Tennessee game was the biggest game of the season. Now, the Vandy game may be even more important. After last week’s loss, many True Blue Fans moved onto basketball and John Calipari’s next group of one and done’s. The hardcore football fans are taking a wait and see approach. A loss here and the Cats are looking at another bad finish to a season.

The Cats have not won in Nashville since 2009 and with this being a “must-win” they will get the job done. More than likely this will be another down to the win game with Kentucky holding on this time.

Kentucky 24 Vanderbilt 21