Kentucky Week: Kendall's Look at the Game

Kentucky Week: Kendall's Look at the Game

ATHENS - Josh Kendall's look at Georgia's game with Kentucky.

No. 8 Georgia (8-2, 5-2 SEC) vs. No. 22 Kentucky (7-3, 3-3 SEC) Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. (Lincoln-Financial Sports, Radio: 940-AM)

Stadium: Sanford Stadium (92,746)

Kickoff weather: High of 62, low of 46; partly cloudy, 10 percent chance of rain

Series: Auburn leads 47-11-2

Odds: Georgia favored by 8

Injuries: Georgia: Probable: WR Tony Wilson (shoulder), S Quintin Banks (knee), S Donavon Baldwin (hip), DE Marcus Howard (ankle). Kentucky: Questionable: RB Alfonso Smith (ankle); Probable: RB Rafael Little (back), RB Tony Dixon (ankle), LB Micah Johnson (calf)

Rushing

ESPN analyst Mel Kiper lists Moreno as his No. 5 choice for the Heisman Trophy. Yes, that Heisman Trophy. It's ludicrous to think the true freshman is a realistic contender for the award or even for a vote in the top three, but he's having a season that is drawing attention. If Moreno gains 100 or more yards against Kentucky, he will become the first Bulldog to rush for 100 or more in five straight games since Herschel Walker in 1982. This week, Georgia head coach Mark Richt compared Moreno to former Florida State runner Warrick Dunn. Moreno is not as fast as Dunn but is his equal in balance in running ability and is stronger, Richt said. Georgia fans will remember the name of Kentucky's Rafael Little, a senior who is averaging 6.2 yards per carry and 107.4 yards per game, but the Bulldogs defensive coaches are equally worried about true freshman Derrick Locke. Locke is a track athlete who set the Oklahoma state record with a long jump of 25 feet, 4.5 inches. He also won the 100-meter dash state title as a senior, while rushing for 3,250 yards and scoring 51 touchdowns for the football team.

Edge: Georgia

Passing

Matthew Stafford is a career-best four straight games with more than 200 passing yards. Surprisingly, the sophomore has yet to have a 300-yard day, and it's unlikely to happen today because Georgia probably will focus on running the ball as a way of keeping Kentucky's high-powered offense off the field. When Stafford is called on to throw, he has been making every play of late, as have his wide receivers, who are quickly erasing their reputation for having bad hands. The Bulldogs seem to have found a wide receiver rotation that is working for them with seniors Sean Bailey and Mikey Henderson and junior Mohamed Massaquoi getting most of the work. The Wildcats passing game is led by senior quarterback Andre Woodson, who is a darkhorse Heisman candidate. Woodson has thrown 29 touchdown passes and just five interceptions. Woodson has blossomed under the tutelage of former Tennessee assistant coach Randy Sanders. "Coach Sanders and Andre have been a great combo," tight end Jacob Tamme said. "They clicked really from the first time Coach Sanders walked on campus." Senior wide receiver Keenan Burton is ninth in the SEC in receiving yards per game with 59.9. Little and Locke are huge threats catching the ball out of the backfield.

Edge: Kentucky

Defense

Georgia's defense has given up an average of 349 yards per game, but no one is complaining about the way it is playing because of the number of big plays it is making. The Bulldogs have forced nine turnovers on defense in the last three games. The offense has scored 41 points off those turnovers. "We haven't been saying anything different than in the past. I just think the guys are starting to figure themselves out," defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said. "We can be successful if we play together." The emergence of linebacker Rennie Curran and the continued emergence of cornerback Asher Allen have been two of the biggest keys for the turnaround. Kentucky's defense is not as bad as it's been in the past, but it's still not good. The Wildcats rank 10th in the SEC and No. 63 in the country, allowing 388 yards per game. They are 11th in the league and No. 98 in the country, allowing 28.1 points per game. They haven't held an SEC opponent to fewer than 342 yards.

Edge: Georgia

Special Teams

Allen has officially taken the kickoff return job away from Thomas Brown and is slowly getting a reputation as a dangerous weapon. He returned a kick 53 yards against Troy and is averaging 24 yards on the season. The punt return job continues to rotate between Mikey Henderson and Thomas Flowers. Henderson got the call most recently but neither has been electrifying this year. Brian Mimbs is second in the SEC in net punting (37.9-yard average). Kentucky doesn't scare anyone with its special teams statistics, but the potential of its return teams is frightening. Little is averaging 7.9 yards per punt return this season but has the ability to score on any kick when he's healthy. On kickoffs, the Wildcats have four players – Burton, Locke, Dicky Lyons and Tony Dixon – who average more than 20 yards per return. Burton leads the way, and is fourth in the SEC, with 25.9 yards per return. Place-kicker Lones Seiber and punter Tim Masthay are average.

Edge: Georgia

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