With the TaxSlayer Bowl just two days away, it’s time to take a quick look at what Kentucky’s offense will look like come Saturday afternoon.
The Kentucky Wildcats offense enters Saturday’s game with the 51st ranked scoring offense averaging 31.0 points per game. When breaking down their offense into the passing and rushing game, it’s easy to see how the Wildcats offense mirrors a bit of the Yellow Jackets own offense when it comes to distribution of yardage between the two facets. When it comes to their passing offense, the Wildcats own the 27th worst (102nd overall) but when it comes to their rushing attack, they claim the 16th best rushing offense in the country.
The Passing Game:
Quarterbacks: This season Kentucky has ridden the shoulders on offense of backup quarterback Stephen Johnson who took over as a starting quarterback after Drew Barker went down with an injury following Kentucky’s 45-7 loss to Florida. Since taking over as quarterback, Johnson has neither dominated or overly struggled. In his ten starts this season, Johnson completed 126 of 231 passing attempts for 1,862-yards, 12 TDs, and six interceptions. When breaking down his starts, Johnson was able to complete 55% or more of his passes in six of his ten starts.
The games that Kentucky struggled in however are no coincidence against some of the more talented, better coached, and stronger defensive teams in the country. Those teams include Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Georgia, Tennessee. In those four game combined, Johnson completed 46% of his passes (49-for-106) for 636-yards, 2 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Receivers: Despite just having 151 completions as a team this season, the Wildcats were able to spread the ball around to their receiving targets in a pretty solid way with four wide receivers with double-digit catches.
Junior wideout Jeff Badet (#13) leads the receiving core for Kentucky in receiving yards with 28 receptions, 639-yards, and 4 TDs. A big down the field threat, the Yellow Jackets secondary will have to be on their game to keep Badet locked down. This season Badet averaged a long reception of 41-yards per game including six games which he had receptions of 40+ yards or longer.
Garrett Johnson (#9), another junior wideout is the most reliable target for Stephen Johnson arguably this season, averaging three receptions per game. More of a possession receiver, the Yellow Jackets defense will have to keep Johnson locked down on third down plays, as he is more of a possession style receiver. He does however lead the team in touchdowns including a team long of 75-yards.
The Rushing Attack:
With the injury to Drew Barker, the Wildcats offense went onto focus much more on their rushing attack, it’s fair to say that their rushing attack was nothing short of outstanding in 2016. As a whole, the Wildcats rushed for 2,895 total rushing yards and 29 touchdowns.
Sophomore running back Stanley Williams (#18) leads the Wildcats rushing attack, being one of two 1,000-yard rushers this season. On 160 rushing attempts, WIlliams rushed for 1,135-yards (7.1 avg) and seven touchdowns. It’s worth noting that Williams grew up just an hour outside of Atlanta in Monroe, GA. The second 1,000-yard rusher for Kentucky this season is freshman (#26) Benny Snell Jr. who rushed for 1,057-yds and 13 touchdowns on 179 rushing attempts.
Senior Jojo Kemp (#3) will most likely see a small amount of playing time on Saturday and will carry the ball around six to ten times. However, when Kemp does get the ball, Kemp has the opportunity to pick a good chunk of yardage.
Quarterback Stephen Johnson can stretch plays with his legs when plays breakdown as he’s rushed for 278-yards on 83 attempts including a run of 75-yards against Tennessee.
What Georgia Tech Should Expect:
Overall, the Kentucky offense will most likely feature a 60-40 split in play calls in favor of the rushing game on Saturday especially with the struggles that the Yellow Jackets have had against the run game at times this season. When the Wildcats do decide to pass the ball, expect them to go down the field a bit early on, trying to test the Yellow Jackets secondary.
If the Yellow Jackets can keep the deep ball contained early on, it may force the Wildcats to move down to check down routes, which Kentucky has been forced to go to at times this season. That being said, the best way to keep Kentucky contained on Saturday is going to stop their duo of Williams and Snell, if the Yellow Jackets can do that, their chances of winning go way up with the inconsistencies that Stephen Johnson can have at times.
Tomorrow, YellowJackedUp will have a preview of Kentucky’s defense and how Georgia Tech can attack it.