It gets a lot easier for the Cats after facing Louisville, Florida and South Carolina the last three games. Now they get the No. 1 team in the land, the Alabama Crimson Tide.
While the Tide comes into this game at No. 1, I do not believe they are as imposing as they have been the last four years or so. Nick Saban has said repeatedly that this team is not the defending national champions, even though they are. His point is that most of the guys on that team are spread out in the NFL.
That loss came mostly be seen on the offensive line and the secondary, where they have also suffered a few injuries. Both of these units are very young, and Saban will be first to say they are a work in progress, but they are also very talented. Remember, in the end, this is Alabama.
Their offense has been led the last few years by A.J. McCarron, who for some reason is never mentioned as a leading Heisman candidate. The senior QB is tough to rattle and when his team needs him to, he makes plays. In his last three games he has completed a crazy 81-percent of his passes.
Their running backs and o-line are just so big and intimidating it’s tough for most teams to respond and that is why they have so much success. On first down they are averaging six yards a carry. When you are sitting at 2nd and four you have so many options and with their great collection of pass catchers and a experienced QB, you can see why teams are struggling to stop the Tide.
The fact that Bud Dupree is out on Saturday will make stopping the Alabama run even tougher.
While the Tide keeps on schedule with good gains on first down, Kentucky has been the exact opposite, getting off schedule way to often with big losses on first.
The ‘Cats have seen tough defenses and they get another one this Saturday. This Alabama defense is probably the second best in the league, behind Florida. The Tide D is probably bigger than Florida, but their secondary is not as good as the Gators.
This Alabama defense is all about switching guys out. They have so much talent and depth and do a great job of matching personnel, which also keeps their guys fresh.
When Kentucky has had success on offense they have got in a certain rhythm and when you see them getting a little bit comfortable, that is when they have made plays. Run a play, get some positive yards, and get right back under center. Go. Go. Go.
If they can do that on Saturday, they can keep Bama in their base defense and prevent them from switching guys out.
Alabama is going to focus on stopping the run, which puts a lot of pressure on Jalen Whitlow to not only make throws, but to also make plays with his feet. I know he is nowhere near Johnny Manziel, but look at what Johnny Football did with the threat to pass it and run it. If Whitlow can really provide that run/pass threat, Kentucky could move the chains and score some points.
And they absolutely have to stay out of third and long situations. The Wildcats simply do not have the weapons to pick up first downs in these situations, as we have seen all season long.
It’s gonna be a tough one, but I do think that Kentucky will cover this large spread. Besides the Florida game, I think we have seen improvement every week and it will continue on Saturday night. Best part is that this torrential four-game stretch is finally over.