A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

UK faces big challenge of stopping high-powered Ole Miss offense on Saturday in home opener

By Tim Letcher
University of Kentucky

A week after encountering the fast-paced Auburn offense, Kentucky faces another challenge this Saturday as the Wildcats meet Ole Miss and its high-powered attack in the home opener at 4 p.m.

Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin and his offenses have always been able to put up big numbers, and that doesn’t look to change as he takes over in Oxford. In Saturday’s season opener, the Rebels hung 35 points on Florida in a 51-35 loss. Still, it was an impressive performance by the Ole Miss offense.

How impressive? The Rebels finished with 613 yards of total offense against Florida. Ole Miss totaled 443 yards passing, including 395 and three touchdowns from quarterback Matt Corral. The Rebels added 170 yards on the ground, with 86 from Jerrion Early and 81 from Corral.

UK head coach Mark Stoops said defensive end Josh Paschal (center) played well against Auburn. (UK photo)

Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops knows that the Ole Miss offense, under Kiffin’s direction, will be another challenge for the UK defense.

“Ole Miss, they play extremely fast on offense,” Stoops said. “Their quarterback is playing at a very, very high level. He can throw the ball all over the place. They have a very good scheme that spreads you out and puts a lot of pressure on you.”

Stoops knows that it’s not just the passing game that the Rebels can use to hurt their opponents.

“They want to be balanced, even though they threw the ball for almost 450 yards, they still had balance, they still ran the ball quite a bit and were efficient,” Stoops said. “They had those aggravating yards on the ground. They run a lot of plays and put a lot of pressure on you. We have to be able to control that.”

During a 29-13 loss at Auburn last Saturday, Kentucky saw some up-tempo pace from the Tigers and Stoops thought that the Wildcats handled it well at certain points.

“We have to play with a greater sense of urgency with the tempo,” Stoops said. “We’re going to see it at an extremely high pace this week. We saw some of that last week versus Auburn. We were good at times and we were not good enough with our urgency and with our tempo defense. We have to work on some of that this week.”

UK held Auburn to 324 yards of offense on Saturday, including just 91 yards rushing. As for who played well on the defensive side of the ball, specifically on the line, Stoops singled out one player, while calling on others to do more.

“Josh Paschal played at a really high level,” Stoops said. “The rest of the guys showed up at times and did some good things at times. But overall, we expect more.”

Saturday’s game will be the 23rd meeting between the schools in Lexington, with Kentucky holding an 11-10-1 record in those contests. Overall, Ole Miss leads the series 28-14-1. Saturday’s meeting will be the first since the Rebels squeaked out a 37-34 victory over the Cats in 2017 at Kroger Field.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment