Kentucky defense faces a talented quarterback in MTSU’s Stockstill


Kentucky Wildcats linebacker Kash Daniel (56) celebrating after sacking UT’s quarterback. University of Kentucky’s football team lost to University of Tennessee, 24-7, at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Jordan Brown

Mark Stoops and the 7-3 Kentucky Wildcats look to bounce back after a loss to SEC rival Tennessee Volunteers as they host the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders in week 11 of the season.  

The performance in the Cats’ 24-7 loss to the unranked Volunteers was unexpected for most and the defeat crushed the team’s hope of Kentucky’s first double-digit win season since 1977 under head coach Fran Curci.

“You got to be good enough to win when you don’t play your best and it’s very difficult to play at your peak for 12 straight weeks, and some of the teams that are competing for 13,” Stoops said after the loss.

The Wildcats fell eight spots to number 20 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll heading into this weekend and remains to be the only team in the Southeastern Conference that hasn’t scored over 30 points against a conference opponent this season. Four SEC teams still rank ahead of the Wildcats in the poll as Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Florida all sit in the top 15.

This Saturday, Benny Snell and the Kentucky offense face off against a non-conference opponent in the Blue Raiders, who belong to the Conference USA. The Raiders are 7-3 and 6-1 in conference play, winning their last game against Old Dominion 51-17 by utilizing their dynamic offense. Quarterback Brent Stockstill put together a solid game, completing 25/32 pass attempts for 280 yards and tossing it into the end zone for two touchdowns.

With talented running backs on both rosters, the matchup is expected to be a ground game that will make it a grimy one. Terelle West will be asked to compare to Snell in the matchup and is expected to continue to execute as he totaled 120 yards on the ground against Old Dominion and averages 4.8 yards per carry on the season. Snell, who has been slowly quieting down after his Heisman start to the season, will look for comfort behind his offensive line not playing against an SEC caliber defense for the first time since September against Murray State University.

The Wildcat defense has been a strong suit this season and linebacker and defensive end Josh Allen has been a terror up front. The senior is 11th in the nation and leads the SEC with 15.5 tackles for loss, and ranks third nationally in total sacks with 11. He needs half a sack to tie the school’s career sacks record (26) and one sack to tie the single season sacks record (12).

It will also be senior day for the Cats—sixteen players will be honored in a special pre-game ceremony. The game is set to kick off at 12 p.m. on the SEC Network Alternate channel. Kentucky will close out their season on Nov. 24 on the road against in state rival Louisville Cardinals.