Kentucky football looks to overcome experienced Vanderbilt offense


CJ Conrad and Benny Snell Jr. celebrate a touchdown during the game against South Carolina on Saturday, September 29, 2018 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Chase Phillips | Staff

Jake Maynard

It’s been two weeks since Kentucky football’s Texas A&M loss, and with the only loss of the season biting at the heels of the team, UK is ready to get back on track with this weekend’s game against Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt is an interesting team. At first glance, the 3-4 Commodores don’t appear to be much of a threat. They have yet to win against a power-five conference team. South Carolina defeated them 37-14 in Nashville, a team Kentucky beat by two touchdowns. Last week, Florida took over and won 37-27 at Vanderbilt after coming back from an 18-point deficit halfway through the second quarter.

Even though the Commodores have lost three of their four power five games by 10 or more, Vanderbilt should not be under estimated.

“Vandy is a good team. They’re hungry. They play hard. We’re going to have to play very good football,” Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops said.

In their third game of the season, Vanderbilt lost to Notre Dame by only five points. Notre Dame is currently the number four team in the county (per ESPN) with a 7-0 record. Their most impressive game was a 38-17 win against Stanford. Vanderbilt and Pittsburgh are Notre Dame’s closest games of the season, each being a five-point differential.

Vanderbilt’s star quarterback Kyle Shurmur, son of New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur, threw for 326 yards against Notre Dame, a season worst for the Fighting Irish defense. The pocket passer has thrown 11 touchdowns and five interceptions this season with an average of 7.31 yards per attempt. Shurmur has thrown for at least 150 yards each of the team’s seven games.

Despite ranking last in the SEC for rushing offense, Vanderbilt’s running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn should be taken seriously. Stoops acknowledged this during Monday’s press conference.

“He’s really fast and explosive. I talked to a few people that played him and they said as fast as he looks on film, he’s faster in person,” Stoops said.

Vaughn, a transfer from Illinois, had his most notable game of the season against Georgia when he rushed for 79 yards in nine carries. The only team that has had a better rushing game against Georgia is LSU, the number five team in the country.

In last week’s game against Florida, Vaughn left early due to an unspecified injury early in the second quarter. Vanderbilt’s head coach Derek Mason said he expects the junior running back to play this weekend against Kentucky.  In his limited time on the field he had a 43-yard run and a 75-yard TD reception. In seven carries and one catch, Vaughn tallied 131 yards for the Commodores.

Kick-off is at 7:30 on Saturday at Kroger Field and can be seen on the SEC Network.