Cats to be challenged by dual-threat quarterback this weekend


Derrick Baity #8 of the Kentucky Wildcats celebrates a fumble recovery during the game against EKU on Saturday, September 9, 2017, in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky defeated EKU 27-16. Photo by Carter Gossett | Staff

This Saturday the UK football team will go against another dual-threat quarterback Jordan Ta’amu.

The last time the Cats went up against a dual-threat quarterback, Nick Fitzgerald, they put up 155 passing yards, 115 rushing yards and three total touchdowns on the Cats. While Ta’amu hasn’t proven to be as good as Fitzgerald yet, defensive coordinator Matt House said he sees some similarities in the two quarterbacks.

“Some similarities, some differences, but at the end of the day, it’s going to be the same deal,” House said after Wednesday’s practice. “It’s going to be guys leveraging the football, being violent in the run game and when they’re opportunity comes, being the guy that wants to make the play.”

The Cats have struggled to slow down dual-threat quarterbacks this year, so making the big plays was something House stressed that needs to happen, if the Cats want to win.

However, the Cats have a challenge in slowing Ta’amu down because there’s not a lot of film on him yet. Ta’amu made his first start last week filling in for the injured Shea Patterson.

“He scrambles more than Patterson, so that’s what we like game planning, but you don’t have a lot of film on him throwing the ball,” Derrick Baity said.

Last week Ta’amu threw for 368 yards and an interception while rushing for 76 yards and two touchdowns. One of Ta’amu’s biggest plays of the game was a 49-yard rushing touchdown that gave the Rebels a 14-point lead late in the first quarter. 

House thinks that if the Cats want a better shot at winning, they will need to do a good job of limiting big plays like that, which have hurt the Cats in the past.

In the Rebels’ previous game against Arkansas, Ole Miss was able to jump out to a 31-7 lead with the help of two long touchdown plays, one of which being Ta’amu’s. The other two touchdowns were set up with a play that went at least 31 yards.

“Limiting the big plays will be a key to our success, and really just making them earn it, making them drive the field,” House said. “You watch Arkansas, and shoot I think the first three touchdowns were all huge explosion plays. Then Arkansas kind of settled in and made them earn it but the tide kind of turned.”

The Cats will also have to slow down Ole Miss’ wide receivers, which head coach Mark Stoops called on Monday the best group of receivers they’ll face yet this season. Baity recognizes the challenge they’ll offer, but feel ready for it.

 “We just coming into it expecting a good battle for the ball in the secondary especially,” Baity said.