Georgia renews its series with Kentucky on Saturday inside Sanford Stadium. Georgia leads the series 58-12-2 and hasn’t dropped a game to the Wildcats since 2009 — a 34-27 decision in Athens.
Georgia enters play off of a 20-17 loss to South Carolina, and Kentucky makes the trip after beating Arkansas 24-20 but losing three-of-four contests.
The Telegraph received some insight on Kentucky from beat writer Josh Moore of the Lexington Herald-Leader. Here’s what to know about the Bulldogs’ seventh game of the season from the other sideline.
SUDGE: How does Lynn Bowden (a former receiver) at quarterback add another element to Kentucky’s offense?
MOORE: For Sawyer Smith, the immediate backup to Terry Wilson after his (season-ending) injury, the coaches act like he’s getting closer to full strength. He might be available, but I feel like we might not see him again this week. They like what they got from Lynn Bowden against Arkansas and want to try to build on that — at least the first few series on the road.
I don’t think the coaches will admit this is a game they’ll have a hard time in, but you’re a big underdog and it makes sense to see what you can do with Bowden. He brings that explosiveness back that you had when Terry Wilson went down. Sawyer is probably a better downfield passer, and you’re still trying to work out wrinkles (with Bowden). But you have a very-athletic guy who has extended a lot of plays. That’s the biggest difference.
SUDGE: Kentucky was in the running for an SEC East title last season. How is this team different than 2018?
MOORE: That team was a lot better, I guess that’s the short answer. The biggest difference is that this team doesn’t really have an identity. I still can’t point to this team and say ‘They do this really well or they’re not very good at that.’ I don’t know if there’s really a thing this team excels at — other than being confusing. Some of that is because of having so many injuries in key spots, especially at quarterback that kind of derailed everything. Saturday (against Arkansas) was the first time they’ve really looked like a complete team.
SUDGE: How does Kentucky perceive Georgia as a nationally-ranked team, but coming off of a loss?
MOORE: They’re very respectful of Georgia. Their expectation is for them to be pissed off about last week. It can go two different ways, either they’re mad and stomp Kentucky in the face or there’s still some hangover. (Kentucky head coach) Mark Stoops said that they’ll have to play their best game of the year in order to have a shot. There’s some understanding that they’re going up against a formidable opponent. Probably the best opponent they’ve played for sure this year.
SUDGE: Who might Kentucky feature, in terms of playmakers, that Georgia may not know much about?
MOORE: I think defensively, Brandon Echols is a guy who has really impressed me all year. He’s a very physical cornerback and plays hard as a junior-college transfer who enrolled in the offseason.
Offensively, (running back) A.J. Rhodes backed up Benny Snell last year, and he’s the lead back now. Especially if they start Lynn at quarterback, Rhodes is their first guy in the Wildcat package. He threw a pass out of it last week, but he’s a guy — especially if they get creative and do some funky stuff — who could be involved.
SUDGE: What will it take for Kentucky to pull an upset in Athens?
MOORE: There has only been one game where Kentucky didn’t find itself in a hole in the first quarter. They can’t let that happen against Georgia and let it get out of hand fast. Kentucky also has 16 turnovers this season if you count turnovers on downs, and they have to win the turnover battle.
They have to try and do what they did against Arkansas. Georgia’s running backs are a totally different animal in terms of depth, but I think they need to keep the explosive plays to a minimum. I think Georgia will run all over them, but it’s about containing the big bursts. Kentucky has to try to shorten the game in order to have its best shot.