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Kentucky has to “embrace” challenge at Texas A&M

Cornerback Lonnie Johnson (6) knows what the UK defense faces at Texas A&M. (Jeff Houchin Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky’s defense has been exceptional this year, especially in Southeastern Conference play, going into Saturday night’s game at Texas A&M where the Wildcats will be tested by a ball-control offense.

The Aggies have accumulated 143 first downs, the most in the SEC and fourth in FBS. Through five games, including Alabama and Clemosn, Texas A&M is the SEC’s leader in total plays, first downs and time of possession.The Aggies average 512 yards per game — 2979

Texas A&M has proved to have one of the better offenses in the SEC averaging the third most yards per game (511.8) and are also one of the most balanced as they are top five in both passing and rushing yards per game (279.6 and 232.2, respectively).

“I expect to see a well-coached, tough, hard-nosed football team. That’s (coach) Jimbo (Fisher). Jimbo is very detailed, but he’s tough and hard-nosed and his teams usually reflect that,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said.

Kentucky has played only one road game but it was a huge win as UK ended a 31-year losing streak to Florida with a win in Gainesville.

“Kyle Field is one of those that is at or near the top of difficulty, and we have to embrace that challenge,” Stoops said on the SEC coaches teleconference Wednesday. “We have played three home games and it’s time to get on the bus and play on the field. … We need to eliminate penalties; we had too many last week. We know this will be a real test on the road, and it’s about executing this week.

“You have to embrace the challenge. You against the crowd, and it has to unite you. These venues, they are very difficult.”

Texas A&M quarterback Kelln Mond threw for 430 yards and three touchdowns in a 28-26 loss to Clemson. He’s thrown for 1,221 yards and seven touchdowns this season and has also rushed for 308 yards and four touchdowns.
“He’s probably one of the fastest quarterbacks we’ve seen this year,” Kentucky cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr. said.
The Aggies also have a talented running back in Trayveon Williams. He has 582 yards rushing and six touchdowns. He’s second to UK’s Benny Snell in the SEC in rushing yards.

“It’s our job to stop him,” Johnson said.

“He’s a really good back,” Kentucky defensive coordinator Matt House said. “For his size, he’s really physical. He runs through contact. He’s got a great stiff arm.”

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