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Could Eastern Michigan be bigger test for UK than most expect?

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops congratulated A.J. Rose (10) during UK’s win over Toledo. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

The prevailing theory going into this season was that Toledo would be a difficult test for UK but Eastern Michigan would not be much more than a breather in week two to get Kentucky set up for a third week showdown with Florida.

However, here might be a few reasons to make you rethink that feeling:

— Eastern Michigan has 10 starters back from last season’s 7-6 team that BEAT Toledo during the season.

— Eastern Michigan lost to Georgia Southern 23-21 in the Camellia Bowl last year but pulled a 20-19 upset at Purdue.

— Two years ago UK needed an end zone interception by Mike Edwards to secure a 24-20 victory over Eastern Michigan. Josh Paschal blocked a punt to set up Benny Snell’s game-winning touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Kentucky was coming off an emotional 28-27 loss to Florida when it blew a 28-13 lead (remember that was the game where Kentucky not once, but twice, failed to cover a Florida receiver on a touchdown pass).

The Cats gave up five quarterback sacks and 10 tackles for loss against Eastern Michigan and could not block Jeremiah Harris, who had 3.5 tackles for loss himself.

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said Monday that offensive line coach John Schlarman had already reminded his players about that game where UK rushed for only 53 yards on 37 attempts.

“Coach Schlarman was definitely talking about that already this morning and yesterday. So he’ll get their attention, he’ll get them right and they will be ready to play,” Stoops said.

Eastern Michigan opened its season with 30-23 win over Coastal Carolina where quarterback Mike Glass completed 20 of 22 passes for 188 yards and three scores. The Eastern Michigan defense intercepted four passes.

Stoops was not overly pleased with his team’s opening 38-24 win over Toledo but at least UK didn’t lose in upsets like Tennessee, South Carolina and Missouri all did. Stoops does point out the need to be ready to play but spends more time stressing what his team can clean up.

“I point out a lot of things to them every week, but part of it is just football IQ, because I don’t think they watch as much as we all did. So I’ll definitely point out some plays that happened throughout this past week that myself and our coaches grab and want to show them and also just talk about that, if you’re not prepared to play,” Stoops said.

“And that is something that I was very pleased with our team. I liked the way they were going about their business. It doesn’t mean we were perfect. And I also noticed it last week, come maybe Wednesday, Thursday, I started noticing, thinking about it, because our guys don’t want to let their teammates down. They don’t want to let their coaches down.

“Some guys that maybe hadn’t played very much start getting a little tight and a little bit wide eyed. And not because they’re scared, it’s just because they don’t want to let people down. And that’s what I talked about is that’s why you have a team. And there’s strengths and weaknesses and there’s going to be one group or one side of the ball pick the other one up at times and I was proud of our team for doing that.”

Stoops knows what happens in 2017 won’t mean much when the teams play again Saturday in a game that was originally supposed to be played at Eastern Michigan before Eastern Michigan agreed to take $800,000 to move the game to Lexington.

“I remember this, that they did a nice job of just staying patient and nickel and dime’ing us and being efficient, trying to stay ahead of the chains, much like Toledo did this past week early on. That’s why Toledo was effective. And they were in third and manageable. And when they got in third and long, they didn’t have as much success and we had more success and that’s what we’re looking for,” Stoops said.

“But Eastern Michigan does a really nice job of staying ahead of the chains. They’re a good, physical football team that plays the game the right way and they like to stay efficient. So it will be another challenge that way.”

Kentucky is now a 14.5 point favorite — about the same spread it had over Toledo at this time a week ago.

10 comments

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  1. I always thought and still think Eastern Michigan will be a much tougher test.
    I also think UK will have to play much better than they did last Saturday. Yes, the UK offense did finally get going in the second half, but we still do not have a good feel for the defense.
    Everybody seems to forget that the Toledo QB was giving UK all they could handle until he got hurt. Everyone knows the backup QB is usually not as good, nor is he as prepared, as the starter this early in the season. If he had not gotten hurt, who knows what would have happened. The UK Defense did not look very good until the QB change. I just hope the experience they gained carries over to this game.

    1. No question….the biggest disappointment of the game was the DL and especially in the first half. They were not mentally engaged to take on the challenge. Yes, believe it or not, the UL D line looked much better than us in their first half.

  2. Naaah, just ask Pup. He thinks we are ready to take on the New England Patriots.

    1. You guys put too much negativity in this ball game. I saw a lot of good things that out weights the negative stuff that can be correct.

      1. You are right Cats79, at least two of them above know I have exposed them on VV’s as resident TROLLS, and they are trying their best to stay relevant on here. It is hard for them now. See, when you are negative, and nit pick after a win like these two clowns do, you can always say, “I told you so” after some tough UK loss down the road. They are not fans, they are self important little critics. It makes them look important. UK is never good enough for these two jokers. There is a time to complain, I concur, but after a win and with the strides this UK football team has made? I guess if you go by Mike and Dukemandoo’s reasoning, ND should fire Kelly after his 9th ranked ” Fighting Irish” got pushed around by the lowly Cardinals. UK could probably beat either one of those two teams right now. I would love to see Mike go up to anyone of UK’s defensive linemen and say what he just said on here to their face. He would wet his drawers before they got through with him. Some forget UK had a three score lead late in the 4th too Old Fan. Also, how many times did the UK defense sack the Rocket QB’s? Yeah, their starter got hurt, and our guy got ejected, and UK won, be glad. It was game one dude, give em a break.

        1. You talk too much and most is NOT relevant. The only thing you really expose is your insecurity and defense mechanisms.

          1. Did you really Mike? Catmandoo said you did, lol’s.

  3. Once again, Pup runs his mouth and shows that he doesn’t have a clue about anything but being a Rah Rah. There is no way we can match up with Notre Dame now or at any time this season. Hopefully we will be ready for Lousyville but even that is not a given. The biggest reason everyone laughs at all of Pup’s big talk is his insistence that Calipari will win another national title. He is One and DONE, but back to football. This team cannot afford to look ahead to any game other than the one coming up on Saturday. Pup already has us winning the division, the SEC, and playing against Clemson for a national title. As RAH RAH as that sounds, there is a much greater chance of that happening than Calipari winning number 9. After all, he only has 3 more years left to do it.

  4. Catmandoo, all you do now is talk negative and trash talk UK sports teams, players and coaches, unbelievable. I find the good and the bad in every game they play, win or lose, and get fired up when some clown like you can’t even enjoy a win. That is what a fan does. Try it sometimes, it might give your life some purpose.

  5. Meds Pup…. take them, don’t play with them.

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