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Two years ago UK got “tail kicked” by Eastern Michigan

Eddie Gran (Jeff Houchin Photo)

By KEITH TAYLOR, Kentucky Today

LEXINGTON — The last time Eastern Michigan visited Kroger Field, the Eagles took Kentucky down to the wire before the Wildcats escaped with a 24-20 triumph. Mark Stoops wants to avoid a repeat performance Saturday night.

“They gave us one heck of a game a couple of years ago, so we know they’re another good football team from the (Mid-American Conference)  — very well-coached, and very similar in that way,” Stoops said. “Eastern beat Toledo a year ago. We know Toledo was a good team. So Eastern is very capable and very well-coached and again, played us to a four-point game two years ago, so we have to get back to work and focus on ourselves and attention to detail and get much better.”

In the last meeting between the two teams, Stoops said Eastern Michigan “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 (last week),” Stoops said.

Eddie Gran also recalled the last time the Eagles visited Lexington and agreed with Stoops’ assessment earlier this week.

“We got our tail kicked,” Gran said. “We absolutely got our tail kicked. We didn’t play well enough. It was awful.”

In that particular game, the Eagles collected five sacks and had 10 tackles for a loss a defensive effort that kept Kentucky’s offense off-balance.

“They got really good pressure on the quarterback, so we need to do a better job protecting our quarterback for sure,” Stoops said.

The Wildcats (1-0) opened the season with a 38-24 win over Toledo last week, while the Eagles needed a late rally to fend off Coastal Carolina and escaped with a 30-23 victory in their opener. Eastern Michigan quarterback Mike Glass completed 20-of-22 passes for 188 yards and three touchdowns last week and added a rushing touchdown.

Although his squad kept the score close against the Wildcats in 2017, Eastern Michigan coach Mike Creighton said his team faces a challenge in their second straight road game to open the season.

“I know in a game like this that the only way that we can give ourselves a chance is if we take care of the ball and take the ball away,” Creighton said. “We have to play smart, tough, disciplined football – that gives us a chance. We took the ball away four times this last week and had one costly turnover, but we have to be perfect in that way.”

Much like his counterpart, Stoops wants his team to get off to a fast start and avoid crucial mistakes. The Wildcats had four fumbles against the Rockets and lost two of them and Stoops wants the Wildcats to be “more efficient” on both sides of the football.

“Ball security is a pretty big issue,” he said. “(I) definitely want to see that cleaned up. But just more efficient. Actually, last week we were pretty efficient. We talk about first down efficiency generally, but I felt like a lot of our mistakes were on second down. Second down led to a little longer third downs than we would like — same on defense. We gave up a little bit of leakage on second down and made their third downs more manageable. (I would like to see) just overall execution.”

In terms of a faster finish, Stoops said doing the little things will prevent the Wildcats from emulating last week’s first-half performance against Toledo.

“If you do the little things right and generally big things will happen,” he said. “Offensively there were too many three-and-outs this past week. We had a lot of possessions. I think defensively we had three-and-out, three or less. But offensively we had too many. Generally if we do the little things right and get off to a good start, we can move the chains and then big things can happen.”

Game tracker: Eastern Michigan at Kentucky, 7:30 p.m., Saturday. TV/Radio: SEC Network (alternate), UK Sports Radio Network.
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Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com or twitter @keithtaylor21.

10 comments

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  1. I believe the Cats will rise to the occasion come this day against another good MAC team in Eastern Mich. But, should they stumble, I give advance warning here and now that Catmandoo, and is little sister Mikey, on this very site, will be saying “I told you so” like the little panty waists they are. Catmandoo has already said as much. Now if UK wins by three scores, they will still find a way to diminish the victory.

  2. Pup….our day is made when we continue to see we are still getting into your head and attracting your headlines. Life is good with you as a easy target. This team has got to find a way to get off to better starts in these games. This has been one major negative label that Stoops needs to shed. If the D line tightens and the secondary continues slow improvement we should be in good shape. Offensively my only concern is the play of Wilson. His stats maybe surpassed his play last week, and he has got to show more production and efficiency with his legs than he did last week. Should be Cats by 21.

  3. Pup, you must be on crack or meth. I said this game is a MUST win if we are to get a decent bowl game. I also said it was not a guaranteed win, but I never said who would win the game. In Pup land if you don’t say we are going to win, that must mean that you are saying that we are going to lose. Pup, you have already paid for your meds, please take them! I think we can win this game and we need to win this game and hope we win this game. You should be in Vegas handicapping the afternoon slate of games since you already know the outcome. Our coaches remember what happened 2 years ago. If they have concerns, any knowledgeable fan would have some concerns too. My biggest concern is that you are going to end up in the looney bin and then Mike and I won’t have anyone to pick on.

    1. I got you two weak sisters right where I want you, back pedaling and second guessing. Your goofy posts above prove it. You are both on record here on VV’s with so much negativity you will never live it down. Remember Mike, you coined the phrase “Duped by Stoops.” And you Catman with your constant attack against UK’s HOF basketball coach, and great recruiter with a lifetime contract.

      You two clowns need to let Stoops, Gran, and White worry about their team. Real fans just cheer them on and celebrate a win, and morn the losses. My biggest concern is, what was your number?

      1. Touchdown

  4. Pup, why don’t you call a crisis hotline that gives a hoot about all of the hot air you blow around? Once you tell them that you actually believe that Calipari is going to be here more than 3 years,, they will know what to do with you, lol. Oh, also tell them that you actually believe that he will win another national title. They know how to deal with delusional people like you. Mike and I can find someone else to pick on.

  5. Ok guys let’s chill and cheer on the CATS on this game day.

    1. Pup will have nothing to do with that 79, just watch his future posts. Thanks for the overture just the same.

      1. Man you would make a good politician. Just stop the whining and man up. You brought a lot of fire your way by downing the Cats and their coaches every chance you got prior to the season. It works both ways Catman. How about your negative comments about Coach Gran. Also your silly comments about Coach Calipari and a couple of his bigs who returned. Your Billy Donovan comments, etc. This guy is a trickster Cat fans, don’t fall for his little sweet talk now.

        This UK football team, which you doubted, sits at 2-0, and you want to play the pity card? You try and weasel your way back on the band wagon by responding to Larry V’s article about UK should have scored more in the first half. You almost sounded like a real fan, but I doubt it. You will have to prove it, and I will be watching. I guess Mike is upset about the win, and Coach Gran opening up his offense, which hurts his previous input on how sorry Gran is. Still waiting to read his input now after a 3 TD win over a great MAC team. Why even a UK TE caught a pass and dragged opposing players 10 yards up the field. Also the UK TE’s blocked effectively all night. That is part of their job by the way. Captain Rah Rah here.

  6. See, LOL!

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