The Red & Black’s assistant sports editor Austin Roper discussed Georgia’s upcoming game with Braden Ramsey, the sports editor of the University of Kentucky’s student newspaper, the Kentucky Kernel. Last year, the Bulldogs defeated the Wildcats 21-0.
Austin Roper: Between Kentucky quarterbacks Terry Wilson and Joey Gatewood, who is Georgia more likely to see take the field Saturday?
Braden Ramsey: Georgia’s more likely to see Joey Gatewood, and I don't say that because of anything Terry has done [performance] wise, but he is dealing with a hand injury according to the coaches, and it's kept him out of practice Monday and Tuesday. On the teleconference earlier today, [Kentucky head coach Mark] Stoops didn't have an update on whether he was practicing Wednesday or not. So still not sure there, but if it is holding him out of practice for two days, and it holds him out [Wednesday] as well, I'd say you're more likely to see Joey Gatewood there. But if they're both healthy, it's kind of fluid.
Roper: Kentucky's offense is currently averaging 307.8 total yards per game, why has it been such a struggle on that side of the ball?
Ramsey: Well, I know Eddie Gran, the offensive coordinator, took responsibility for some of it yesterday in his press conference. He said, 'It starts with me' and that 'the responsibility lies on my head.' He said guys approached practice on Tuesday with some ‘juice’ and ‘energy’ that he hadn't necessarily seen before and they got their mistakes corrected. But there's a bit of responsibility on everybody. I mean, Gran has certainly had his play-calling and player usage questioned. On the touchdown drive against Missouri ... Chris Rodriguez got three carries on the first three plays and took those three carries 30 yards. [He] got one more carry on that drive before Terry Wilson's touchdown pass, but then he didn't see the game again. Didn't get another touch. There's been some games where it seems like they've deviated from their focus a little bit. They haven't stuck to the run as much as they have in the past. And I know having a natural quarterback back instead of Lynn Bowden ... [creates a] motive to try and keep that balance. But if it's not working, you got to go with what your team is good at. For Kentucky, that's running the ball, and they've deviated from that a little bit.
Roper: What’s going on with Kentucky’s defense and what would you say its strengths are?
Ramsey: Kentucky's defense was hyped up coming into the season because they were really good last year. And throughout the first two games, they didn't really show anything that was worthy of that hype. But in the last three weeks, they've been a lot better. I include last week, even though the stats won't necessarily look good. But last week, Missouri had the ball for 43 minutes and 10 seconds in that game. ... That's mostly on Kentucky’s offense. The defense didn't do itself any favors by not being able to get off the field on third down, but the offense only sustained two drives the entire day. … Kentucky is 37th in the country in rushing defense and sixth in the SEC, so they're certainly not bad. Passing wise, Kentucky is 44th [in the country] and third in the SEC. But overall, Kentucky ranks second [in scoring defense], Georgia is first, so it'll be a nice defensive showing on Saturday.
Roper: Kentucky is currently a 15-point underdog to Georgia, what must the Wildcats do to pull off the upset?
Ramsey: Get two or three pick-sixes like they did against Tennessee. I'm really bleak on this team right now. And I was on the upswing after the performances against Mississippi State and Tennessee. The offense didn't look great against either one, especially in the first half against Tennessee, but it looked like they figured something out in the second half running the ball. And that just did not show itself against Missouri, even though they did lose a little bit of the commitment to it. But the defense is probably gonna have to do the scoring still. Georgia's defense is one of the best in the country as it usually is. And that's even after the Alabama game where Alabama had its way in the second half. So I don't think anybody can count on [Kentucky’s] offense to do anything. They might be able to string a drive or two together, but it's going to take more than 10 points to win, even if it's a defensive struggle.
Roper: Score prediction?
Ramsey: I definitely think Georgia is gonna win. I think that's only the second time I've picked against Kentucky this year, actually. The other game I picked against them was the Tennessee game. ... This Kentucky team has been all over the place. With the defense performing poorly in the first two weeks, and then the offense just disappearing in the last few. Georgia will definitely win. I think it'll be somewhere in the range of 27-10.