Governor’s Cup could come down to running game
LEXINGTON, KY. (AP) - Coaches change. Players change. Venues change.
The key to the outcome of the Governor’s Cup does not.
The winner of the annual showdown between Kentucky and Louisville isn’t always the one with the better quarterback, more experienced coaching staff or home-field advantage.
For more than a decade, the team that’s rushed for more yards has been the one holding the 110-pound Cup aloft at game’s end. Kentucky outgained Louisville on the ground 168-133 in a 31-27 win last year, marking at least the 11th straight time the team with the highest rushing total has captured state bragging rights.
While the preseason talk centered on new coaches Joker Phillips and Charlie Strong and the clouded quarterback position at both schools, the biggest battle on Saturday will come on the lines, where two undersized defenses will try to dig in.
It won’t be easy. Both Louisville and Kentucky’s defensive lines will go against offensive lines that outweigh them by an average of 30 pounds.
“It’s great to look bigger because of the intimidation factor, but it all comes down to technique,” Kentucky right guard Larry Warford said.
A little bit of deception doesn’t hurt.
Strong helped Florida win a pair of national titles by constructing defenses built on speed and smarts. Expect him to do the same at Louisville. The Cardinals will spend the seconds before each snap on Saturday in a state of perpetual motion in hopes of confusing the Wildcats.
“It’s not going to be a Civil War battle where we’re going to stand still and they’re going to stand still and we’re going to take turns,” Kentucky offensive coordinator Randy Sanders said.
Though Phillips has called his offensive line one of his team’s biggest strengths, the Wildcats will be breaking in four new starters on Saturday.
Being bigger is nice. Being better would be preferable.
“We’re not really going in thinking ‘Oh, they’re smaller than us, we’ll blow them off the ball,’” left guard Stuart Hines said.
Maybe, but teams had little trouble doing just that against the Cardinals last season. Louisville ranked 81st in the country against the run, allowing teams to pile up 165 yards a game.
Kentucky was even worse, giving up 4.65 yards per carry while ranking 100th out of the 120 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision.