Comparison: Kentucky versus WKU and Miami University

Since we only have a week of football under our belts, the only thing we can do right now for comparison's sake is look at what teams did last year versus what they did this year. So with that in mind, let's take a look at Kentucky versus Western Kentucky last year and versus Miami University this year. WKU was not Kentucky's opening game of 2008, but it went 2-10 as Miami also did. Though WKU was worse last year than Miami will be this year, it was the closest match of opponents.

As with previous comparisons, sacks have been removed from all rushing totals.

OFFENSE

CATEGORY vs. WKU vs. MIAMI U
Total Yards 398
488
Passing 182
243
Yds. per Pass 5.7
7.8
Rushing 216
245
Yds. per Rush 5.7
5.0
Turnovers 1 0
Time of Poss. 32:62 36:25
Sacks All. 0
0

 

The final scores of these two games were similar (41-3 in 2008; 42-0 in 2009), but the Wildcats got there in a much different fashion this year. For one, the passing game had a lot more pop with it gaining two more yards a pass. The rushing game fell off some, but it's not significant enough to worry about in a comparison of cupcake games. The Wildcats held onto the ball a bit longer and erased the one turnover. It's hard to complain about anything, really. The offense was demonstrably better.

DEFENSE

CATEGORY vs. WKU vs. MIAMI U
Total Yards 187
201
Passing 15
126
Yds. per Pass 1.1
3.7
Rushing 172
75
Yds. per Rush 5.2
3.8
Turnovers 1 2
Time of Poss. 27:34
23:35
Sacks For
4 (-30 yards)
2 (-13 yards)

 

It's hard to overstate how bad on offense WKU is, but even with that said, holding the Hilltoppers to 15 passing yards was a tour de force last year. Miami did a bit better in the passing game, but as I said at the beginning, they're a better team. Not a whole lot better, but better. The rushing defense did stiffen up year over year, although they didn't get as many sacks. I think that last part probably is more related to WKU being utterly inept in the passing game.

There probably isn't a huge difference between the dregs of the Sun Belt and the dregs of the MAC, but Kentucky dutifully dispatched both with authority. In just about every way, UK did it with more authority this year than last year, especially in the passing game. It does look at least for now that Kentucky has improved over last season, but it's hard to say yet by how much. After all, UK went beat WKU by a similar margin to how it beat Miami University this year, but the '08 Wildcats barely scraped into a bowl with four non-conference cupcake wins and two entirely unimpressive SEC wins.

But, if you look past the scores and see how Kentucky won, there are grounds for optimism. If UK can sustain that improvement, the question won't be if the Wildcats go bowling again, but which one they'll get to.

Previous Comparison: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia.

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