The Kentucky running game will be missing one of its key players for the Music City Bowl. Freshman tailback Derrick Locke will miss the bowl due to a fractured rib he sustained in practice. He is the team’s second-leading rusher with 521 yards and leads the team in rushing touchdowns with five. He also has been outstanding in punt and kickoff coverage, making 13 tackles this season. He was named UK’s Most Outstanding First-Year Player by the coaching staff.
Although Locke is the leading rush leader in TDs, tailback Rafael Little is the leading rusher for the Wildcats with 861 yards and 3 TDs. He is averaging 5.3 yards a carry and his longest TD was for 38 yards. In addition, he was three yards shy of having 300 receiving yards. Little missed games against LSU, Florida, and Mississippi State due to injuries. He is experiencing a dry spell in that he has not scored a TD since September 22 against Arkansas. In the last game of the season against Tennessee, Little rushed for 77 yards.
With Locke out of the lineup, Junior running back Tony Dixon will pick up the slack. For the season, he has 3 TDs and has rushed for 394 yards. Kentucky's rush offense ranks a respectable number 5 in the SEC but the injury to Locke makes them less of a threat. However, the loss of so many starting players on defense for the Noles in the bowl probably evens that out.
Key Stat: Rafael Little in 2007 was third leading rusher in SEC.
For the Noles, FSU did not lose any starters to suspensions. Given the need to score points and move the ball, the Seminoles will more than likely use Preston Parker a lot in the backfield. Parker has provided a much needed spark that unfortunately Antone Smith was unable to do this year. In the Maryland game, Parker was impressive as he rushed for 133 yards and 1 TD. In the last game against the Gators, Parker rushed for 48 yards and also caught the ball for another 55 yards. Although Parker only until recently has been used at running back and has only 269 yards rushing and 2 TDs, he has shown the ability to find holes and move the ball down the field.His ability to also catch the ball will help in play action out of the backfield.
Antone Smith is the rushing leader for the Noles with 663 yards and 3 TDs on the year. He has not shown the ability to regularly find holes and run between the tackles effectively. Fullback Seddrick Holloway could be a key player on critical third downs. The Noles will need to pick up third downs in order to ground out yards, eat up the clock, and keep the Nole defense and Wildcat offense off the field. The shake up on the offensive line could thwart those efforts however.
Key Stat: Noles rank #8 in ACC in rushing offense.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Posted by tallynolefan at 11:27 PM