Preview of the Kentucky Wildcats vs. Youngstown St.
No. 9 Kentucky vs. Youngstown State
When: Noon, Saturday (Sept. 17).
TV: SEC Network
Advertisers: Play-by-play, Dave Neal; analysis, Deuce McAllister; on the sidelines, Andraya Carter
Radio: WLAP-AM 630, WBUL-FM 98.1.
satellite radio: XM Channel 81, Sirius Channel 81, Internet Channel 81.
Folders: Kentucky (2-0, 1-0 SEC); Youngstown State (2-0, 0-0 MVFC).
Series history: First meeting.
Line: No chance
The story line
Coming off an emotional 26-16 win at then No. 12 Florida in its SEC opener, Kentucky will be looking to maintain its motivational goal against foe FCS Youngstown State. For British coaches and Youngstown natives Mark Stoops, Vince Marrow and Frank Buffano, meeting the Penguins is a competition against their “home team”. The game will also mark a return to Lexington for Youngstown State’s leading receiver Bryce Oliver (10 receptions, 121 yards, two touchdowns in 2022), who played for the Wildcats from 2018-2020.
The number to watch
Kentucky Bags Allowed. After allowing defenders to take quarterback Will Levis down seven times in the first two games, the UK ranks 121st out of 131 FBS teams in the ‘sacks allowed’ category. The good news in Florida is that after the Gators sacked Levis three times in the first half, they couldn’t reach him in the second. Against an FCS foe, it would be nice if the “New Big Blue Wall” could keep Levis clean.
The big threat
Jaleel McLaughlin. The 5-foot-9, 183-pound running back from Youngstown State is an example that big explosiveness can come in a physically small package. In Youngstown State’s season-opening win over Duquesne, the Marshville, North Carolina product rushed for 203 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries. He returned last week against Dayton with 129 rushing yards and a touchdown on 13 carries plus a 52-yard touchdown reception.
On the spot
The Kentucky Offense. As sweet as it was to defeat Florida in “The Swamp,” the victory came in a game where the United Kingdom gained just 272 yards of total offense and when the Wildcats defense scored a touchdown on a pick six and set up another with an interception returned to the Gators 6-yard line. With back-to-back non-league games against Youngstown State and Northern Illinois, Kentucky’s new offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello has a window to develop a more potent offense before Britain returns to the pursuit. from the SEC in Mississippi on October 1.
is ecstatic. Kentucky’s third win over Florida in the last five meetings has the Big Blue Nation elated. A season after the UK found themselves flat and barely beaten (28-23) foes FCS Chattanooga, the challenge against Youngstown State is to avoid a post-Gators disappointment.