Kentucky, Ole Miss bid to rebound at other’s expense

NCAA Football

Kentucky hosts Ole Miss on Saturday in a matchup of Southeastern Conference teams coming off disappointing results in their season openers last week.

The Wildcats (0-1, 0-1 SEC) lost their No. 23 ranking because of an ineffective offense against Auburn in a 29-13 defeat. The Rebels (0-1, 0-1) started the Lane Kiffin era off on the wrong foot with a 51-35 setback to Florida.

The Gators gained a school-record 642 yards against Mississippi, which had 613.

“Florida’s had great offenses and then they have the most in the history of the school,” said Kiffin, who made his fifth head coaching debut following stops with the then-Oakland Raiders in the NFL and Tennessee, USC and Florida Atlantic in college.

“There are not a lot of positives to find there. We did almost stop them on a third down, but then we roughed the passer, so I was kind of excited there for a second.”

Kentucky and Ole Miss have played just five times since 2005, with Ole Miss holding a 3-2 advantage. Approximately 12,000 fans will be allowed to attend games at Kentucky’s Kroger Field in Lexington because of COVID-19 health-safety restrictions.

Kiffin, with a history of calling plays including during a stint as offensive coordinator with Alabama, is allowing Jeff Lebby to do the honors this season. Lebby was the offensive coordinator at UCF last season. The Knights finished second nationally in total offense at 540.5 yards per game and averaged 43.4 points.

Matt Corral, a drop-back passer, earned the starting quarterback role after a fall-camp battle with dual-threat John Rhys Plumlee. Lebby used Plumlee as a quarterback, wildcat back and receiver against Florida.

Corral completed 22 of 31 passes for 395 yards and three touchdowns with one interception against the Gators. His primary target Elijah Moore caught 10 passes for a career-high 227 yards.

After struggling to cover Auburn wideout Seth Williams last week (six catches, 112 yards, two touchdowns), the Wildcats’ secondary will have its hands full with Moore this week.

“Ole Miss, they play extremely fast on offense,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. “Their quarterback is playing at a very, very high level. He can throw the ball all over the place. They have a very good scheme that spreads you out and puts a lot of pressure on you.”

Kentucky outgained Auburn 384-324 last week, but its offense stalled in the second half. The Wildcats also committed three turnovers.

Although Kentucky’s Terry Wilson completed 24 of 37 passes for 239 yards and a touchdown while running for 42 yards, he also had an unforced fumble and an interception. Kentucky’s seven second-half drives resulted in one touchdown, three punts, two fumbles and one turnover on downs.

–Field Level Media

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