Q&A: Kentucky football writer talks Saturday’s matchup

In a conversation with The Maneater, Christopher Angolia previews the SEC clash between Missouri and Kentucky.

Missouri faces Kentucky at 11 a.m. Saturday in a Southeastern Conference matchup. Christopher Angolia, who covers football for The Kentucky Kernel, spoke with The Maneater’s Nick Kelly about what to expect Saturday.

The Maneater: Kentucky has surpassed the expectations of many. How has it been able to do that?

Christopher Angolia: I would definitely attribute it to how the defense has played the last month, dating back to our game against New Mexico State, when it gave up 42 points then. Our second half has changed everything, and since then, we are 4-1. Our only loss came at Alabama. [Kentucky is] mainly anchored by their defense. Their defense and their run games contributed to our success recently for sure.

ME: Coming into the season, the offense seemed like it would be the biggest strength. Is that still the case for Kentucky?

CA: It definitely is, but in a different sense. We came into our first game throwing the ball like crazy all around. Then, [Drew] Barker went down in Week Three. Then from there, [Stephen] Johnson came in and gave more dimensions when they realized he wasn’t as good of a thrower. Now, we have the three running backs. They have really stepped it up, and it has become more balanced over the past week.

ME: Do you think Barker was the best option for them at quarterback? Or is Johnson the best option at quarterback?

CA: They both have two different styles of play. Barker is more of a pocket guy, but Johnson gives more dimensions and more of a threat in the run game. But the story here has been quarterback turnovers. It is tough to figure out what is going on because both guys turn the ball over so much in the games they have played. It’s unbelieveable. We talked about it in the press conference yesterday, and our offensive coordinator said he didn’t understand. He literally had no idea how we had won four of five with this turnover ratio.

ME: Kentucky has struggled at times on the road against SEC teams. How is it going to try to fix those woes and make sure they come to Columbia and get the victory?

CA: It is going to start with the defense because of how Missouri’s offense has been this year. The offense has been incredible. [Coach Mark] Stoops talked about the 112 plays Missouri ran, and when I read that myself, I was like OK this is pretty impressive. It is going to come down to if we are able to run the ball and keep the Missouri offense off the field.

ME: What Missouri player presents the biggest threat to Kentucky?

CA: I would probably say [Drew] Lock because of his whole ability to throw and run the ball. He may not be crazy mobile, but the threat is there, and Kentucky, historically, has not been successful against mobile quarterbacks. It could just be his ability. And the secondary and linebacker positions is up in the air right now with a couple of injuries. I definitely think he could hurt us through the air.

ME: What is your prediction for the game?

CA: It will be decently high scoring. I wouldn’t say in the 50s. I would probably say in the 30s. Somewhere around there. I think it will come down to, not last possessions, but who can convert more in the redzone, getting touchdowns instead of field goals. If Kentucky can run the ball, which they have done pretty well the past couple of weeks and keep Missouri’s offense off the field, I feel like they will be able to pull it out.

CA score prediction: 38-31, Kentucky

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