Rich Brooks is in his sixth season at Kentucky with a record of 31-41 (.431) and 24th overall with a record of 122-150-4 (.449). The Wildcats' offensive coordinator is Joker Phillips and the defensive coordinator is Steve Brown.
Skip Holtz is in his fourth season at East Carolina with a record of 29-21 (.580) and in his ninth season overall with a record of 63-44 (.589). The Pirates' offensive coordinator is Todd Fitch and Greg Hudson serves as the defensive coordinator.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN KENTUCKY HAS THE BALL
Kentucky freshman Randall Cobb is proving to be a utility player for the Wildcats this season as he not only serves as UK's starting quarterback but also is second on the team in receiving yards (197) and is second in rushing yards (316). He leads the receiving corps with 21 catches. Cobb has started four games as a receiver and four games at quarterback vs. Mississippi State, Georgia, Vanderbilt and Tennessee. Tony Dixon is the team's leading rusher with 341 net yards and seven touchdowns. Dixon now has 1,299 yards in his career and is among UK's alltime top-20 rushers. Garry Williams has given up only one quarterback sack this season. As a team, UK ranks fifth in the nation in fewest tackles for loss allowed and eighth nationally for fewest sacks allowed.
DE C.J. Wilson has tallied at least one sack in nine of his last 12 games (21.5 career QB drops). DE Zack Slate, who is officially confirmed as the FBS level's second-lightest starting defensive end at 221 pounds (Akron's Shawn Lemon weighs in at 220), has notched five sacks in his last eight games (11.0/career). LB Pierre Bell topped the Pirates in tackles in five straight contests before missing the UTEP game (concussion), which also ended a 17-game starting streak. CB Travis Simmons earned MVP honors at the C-USA Championship Game after picking off his second pass of the season and returning it 72 yards for a score (third returned pick for a TD by ECU in ‘08) against Tulsa. He also returned a fumble in the second quarter for 40 yards and finished with four tackles (two solo). LB Nick Johnson recorded a career-high and game-best 13 stops (six solo) vs. the Golden Hurricane - six stops in the first quarter alone.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN EAST CAROLINA HAS THE BALL
Junior cornerback Trevard Lindley is second in the SEC and tied for tied for 14th in the nation for total passes defended. He has charted 11 pass breakups and four interceptions this season. Myron Pryor has been a dominant presence in the defensive line. He has 29 tackles this season, including 10 for loss and 4.5 quarterback sacks. Jeremy Jarmon totaled 33 tackles, nine for loss, 3.5 quarterback sacks and five pass breakups this season. He ranks in the top five players in school history for sacks. Micah Johnson has made 87 tackles despite missing two games because of injury. He ranks third in the SEC in tackles per game. He leads the Wildcats with 11.5 tackles for loss and has led the team in tackles in eight of the 10 games in which he has played.
Although senior Patrick Pinkney has started 12 of 13 games this season and the Pirates haven't fully utilized a two-pronged quarterbacking rotation scheme like they did in 2007, junior Rob Kass perhaps offers ECU one of the most experienced reserve signal-callers in the nation. TE Davon Drew, who established new career highs with a seven-reception, 92-yard effort at UAB, has now caught at least one pass in eight-straight games. Pinkney has thrown at least one TD in 10-of-13 games this season. RB Norman Whitley ran for 104 yards vs. Tulsa - his second career century-mark rushing performance (135 vs. UCF earlier this year). His 69-yard TD dash now serves as ECU's longest play of the season.
Tim Masthay leads the SEC and is fifth nationally with an average of 45.3 yards per punt. As the team's kickoff man, he is second in the league with 20 touchbacks. He also is the team's holder for placekicks. Cobb also holds a unique distinction as the only player in the nation who is currently his team's starting quarterback and primary punt returner. He has recorded 11 returns for 92 yards (8.4 yards per return). Lones Seiber, is in his third season as the Wildcats' PAT kicker. He has made 36-of-60 field goals, including 9-of-16 field goals this season, all 33 extra-point attempts and is the team's leading scorer with 60 points.
PK Ben Hartman missed his first-ever collegiate PAT against UTEP - snapping his school-record streak of consecutive PATs made at 77 (misfired after ECU's fourth touchdown). His 32-yard field goal vs. Tulsa also marked his 10th consecutive contest with at least one three-pointer, dating back to the N.C. State game (a career best). In addition, his 27-yarder in overtime vs. Marshall was his fourth career “last-play, game-winner”. P Matt Dodge punted seven times including a career-long 73-yarder vs. Tulsa - setting C-USA title game records for punts, yards (296), punt average (42.3) and longest punt.
Record: UK, 1-0 • Last: UK, 6-3 (1993 at Lexington)
This is the second meeting between Kentucky and East Carolina ... The Wildcats defeated the Pirates, 6-3, in Lexington in the 1993 season... Ironically, it was that victory that gave UK its sixth win of the year and put the Wildcats into the '93 Peach Bowl ... UK is 25-9 all-time against the current alignment of the Conference USA ... The Cats' last win over a C-USA team was against ECU in ‘93... Conference USA champion East Carolina will make its third straight bowl appearance and fifth since 2000 when it faces off against Southeastern Conference member Kentucky in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl Friday, Jan. 2 beginning at 4:00 p.m. (CST) at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tenn...The Pirates, whose 27-24 victory over Tulsa Dec. 6 secured the program's first conference title since 1976, will also be shooting for their seventh win in the last eight games and bowl triumphs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1964 and 1965.