Well, that happened. I sit here early on Sunday morning still trying to fully process what happened last night. Kentucky was up 21-10 at the start of the fourth quarter, with a fourth-and-two at the Florida 40. Despite Florida just losing their starting quarterback to injury, Mark Stoops went for it, but the Cats were stopped short. From that point on… well, you know what happened.
Before we get to the downside to the night, we have to start with a major positive piece of news that was overshadowed by game prep yesterday:
Terrence Clarke commits to KENTUCKY
See? Yesterday didn’t completely suck. The Cats received a commitment from top-three prospect Terrence Clarke. The Boston native is currently a member of the class of 2021, but all signs point to him reclassifying to join next year’s class. He is the highest-ranked recruit for Calipari since De’Aaron Fox and the first top-five recruit since Skal Labissiere.
Clarke has drawn comparisons to former NBA player Tracy McGrady with his skills as an athletic wing. Evan Daniels has said he is the best shooter in high school right now, regardless of class.
If you were curious about how Calipari celebrated the big commitment…
— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) September 15, 2019
Now onto the sadness that was last night’s game.
Targeting is the Worst
I mean does anything else really even need to be said? There were three targeting calls in the game, two on Kentucky and one on Florida. Should all three have been a penalty? At least two I can see an argument, but NONE of the three should have resulted in an ejection.
This rule must be changed. Even the Florida player who was ejected did not deserve to be. There was obviously no malcontent in that hit, and the ejection just makes it that much worse.
After the game, Mark Stoops said, “I can’t, you know — I can’t win in this situation… Well, you know, it could be called an awful lot. You know, to have a game decided in that moment, when a guy — what am I supposed to tell my — my guys are fighting, clawing, scrambling, trying to get them down and giving everything they got, and you get that called.”
TJ Carter’s ejection in the fourth quarter was especially poor. What was going to be a third and long for Florida turned into a first down and helped move the ball closer to what turned out to be the go-ahead score:
TJ Carter was ejected for this.
Might as well go ahead and make it flag football and be done with it.
— Not Jerry Tipton (@NotJerryTipton) September 15, 2019
The first targeting call was on Yusuf Corker, which resulted in a key ejection to an already depleted secondary. I’ll just refer back to my tweet from last night on targeting. I will never be for it resulting in an ejection unless it’s just blatantly dirty. Most fans can agree when that happens.
I HATE the guy who blames it on the refs, but this crew has called three targeting calls (2 on UK and 1 on UF) and all three have been jokes. Ejections for targeting is just flat out stupid. They have to fix it.
— Sam Gormley (@GormleyKSR) September 15, 2019
Ahmad Wagner is the real deal
Ahmad Wagner really is incredible. There is no other way to put it. Last night, he again drew multiple pass interference calls against him, but also made one of the best catches in recent UK history.
Before we watch the video, I have to give a ton of props to KSR’s official photographer Dr. Mike. I mean look at that picture?!?! That is just fantastic!
— Michael Huang (@DrMikeUK) September 15, 2019
The touchdown catch he pulled in though was nothing short of spectacular:
Ahmad Wagner is, and I say this without hesitation, doubt, or hyperbole — the greatest wide receiver in the history of football. pic.twitter.com/bau8XL287I
— Not Jerry Tipton (@NotJerryTipton) September 14, 2019
Steve Levy and I had the same reaction when I was watching live. At first, there was a sense of disappointment that he had dropped the ball… then utter disbelief when we found out that he actually pulled it down. I’m still trying to figure out how he pulled that off.
Sawyer Smith played well
Sawyer Smith made his first start as a Kentucky Wildcat last night and showed a lot of promise. The graduate transfer finished 23-35 for 267 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. After fumbling a snap on the opening drive, Smith started the game off a perfect 9-9.
When you look at his performance, I think there is a lot to be happy about, especially in the first half. The turning point in the game came on his interception thrown in the red zone that Florida returned for 70+ yards. On that play, Smith made the tackle and came up holding his right wrist a little gingerly. From that point on, his throws didn’t seem to have the same “snap” that they did early on in the game.
During the first half though, I think that Smith made a lot of fans exhale a major sigh of relief. He truly did look like an SEC quarterback and will hopefully rebound from a rough fourth quarter next week at Mississippi State.
Injuries continue to amass
The injury bug continued to bite the Cats during last night’s game, as multiple players had to leave the field. As I mentioned, Smith did come up favoring the wrist, but there haven’t been any signs from him or the staff showing it is anything to be worried about long term.
Other players that left the game with injury were Quinton Bohanna and Taj Dodson (who came in for the ejected Yusuf Corker).
In addition to that, Phil Hoskins, who was to make his first start after missing the first two games due to suspension, was helped off the field during warmups. After the game last night, Mark Stoops said that, “He must have just got his foot planted. It’s a shame. I hope it’s nothing too serious.”
We will probably know more in the coming days on the status of each of those players, but for a defense that is already going to be down TJ Carter in the first half next week, there needs to be some major finger crossing to make sure these injuries aren’t too serious.
Other Scores from the SEC
In other SEC action yesterday:
- (3) Georgia 55-0 over Arkansas State
- Kansas State 31-24 over Mississippi State
- Tennessee upsets Chattanooga 45-0
- (2) Alabama 47-23 over South Carolina
- Ole Miss 40-29 over SE Louisiana
- Arkansas 55-34 over Colorado State
- (8) Auburn 55-16 over Kent State
- (16) Texas A&M 66-3 over Lamar
- (4) LSU 65-14 over Northwestern State
- Missouri 50-0 over SE Missouri State
Other games of note:
- (6) Ohio State 51-10 over Indiana
- (13) Penn State 17-10 over Pitt
- Temple 20-17 over (21) Maryland
- (19) Iowa 18-17 over Iowa State
- (1) Clemson 41-6 over Syracuse
NFL Schedule for the Day
Let’s go Bengals!
There’s the news you need to know to start the day. The sun has come up, and we are moving on to another day. Beat Mississippi State.