Football Season Coverage
By Maggie Davis on ©September 15th, 2019 @ 11:00pm
I spent the morning gathering post-game quotes, trying to wade carefully through the “coach talk” and the players’ media training to find some actual insight as to what happened during Kentucky’s collapse against Florida Saturday night. The Cats’ turnovers, inconsistency and at least one questionable targeting call in the second half ultimately led to a blown 21-10 lead and a victory for the No. 9 Florida Gators inside Kroger Field.
One play that stands out, of course, is Chance Poore’s flubbed 35-yard field goal – I’m sure the Florida media had fun with that headline following the game. But why was the game coming down to a kick in the first place? I was looking for answers – what did the coaching staff say in response to the drive that ultimately resulted in a missed kick and zero points on the board for the Cats? Thanks to our friend the internet (specifically, videos that permanently live on Youtube), I found a video titled “Eddie Gran post Florida.”
“You’d like to not kick field goals; you’d like to have touchdowns on every one. We’ll probably come back and look, and it was mistakes, play calling, whatever it may be,” Gran said in the video. “We had a chance to put them away. We had a bad snap; we had a penalty. Those things are excusable. But that’s on me.”
Gran went on to discuss the Cats’ struggles with getting points on the board late in the game. After a mostly-positive offensive outing during the first half, what led to the kick that ultimately decided the Cats’ fate? They simply couldn’t convert.
“Our efficiency on first downs in the first half, I thought was phenomenal,” Gran said. But the second half was a different story.
“You’ve got to convert. If we would have converted three more, maybe who knows. It could have changed the game. If you don’t have a penalty or something like that, maybe you don’t kick a field goal. Not on a team like this. We had the chance to put them away and we didn’t do it.”
Then the next question… was about Benny Snell. Wait a second. Did Gran’s response just reference Stephen Johnson? And… is that Alan Cutler in the background?
Turns out, the video I was watching was actually from 2017. It came from an entirely different year with the same outcome: a heartbreaking loss to the Gators inside Kentucky’s own stadium. Gran even looked exactly the same.
I’ve never felt a more intense instance of déjà vu. How is this still happening?
The progress the Kentucky football program has made since that video was posted two years ago is truly remarkable. Since then, the Cats have boasted two winning seasons, an impressive bowl game victory, a handful of NFL Draft picks and a win over Florida inside the Swamp. It can be done. Sure, the Cats’ starting quarterback just went down with a devastating injury last week, and many of last year’s key players have graduated from the program. Saturday’s absences due to injury or ejection didn’t help either. Still, what’s in the water when Florida comes to town? And why did it once again come down to a kick?
KSR’s Matt Jones ran through a few of the game’s qualities on Twitter. Combined, the team’s late-game falters lead to an “old school UK loss.”
– Kentucky outplays the opponent
– Blows a big lead
– Backup QB leads comeback
– Poor coaching decisions
– Odd plays
– Questionable calls
– Mental errors
– Missed gimme Field Goal late
This was an old school UK loss
— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) September 15, 2019
I finally found a video from this year’s post-game press conference. Not surprisingly, it didn’t sound that different from the 2017 video.
“We’ll go back as a staff – it always starts with us. It always starts with our staff,” Gran said Saturday night. “We’ll go back and make sure we put them in the right position to win a game. Obviously we didn’t on short yardage, so we’ll go back to the drawing board and get that fixed for next week.”
If nothing else, may we all age as gracefully as Eddie Gran.
By Brett Bibbins on ©September 15th, 2019 @ 9:00pm
With all the hype surrounding the Florida game this weekend, overshadowed was the induction of the UK Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2019. This year’s class included football star quarterback Andre Woodson, men’s basketball big man DeMarcus Cousins, women’s basketball’s A’dia Mathies, Henri Junghänel from UK Rifle, and both Vic Nelson and Don Weber from cross country and track.
It’s UK Athletics Hall of Fame weekend! Presenting your Class of 2019 inductees: pic.twitter.com/zPjfFhIfAt
— Kentucky Athletics (@UKAthletics) September 12, 2019
Five of the six inductees were able to attend the ceremony and give their acceptance speeches in person, with DeMarcus Cousins‘ speech being a pre-recorded video.
Andre Woodson used the weekend to be at the ceremony, as well as at the football game Saturday night. Watch his speech below.
One of the best women’s players in Kentucky Hoops history, A’dia Mathies was the first player in UK basketball history, both men and women, to accumulate over 2,000 points, 600 rebounds, 300 assists and 300 steals in a career.
You can view the entire playlist of speeches on YouTube from Kentucky Wildcats TV here.
Congrats to the UK Athletics Hall of Fame 2019 Class! All very well deserved and an awesome accomplishment.
What if I told you that you could have a receiver on your team who would net positive yardage almost 100 percent of the time? Let me introduce you to Ahmad Wagner.
Everyone knows the legend of the guy who draws pass interference at an unbelievable rate. But Wagner is much more than that. He’s truly an unguardable target.
After last night, Wagner has been targeted 17 times in his career. He has nine catches and has drawn seven pass interference penalties. That means that 94 percent of the balls thrown his way have been successful. It’s honestly incredible.
What’s even better is he’s not just catching quick screens or short passes. He’s making these plays on mostly deep balls. He finds a way to do something positive on every ball thrown to him.
Never a doubt Ahmad Wagner was coming down with this ball.
— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) September 15, 2019
— Michael Huang (@DrMikeUK) September 15, 2019
These two instances are just a couple examples of the ability Wagner clearly possesses. While he didn’t draw a pass interference penalty last night, I think his touchdown catch was almost assuredly interference ,whether it was called or not.
So here’s what I want to know: why has Wagner only been targeted 17 times? Last night, there wasn’t a Florida defender who could guard him, as evidenced by the above videos. Yet, the Cats only threw the ball his way three times. He caught all three passes for 70 yards and a touchdown. On the year, he has nice catches for 198 yards and two touchdowns.
I understand his catch-to-pass interference rate will drop if he’s thrown the ball more, but Kentucky has to give him more chances. He’s a playmaker at a position of weakness on a sometimes-stagnant offense. Sawyer Smith loves throwing the ball up and letting his receivers make a play. Wagner could become his favorite target if given the chance.
There’s no excuse to only target Wagner three times in the passing game. Smith looks like a solid passer so far and in order to maximize his ability, it would probably help to get the ball to his most unguardable target.
By Maggie Davis on ©September 15th, 2019 @ 5:00pm
Feleipe Franks was the talk of the town leading into Saturday’s Kentucky vs. Florida matchup in Lexington. Is he elite? Is he overrated? How does he matchup with Kentucky’s defense? How will his numbers look against those of Sawyer Smith?
Through the first three quarters, Kentucky got their answers. Smith made some mistakes, but overall, he was outplaying Florida’s starting quarterback.
Smith completed his first nine passes of the game – his first incompletion came with less than two minutes remaining in the first half. Late in the third quarter, Kentucky held a 21-10 advantage over Florida. But on the final drive of that quarter, Franks went down with a leg injury after being tackled by UK defensive lineman Calvin Taylor. The Gators had failed on their fourth-down conversion, but a much larger problem was developing.
Kentucky players took a knee and fans offered applause while Franks was carted off the field. After the game, Florida Coach Dan Mullen told reporters Franks suffered a dislocated ankle and could miss the remainder of the season. It’s another heartbreaking injury inside Kroger Field, and one you never want to see happen to either sideline.
Feleipe Franks is expected to miss the remainder of the season after dislocating his ankle, Florida HC Dan Mullen says. https://t.co/gXRnuarcnt
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) September 15, 2019
In many ways, that was the turning point of the game. After Franks was taken to the locker room, Kyle Trask came in to lead Florida’s offense. Stop me if you’ve heard this before: a team’s backup quarterback enters the game, following injury or an overall-poor performance by the starter, and quickly commands the game.
“We had a good feeling [of] what he was going to do,” Mark Stoops said of Trask after the game. “We knew he was going to throw it, and you know, he did a good job. Again, it’s a bad time for us to be short some of the secondary guys we were.”
Trask immediately led his team to a six-play, 62-yard touchdown drive following the starter’s injury. His first incompletion came on Florida’s failed two-point attempt. The Cats still led 21-16, but it was clear the momentum had started to shift. Trask’s passing looking impeccable, and Kentucky’s defense wasn’t keeping up with the backup. The Wildcats got rolling again on the next drive, and things were looking up with a big sack. That, of course, was called back when defensive end TJ Carter was ejected for targeting. The Cats were flustered and the crowd was angry. The Gators regained the lead three plays later, 22-21. You know the rest.
The “Battle of the Backups” is a tale as old as time, in Kentucky and otherwise. However, when you actually compare all of the QB numbers from Saturday night, they aren’t that different from one another.
Franks completed 12-of-17 passes (71 percent) for 174 yards; he had one touchdown and one interception. When Trask came in the game, he completed 9 of 13 passes (69 percent) for 126 yards. Combined, Florida’s quarterbacks went 21-30 (70 percent) for exactly 300 yards. Kentucky’s Smith finished the game 23 of 35 (66 percent) for 267 yards. Franks rushed eight times for a total of 27 yards; Smith held the ball nine times for 23 yards. Trask ran just once.
At the same time, what we’ve been hearing all week was proven true – at least for now. Smith can complete a pass, but he struggled with his decision making and reaction time. Florida scored their first touchdown off a Smith fumble; their next three points came from a field goal following an interception. The touchdown that sealed-the-deal came from a fourth-quarter pick.
It was Smith’s first career start for Kentucky, and it happened to align with the Cats’ game against No. 9 Florida. In the grand scheme of things, its probably best Kentucky faced the Gators this week, rather than an even more “must-win” game in the conference. A loss to Florida is a loss to Florida, but it’s hard to point the finger at Sawyer Smith. He certainly shouldn’t bear all of the blame.
Kentucky’s head coach was proud of the way his backup – is it time we stop referring to Smith as the backup? – matched up against tough competition.
“I thought he did some really good things. You know, there’s some plays that we could do over, and there’s some plays that the receivers can help him on, as well,” Mark Stoops said Saturday night. “It‘s just a matter of getting everybody on the same page. I think there’s a lot to build on there. I was proud of the way he went in and played and gave us an opportunity to win this game.”
Lynn Bowden is one of the most dynamic playmakers in all of college football. But why aren’t we seeing it?
Last night, Bowden had seven catches for 70 yards on 12 targets. That’s nothing to shrug at, but it also doesn’t really jump off the page, unless you have him in your PPR fantasy football league.
For the season, Bowden is now up to 20 catches but a measly 201 yards and only one touchdown. That’s a 10.1 yards per catch average, which isn’t great for a player with his level of talent. We’ve become so accustomed to the dynamic wide out making spectacular plays all around the field that it’s hard to feel anything except a little disappointment so far.
That’s not a slight to Bowden or his ability, but something’s got to give. The Cats need the guy who defenses are afraid he might score every time he touches the ball. He’s already having touches taken away from him, as teams are trying to not allow him an opportunity to return the ball on kickoffs. The defense is employing a bend-don’t-break defense that allows teams to consistently drive to at least midfield before they get a stop. That also limits Bowden’s chances of getting big returns in the punt game.
I see the Cats consistently trying to get Bowden the ball, as evidenced by his 12 targets against Florida. The explosive playmaking just hasn’t been there just yet. I’m not at all worried about Bowden moving forward. We all know what he’s capable of, and he deserves the benefit of the doubt. I credit his only-somewhat slow start to defenses just being more prepared than they were previously.
There’s a game coming where Lynn Bowden will remind us all why he had us so excited before the season started. Hopefully it comes sooner rather than later.
By Maggie Davis on ©September 15th, 2019 @ 4:00pm
It was a big night inside Kroger Field when the Gators came to town, and some important Wildcats joined the thousands of fans in attendance to cheer on the football team Saturday night.
This year’s basketball team was brought onto the field to be formerly introduced to the BBN, and KSR’s own Dr. Mike snapped some great pictures of the team (and their outfits).
Whose shoe game is your favorite? And where can I get one of those jackets?
Some former Wildcats were also in attendance. Lee Howard of WKYT ran into Bam Adebayo, PJ Washington and Jarred Vanderbilt.
— Lee K. Howard (@HowardWKYT) September 15, 2019
Our friends with the Big Blue Express spied a few more former Cats in the stands: Tyler Herro and Hamidou Diallo, along with their friend and former UK manager Randy Gregory.
Another day, another interesting Tyler Herro fashion decision.
Horse racing legend Bob Baffert was also spotted inside Kroger Field.
It’s awesome to see so many players – past and present – come together to cheer on the Cats, despite their own sport’s schedules and obligations. If only they could have seen a better ending.
Another weekend of college football has come and gone, which means it’s time for an updated AP Poll of the nation’s top-25 teams. Once again, Kentucky did not make the cut.
That’s not too surprising, as the AP hadn’t included the Wildcats in their Top-25 list even before their gut-wrenching loss to Florida. However, it’s baffling Kentucky didn’t even receive a single vote. Saturday’s game against the No. 9 team in the nation came down to a “couple of inches,” as Coach Stoops likes to say. UK was winning for three quarters, and yet Florida remains in the top 10, while UK didn’t earn a single vote.
So far this season, Kentucky has only received two votes, and those came following week two.
Here’s a look at the entire list as we head into week four of the season:
- 1. Clemson
- 2. Alabama
- 3. Georgia
- 4. LSU
- 5. Oklahoma
- 6. Ohio State
- 7. Notre Dame
- 8. Auburn
- 9. Florida
- 10. Utah
- 11. Michigan
- 12. Texas
- 13. Penn State
- 13. Wisconsin
- 15. UCF
- 16. Oregon
- 17. Texas A&M
- 18. Iowa
- 19. Washington State
- 20. Boise State
- 21. Virginia
- 22. Washington
- 23. California
- 24. Arizona State
- 25. TCU
Kentucky’s next opponent, Mississippi State, did not make the cut but did receive 73 votes.
Now onto this week’s coaches poll, where Kentucky typically fares a bit better. That’s true again this week, as the Cats accumulated 14 votes from coaches across the country.
Let’s hope the Cats use this as another piece of locker room motivation.
With a 21-10 lead in the fourth quarter and possession within scoring territory, it felt like Kentucky was on the verge of running Florida out of Kroger Field. Feleipe Franks had just been carted off due to injury, the Gators had zero running game, and Sawyer Smith was dealing despite two turnovers that gave Dan Mullen’s team their only two scores of the game. What followed was a series of unfortunate bounces caused by many factors.
Despite struggling in short-yardage runs in his career, Kentucky gave A.J. Rose a carry on both third and fourth down. On the first play of the last quarter, the Wildcats went to the old and reliable wildcat formation. The redshirt junior was stuffed and the Gators would go on to win the final quarter by a count of 19-0 led by backup quarterback Kyle Trask.
Kentucky did a lot of good things, but this one will be remembered for what happened in the final 15 minutes. On the game-winning touchdown drive, a questionable targeting call on T.J. Carter turned a 3rd-and-long into a first down in scoring territory. This was caused by a Sawyer Smith interception. On the next possession, Kentucky decided to eat clock and settled for a field goal instead taking a swing at a touchdown. Chance Poore’s 35-yarder was wide right and Florida recorded a late touchdown to give them 76 over their 138 rushing yards.
What could have been.
Kentucky collected 407 yards (140 rushing, 267 passing) on 76 plays. The Wildcats put up a season low 5.4 yards per play, but it wasn’t from their inefficiency. The Wildcats were a very effective 8-of-15 on third down with Sawyer Smith making plays with both his arms and legs. In his first SEC start, the grad transfer made some plays but had some ball security issues.
After producing a takeaway on the first possession of the game, Kentucky gave it right back to Florida three plays later. That cannot happen. This allowed Florida to get to a quick 7-0 lead. After going into halftime with a 14-7 lead, Kentucky marched 57 yards in nine plays and ate up over five minutes of clock before the former Troy quarterback threw an interception in the red zone.
If it weren’t for these two turnovers, Kentucky could have conceivably been up by three or four possessions in the middle of the third quarter. Those plays changed the game and allowed Florida to hang around long enough before they caught a wave of momentum in the fourth quarter. Smith completed 65.7 percent of his throws, put up a solid 7.6 yards per attempt and now has four passing touchdowns through five quarters of play. It took Terry Wilson three games to reach that number last year. UK’s new quarterback’s best throw may be the fade route.
Kentucky efficiently moved the football, but the lack of the splash play held the offense back. The Wildcats only had one run to go over 20 yards with just three passes going the same distance. UK did not have one play go 30-plus yards after hitting on multiple in the first two games. Todd Grantham’s defense took away the big play and that was one of the biggest keys to victory.
On the ground, A.J. Rose really struggled only recording 46 yards on 14 carries. If you take away is 21-yard run in the third quarter, the redshirt junior had 25 yards on 13 carries. That is unacceptable. Kavosiey Smoke continues to get the job done (16 carries, 81 yards, 5.1 yards per attempt) and currently ranks seventh in the SEC in rushing yards. It might be time for a changing of the guard.
For those wanting the tight ends to get more involved in the passing game, they had to be thrilled with what they saw in the loss. Justin Rigg had five grabs and was one of Sawyer Smith’s favorite targets. Keaton Upshaw recorded his first touchdown and this is a position that could benefit a ton for the the new quarterback. Lynn Bowden, Jr. did his thing (7 grabs, 70 yards) and ranks second in the SEC in receptions. Ahmad Wagner continues to mesmerize.
As expected, Kentucky’s offensive line won their matchup. Against the top pass rush group in the country, UK only allowed one sack and were a key factor that allowed Kentucky to dominate the time of possession battle (34:55-25:05). Mark Stoops loves to win that and the rushing battle. UK’s offensive line led the way in both regards.
Kentucky allowed 438 yards (138 rushing, 300 passing) on just 57 plays. The Gators put up 7.7 yards per play and that was the most UK has surrendered since Lamar Jackson steamrolled the Wildcats in 2017. The Gators consistently hit on big plays, only punted once, and scored on four of five red zone trips (three touchdowns and one field goal). They did all this with two running backs and zero running game.
Lamical Perine was a preseason All-SEC selection who Kentucky limited to 27 yards on 14 carries. Before Josh Hammond’s 70-plus yard jet sweep touchdown to put the game on ice, Florida rushed for just 62 yards on 26 carries. Kentucky dominated the point of attack, but it didn’t matter because of the success Florida had through the air.
The Gators passed for 300 yards on just 30 attempts and completed 70 percent of their passes. The longest pass of the day was just for 32 yards so they were consistently able to really hurt Kentucky with intermediate throws. Through three games, Kentucky is allowing foes to complete over 60 percent of their passes and twice opponents have tossed for 300 yards. At least they are forcing some takeaways.
It’s important to remember that Kentucky was without starting free safety Yusuf Corker for most of the game, but this group still has a ways to go in coverage. On Florida’s first touchdown, there was a coverage mix up between freshmen Taj Dodson and Jamari Brown. Quandre Mosely was flagged for a key pass interference call in the fourth quarter to go with a bunch of other issues. The Wildcats need the pass rush to step it up.
Brad White’s defense only recorded one sack yesterday and are struggling to finish successful pass rushes. Kentucky is consistently getting past the offensive line, but they have been unable to finish plays. Kordell Looney picked a good time to record the first strip sack of his career.
Now to the targeting.
Thinks to a great edge rush from Jordan Wright, T.J. Carter finished off a sack that would have created a 3rd-and-17 for Florida at their own 42 with under six minutes left in the game. Instead targeting is called, one of Kentucky’s best defensive players is out for the first half next week, and Mark Stoops was rightfully upset about the call after the game.
After a very well played three quarters with some timely stops, Kentucky could not buy one in the final quarters thanks to some savvy play from a backup quarterback and sone bounces that just would not go their way.
There was only one return all game and Max Duffy continues to be dominant. The junior punter turned a shank into a 60-plus yard boot and twice pinned Florida inside the 20. Grant McKinniss continues to be great as a kickoff specialist, but this game will be remembered for the missed kick in crunch time.
In first ever crunch time kick, Chance Poore missed a 35-yard field goal and that may have costed Kentucky the win. The Wildcats have a chance to be a dominant special teams unit this season, but they need their placekicker to make field goals.
For the third game in a row, Kentucky came out of the halftime locker room and dominated the third quarter. The Wildcats had a two-possession lead and were in position to land a knockout punch to a top-10 team. What happened next was a “whatever could go wrong, went wrong” situation.
The Wildcats were stuffed on fourth-and-short, got shredded by a backup quarterback, received a very unfortunate targeting call, and missed a field goal that has to be made. A lot had to break Florida’s way to win the game and they all did in the final 15 minutes. Sometimes that’s how this game works.
Moving forward, the Wildcats have no time to sulk. On deck are consecutive road trips to Mississippi State and South Carolina with both likely going to be one-possession games in the fourth quarter. UK must refocus and build on some of the good things from Week Three.
Sawyer Smith looks like a capable passer and made some big time throws, but the ball security issues must be fixed. On offense, expect for Kavosiey Smoke to take over in the backfield and for Ahmad Wagner to receive more vertical targets. On defense, it was great to see UK’s run defense step up to the moment, but the pass defense still needs a lot of work. The UK pass rush must help out its young secondary. After a brutal miss, Chance Poore must bounce back. He is going to have plenty of more big kicks in his career.
It was a very tough loss, but the season is just getting started. Kentucky is very healthy through three weeks, has a ton of potential on offense and the defense is doing a great job producing takeaways. Now we get to see what this team can do on the road against, potentially, two more backup quarterbacks.
On to Mississippi State.
The Kentucky Wildcats were haunted by the targeting rule all night against Florida in its 29-21 defeat at Kroger Field. The rule sparked tons of controversy across the country, as two Cats and one Gator were ejected from the game on absolutely terrible calls.
Now, let me be clear. I’m not saying the targeting calls weren’t targeting, according to the rule. Based on the language of the rule, all three players should have been ejected from the game. The problem is simply that the rule needs to change. Officials should be given more discretion in deciding whether a player should really be penalized and/or ejected from a game – and possibly suspended for part of the next game – based on the helmet-to-helmet hit.
There should be a discernible difference in calls based on the intent of players. This rule is meant to keep players safe. I understand that. What I don’t understand is penalizing players when they can’t avoid the helmet-to-helmet hit. If you’ve ever played football, you know how hard it is to adjust when you’re about to hit a player and he suddenly ducks his head or shifts in a way that forces you to hit them head on.
Saturday night, a targeting call forced UK’s starting safety and defensive tackle out of the game. Yusuf Corker was ejected in the first quarter and TJ Carter was sent packing in the fourth, which ended up being a pivotal moment in the game.
The ruling on Carter was the most egregious, as the quarterback was being slung around and ended up dropping his head at the last second, forcing Carter to hit him helmet-to-helmet.
Quarterback getting swung around leads to targeting. I mean… pic.twitter.com/QpMQfeNe9N
— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) September 15, 2019
This should’ve been a second down sack and a game-changer for Kentucky. Technically, I guess it could still be considered a game changer. The rule led to a 15-yard targeting penalty, an automatic first down, and an ejection for Carter. Florida took the lead and never looked back after this drive.
Again, I know under the rule that this is targeting. The problem is the rule itself. TJ Carter’s intent wasn’t to target or hurt the quarterback; it was incidental contact. This rule won’t deter Carter from tackling like this in the future. He was looking to properly tackle Florida’s quarterback, and instead, because of one bad move by the quarterback himself, he was ejected and his team may have lost because of it.
The rule has to change, and it has to change now.
By Brent Wainscott on ©September 15th, 2019 @ 1:00pm
There are a lot of ‘why?’s’ following yet another heartbreaking loss to the Florida Gators Saturday night. Why go conservative, why were those two calls targeting, why does Kentucky insist on running a Wildcat on fourth & one? So on and so forth.
But the biggest ‘why’, at least for me, is why is AJ Rose still getting the bulk of the carries over Kavosiey Smoke?
Through three games, Smoke leads the Kentucky rushing attack with 251 yards; however, Rose still leads the team in carries by 13. Now, Smoke did get a bump in production this Saturday, nearly doubling his carries on the season which was aided by five carries on the next-to-last series. But it still seemed like Gran was forcing Rose into the mix with 14 carries on the night and giving the nod to Rose in key situations.
This post isn’t a slight to Rose. In fact, Rose brings great things to the table, including blocking, receiving out of the backfield and keeping the defense honest. But when it comes to SOLEY picking up yards on the ground, it just hasn’t worked for Rose so far this season.
This season, Rose is averaging 4.1 yards per carry compared to Smoke’s 7.4. So, it had to be asked: Why is A.J Rose still getting high volume carries out of the backfield?
Is it because of seniority and AJ deserves it? Is it because his versatility keeps the defense honest? Is it his blocking? The BBN wants answers. Here’s what Eddie Gran gave us:
“They’ve both been productive. Smoke gets the longer runs. Some of that’s been because you know we’ve worn them down. Sometimes it’s been there after three series, sometimes it’s been after four series. A lot of the time it happens like that, because of the way it works out. Sometimes there are holes when the other guy is in. We go and watch that every week.”
I, for one, am an Eddie Gran supporter, but I just can’t find a way to wrap my head around the ‘a lot of the time it happens like that, because of the way it works out‘ as an explanation for Rose still getting nearly 16 carries a game compared to Smoke’s 11.
The proof is in the pudding, and Smoke has clearly been the leading back out of that backfield through a quarter of the season. It seemed like Kentucky trusted Smoke down the stretch last night, and maybe they will make that adjustment going forward this season.
By Brent Wainscott on ©September 15th, 2019 @ 11:30am
Here’s what a few of Kentucky’s players and coaches had to say after the Cats’ 29-21 loss to Florida Saturday night.
*Kash Daniel, Lynn Bowden, and Kavosiey Smoke we not made available.*
For more, you can check out the KSR Digital Youtube page.
By Brent Wainscott on ©September 15th, 2019 @ 11:00am
If you are a sad Kentucky football fan like I am this morning, viewer discretion is advised for this post.
After the Cats toppled the Gators a little over a year ago, Kash Daniel embraced his wrestling moniker with the famous Stone Cold Steve Austin bottle smash celebration.
“That’s the Bottom Line because Kash Money said so!”
The Kentuckian’s celebration went national, and it became a rallying cry for Cats fans across the BBN. We saw it everywhere.
The Florida players apparently also saw it everywhere, and this year, when the game’s outcome was different, one Gator made sure to remind Daniel of post-game celebration. Check out No. 66
— Chip Skylark (@MyShinyTweets) September 15, 2019
— Alex Huelsman (@alex_huelsman) September 15, 2019
Ugh. Losing sucks.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 15th, 2019 @ 10:30am
The targeting call on TJ Carter in the fourth quarter is all anyone can talk about after last night’s loss, and rightfully so. What would have been a sack to make it third and long for the Gators turned into 15 free yards, a first down, and three plays later, the touchdown that would put Florida ahead for good.
The clip of the play in question is everywhere this morning, and shows that Carter didn’t aim for Kyle Trask’s head; rather, Trask dipped his head and shoulders before contact.
Still kinda upset about this pic.twitter.com/1X4G8MJwVM
— KY Clips (@KY_Clips) September 15, 2019
Not really sure what Carter is supposed to do. His target never and head never changed. The quarterbacks head dropping and swinging around caused the contact. pic.twitter.com/221hC5hnYY
— Shawn Smith (@gbbcountry) September 15, 2019
There were three targeting calls — and therefore, ejections — last night: the aforementioned one on Carter, one on Yusuf Corker in the first quarter, and one on Florida cornerback Donovan Stiner for his hit on Ahmad Wagner in the third quarter. Mark Stoops tried to toe the line of not criticizing the referees too much in his postgame press conference, but was clearly frustrated.
“It’s very difficult. I’m not saying that all the officials made a wrong call. It’s just a tough call. It’s a tough call. You’ve got a chance to win a game, you know, with third and 20 — what would it have been? I don’t know, third and super long. Targeting.”
“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,” he added later before leaving the room.
AJ Rose, Kordell Looney, Drake Jackson, and defensive coordinator Brad White shared their frustrations about the rule with our Bradley McKee.
As Jackson points out, Florida also had a targeting call, and Kentucky had a chance to win the game regardless, but the number of controversial calls this season proves the rule, particularly the blanket punishment, could use some work.
By Sam Gormley on ©September 15th, 2019 @ 10:00am
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.
By Drew Franklin on ©September 15th, 2019 @ 12:05am
Kentucky was the better team Saturday night. Unfortunately, the final scoreboard tells a different story.
It sure looked like the Cats were on their way to upsetting Florida and starting a new streak of their own in the rivalry. Big Blue Nation was having a blast in Kroger Field through most of the game, but the wheels fell off in the fourth quarter and an 11-point lead turned into an eight-point loss thanks to a number of blunders on both sides of the ball.
It’s midnight so let’s overreact to all of it while we’re still upset:
The targeting call on TJ Carter changed everything.
Instead of a sack on 2nd down that would’ve put Florida in a 3rd-and-long situation in the fourth quarter, the Gators moved up 15 yards and earned a free first down with a questionable targeting penalty assessed to Carter on the sack. If Carter was guilty of anything, he was guilty of playing football and making a winning play late in a tight game. The officials saw it differently, though, and Carter was ejected from the game while Florida moved up into scoring position. Three plays later, Florida scored a go-ahead touchdown and never looked back.
How about this blatant hold that wasn’t called on the very next play?
Florida connected on a 30-yard pass immediately after receiving the gift of a targeting call, but holding should’ve been called on the play. Jeff Drummond snapped a great photo of Jordan Wright being pulled down as he hurried the QB before the throw:
Right in front of lead official on gain to first-and-goal… pic.twitter.com/bEQ2AL8EBR
— Jeff Drummond (@JDrumUK) September 15, 2019
We don’t complain about officiating around here, but those were back-to-back plays that went Florida’s way with a little help from the stripes.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before… Kentucky got conservative with its play-calling late in the game.
For the most part, UK’s offense looked good with Sawyer Smith under center all night long, but Eddie Gran let his foot off the gas late in the game with too many weapons on his side against an inexperienced Florida secondary. It seemed like Kentucky was content with Chance Poore trying a field goal on that second to last drive, when they should’ve been looking to continue the attack and go for the end zone rather trusting Poore on his first career attempt at a game-winner. UK had a 3rd-and-2 at the Florida 18-yard-line, and settled for the 35-yard field goal attempt that missed its mark and cost Kentucky the game.
I miss Austin MacGinnis.
We learned the hard way how important it is to have a kicker with the clutch gene. MacGinnis had it; Poore will need to find it. The team put the outcome of the game on his foot and he couldn’t deliver in the big moment.
A backup QB beat Kentucky again. #NoMoreBackUps
Same old song, right? Once Feleipe Franks left the game with an ankle injury, we should’ve known his backup, Kyle Trask, would step in and lead the comeback. We’ve seen that movie way too many times. And that is exactly what he did because that is what backups always do against Kentucky.
With Trask in the game for only a quarter, Florida outscored Kentucky, 15-0, after Kentucky had been up 21-10 until the switch. Things were so much more fun when Franks was in the game.
Can we throw the Wildcat away forever?
Unless Lynn Bowden is running it with an opportunity for some trickery, let’s forget the Wildcat please. The 4th-and-1 was a backbreaker. If you pick that up, you’re 3-0 right now.
Sawyer Smith gives us confidence moving forward.
One positive takeaway from the evening and maybe the most positive of positive takeaways, is the fact Sawyer Smith looked like an SEC quarterback and a player we can trust. There doesn’t seem like too much of a drop off between Wilson and Smith, and Kentucky will be just fine with Smith leading the offense for the rest of the season. He had a couple of bad turnovers, but he also aired it out and showed some mobility with his feet. He deserved to win this game in his first career start.
Ahmad Wagner is incredible.
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) September 15, 2019
Serious question: Why not throw it to him until it doesn’t work? He was targeted three times and had three catches for 70 yards and a touchdown. KEEP FEEDING HIM.
Let’s go beat Mississippi State.
By Nick Roush on ©September 14th, 2019 @ 11:48pm
Kentucky had no business losing to Florida.
The Cats controlled the game for three quarters before they let the game slip away in the final 15 minutes. There are so many plays that if they went differently, Kentucky would have easily secured the victory. Six stand above the rest.
1. What if Yusuf Corker didn’t get ejected for targeting?
The centerfielder of Kentucky’s secondary was a true freshman for all but two Florida possessions. One of the Cats’ top tacklers and a reliable security blanket at the back of the defense, Kentucky’s defense wasn’t the same without Corker in the game. Even so, that penalty might not have been as consequential as the T.J. Carter flag that really bothered Mark Stoops after the game.
2. What if Sawyer Smith didn’t try to be a hero in the red zone?
On the first drive of the second half, Kentucky cruised into the Florida red zone. A 23-yard Justin Rigg reception and a 21-yard A.J. Rose run put the ball on the Florida 13-yard line in about three minutes. A touchdown would give Kentucky a 21-7 lead. Instead, Smith felt pressure and was pushed out of the pocket. Before taking the sack, he tried to thread the needle. It resulted in an interception. Smith’s hustle prevented the play from becoming a pick six, but the Gators were able to make a field goal that kept the game close, close enough to mount a fourth quarter comeback.
3. What if Franks didn’t get injured?
As soon as the Florida quarterback injured his ankle on a fourth down scramble, it felt like the Gators recaptured their mojo. It also planted the idea into every fan’s head around the Big Blue Nation: “Oh no. Not another backup quarterback.” Yup, a backup quarterback beat Kentucky, again.
4. What if UK just snuck it with Sawyer?
The last play of the third quarter and the first play of the fourth quarter cost Kentucky the football game. They had an 11-point lead and two plays to get one yard. The Sawyer Smith quarterback sneak worked well earlier; so did the Kavosiey Smoke run. Instead, Eddie Gran went with A.J. Rose in the Wildcat on fourth and one, the last thing fans wanted to see. I’d like to think that a simple quarterback sneak would have moved the chains before Smith supplied a dagger to end the drive.
5. What if UK ran left on the final drive?
Kavosiey Smoke was moving the ball pretty well down the field on the final drive, typically following the right side of the line. On the final two plays before the go-ahead field goal attempt, Smoke ran right instead of following Landon Young and Logan Stenberg into the middle of the field. Following two future pros to make it an easier kick just made too much sense.
6. What If Chance Poore just made a 35-yard field goal?
It’s not too much to ask of a college kicker. We miss you, MacGinnis.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 14th, 2019 @ 11:46pm
COACH MARK STOOPS: Okay. Obviously very, very difficult loss. Really, you know, feel like our team did some really good things. Fought our way out of a hole early and a few mistakes early, and came back and really played a good football game for a large portion of the game. As I tell our players, that, you know, in the game, there’s an awful lot of plays in the game and you never know which play is going to decide the outcome and there was a bunch in there that will jump out at all of us that go our way or don’t get a penalty, things of that nature, you know, can change the outcome of a game.
It’s situational football. We played very, very good football at times, and in certain situations, we’ve got to get better and execute better. Game comes down to inches. We’re short on the fourth down when we were up 11 and comeback and run it on third down there and end up with six inches short or whatever it was, eight inches short, and missed the field goal.
Comes down a game of inches. You know, that ball goes in, or we get that first down, we’re all sitting here saying that’s one heck of a football game.
It was a quality game. It was a good football game. Two good teams. That’s the ninth-ranked team in the country and our team played — did some very good things, with a backup quarterback that did a lot of good things. I’m proud of our team.
Defensively, we’re really thin in the secondary. Getting a guy ejected and then getting an injury to Taj really got us thin, and it’s a position we’re already thin at and we got really thin tonight. It did end up hurting us late in the game.
We’ve got to bring some guys along and get them ready. It hurts us with, you know, some of our package when you get both of those guys out. So we’ve got to continue to work on that.
By Nick Roush on ©September 14th, 2019 @ 11:21pm
Two injuries and a pair of targeting penalties put Kentucky’s defense behind the 8-ball.
Before the game even began, Kentucky lost a defensive lineman. Phil Hoskins suffered an injury in warm-ups and was forced to the sideline for the third consecutive game. He was suspended for the first two games for academic reasons.
“It’s a shame.” Mark Stoops said Hoskins’ foot planted awkwardly on the final play before the Cats returned to the locker room. “I hope it’s nothing too serious.”
Kentucky’s secondary took a massive blow early when Yusuf Corker was flagged for targeting in the end zone on Florida’s second possession. His helmet did not appear to contact the Gator wide receiver’s head, but the call was confirmed, ending Corker’s night. In the fourth quarter, UK finally got pressure on backup quarterback Kyle Trask. Unfortunately, the officials ruled a targeting on T.J. Carter when the defensive lineman became the second Wildcat to wrap up the quarterback. Instead of a loss of five yards, Florida gained 15.
“It’s very difficult. I’m not saying at all that the officials are making the wrong call. We got a chance to win the game and we get a targeting. It’s — something’s got to be done with that rule and call. Putting laundry on the field,” Stoops said after the game.
The call on Carter particularly bothered Kentucky’s head coach.
“I think there’s plays. There’s just plays. It’s one of those deals where if it’s called, it’s going to be upheld and certain things happen. Well it can be called an awful lot. To have the game decided in that moment. What am I supposed to tell my guys? My guys are fighting, clawing, scrambling, trying to get him down, giving everything they got and get that call.”
The late flag on Carter will cost him a half next Saturday against Mississippi State. Corker’s early targeting left UK’s secondary vulnerable. True freshman Taj Dodson played in his place, recovering a crucial fumble at one point. An injury ended his game in the fourth quarter, forcing another true freshman, Moses Douglass, into action.
Kentucky’s lack of depth in the secondary reared its ugly head in the fourth quarter as Trask moved the Florida offense methodically down the field. He probably would not have had so much time to throw the ball if Hoskins or Carter were in the game.
By Nick Roush on ©September 14th, 2019 @ 10:44pm
Kyle Trask played hero while Kentucky let another victory over Florida slip from their fingertips.
Kentucky led for most of the football game. When they slipped up in the fourth quarter, UK only needed a 35-yard field goal from Chance Poore to retake the lead with 56 seconds to play. The redshirt freshman pushed it right, the same spot he missed in the previous game. A 76-yard touchdown run three plays later gave Florida the 29-21 victory.
The game changed when Kentucky opened the fourth quarter by going for it on fourth and inches. In no man’s land near the 40-yard line with an 11-point lead, a conversion could have led to a score that would have been the dagger. Instead, A.J. Rose’s Wildcat run was stuffed. Kentucky would go three-and-out in consecutive drives, while Florida racked up two unanswered touchdowns to take a one-point lead with 4:11 to play.
Kentucky dominated the game for three quarters. In the fourth quarter Trask completed 9-of-13 passes for 126 yards on three scoring drives. When it mattered most, the Cats got sloppy. You can’t commit nine penalties for 79 yards, turn the ball over four times and expect to beat a top ten team.
Last year’s win in The Swamp exorcised many demons, but sadly, it did not eliminate all of them.