Football Season Coverage
By Jack Pilgrim on ©October 21st, 2019 @ 10:00pm
While Mark Stoops typically speaks to the media twice a week – once on Monday afternoon for a weekly press conference and another post-practice session on Thursday evening – the Kentucky head coach usually uses weekly call-in radio show on Monday evenings to kick back and relax a bit.
During the hour-long show with Tom Leach, Stoops usually opens up about his team’s performance from the previous week, previews Kentucky’s upcoming opponent, and answers questions via phone and social media from the Big Blue Nation.
This evening, Stoops went in-depth about Kentucky’s recent loss to Georgia, discussed the quarterback situation, and analyzed the Missouri Tigers, among other topics.
Here are the ten things we learned during the Mark Stoops Show this evening:
The team’s first practice post-Georgia went well
In the team’s first practice following their 21-0 loss to Georgia in Athens, the Kentucky head coach said he was happy with how his players responded.
“[Practice] went good. Got into practice before the rain hit, it was a beautiful day out there,” he said. “Always good to get the film cleaned up and work on things on the field. We definitely got some things corrected. We actually got to get into the game prep for Missouri, so that was good.”
Speaking of Georgia, Stoops said a Bulldog position coach approached him prior to their matchup on Saturday and said Kentucky leaves his players feeling the sore year after year.
Though the Bulldogs certainly returned the favor, he was happy to see his players get the respect they deserve in the trenches.
“[That game] was very physical,” he said. “I talked to their offensive line coach before the game, and he was talking about how tough this game was and how physical we were. He said this was always one of the most physical games of the year for them. It’s always a good thing to hear, especially as a defensive-minded coach, that your team [has that reputation].”
As he mentioned during his weekly press conference this afternoon, Stoops said his team was dealing with several minor injuries following the Georgia loss.
He started with the linebackers and pass-rushers.
“[Pass-rusher] Jordan Wright has been doing a good job, but he’s been playing a lot of snaps,” he said. “He’s one of those first-year guys, he’s not used to playing this much and got a little dinged up [on Saturday as a result]. Josh Paschal is a little nicked up, but he’s fine. We’ve been rotating three guys in there. We’re going to work in some new guys, they’ve been right on the cusp as it is.”
A few of the confirmed names being thrown in the rotation? Louisville natives JJ Weaver and Jared Casey.
“That’s the beautiful thing about that [redshirt] rule, the four game redshirt rule really helps,” he said. “Right around this time every year, people start getting hurt. It’s unbelievably physical every week, and everyone needs depth. Around this time of the season, we need some of the other guys to step up.”
In terms of other injuries, running back Kavosiey Smoke has an official diagnosis on his shoulder injury, though he should be okay to play moving forward.
“Yeah, Kavosiey is dealing with an AC joint sprain,” he said. “They are painful, but he can play through it. He’ll be back out there tomorrow playing in a red jersey.”
As for linebacker Kash Daniel?
“Kash is a little dinged up, we need to see how he goes throughout the week [before we know his availability this weekend,” Stoops said.
And the quarterback position? Don’t expect much.
“Nothing new to add,” he said. “Both guys are available and we’ll see where it goes this week.”
Missouri game prep has started
As mentioned in the first section, Kentucky is already moving on to Missouri.
But what has Stoops seen out of Barry Odom’s group?
“They’re a really good football team,” he said. “Didn’t play up to their standards this week, one of those games that just got away from them. They’ve been very, very explosive. Kelly Bryant has done a phenomenal job coming in as a transfer quarterback. Always a tough defensive team. It’s going to be a challenge for us this week.”
Stoops understands that the Missouri offense is going to turn things around this week and give his team all they can handle.
“Kelly can make all the throws,” Stoops said. “They always have fast wide receivers. They like to spread things out. Vandy did a really nice job, took away their bread and butter throws. Really played good in all phases, you’ve got to give it to them.”
Missed scoring opportunities stung on Saturday
As for Kentucky’s offensive unit, he knows they’ll have to play much better this weekend if they want to defeat Missouri.
A big part of that? Converting on scoring opportunities, something they failed to do against Georgia.
“It was really important [to convert on some of those scoring opportunities on Saturday],” he said. “I thought if we could’ve put some points on the board, it would have put a little more pressure on them. We were playing such a phenomenal game on defense. We continued to flip the field with [punter] Max Duffy. Our team really had great field position until that one mis-hit by Max, created a short field for them. Can’t even be too hard on him because he’s been so great all year, one of the best in the entire country.”
Stoops doesn’t feel Logan Stenberg’s penalties are an issue anymore
Senior left guard Logan Stenberg has faced criticism throughout the year for several untimely penalties of varying degrees.
After the Mississippi State game a few weeks back, Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said that some of those penalties were “selfish” and hurt the team in crucial situations.
On a third and six to start the second half, Lynn Bowden scrambled for a tough first down, only to be erased and moved back ten yards following a holding call on Logan Stenberg.
After examining the play on film, Stoops vehemently disagreed with the call during his press conference this afternoon.
“I need an explanation,” Stoops said. “I don’t know. I mean, so it’s just very frustrating. There was some holds later that were no-brainers, they were holding. But the one early on Logan, I need an explanation. And then — because it happens to us all game.”
And then this evening, Stoops followed up on that, saying the criticism was deserved early in the year, but not anymore.
“Logan has gotten a lot of that rectified,” he said. “Some of the early fouls were inexcusable and we’ve addressed that. It’s a mentality with the offensive line, there’s a fine line there. He always wants to win. That wasn’t one of those times where he was being negligent or selfish. It was a questionable call, at best.”
Continued fan support is needed
Yesterday, Lynn Bowden called on the Big Blue Nation to support the Kentucky football program during the team’s final five games of the regular season.
Through these next 5 games I beg you guys to keep encouraging and supporting us ?
— Lynn Bowden Jr (@LynnBowden_1) October 20, 2019
Tonight, Stoops stressed that same notion again, saying he really hopes Kentucky fans come out and support the Wildcats this weekend against Missouri.
“It’s important, fun to get back home, playing in this environment,” he said. “The fans have been so great all year long. We’re going to need them again this week, and we’re going to need them again on Saturday.
Growth of the defense is evident
Following the team’s 21-0 loss on Saturday, Kentucky now holds the longest active streak among FBS schools with 21 consecutive games of 34 points allowed or less.
According to Corey Price of UK Athletics, UK’s impressive defensive outing was also the fewest points allowed (21) by the Wildcats against an AP Top 10 opponent Kentucky since October 4th, 2008 at No. 2 Alabama (17) and the fewest yards allowed (270) against an AP Top 10 opponent since November 29th, 2003 vs. No. 7 Tennessee (270).
There’s no question the defensive unit is improving by the week, and Stoops wanted to show his appreciation this evening.
“I’ve been pleased with them and the way they’re growing,” the Kentucky head coach said. “You can see they’re playing more and more confident. They’re understanding our standards on how hard we need to be playing on every snap. They’re playing physical. Now we need them to remove what Coach [Brad] White calls a “glitch play” where they miss one play here and one play there. We forced six punts and forced a turnover on downs in the first seven possessions. I don’t think they ran a play in our territory for a good portion of the game.”
The quarterback situation is tough
With Terry Wilson out for the year with a torn patellar tendon, Nik Scalzo out for the year with a torn ACL, and Sawyer Smith missing the last two weeks with multiple injuries, Stoops understands that while it’s not ideal to play a wide receiver at quarterback, he’s only playing the hands he’s dealt.
And with that disadvantage, he knows he has to throw the scent off a bit and play it coy in the lead-up to compensate for it, even if it’s inconvenient for the media and fans.
“It’s hard for anyone to be 100% [at this point in the season]. It’s hard for us,” he said. “As I tell the media during my press conferences, it’s not like we’re playing games or trying to withhold information. The quarterback situation is what it is. We have to keep our opponents [on their toes], makes things difficult for them.”
When asked why Sawyer Smith didn’t take any snaps, despite Eddie Gran saying he was “100%” in the week leading up to the game, Stoops said the situation just wasn’t right yet for him, especially given the conditions.”
“Jake Fromm, a Heisman contender going into the year, threw for 35 yards against our defense. Our quarterback threw for 17,” he said. “Given the conditions and [who we were playing] it just wasn’t the best opportunity for Sawyer, we just didn’t want him to potentially get hurt again.”
The secondary is improving
Seen as one of the major question marks going into the season, Stoops is thrilled with how much his secondary has improved from the start of the year to now.
“They did, they played good [against Georgia],” he said. “They had good coverage, they have been playing tighter coverage. They’ve been playing tighter in the pass over the last several weeks, but they’ve been even better in run support. Overall, I’m pleased with their progress. I’m very pleased with the progress of the secondary.”
More specifically, Stoops says sophomore defensive back Yusuf Corker put on a show against Georgia.
“Yusuf played really well, he was our most valuable player, internally,” he said.
Stoops is happy D’Andre Swift is likely headed to the NFL
Following his 179-yard, two-touchdown performance against Kentucky, Mark Stoops is thrilled that Georgia star running back is likely headed to the NFL after this season.
“I sought him out after the game, told him “good luck at the next level. I hope I don’t have to see you no more,” Stoops said tonight.
He also talked about this interaction during his postgame press conference on Saturday evening.
“Give (Georgia) credit— D’Andre Swift is an impressive player,” he said. “I just gave him a ‘congratulations’ after the game and wished him ‘goodbye,’ because he needs to go to the NFL. He’s an elite player.”
By Nick Roush on ©October 21st, 2019 @ 8:45pm
When Mark Stoops’ Kentucky Wildcats play Georgia, one loss turns into two.
Saturday’s 21-0 loss moves Stoops’ record to 0-7 against the Georgia Bulldogs. In each of the previous six seasons, Stoops has lost the following game by an average of 18 points. The closest game was an inexplicable 21-17 loss at Vanderbilt that cost UK a chance to go bowling in 2015. Three of the six losses were to Tennessee.
To snap this streak Kentucky will have to beat a Missouri team that was just knocked out of the top 25 after suffering a 21-14 loss to Vanderbilt. For the fifth straight week the Wildcats will face a team that lost their previous game. Florida is the only SEC opponent that did not enter the UK game after a loss. Kentucky’s only win in that stretch was against Arkansas.
Not all of the streaks are bad for Kentucky. By scoring only 14 points in Nashville, the nation’s second-longest streak of scoring at least 30 points ended at 11 games. Barry Odom is 2-15 as the Tigers’ head coach when they fail to score at least 30 points. Meanwhile, Kentucky has only allowed more than 30 points once in their last 21 games; that happened against Georgia in 2018.
The key to ending Stoops’ winless streak the week after falling to Georgia is clear: hold Missouri to 30 points or less.
The KSR Football Podcast is back in action after Kentucky’s 21-0 loss to Georgia. Can we consider it a moral victory? Drew Franklin certainly thinks so. Listen in to hear what Austin, Charles and Nick think. Highlights:
— Is Mizzou a must-win?
— The meat sweats on a red eye.
— Numbers prove UK’s pass defense is very, very good.
— Worst weather ever?
— This weekend in college football was stupid, but in a fun way.
— Attrition is normal, just ask the guys in Chuck’s 2014 class.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©October 21st, 2019 @ 5:00pm
MARK STOOPS: Looking back to this past game, once again the game comes down to a few possessions, a few plays. That always hasn’t been the case the past few years with Georgia. I do feel like our team did some very good things in this game. Defensively, starting much faster, we certainly did that. First seven possessions, played extremely well, as good as we can play defensively with six punts and a turnover on downs, that was a big emphasis for us. So, I was pleased with the urgency to start faster. Offensively, I feel like we were plays away. That was a game that went to, obviously, what, five minutes left in the third (quarter) before there was a score? It was going to be a game of field position, taking advantage of some opportunities. I felt like we had a couple of good drives going. The penalty really hurt us in the scoring zone, inside the 30 and driving and we get the penalty that set us back. That was a huge penalty for us, cost us points and field position. A dropped touchdown, it’s going to be a close game. It’s going to come down to a few possessions. You look at their scores, the first score of the game comes off a 39-yard drive, a one play drive. Field position, off a bad punt, which doesn’t happen. We all know Max (Duffy) has been one of the best punters in the United States, if not the best. He missed one. It comes off a 39-yard drive, one play drive, that D’Andre Swift, you have to give him a lot of credit, he’s an incredible player. Made two guys miss, one play drive, that’s the way that game’s going to go. The next scoring drive, I want to say a 30- or 31-yard drive. So, it was going to be a game of field position, capitalizing on some mistakes of the other team. I thought our team did a lot of good things. Really pleased with the effort, the attitude, the preparation. Really felt like we went in there with a mentality to win the game, had a great opportunity to do that.
Looking forward to getting back out there today with our team. If we prepare and have the right mindset like we did in the past two-three weeks, I feel good about our opportunities. We know Missouri is a very good football team, very well coached. I have a lot of respect for Barry (Odom) and his staff and his program. They play extremely hard. They didn’t have the result they were looking for a week ago, like we didn’t. Be a very good game, excited to get back home and play.
Q: How encouraging it is for your program to lose everything you did in the offseason and see the defense progress the way it has?
MARK STOOPS: I’m very pleased with the progress. The way the defense is improving, certain guys are improving, that is very good to see. I feel like there were some inconsistencies at times this year with our standards as far as how hard we play. I think these guys are understanding that, playing very hard and playing more and more confident, and so I’m pleased with that progress. If we keep that mentality for the second part of the season and continue to improve, I like our chances.
Q: Re: the defensive line and the possession that was stopped on downs
MARK STOOPS: Absolutely. That was a big stand and Georgia is as big and as physical as an offensive line, and well coached, as any offensive line you’re going to play. I thought it was a really good job there. We weren’t perfect, there was a lot of things, even when they did get some plays, you heard me mention it a week ago – with Georgia you have to contend with their pinch sets and they way they crack and get the ball on the perimeter and make some of your small guys tackle some elite running backs, some elite players, makes it tough. We were really good at times and we missed a few.
By Drew Franklin on ©October 21st, 2019 @ 4:30pm
We didn’t learn much more about Kentucky’s quarterback situation from Mark Stoops’ comments on Monday. The updated depth chart named Lynn Bowden or Sawyer Smith as QB1; other than that, the first day of Missouri week hasn’t provided any new insight.
In his opening remarks, Stoops simply said Kentucky will “look at the best options, all options to help us move the football and hopefully Sawyer will be back to near a hundred percent.”
He also said Kentucky’s situation, “is what it is,” a line he continues to repeat as his program continues to fight for wins despite multiple injuries at the quarterback position. “I come in here every Monday and I’m going to say it, it is what it is.”
Last week we heard Sawyer Smith was getting close — offensive coordinator Eddie Gran spoke of the “zip” back on Smith’s passing — but Stoops did not give the grad transfer a look down in Athens when Kentucky was desperate for a passing element in its offense.
Stoops said of that decision, “It’s tough on a cold, rainy, miserable night to put him in when he’s just there or getting close to getting ready to play. He would go. You saw him go in the South Carolina game. He would play if his arm is falling off. But I can’t do that to him again. It was a tough night and I knew it was going to be a tough grind, so we gave ourselves the best option we felt like we had at that point.”
Stoops concluded Monday’s press conference by saying he will eventually move Lynn Bowden back out to wide receiver. “When the time’s right, when we can get him back at receiver,” said Stoops. “We will welcome him back there as well, because he’s an impact guy, he runs well. We’ll see what direction the game plan goes with this week with who is playing quarterback.”
By Nick Roush on ©October 21st, 2019 @ 3:30pm
One play completely crushed Kentucky’s offensive momentum and changed the direction of their duel with Georgia at soggy Sanford Stadium.
After recording only two first downs in the first half, Lynn Bowden rushed for three first downs on consecutive plays to start the second half, putting the Wildcats in field goal range. Two plays later on third and six, Bowden scrambled, fought and clawed to get a first down. His heroic effort was all for not as a yellow flag flew from an official’s hand.
Logan Stenberg was penalized for holding. The ten-yard penalty erased the first down run and pushed Kentucky out of field goal range, eliminating the best scoring opportunity for either team to that point. After examining the play on film, Mark Stoops vehemently disagrees with the call.
“I need an explanation,” UK’s coach said at his weekly press conference. “I don’t know. I mean, so it’s just very frustrating. There was some holds later that were no-brainers, they were holding. But the one early on Logan, I need an explanation. And then — because it happens to us all game.”
It was not the only comment Stoops had about SEC officials during his 20-minute press conference.
“I could say some things right now that wouldn’t be good,” he said through a clinched jaw. “I’m worried about us getting a call.”
The SEC office probably could reprimand Stoops for questioning the conference’s officials, but they’re too busy dealing with Will Muschamp and the “gutless” officiating in South Carolina’s loss to Florida.
WATCH: Here's Will Muschamp's full answer when asked about the unsportsmanlike penalty thrown against him in the 4th quarter today.
"Drop it on my feet next time… gutless." pic.twitter.com/V0K0qjm58y
— Cam Gaskins (@CamGaskinsTV) October 19, 2019
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©October 21st, 2019 @ 2:30pm
Matthew Mitchell is bringing his talents back to Kroger Field. UK just announced that Mitchell and his band, the Nashville All-Stars, will perform a concert before the Missouri game on Saturday. They will take the stage outside Gate 12 immediately following the Cat Walk, which will begin at approximately 5:15 p.m.
Mitchell is coming off the success of his “Old Town Road” performance at Big Blue Madness. In 2015, he and the Nashville All-Stars performed at a pregame concert celebrating the opening of the renovated Kroger Field.
Off stage, Mitchell is entering his entering his 13th season as the head coach of the Kentucky Women’s Basketball team. The Cats won 25 games last season and Mitchell was named the Co-SEC Coach of the Year. This year, Kentucky returns three starters, including unanimous national freshman of the year Rhyne Howard.
If you’d like to see Mitchell in person, tickets for Saturday’s game against Missouri are still available at Ticketmaster.com. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. on the SEC Network.
By Nick Roush on ©October 21st, 2019 @ 1:30pm
Injuries and absences have created a mess on the edge of Kentucky’s defense.
Arguably the most important position in UK’s 3-4 scheme, Kentucky has exclusively used outside linebackers Boogie Watson, Jordan Wright and Josh Paschal to this point in the season. Entering the Missouri game, Mark Stoops said Paschal and Wright are both “dinged up.” The next outside linebacker with college football experience on the edge is Xavier Peters.
“Xavier didn’t make the trip with us this past week. I left him at home,” Stoops said at Monday’s press conference. “It’s our job to teach Xavier what our expectations are and how to handle your business here. He has a hard time getting to things on time and doing things we ask him to do. Until he gets that straightened out, he won’t play.”
Without Peters, Paschal or Wright, Kentucky must turn to a pair of true freshmen to contain Kelly Bryant.
“We have to look at the redshirt guys and see if there’s somebody that can help us. I think at outside backer with Jared (Casey) and J.J. (Weaver), we have to look at those two and continue to bring them along.”
The four-star 2019 recruits from the city of Louisville have yet to play a snap for the Wildcats. Using the season to redshirt, they can play in up to four games and retain a year of eligibility.
“They both have some really good talent. Just like most freshmen, they probably get a little discouraged because they’re not playing so the consistency isn’t there, the urgency in practice all the time. But you see the flashes of it and the ability. We have to continue to — with young people you can’t take away their hope. They gotta have some hope and that’s where this rule and having them able to play four games helps them down the stretch. We need them because we’re starting to get banged up. I’ve seen them do some really good things, but I’ve all seen them be inconsistent at times like most freshmen.”
Two weeks ago Brad White described exactly what Casey, Weaver and KD McDaniel can bring to UK’s defense.
“Coming from high school to college, there’s just so much difference there, so much of a transition,” White said. “Each one of those guys brings something a little bit different. If all three of them now were one body, you might be able to have them in a game rolling. But they’re all sort of developing different parts of their game and they each do something a little bit different, which is exciting for me because down the line we’re going to have three really good players.”
The freshmen could not ask for a more difficult debut. Bryant carried Clemson into the College Football Playoff primarily with his legs, rushing for 665 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2017. At Missouri Barry Odom has not asked Bryant to run as much, but he can still make an opposing defense pay for playing too aggressively.
“When you have a guy that can escape, you have to be disciplined in your rushing lanes,” Stoops said. “It makes a big difference because you have to play with some discipline. Sometimes guys want to come up and under and make a sack. When he can’t run away from you, it doesn’t hurt you, but he (Bryant) certainly can. And then you tie in them spreading out, how they like to spread the field and throw the ball, and then you add in some designed Q-run, that puts some stress on you.”
The pass rushing burden will not completely fall on the shoulders of the true freshmen. Phil Hoskins is expected to return Saturday night to join forces with Boogie, Calvin Taylor and T.J. Carter.
Over the last two weeks the Louisville kids on UK’s roster have been the subject of transfer speculation. The Weaver rumor was shut down quickly, but Shawn’kel Knight-Goff’s departure has added fuel to the fire. Stoops has tried to “give them hope” with affirmation on the practice field and in the locker room. This Saturday Stoops is upping the ante by providing them an opportunity to play.
By Drew Franklin on ©October 21st, 2019 @ 12:30pm
Mark Stoops confirmed the departure of true freshman Shawnkel Knight-Goff, one of the Cats’ prized recruits from the city of Louisville in last spring’s recruiting class. There are rumors that Knight-Goff plans to transfer to the University of Louisville, but as Mark Stoops tells it, Knight-Goff simply fell out of love with the game of football.
“Shawnkel checked out, maybe two or three weeks ago or so,” Stoops explained on Monday. “He told me is he was very much not interested in playing football anymore. He lost the motivation and desire to play the game.
“I really like Shawnkel. He’s a great person, really good kid, great family. I want him to be successful. He told me he just wanted to go to school. I have to try to help motivate him in that area too, but he was not interested in pursuing football anymore.”
It will be interesting with Knight-Goff falls back in love with football soon.
By Drew Franklin on ©October 21st, 2019 @ 11:06am
This week’s Kentucky football depth chart looks a lot like last week’s with Lynn Bowden and Sawyer Smith both listed at starting quarterback.
Mark Stoops will clear up that situation soon in his Monday press conference; until then, see the rotation for Missouri week:
By Bryan the Intern on ©October 21st, 2019 @ 10:00am
Every Monday I break down the UK offensive performance on down and distance situations. The Georgia game was certainly one of the more unique offensive performances in UK history. The lack of a quarterback combined with the weather situation led to UK basically unable to throw the ball in any situation. And with the running game lacking the big play abilities that it showed against Arkansas, the odds were just far too high for a UK victory. While not pretty, here is the breakdown from Saturday:
Run: 16 rushes for 68 yards
Pass: 1-2, 8 yards, 1 sack allowed
Combined Season Stats
Run: 120 rushes for 690 yards, 7 TD (1 fumble lost)
Pass: 38-79, 409 yards, 2 TD, 2 sacks allowed
Breakdown: Over four yards per carry isn’t terrible but Georgia knew what was coming and UK only had two rushed go for over 10 yards the entire game on 1st down. UK didn’t kill themselves but also wasn’t making any significant progress in front of the chains. They continue to be a horrific passing team on 1st down.
Run: 12 rushes for 78 yards
Combined Season Stats
Run: 88 rushes for 541 yards, 2 TD
Pass: 33-61, 358 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT, 4 sacks allowed (2 fumbles lost)
Breakdown: UK actually was quite productive on the ground on 2nd down, with over six yards per carry. But much like all situations, they were not breaking the big plays most of the game and the steady progress would be eliminated by penalty or bad play and then drives would stall.
3rd Down and Long (6 yards or more)
Run: 2 rushes for 15 yards (converted 1 of 2)
Pass: 0-5 (converted 0 of 5)
Combined Season Stats
Run: 9 rushes for 74 yards (converted 4 of 9)
Pass: 19-41, 236 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT, 5 sacks allowed (converted 11 of 46)
Breakdown: Not that surprising Bowden wasn’t completing passes on 3rd and long since he isn’t an actual quarterback and it was a monsoon. But UK hasn’t been good all year in this situation, even more so than the national averages. As long as UK has problems at quarterback, they will struggle mightly converting very many of these situations, making 1st and 2nd down so much more important.
3rd Down and Short (5 yards or fewer)
Run: 3 rushes for 7 yards, 1 fumble lost (converted 1 of 3)
Pass: 1-3, 9 yards (converted 1 of 3)
Combined Season Stats
Run: 25 rushes for 91 yards, 1 TD, 2 fumbles lost (converted 12 of 25)
Pass: 5-13, 116 yards, 1 TD (converted 5 of 13)
Breakdown: UK continued converting less than 50% of these plays and that is an absolute disaster.
By Drew Franklin on ©October 21st, 2019 @ 9:00am
Good morning and welcome to the second edition of Monday Morning Things To Know, the only thing you need to read on Monday mornings to feel in touch with the rest of the world. Below we will cover everything that happened over the weekend so you can get all caught up, put it all behind you, and get moving with the work week.
Read it and then go out there and seize the day you beautiful butterfly.
Kentucky fell to the tenth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs, 21-0, down in Athens on Saturday. There are no such things as moral victories, but it was kind of a moral victory, right? Let’s ignore the negatives (all positivity today!) and point out some of those small victories from the not-so-bad loss:
— The game was tied at halftime. So that was pretty cool.
— Kentucky held Georgia to only 270 yards of offense, the fewest the Wildcats have allowed all season.
— By holding Georgia to under 35 points, UK’s defense now has the longest streak in the nation for consecutive games of not giving up 35 or more points to its opponents.
— The inexperienced secondary we were so worried about has now played seven games without giving up a pass of 40+ yards. Georgia’s longest pass went for only 22 yards, and Jake Fromm’s 35 total passing yards were the fewest allowed since the Cats held Austin Peay to 27 passing yards in 2016. There is a slight difference between Austin Peay and Georgia.
— Kentucky’s defense has only allowed three passing touchdowns all year, the fewest in the entire nation.
— Sophomore safety Yusuf Corker had a career-high 11 tackles. Corker’s totaled seven, nine, nine and 11 tackles in the last four games. DeAndre Square almost matched him in Athens with nine total tackles.
Other football things:
— Lynn Bowden took to Twitter on Sunday to ask Big Blue Nation to maintain its support of the football program throughout the remainder of the season. Bowden tweeted, “Through these next 5 games I beg you guys to keep encouraging and support us.”
Through these next 5 games I beg you guys to keep encouraging and supporting us ?
— Lynn Bowden Jr (@LynnBowden_1) October 20, 2019
— One person who is not heeding Lynn Bowden’s advice is Shawnkel Knight-Goff, who, according to KSR sources, left the team following the loss. A prospect out of Doss High School in Louisville, Knight-Goff was a true freshman linebacker for the Cats and one of the top players in the state of Kentucky in the Class of 2019. He is rumored to be looking toward Louisville, his hometown school, for the next phase of his young career. Bye.
Circa Sports released the first spread for UK-Missouri and it had the visiting Tigers giving up 11 points to the Cats in Kroger Field in the opening line, although the number is already dropping. The total on the game opened at 48 points and it is also dropping.
So you know, Kentucky covered at Georgia for the first time since the Florida game. The total has gone under in four straight games after three consecutive overs to start the year.
The Kentucky basketball program held its annual Blue-White game last Friday evening and it served its purpose for generating excitement throughout the fan base.
— Sophomore Immanuel Quickley led the way in scoring with 25 points. Afterward, John Calipari said, “You’re all seeing what I’ve been telling you, that he’s not even the same guy he was a year ago. And it’s because he’s freed up his mind.”
— Grad transfer Nate Sestina scored 22 points and hit four of his eight 3-point tries. “We gotta get a couple more guys at the level Nate is at, intensity wise,” said Calipari.
— Playing in his third Blue-White scrimmage, junior Nick Richards went for 20 points and 11 rebounds. Big numbers aren’t uncommon for Richards in the preseason; the problem is getting him to do it during the regular season when it matters.
You can read more about all of the Blue-White fun by scrolling through all of our coverage under the Basketball tab.
Or watch our video recap from Bradley ‘B-Roll’ McKee:
Kentucky doesn’t participate in any closed scrimmages like the ones we’ve heard about around the country, but three teams of note scrimmaged over the weekend and the results are worth mentioning:
— Michigan State reportedly lost to Gonzaga in a secret scrimmage in Denver on Saturday. The Zags got the best of the No. 1 team, 103–87. Joshua Langford did not play for Sparty, while Player of the Year candidate Cassius Winston had 20 points in the loss. Kentucky will of course open its season against Michigan State in Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, November 5.
— Two more teams on Kentucky’s schedule, Louisville and Ohio State, played against each other yesterday and I hear it was a war. “Both teams looked very, very good,” said one person in the know. Ohio State got the win, 80-69, although Louisville was without two rotation players, per reports.
— Wesley Woodyard played hero in a wild finish in Tennessee. After an L.A. Chargers touchdown was called back and the ball was placed on the one-yard line in a field goal game with only 30 seconds left to play, Woodyard and the Titans’ defense stood tall with a game-winning goal line stand. The Titans stuffed the Chargers on three straight tries; on the third try, Woodyard popped the ball from Melvin Gordon’s arms on the goal line and the Titans recovered in the end zone for a touchback to seal the deal.
— Keeping it in the AFC South, Lonnie Johnson totaled a career-high seven tackles in Houston’s loss at Indianapolis. However, he still had his share of mistakes in coverage, including a bad defensive holding penalty that led to a Colts touchdown.
— Up in New York, former Kentucky defensive lineman Corey Peters had four tackles and a sack for the Cardinals in a win over the G-Men.
— We sent Bradley McKee to Cincinnati to catch up with Josh Allen after his team’s win over the winless Bengals. Allen sacked Andy Dalton for his fifth sack in five games, and the five sacks in seven games ties Jacksonville’s single season record for sacks through seven games.
The 2019-20 NBA season officially starts tomorrow; in the meantime, here are the Kentucky-related roster moves around the league:
— Andrew Harrison got waived by Golden State on Saturday. A likely landing spot for Harrison is the Warriors’ G League affiliate in Santa Cruz.
— Tyler Ulis got waived by Sacramento, leaving only De’Aaron Fox and Wenyen Gabriel as the former Kentucky Wildcats with the Kings, an organization that seems to collect former Kentucky players. The news of Ulis’ exit is not a huge surprise; he missed the team’s preseason trip to India with a groin injury. Ulis’ deal was only a training camp deal. Now he is likely headed back to the G League.
— Isaac Humphries got waived by Orlando. Humphries played only 14 minutes across three preseason games for the Magic.
Last night I finally finished Clash of Kings, the second book in George R.R. Martin’s seven-book A Song Of Ice And Fire series — known by most as the books behind HBO’s Game of Thrones. It took me forever to get through it (800 pages, hard words, tiny font) and I really don’t know how anyone managed to read all of the GoT books. Teach me your ways if you did. They’re soooooo long.
Before I wear myself with the next one, I’m looking for something else to read to break up George R.R. Martin’s never-ending novels. I’d love a suggestion or two if you got ’em. I like all non-fiction or a good thriller.
We gave Ryan a hard time for going into Coach Cal’s Fantasy Camp on three days notice without time to get in shape, so what did he go out and do?
He won the championship.
You’ll want to tune in to today’s KSR radio show to hear all about it.
— Mark Stoops finally dried off from Saturday night and he is ready to look back on the game in his next Monday afternoon press conference in Lexington. Stoops will go over what he saw on the tape and what needs to go right to get back in the win column this week. Tune in to the live stream here on Kentucky-Sports-Radio-dot-com and noon.
— Kentucky will release its updated depth chart about an hour before Mark Stoops takes the stage. It may be an early indicator of the playing statuses of Sawyer Smith and Kash Daniel, among others. Look for it around 11 a.m.
— A new KSR Football Podcast will be available tonight before bedtime. Tell your significant other you’ll put the kids to bed while they slip into something more comfortable, then the two of you can kick back with a nice red and let the dulcet tones of Nick Roush’s voice fulfill all of your football fantasies.
— Matt is back in studio for the first time in a long time on today’s KSR radio show. Tune in at 10 a.m.!
Saturday’s loss to Georgia was a rainy mess. Despite holding the No. 10 ranked Bulldogs to a scoreless first half, a culmination of bad weather, a mere two passing completions, and a shanked punt held the Wildcats back from what would have been a massive road win. Georgia would emerge victorious by a score of 21-0 and Kentucky now sits at 3-4 with five games left in the regular season.
A once-promising year has crumbled thanks to key injuries, but the ‘Cats star player isn’t giving up just yet, and he wants the Big Blue Nation to ride with him to the end. Lynn Bowden Jr. has a special message for UK football fans.
Through these next 5 games I beg you guys to keep encouraging and supporting us ?
— Lynn Bowden Jr (@LynnBowden_1) October 20, 2019
Kentucky’s next matchup is a winnable game against the 5-2 Missouri Tigers. Mizzou is coming off a disappointing 21-14 loss against Vanderbilt and Kentucky should have a healthier version of Sawyer Smith to help take the pressure off of Bowden. The Wildcats still have a good chance to hit the six-win mark and make a bowl game and a win over the Tigers would make that all the more likely. Upcoming games against Tennessee and Louisville aren’t going to be as easy to win as we might have thought at the beginning of the season. A win at home over Mizzou would boost the team’s postseason chances tremendously.
The loss to Georgia stings, especially since the game was tied 0-0 at the half, but the season is far from over. Bowden has trust in himself and his teammates and he’s asking fans to send back the same energy. There is a very real chance that Kentucky can win three, four, or even all five of its remaining games. There is also a good chance they win only one or two of them. Either way, Bowden wants the fans to rock with this team until the final whistle and he is at least owed that much considering everything he’s done for the program during a difficult season.
We are all Big Bowden Nation.
By Brent Wainscott on ©October 20th, 2019 @ 9:00pm
It was an especially weird night in Athens last night when Kentucky fell to No. 10 Georgia 21-0. Kentucky was tied at halftime with the 10th ranked Dawgs last night with their best wide receiver playing quarterback. There was also the ultra-rare bad Max Duffy punt and then, of course, there was the weather. Oh, that weather. It was a torrential downpour at Sanford Stadium which made for some weird football which I think we all thoroughly enjoyed.
Let’s scan twitter for some reactions about last night’s especially odd night in Athens.
On Kentucky’s Defense
If you had told me we would hold Georgia scoreless the entire first half. I'd thought you was on something. Gotta find a way to put some points up. GO CATS! #BBN
— Wildcat4Life (@BrianKGOBIGBLUE) October 19, 2019
Kentucky’s defense first half pic.twitter.com/a98SdA8rTt
— ThrowboyTees (@ThrowboyTees) October 19, 2019
Kentucky’s defensive performance in the first half: pic.twitter.com/bCpqYrYiHS
— Not Jerry Tipton (@NotJerryTipton) October 19, 2019
The offense…or lack thereof
This UGA/UK game is delightfully weird.
Kentucky's QB is their best WR.
Georgia's offensive woes.
It's like a 311 song that I just can't turn off. https://t.co/29GyVPMEWV
— Peter Burns (@PeterBurnsESPN) October 19, 2019
— Spalding, John (@seasonneverends) October 19, 2019
UGA’s playbook vs. Kentucky (via elite photoshopping.) pic.twitter.com/f1UhR2u4A8
— J.R. (@JRTheSavage) October 20, 2019
— Max Godby (@OhMyGodby64) October 19, 2019
A COMPLETION! pic.twitter.com/tjN58ksjqf
— Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) October 20, 2019
On Max Duffy
— Max Duffy (@Max__Duffy) October 20, 2019
He seems like a class act. Glad to have him on our squad
— Owen Timmerding (@otimmerding29) October 20, 2019
On Lynn Bowden
You can't question Lynn Bowden's effort and toughness. He's shown plenty of that the last two weeks when his team needed him.
?: Keyli Chisesi pic.twitter.com/7f3YvmlTKk
— Shawn Smith (@gbbcountry) October 20, 2019
Through these next 5 games I beg you guys to keep encouraging and supporting us ?
— Lynn Bowden Jr (@LynnBowden_1) October 20, 2019
Didn’t even have to ask, Lynn.
Another week has come and gone in the college football season. The SEC consistently gives the sport amazing games, moments, and players. Here are my five biggest takeaways in the conference from week eight.
1. A Win For Derek Mason
It was a mostly quiet weekend in SEC Football as six out of seven favored teams won on Saturday. However, this is still college football, where the unpredictable always happens.
It just so happens that Vanderbilt got a huge win over heavily favored No. 22 Missouri on Saturday by a score of 21-14.
Make no mistake, this was a must-win for head coach Derek Mason, and he delivered big time. The Commodores came into the contest with a terrible 1-5 record and no hope. Yet, somehow, Vanderbilt found a way to win one for their coach who was essentially trying to protect his job.
Mason gave quite possibly the best postgame interview of the season after the victory:
Not a fan of Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason?
Oh yes you are.
And any other human who watches this. pic.twitter.com/pC0V9sF09h
— SportsbyBrooks (@SportsbyBrooks) October 20, 2019
On the flip side, what an utter disappointment for Missouri. They came into the game leading the SEC East and as a newly ranked team, then they just laid a huge egg. That’s twice this season the Tigers have done this (hello, Wyoming).
This is a very talented team, but they come out on some Saturdays not ready to play on the road. Also, the SEC East is still an absolute dumpster fire, and Mizzou’s loss doesn’t help with that.
Overall, chalk this one up as just another weird SEC East upset.
2. Florida Passes Another Test
The Gators had the tough challenge of playing at South Carolina on Saturday. To make matters worse, they were actually trailing the Gamecocks heading into the fourth quarter.
Thankfully for Florida, there are four quarters in a football game. Dan Mullen’s team would go on to score 21 points in the final quarter to defeat South Carolina by double digits.
Gators Win! Gators Win!!
Florida beats South Carolina!
38 – 27 ?? ??
Florida is 7-1!
Next up UGA in Jacksonville!
Go Gators! pic.twitter.com/9pLUb00Un3
— Everything Gator (@EverythingGator) October 19, 2019
It was a very typical win for the Gators as quarterback Kyle Trask had another solid outing as a game manager; their rushing attack was dominant, and their defense played well when it mattered. Florida is just a very perplexing team. It’s obvious they aren’t one of the best squads in the country this season, but they find ways to win due to fielding a true, complete team.
The offense is just good enough, the defense does what it takes to win, and their special teams are not a major hindrance at all. However, the road ahead gets much tougher. After a bye week, they will play Georgia in their annual rivalry game which will most likely determine the SEC East.
The Bulldogs should win, but with Mullen as head coach of the Gators, they will have a real shot at the upset.
3. Speaking of Georgia…
Well, Kentucky played right with the Bulldogs for right at two and a half quarters. Georgia’s fans were so upset with their offense putting up zero points in the first half that many fans booed and even left the stadium before the start of the third quarter.
A lot of Georgia fans didn’t return to their seats after halftime. pic.twitter.com/laN3Bpwf5J
— Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) October 19, 2019
Of course, the game was played in a monsoon which is part of the reason why so many fans left. The Bulldogs eventually got its offense going as they defeated the Wildcats by 21 points thanks to the play of running back D’Andre Swift. The star back ran for over 175 yards and two scores.
Overall, it was an admirable effort by Kentucky to make the contest as competitive as it was. However, its obvious that UK is extremely depleted right now. The Lynn Bowden experiment at quarterback was fun for a game against a bad team, but it didn’t go very well against Georgia. Bowden only completed two passes for 17 yards.
Yes, he had a good game on the ground, but you just aren’t winning football games in today’s game by completing only two passes. It will be interesting to see how Kentucky handles its quarterback situation heading into their matchup with Missouri next weekend.
Personally, I believe that a healthy Sawyer Smith is better than what UK fans had to sit through last night, but that’s a big “if.” Either way, this an extremely serious problem for the Wildcats, and they must find an answer soon.
4. Tua Banged Up
Of course, Alabama crushed Tennessee yesterday. But the big story from the game is the injury to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s ankle. Once he exited the contest, the Crimson Tide offense just wasn’t the same at all. Quarterback Mac Jones (a former Kentucky commit) only threw for 72 yards in Tua’s absence.
Y'all see this offense right..
Don't EVER disrespect Tua Tagovailoa ever again. This offense works because of him, not the other way around.
— Jacob Harrison (@JJacobHarrisonn) October 20, 2019
The good news is that the injury is not that significant as the star quarterback was having a good time celebrating in the locker room after the game.
Tua Tagovailoa enjoying a victory cigar after beating Tennessee pic.twitter.com/ctTxDxOnjX
— Ryan C. Fowler (@RyanCFowler) October 20, 2019
One has to wonder about his durability though. This is the second time he has been injured over the past 10 months. Again, he will be fine, but it is curious that he has had multiple lower-body injuries. It’s definitely something to keep an eye on moving forward.
5. Burrow Does What Burrow Does
To absolutely no surprise, LSU thrashed Mississippi State thanks to another great performance from quarterback Joe Burrow. In true Burrow fashion, he passed for over 300 yards and four touchdowns without throwing a single interception.
So far Burrow stats look like this: Passing completion rate of 79.4%, 2,484 passing yards, and 29TD/3INT.
Hey Baton Rouge, there’s a new school record holder! pic.twitter.com/i9rWCXkVAx
— LSU Football (@LSUfootball) October 19, 2019
The fact that he has already broken LSU’s season record for passing touchdowns through just seven weeks speaks for itself. He HAS to be the Heisman Trophy favorite as of today. I know Jalen Hurts has had a great year, but Burrow has just been better this season.
I still think that this is the biggest story in college football so far this year. I’ll keep beating this drum until Burrow proves otherwise. With another week down, we are just one more week closer to that mammoth Alabama-LSU showdown.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©October 20th, 2019 @ 4:08pm
Shawnkel Knight-Goff is no longer a Kentucky Wildcat. A source tells KSR the Louisville native has left the football team.
Knight-Goff is a 6’2″ freshman linebacker out of Doss High School. He committed to Kentucky over Louisville a year ago after originally committing in May and reopening his recruitment. He was ranked one of the top 10 players in the state and one of the 50 best weakside defensive ends in the nation
We’ll have more on this situation as it develops.
By Jonathan Howard on ©October 20th, 2019 @ 3:30pm
The Kentucky Wildcats are a double-digit underdog for this week’s game against Missouri, according to Vegas. The opening line came out today in favor of the Tigers by 11 points. The Wildcats are in desperate need of a win against the Mizzou Tigers, and after a loss to Vanderbilt last night, Missouri is in need of a win against the Cats in order to regain focus heading into the last stretch of the season. Kentucky has another streak at risk against Missouri – four straight wins over the Tigers – and it won’t be easy getting the fifth-straight win, even in Lexington.
Kelly Bryant got hurt earlier in the season and while he has returned, perhaps he isn’t the same caliber QB he was at the beginning of the season. Bryant is still very talented and he put up 140 passing yards and a TD to go along with 72 yards rushing in the loss to Vandy. He threw an interception that may have been the deciding factor in the game. With Kentucky’s defense looking much improved against Georgia yesterday, I would expect them to have another strong showing against Missouri.
The biggest question for the Kentucky Wildcats will be what position will Lynn Bowden play? Many ‘Cats fans are hoping Sawyer Smith is ready to go against the Tigers, and hope to see Bowden catching some deep passes from the Troy graduate transfer. With five games left on the schedule, the Wildcats are trying to find three more wins this season to become bowl eligible for the fourth year in a row. Missouri simply needs one more win to punch their ticket to a bowl game and would rather it happen this Saturday at Kroger Field. With Georgia and Florida right after Kentucky, Missouri could be waiting until November 23rd against Tennessee or even worse, November 29th against Arkansas, to get that sixth win. The Tigers would much rather have their bowl eligibility secured in the third week of October than in the last weekend of November. This could be the difference between a disappointing season for the Tigers or a season they look to build momentum off of.
I don’t think Kentucky gives up the 11 point-line at home, and I think we will be seeing a healthy Sawyer Smith (at least hoping we do) slinging the ball to Lynn Bowden in the endzone.
Another week, another Amway Coaches Poll! This was a wild weekend of college football that saw some upsets, some sloppy games such as Kentucky-Georgia, and some blowouts. As far as the poll itself went this week, the top-5 in college football all retained their spots. Alabama, Clemson, LSU, Ohio State, and Oklahoma makeup those top spots respectively.
The big upset of the week, Illinois over Wisonsin, allowed for the next seven teams to move up at least one spot, with #12 Utah moving up two spots from last week. However, the Badgers were not the biggest losers this week! Boise State took an L to BYU, causing them to drop 8 spots. BYU now has wins over Tennessee, the USC Trojans, and Boise State. Unfortunately for the Cougars, they also have losses to Toledo and South Florida, as well as a losing record this season. The other big loser this week, Herm Edwards and the Arizona State Sun Devils. They dropped 7 spots after losing 21-3 against Utah last night.
r/CFB fan favorite, Appalachian State remains ranked and moved up two spots to #22 and seems to be doing just fine without Scott Satterfield at the helm. Memphis broke into the top-25 and sit at the bottom of this week’s poll. Washington and Temple were both booted from this week’s poll.
Some fun facts based on this week’s poll, there are still 10 undefeated teams listed in the top-25. The Big10 leads all conferences with six ranked teams followed by the SEC with five. The race is heating up for the four College Football Playoff spots, and it’s looking like the SEC could sneak in two teams again depending on how the rest of the SEC season shakes out. Will LSU catch Bama? Will Clemson win another title this year? We’ve got plenty of football to watch that will answer these questions and more.
Find the full Amway Coaches Poll here.
After picking up a big win against Arkansas last week, UK hit the road for the third time in four games in a house money situation. Georgia was fresh off an ugly home loss to South Carolina and many figured the Wildcats could be in a big world of hurt as 24.5 point dogs “Between The Hedges”. However, weather had a big impact on the football game and Kentucky had a great shot at the most improbable victory of the Mark Stoops.
Thanks to the offense’s inability to cash in on scoring chances and Georgia’s ability to finish, the Wildcats went down by three touchdowns in the shutout loss. There is plenty of stuff to build on, but once again the offense let Kentucky down on the road.
The Wildcats gained 177 yards (160 rushing, 17 passing) on 51 snaps and averaged just 3.5 yards per play. This was an improvement over the South Carolina loss earlier in the season, but one of the nation’s best defenses had their way with Kentucky’s glorified wildcat offense. As was expected, the chunk play was totally eliminated by Georgia.
The Wildcats enter this matchup ranked 27th nationally in big play rate (20-plus yard gains) while Georgia’s defense ranked 11th. The Dawgs have been excellent in slowing down opposing rushing attacks and they proved why last night.
UK had just one play of 20-plus yards and just five rushes that went longer than 10 yards. Lynn Bowden, Jr. led the team with 99 yards on 17 carries, but the Wildcats got pretty much nothing from their backs. A.J. Rose, Kavosiey Smoke, and Christopher Rodriguez, Jr. combined to collect just 61 yards on 16 carries and it’s going to be hard for this team to win like that. They came up short most of the night, but it was glaringly obvious in key situations.
UK twice had possessions inside the 5o in the first half and went three-and-out in both possessions. A false start on a fourth down attempt forced a punt on one while a drive that went nowhere occurred on the second. Those woes continued into the second half.
UK had a beautiful drive out of the halftime locker room where they collected nearly five yards per snap before entering a big 3rd-and-6 at the UGA 27. Eddie Gran decided to go empty and a light box created a great time for a QB draw. UK picked up the first down, but it was brought back due to a killer penalty.
UK would later have a red zone trip that died after a dropped touchdown pass by Christopher Rodriguez, Jr. On their final drive of the night, the Wildcats would get all the way down to the UGA 34 before turning it over on downs. After 60 minutes, Eddie Gran’s offense had five possessions on UGA’s side of the field and came away with a donut. That cannot happen.
The weather was awful with a game time temperature of 53 degrees that would lower as the game progressed with winds over 15 mph and constant rain. That would cause issues for any passing attack, but it still does not excuse UK’s anemic night throwing the football. After completing 7-of-11 passes in his first start, Bowden had just two completions on 15 throws and the passing attack never helped out their rush offense.
Kentucky won’t play a better defense for the rest of the season, but they must find better ways to help Bowden succeed in throwing the football. Making catches when they hit you between the numbers would certainly help.
Kentucky allowed 270 yards (235 rushing, 35 passing) on 55 snaps. The Wildcats gave up 4.9 yards per play and this was their lowest total allowed since last year’s win over Mizzou. Thinks to some effective third down defense (3-for-12), the Wildcats were able to quickly get off the field and forced multiple 3-and-outs on the night. They played winning football.
Kentucky’s edges did an excellent job keeping contain in the run game early and that got Georgia out of sync early. The Wildcats held the Bulldogs scoreless in the first half and seemed to solve the slow start issues they have been having in conference play. Yusuf Corker again led the team in tackles with 12 stops while inside linebackers Chris Oats and DeAndre Square combined for 16 stops and 1.5 tackles for loss while filling in for an injured Kash Daniel.
It was an inspiring effort by Brad White’s defense, but we have to address the dominance of D’Andre Swift.
The former five-star recruit will be drafted by a ton of people in everyone’s fantasy football drafts next August, but for right now he just abused Kentucky for the second season in a row. The Philadelphia native collected 179 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns while averaging 8.5 yards per carry. Swift’s rushes had a 57.1 percent success rate while the rest of the UGA snaps put up just 2.68 yards per play with a success rate of 23.5 percent. The tailback carried the Dawgs to victory and became the fourth straight RB1 to have a big game against Kentucky.
While Swift ran wild, the Wildcats were putting the clamps on Jake Fromm and the UGA pass game. If you ignore Lynn Bowden, Jr.’s line, Fromm had one of the worst passing lines you’ll ever see. The junior averaged a paltry 2.92 yards per attempt on 12 throws and had five runs that went nowhere. UGA was able to get back to their identity, but UK grounded an opposing passing offense for the third week in a row. That’s a good sign.
If you’re looking for one specific negative, take a look at the turnover department. The Wildcats have now gone 13 quarters without forcing a takeaway and that needs to change quickly. For this team to reach their ceiling in the last five games, UK must find a way to steal some possessions.
Star punter Max Duffy had another big night and we saw him crush a ball 69 yards in the first half. The midseason All-American pinned UGA inside the 20 three times and had four punts that went over 50 yards. He was a key cog in UK’s early field position success and gave the Wildcats a great shot at gaining an early lead. However, the worst punt of his career happened at the worst time.
Duffy shanked a punt just 15 yards in the middle of the third quarter and on the very next play, D’Andre Swift would punch it in from 39 yards out. The following series saw Lynn Bowden, Jr. fumble that would lead to another UGA touchdown. In the blink of an eye, UK went down two possessions after seemingly controlling the football game for 35 minutes.
In the return department, Josh Ali had another fumble but a nice 19-yard gave UK a first-and-10 on UGA’s side of the 50. After falling down 14-0, Zach Johnson collected 58 yards on the ensuing kickoff to give the Wildcats another possession in UGA territory.
It was a good night for the special teams, but there was no denying that the Duffy shank changed the football game and tiltled the momentum into UGA’s favor.
Everyone involved in the program should feel pretty frustrated after the road trip in Athens. Similar to last year’s game at Texas A&M, the UK defense played outstanding football only to see its offense blow numerous opportunities to take control of the game. However, this one should be looked at much differently.
The Wildcats had their moments moving the football, but without splash plays, it was going to be extremely hard to score against this Kirby Smart defense. Lynn Bowden, Jr. made some nifty runs, but typical big plays were held under 10 yards thanks to the speed and tackling ability of Georgia’s defense. It will be important for all of us to remember that moving forward. This offense won’t face another challenge like this for the rest of the season.
There is still the Sawyer Smith dynamic looming and no one is really sure how healthy the grad transfer is. UK’s offensive staff must get back to the drawing board and figure out a way to put points on the board. Meanwhile, this young Kentucky defense continues to grow and if this keeps up things will be very promising entering 2020.
At 3-4, Kentucky is where a lot of people thought they would be before the season. This year was always going to be determined a success or failure depending on how the Wildcats finished in the last five games. They’ll have a great chance at victory in each with the program looking to stretch their bowl streak to four seasons.
On to Missouri.