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The Cats Need a Break After Beating Missouri

The Cats Need a Break After Beating Missouri

Kentucky moved to 5-1 on the season and 12-4 over its last 16 regular games with a gutty victory with a banged up depth chart against an inferior opponent. My concern all week was that the Mizzou offense and all that talent would “wake up;” it did so in a big way by amassing 568 total yards and exceeding its scoring average by 9-points.

Most wanted to see more offense after the Cats scored just 24 points against Eastern Michigan a week ago (Who has a much better defense than Missouri by the way; not talent wise, but in relation to execution). Eddie Gran’s unit answered by totaling 486-yards and hanging 40 on the Tigers. It arguably left another 21 on the Kroger Field turf.

Full disclosure; Missouri was allowing 40-points per game so let’s keep Saturday’s offensive performance in perspective. But, did you know that Kentucky has won 8 of its last 10 home games? There was a sense of testiness following Saturday’s win. But; perspective.

The defense struggled. Missouri is to be credited for its offensive game plan which all but negated UK’s key pass rushers: OLB’s Josh Allen and Denzil Ware.

The Tigers were assisted by a sketchy pass defense and that’s being kind. Of its three long touchdown passes, one was a schematic flaw which matched up linebacker Courtney Love on Mizzou’s top pass catcher Johnathon Johnson that resulted in a 75-yard pitch and catch for six points. J’Mon Moore’s 50-yard score was a result of a great throw from quarterback Drew Lock that was perfectly placed behind the cornerback and in front of the safety in a Cover 2 look.

Hey, football happens. Sometimes the bad guys win. The third came when WR Emmanuel Hall just flat-out ran past the cornerback on a go route to the end zone at the end of the first half.

Missouri’s offensive line was rated as one of the SEC’s top 5 going into 2017. It played so on Saturday night as the Tigers rushed for 213 net yards against a Wildcat defense that was allowing just 74 per game. Kentucky had not faced two dynamic runners on the same team like Ish Witter and Damarea Crockett. Crockett was the foremost concern but it was Witter who ran for 139-yards off 17 carries for an average of 8.2 per.

Yet another game was decided with the opposing team possessing the football in the game’s final drive with the contest in doubt. Mark Stoops’ decision to kick a field goal on 4th and goal at the 2-yard line late in the fourth quarter was the right call and forced Mizzou into scoring a touchdown and an extra point for the win with just over a minute to play with no timeouts.

Kentucky won the football game 40-34. Its 5-1 going into a necessary break in action to heal up, clean up, and develop a run game. Now let’s dive deeper:

Hello Drake Jackson

The redshirt freshman center played the majority of offensive plays and more than held his own against future pro defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr. Jackson’s snaps were accurate and he was a key blocker in several of the Cats explosive plays. Plainly, given the status of the Mizzou defensive line; Drake Jackson played his guts out. Having the rookie solidify that position frees up Bunchy Stallings to move back to guard, a position that he played at a high level in 2016. Perhaps Jackson’s performance could be a step forward in answering offensive line questions. Time will tell.

Johnson to Johnson

See the first sentence of this post. Kentucky is 12-4 in its past 16 regular season games with Stephen Johnson at quarterback. The senior was 22/36 (61.1%), 298-yards, 2 touchdowns, and was intercepted once. He also rushed the football for 44-yards off 11 carries; many of which were drive extenders. I don’t know how others evaluate quarterbacks but I’d describe his game as solid, motivational, gutty, and indispensable. Remember, Johnson is also beat up and has taken several shots over the course of six games.

Senior receiver Garrett Johnson led the team with 7 receptions for 111 yards and 1 score. Juice has proven time and time again to be UK’s go-to pass catcher during critical 3rd down plays. He’s also continuing to climb the program’s record books in several receiving categories.

The Receivers and the Emergence of Lynn Bowden

I said in the preseason that the receivers would be better in 2017 than it was a year ago. I stand by that statement. Kayaune Ross played his best game as a Wildcat with 4 catches for 77 yards. The resurrection of Blake Bone continued as the senior grabbed 3 passes for 30-yards including a touchdown. True freshman Lynn Bowden’s route running has drastically improved. A specific instance impressed as he executed a flawless three-move corner route for a catch. He’s starting to understand the position. Bowden finished the game with 3 receptions for 49-yards and had one explosive play called back due to penalty. The BBN got a glimpse of his special playmaking abilities with spectacular runs after catch. There was a dropped potential touchdown on a post route. UK cannot afford missed touchdown opportunities especially in a season that scoring points and connecting on explosive plays have proven to be a challenge.

Kentucky Can’t Deliver the Knockout Punch

Cornerback Derrick Baity, “I think our instinct to destroy an opponent, we don’t really have it. We’ll jump out on them and it’s good, but we’re not consistent enough to keep going on them…. We’re letting up ourselves.  We’re getting complacent once we take a good lead and I think that’s why it’s coming down to the wire.”

Up 13-0, which could have easily been 21-0 with more efficiency in the Red-Zone; Missouri was ready to quit. UK didn’t oblige when Lock hit J’Mon Moore down the sideline for a touchdown strike. Up 20-7, the Cats allowed its opponent back into self-esteem land by giving up a 58-yard TD pass with :40 prior to halftime. This was reminiscent of Southern Miss-2016.

Quarterback Stephen Johnson, “It’s just execution on our side, putting the game out of reach.  That’s something we have to work on this Bye Week and the following week after that get it all together.”

Benny Went Back Over 100 and into the End Zone

Snell’s night included 117-yards off 20 carries and two touchdowns. That involves a 71-yard scamper to pay dirt. The sophomore averaged 5.8 tough yards for the game. Reality is that he’s not gotten the same level of offensive line support as he did a year ago when he rushed for over 1,000-yards. But seeing him break a 71-yarder had to be considered encouraging. Another positive was seeing Stephen Johnson go under center to hand off to Snell for a touchdown. He looked comfortable in that role.

Austin MacGinnis is the Kentucky G.O.A.T

The senior kicker became the program’s all-time leading scorer with 314-points. MacGinnis made all four of his field goals and four extra points, totaling 16 for the night. The 16 points tied his career high for a game and is the second-most points for a kicker in one game in school history. He also became the first player in school history with three career field goals of at least 53 yards.

Pass Defense Deficiencies 

That’s been covered throughout this post. Starting cornerbacks Derrick Baity and Chris Westry have both battled injuries. Not an excuse, but relevant. Depth must continue be developed at that position. Safeties Darius West and Mike Edwards have both played an enormous amount of snaps through six games. But, the trend of surrendering explosive plays through the air is alarming. Missouri QB Drew Lock was the SEC’s 2nd rated passer entering Saturday’s contest. We knew that the Missouri receivers averaged 15 yards-per-catch which ranks high nationally. J’Mon Moore was averaging 26 yards-per-catch entering Saturday. However, giving up homerun grabs for points has to stop or at least slow.

Run Defense

Kentucky entered the game 3rd in the nation by allowing just 74 rush yards per game. Missouri gashed the Cats for 213. Missed tackles again reared its ugly head. But, give credit to Missouri and that mammoth offensive line for opening running lanes for RB’s Ish Witter and Damarea Crockett. Preseason All SEC tackle Paul Adams was excellent. The running backs ran through arm tackles. Mizzou won the line-of-scrimmage for the better part of sixty minutes.

What does all this mean?

Simple; UK is 5-1 going into the bye week. I may have been wrong with my assessment that the 2017 schedule was more challenging than 2016. But, there are teams left on the slate that are very Missouri-like. This means that even though records and recent results aren’t extraordinary; there are still very talented individual players and especially quarterbacks remaining in the back half of the season. Saturday’s pass defense didn’t exactly sanction confidence. This team has simply found ways to win.

The first half of the season has produced a heartbreaking nightmare against Florida, impressive road wins at South Carolina and Southern Miss, two ho-hum home wins over EKU and EMU, and a scarier than necessary victory over Missouri. As we are at the halfway point in the season; I think most would have taken 5-1 going into the bye week and labeled that outcome as a success. Style points don’t count in football. At the end of the season only W’s and L’s matter. Right now Mark Stoops’ team sits at 5-1 and a whole bunch of teams across the nation are not.


We’ve Reached the Bye Week…Finally

After six close games, we have finally made it to the much-needed bye week. We enter this bye week 5-1 (with only one point separating us from 6-0) which has only been done five times in the last 40 years. Even still, we sit here dumbfounded on how we haven’t beaten some of these teams by more. All things considered, however, I think we should be pleased with 5-1 and two weeks to prepare for Mississippi State. There are a lot of ups and downs we can look back on and there is plenty to look forward to throughout the season.

Positives from the First Half

The Receivers are playing well

This season, the receiving corps looks great for the first time in seemingly forever. We have seen great production from the older guys such as Juice Johnson and Blake Bone, plus the younger guys are playing great too like Lynn Bowden, Tavin Richardson, and Kayaune Ross. Not to mention Charles Walker has had an outstanding year, as well. We knew he was great on special teams but who saw this coming? Then of course CJ Conrad has been solid out of the tight end, per usual. It’s safe to say we are all very pleased with their play even after the loss of Jeff Badet and Dorian Baker.

Stephen Johnson

Of course, I had to mention Stephen Johnson. How could one not? The man is a winner, that’s proven. He makes the big plays when needed, and he might be the smartest decision maker I’ve ever seen under center for the Wildcats. This season Johnson has thrown for 1,223 yards, nine touchdowns, two interceptions, and has a passer rating of 147.5. We could not ask for much more out of him and as always, I’m proud to say that’s my quarterback.

Special Teams

What a difference three years makes. Three years ago, Kentucky didn’t have a special teams coach and was arguably the worst unit in the nation. This season Stoops decided to bring on Dean Hood, and to say his group has been special this season would be an understatement. We have arguably the best kicker in the nation in Austin MacGinnis who is money from any reasonable distance. Even if he kicks one from 56 and it falls a few yards short, it’s always on line. He also became the all-time leading scorer in Kentucky football history Saturday. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers need to give him a call after this season.

The Aussie Punter Matt Panton has been nothing short of amazing this year. With an average punt of 42.5 yards this season, he has really been a game changer. You can always count on him to reverse the field and rarely gives the opposing teams’ returner a chance to get a big gain. Finally, another player I would like to highlight on the special teams is Charles Moushey. He is seemingly on every special teams tackle. We really noticed him break out during the Florida game. This season Moushey has seven tackles just on special teams. That is insane through six games. The special teams have been a crucial unit for the Cats this season.

Defense

Before Saturday, Kentucky’s defense had played exceptionally well, even without their best player Jordan Jones. It seems like a Kentucky player gets banged up every defensive play, and even with that we are still playing well. Eli Brown has stepped up in the absence of Jones, Matt Elam has answered his critics, and Josh Allen has been a stud all year. So even if the Cats are a little banged up, it seems that they have the depth to fill in for their superior. Sure, there have been some blown coverages to the fault of inexperience, but that’s just a growing pain we have to deal with. You can’t expect them to be perfect all the time, but they have played close to it. The defense has won almost every game for us and with the hope that Jones could return in Starkville, you can only expect this unit to get better.

Negatives

The Offensive Line

Going into the season we all thought Kentucky’s offensive line would be a highlight for the Cats, but in the absence of Cole Mosier and Jon Toth this group has really struggled. Granted, some of them are inexperienced, but going into the bye week this must be a key emphasis in practice. It seems like Stephen Johnson has no time, there have been an abundance of penalties, and they’re struggling to create holes for Benny. But, the silver lining is they seem to be playing better with Drake Jackson handling the snaps and the more experience he gets, the better the line gets. Expect this unit to improve after the bye week.

The Rushing Attack

Once again, entering the season we all thought Kentucky’s rushing attacking would carry the offense, but it’s been the opposite. This season the Cats are only averaging 3.6 yards a carry and that’s just not going to get the job done. I’m sure the Wildcat and the poor offensive line has contributed to this number, but still it just looks like Benny is struggling. With that said, Sihiem King has played great out of the backfield and this season has really been his coming out party. The other positive note to take away is the running game seemed to hit its stride Saturday against Missouri. Benny had his longest career run with a 71-yard carry and Kentucky had their most rushing yards this season against an FBS school with 188 yards.

Conservative Play Calling

Easily the biggest complaint this season has been the conservative play calling down the stretch, which has caused four of Kentucky’s games to be decided by one possession. Now, I trust Eddie Gran and I believe in what he is doing, so right now I will give him the benefit of the doubt. For the Florida game, we all knew the narrative of the daunting streak, so I think Gran didn’t want to be criticized for throwing the ball late, which is a rarity. Even though it hurt, I will give him a break on that one. But for Eastern Michigan I really don’t have an explanation. I don’t know if he didn’t want to expose the playbook or what, but that game was a struggle to watch in the fourth. On the positive side, Gran seemed to have listened to the complaints and he put the ball in Stephen Johnson’s hands a lot more this weekend. The play calling seemed less conservative, we are seeing less and less of the wildcat each week, and we went for it on 4th down Saturday. For once, the offense won us a game Saturday by airing it out, trusting Stephen Johnson, and putting up points at will. Saturday was a good take way game for the offense going into the bye week.

What to Expect Going Forward

Going forward we should expect a lot of things to get better for the Cats. Players who have missed time due to injury could return to the lineup which will be a huge boost. It will be tough facing great quarterbacks down the stretch such as Nick Fitzgerald, Kyle Shurmur, Jake Fromm/Jacob Eason, and the reigning Heisman winner, Lamar Jackson. I think the Cats will be up to the challenge, considering the way the schedule is laid out. They’ll have two weeks to prepare for Fitzgerald, they’ll play two shaky teams in Tennessee and Ole Miss before playing Shurmur. Georgia may be a struggle, but they have already conquered Lamar Jackson once. I like the defense to be big in the latter half of the season.

Also, except Eddie Gran to open up the playbook a little bit more and get less conservative in these next six games. If Saturday was any indication, we will see this offense be more prolific than we did in the first half of the season. I think Gran knows he will have good offensive play calling throughout the rest of the season to beat these teams. Expect the rushing attack to get better as well as we play teams with pretty bad rushing defenses, such as Vanderbilt, Tennessee, and Louisville.

Kentucky really has a chance to do something special this season with six games to go. Mark Stoops has been in this position before, but this year feels different. I expect Kentucky to win at least three of the final six. If they win more I will not be shocked a bit. This team is special and I think we are getting ready to witness one of the best seasons Kentucky has ever had. If the Cats play to their potential, there really is not goal this team can’t reach.


Benny Snell on getting his groove back: “I still got a lot of work to do”

Benny Snell on getting his groove back: “I still got a lot of work to do”

Coming into this season, Kentucky fans put a lot of eggs in Benny Snell’s basket. He had all of the components: a breakout freshman season where he set six UK freshman rushing records, positive notes from summer practices and a starting position that was, barring any unforeseen circumstances, guaranteed. Left without Boom Williams and Jeff Badet, Kentucky’s offense was resting heavily on the shoulders of Benny Snell.

Then the season started.

Although Snell was the leading rusher during Kentucky’s opener against Southern Miss, his 67 yards were hardly the explosive statistic fans were expecting. The sophomore came back stronger during the Eastern Kentucky and South Carolina games, recording 103 and 102 rushing yards, respectively, despite a rib injury that initially took him out of the EKU game.

But just when it looked like Snell was hitting his stride, his yardage once again dropped. He finished with just 59 yards against Florida and 75 yards against Eastern Michigan.

In Saturday’s victory, fans saw glimpses of the Snell they were expecting coming into this season. The running back finished with 117 rushing yards, including a much-needed answer to a Missouri touchdown with a career-long 71-yard TD of his own. He has now rushed for more than 100 yards in five of the last six home games, and he scored his sixth rushing touchdown of the season.

So… is his groove back?

I feel like I got it back, but I still got a lot of work to do,” Snell said. “I still can’t be comfortable. Can’t be comfortable. I always got to stay uncomfortable and stay trying to learn – make sure my cuts are faster and read better.”

The Cats are now 5-1, and with a Bye week followed by four games that are widely considered “winnable,” Kentucky has a chance to regroup. While going 9-1 is no easy task, it’s far from impossible, especially if Snell continues to play efficiently and with intensity. Even though he may not have the same level of O-line support as last season, Saturday’s victory is proof Snell can still create explosive plays. As Coach Stoops said after Saturday’s game, the rest of the season will consist of “tough, hard fought-games.”  But this is nothing new to this group of Wildcats, as the last three games have come down to the final play.

“5-1 baby! I’m happy we’re 5-1, we’ve come a long way from last year,” Snell said. “After every game I feel like we’re our own enemy, we’re our own critic. So us just getting better, on every side of the ball we did our thing… I got to step up more too. A ‘W’ is a ‘W,’ I’m happy we’re where we’re at right now.”


@MaggieDavisKSR


Four Sunday leftovers from Kentucky’s victory over Missouri

After jumping out to a solid lead and dominating all facets of the game for the majority of the first half, the Kentucky Wildcats got sloppy and allowed a mediocre-at-best Missouri team to keep it interesting for the remainder of the contest.

We saw some “wow” moments, but UK had their fair share of inexcusable moments, and they need to be addressed and fixed.

The final several minutes of the game were unbelievably stressful, as the Tigers were in position to put a dagger in the heart of Kentucky fans across the Commonwealth.

But they didn’t, and the Wildcats are 5-1 going into the bye week.

Here are my four leftovers from Kentucky’s 40-34 victory over Missouri:

We need answers from Steven Clinkscale

I’m going to be fairly blunt here:

DB coach Steven Clinkscale inherited one of the most talented secondaries in Kentucky history, and we just haven’t seen the production his unit is absolutely capable of. And we need answers.

The Wildcats are currently ranked 117th in the nation in passing yards given up per contest with 288 yards through the air per game.

Kentucky’s secondary gave up touchdowns of 50, 58, and 75 yards, along with another 48-yard bomb that led to a one-yard touchdown run by Drew Lock. Miscues and flat-out misses of that caliber are absolutely unacceptable if this Kentucky team has aspirations of making this a special season.

Chris Westry, Mike Edwards, and Derrick Baity are all NFL talents. Jordan Griffin, Kendall Randolph, and Darius West, among others, have proven to be extremely talented players with the ability to be consistent role players/starters. But the unit as a whole makes far too many mistakes.

I think Clinkscale is a talented coach and an elite recruiter, but I believe he and his unit needed this bye week as much as anyone.

Garrett “Juice” Johnson is one of the best receivers in UK history

Following his seven-reception, 111-yard performance against Missouri, Johnson is now fourth in UK history with 1,883 receiving yards.

Be honest here, did anyone have any clue Juice had numbers like that?

Johnson has passed up names like Dicky Lyons Jr., Randall Cobb, Anthony White, and La’Rod King, among others, and he’s 456  yards away from passing up Derek Abney for No. 3 on the list.

When the Wildcats have needed a big-time reception or a nice chunk of yards on any given play, “Juice” Johnson has been the guy over his four-year career. We saw his breakout game against Florida in his freshman season, and he hasn’t looked back since.

Keep breaking records for us, Juice.

Kayaune Ross is a legitimate target

Last week, we saw Ross convert on several massive receptions on third-and-long, and I mentioned after the game it could be the start of something more out of the JUCO transfer receiver. We saw several impressive catches early in his Kentucky career, but production has always been widely sporadic.

Last night, Ross finished with a career-high four catches for 77 yards, with a long of 27. He started out with an early drop across the middle, and then we saw an extreme confidence spike with plays made all over the field. He was a deep ball target, and he was finally able to show off his ridiculous hands.

JUCO receivers have historically had impressive second-year production jumps at Kentucky, and I firmly believe we’re going to see more of the same in the latter half of the year for Kayaune Ross.

Where is CJ Conrad?

Two consecutive weeks, no receptions for arguably the top tight end in the SEC.

His only target against Missouri was a drop on a Benny Snell throw out of the Wildcat… The ball was a bit of a duck, and it was a tough grab, but it was certainly catchable.

Against Eastern Michigan, Conrad was rarely used and finished with zero catches. Even when he was “looked” at, his season-high in receptions is three. Nine receptions on the year for 195 yards and three touchdowns.

Coach Stoops has said the junior tight end is banged up and playing through injury, but if he’s playing, the ball needs to find a way into his hands. If he’s not healthy, then utilizing guys like Greg Hart and Justin Rigg are crucial. Vince Marrow has coached those boys up in an impressive way, and it’s time to utilize them.

It was great to see Kentucky open up the offense and throw the ball around a little bit more, but there’s no excuse to not have your biggest and most valuable target involved.


Overall, the offense looked impressive and the special teams made some highlight plays, but the defense needs some massive improvement.

That being said, an SEC win is an SEC win, and I’ll never fault a Kentucky team for starting the year 5-1.

Any other leftovers you guys had for the game that impressed you?


Six years ago today…  Oh how the times have changed

Six years ago today… Oh how the times have changed

On this date six years ago, Kentucky traveled to Columbia and was blown out by South Carolina 54-3. The Cats jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, but proceeded to pick up only 81 more yards throughout the game, while giving up 639 to the Gamecocks. The Cats turned the ball over 6 times, with 4 of them being interceptions by 3 different players.

This all leads us to today… Kentucky is 5-1 and probably should be 6-0. They have defeated that same South Carolina team four years in a row. I am not sure we realize how lucky we really are without looking back to nights like that night in October.

Were there things to complain about last night? Absolutely. The secondary and offensive line continue to have issues, but these issues are still correctable. What isn’t correctable? When your starting quarterback goes 4/21 for 17 yards.

This program has come a long way. I don’t need to sit here and write every way that it has, but it is sometimes important to put things into perspective. If I had told you 6 years ago that this program would be in the place it is now, I am sure you never would have believed it. I know that I wouldn’t have. Go Cats. Beat Mississippi State.


SEC says clock should’ve been stopped after Josh Allen knocked ball out on final drive

As the Missouri Tigers coasted their way down the field on the final drive of the game, one play in particular sparked major controversy.

The Tigers needed just one touchdown to win the game, and had a major opportunity to make that happen. With 20 seconds remaining and zero timeouts left, J’Mon Moore caught a pass at the 28-yard line, and started running the ball to the official to get set up for the next play. Josh Allen then knocked the ball loose, causing 13 seconds to come off the clock before the Tigers could spike the ball for one last play.

Here was the play:

After review, the SEC says the clock should have been stopped with 16 seconds remaining.

Here was the SEC’s official comment on the matter:

16 seconds would have been enough for two or three more quick throws for Drew Lock and the Missouri offense, and considering how awful the secondary was playing, a touchdown was entirely possible.

J’Mon Moore was not happy about the no-call.

But guess what?

Nothing was called, and I’m not heartbroken in the slightest.

Kentucky has been on the receiving end of countless awful and/or missed calls by officials at the end of games. Some of them so blatantly obvious it still makes me sick.

Woulda, shoulda, coulda.

Cry me a river.

5-1 feels great.


Kash Daniel relives his glory days as a “stud quarterback” on the fake punt conversion

Kash Daniel relives his glory days as a “stud quarterback” on the fake punt conversion

Early in the fourth quarter, the Missouri Tigers managed to tie the game up at 34 points a piece on a 75-yard touchdown that took just 23-seconds off the clock. The Tiger offense was rolling, and it didn’t look like there was anything Kentucky could do to stop them.

On Kentucky’s following drive, Eddie Gran opted to run up the middle on three consecutive plays, leading to a fourth and one at the UK 44-yard line.

In punt formation, Kash Daniel received the direct snap, and he stumbled his way to the 50-yard line for one of the biggest first downs of the entire game.

As the play developed, Daniel’s running lane was filled up almost immediately, forcing him to run outside to convert the fourth down. According to the Kentucky linebacker, there was no sense of panic, he just went back to his days as a quarterback in high school.

“I just went back to my training as a stud quarterback, should’ve been a five-star, Elite 11,” he said. “I just kept my feet moving, pulled my Benny Snell trick out there.”

When Daniel got the first down, however, he knew he had one celebration move he had to accomplish.

“When I got the first down, I knew I may never get this opportunity again, so I’m definitely doing the first down indicator,” he said.

Watch his entire post-game interview here:

After the game, Stoops touched on the gutsy call and his faith in special teams coordinator Dean Hood.

“That was Dean. Dean, luckily the gut was right again, but I was hesitant and he said, what do you think, and I said, do it. And it worked. So that was big. It was a big play in the game,” he said.

Could we see more tough-yard situations for Kash in the near future? One can only hope.


Can we just talk about Lynn Bowden real quick?

Last week, I wrote an article saying Lynn Bowden had yet to lose yards on any play in his young Kentucky career. We have seen him make plays in the backfield as a runner, on kick return, and even through the air as a passer on a double-reverse trick play.

During last Monday’s press conference, head coach Mark Stoops had some high praise for the talented freshman.

“He’s smart. We trust him,” Stoops said. “(There’s) something about him when he gets the ball. Effortless, great balance.”

Last night, not only did Bowden extend his streak of positive yards, he went viral in the bluegrass with this ridiculous catch-and-run:

Any other freshman would have fallen to the ground after that initial contact. We’ve seen veterans go down on weaker tackle attempts. Instead, Bowden methodically cut back across field and made something out of nothing. It was fascinating.

Boom Williams took the world by storm on a similar cross-field run for a big gain against Florida in his freshman season.

Similar to Williams, if you get Bowden in the open field with the ball in his hands, he’s going to make something happen.

The star freshman finished the day with three receptions for 49 yards, along with three kick returns for 79 yards, including one 35-yarder that was a shoestring tackle away from Kentucky’s first kick return touchdown in eight years.

This is the start of something special, and I only have one thing to say about it:

Stoops said last week he planned on getting more snaps to Bowden, and you better believe he’ll be getting even more reps after this performance.


Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Cats in the NFL Schedule Week 5

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning Big Blue Nation! We’ve got a full slate of NFL games for you today as 6 former Kentucky Wildcats are in action.

Player GameTime/TV
Za'Darius SmithBaltimore Ravens @ Minnesota Vikings 1:00/CBS
Avery WilliamsonTennessee Titans @ Cleveland Browns 1:00/CBS
Wesley WoodyardTennessee Titans @ Cleveland Browns 1:00/CBS
Corey PetersArizona Cardinals @ Los Angeles Rams1:00/FOX
Larry WarfordNew Orleans Saints @ Green Bay Packers1:00/FOX
Randall CobbNew Orleans Saints @ Green Bay Packers1:00/FOX
Danny Trevathan Carolina Panthers @ Chicago Bears 1:00/CBS
Bud DupreeCincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers 4:25/CBS

@EMitchKSR


Missouri’s J’Mon Moore is NOT Happy with Josh Allen

J’Mon Moore almost carried Missouri to a comeback victory, until the ball bounced out of his hands.

Moore caught a pass from Drew Lock at the 28-yard line with just over 20 seconds to play.  Lonnie Johnson did not let Moore get out of bounds, but there was still plenty of time to kill the clock…until Josh Allen entered the picture.

Moore did not protest, nor did he scramble to pick up the ball and get it back in the referee’s hands.  He did have some words to share about it after the game.

Allen had fewer words to share about the situation.  When asked about it, Allen initially pleaded ignorance.  After multiple reporters prodded for about 45 seconds, he shrugged it off and said, “To be honest, I don’t know.”

Mark Stoops employed the same “play dumb” strategy when asked about how the ball got knocked loose.  “At the end there? I don’t know what — I don’t know what was going on,” Stoops said.

Don’t worry guys. We all know what was going on and we are totally fine with it.


The Final Play has Decided Kentucky’s Last Three Games

The Final Play has Decided Kentucky’s Last Three Games

One final play has determined the outcome of Kentucky’s last three games.  Playing in a high-pressure situation would rattle most, but the Cats remain poised no matter what.

“In the defense’s hands I feel very confident,” cornerback Derrick Baity said after the game.

Baity controls the team’s destiny because he’s on the field.  Fans freak out in the stands.  You might think that there would be similar feelings shared on the sidelines but, “It’s not,” receiver Kayaune Ross said. “We just gotta trust in our team to make the plays and do what we’ve been doing.”

The defense has proved that they can and will make plays in pressure situations.  When the defense is on the field for the final play, Kentucky has walked away with a win every time.

“We’re not a fragile football team, they can handle adversity,” Mark Stoops said following the win. “We’re going to work on our mistakes, but we’ll keep on finding ways to win. There’s not many football teams that go through the season that don’t win, somehow, some close games. We don’t need to do every week like we’re doing. I would like to have one that you could breathe a little bit, but it shows a lot of character.”

Kentucky shouldn’t always be in this situation, but timely mistakes continually set them back and leave points on the scoreboard.

A flag called back a Benny Snell touchdown and forced UK to settle for a field goal.  A holding call stalled a late second half drive and led to a Missouri touchdown.  Missouri missed a short second half field goal, but a running into the kicker penalty gave their kicker a chance for redemption that he took advantage of.

“I think our instinct to destroy an opponent, we don’t really have it,” Baity said. “We’ll jump out on them and it’s good, but we’re not consistent enough to keep going on them….We’re letting up ourselves.  We’re getting complacent once we take a good lead and I think that’s why it’s coming down to the wire.”

Stephen Johnson accepts the blame. “It’s just execution on our side, putting the game out of reach.  That’s something we have to work on this Bye Week and the following week after that get it all together.”

Kentucky has made mistakes, but they’ve overcome those mistakes and made the plays they needed to win.  It could eventually catch up with them, but as of right now they have found a way to win five out of six games to start the season.

“We haven’t been perfect, we lost one, but you’ve seen us fight back from adversity and that’s the way this team’s built right now,” Stoops said.  “It’s going to be tough, hard fought-games. And that’s the way most of this league is. Y’all see it. Y’all see — take a look around, I mean, it’s tough. So I’m just proud of the way our team fights back from some tough situations and most of our games are going to be sixty minute games.”


Luke Wright “responsive” after collapsing on sideline

There was a scary moment in the fourth quarter when backup quarterback Luke Wright collapsed on the sideline and had be taken off the field on a stretcher. Wright was taken to the hospital for precautionary measures, but was reportedly sitting up and talking to medical professionals in the ambulance. After the game, Mark Stoops said Wright is responsive, but admitted the scare shook everybody up.

“I think that was very scary for all of us,” Stoops said. “Nobody likes to see that. Our team was definitely a little bit shook, but once we figured out what it was, at least it was better than some other things that could have been going on, without getting into it.”

Offensive coordinator Eddie Gran reportedly went to the hospital after the game to check on Wright, and Stephen Johnson told the SEC Network that he and his teammates will visit tomorrow:

Get well soon, Luke.

LATE NIGHT UPDATE

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Everything Mark Stoops said after UK’s Victory over Missouri

“Thanks to the fans. I appreciate, we really felt their energy pulling in the stadium tonight. They stayed, we always got to make it dramatic and, again, I appreciate our team and their effort and our coaching staff and their effort. And we absolutely knew coming into this game that it was going to be a tough game.

The first thing I told our team last Monday is, I read off scores from a year ago and we were in a similar situation to them. I know Barry and the way he coaches and guys on their staff and they had two weeks to prepare and get better and they played an exceptional game and I want to credit them. So that’s the first thing. I want to credit our team with finding ways to win and responding to adversity, big plays happening. And we’ll get those things cleaned up. They did a nice job, they put us in some situations where they put us in a bind and that created some.

We know some of the issues very clearly, very easy in some regards to fix, you just know the problems, the matchup problems that they were getting. But they did a very good job and I’m proud of our team, I’m proud of our fight and our effort. This bye comes at a perfect time for us, we absolutely need it at this point. They played their hearts out for six straight weeks and it’s a good opportunity for to us catch our breath there for a minute.”

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The Kentucky Players React to the Missouri Win

The Kentucky Players React to the Missouri Win

Stephen Johnson

Kash Daniel

Josh Allen

Benny Snell

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WATCH: Highlights from Kentucky’s dramatic win over Missouri

WATCH: Highlights from Kentucky’s dramatic win over Missouri

Miss tonight’s game? Watch all of the good parts and none of the bad courtesy of this highlight package from KyWildcatsTV: