An After Action Review is an Army method utilized to analyze an intended action. Let’s apply a version of this process to the Kentucky vs. Ole Miss football game to determine what caused the final outcome as well as addressing the Cat’s need to sustain and improve:
WHAT WERE INTENDED RESULTS
Win the football game.
WHAT WERE ACTUAL RESULTS
Lost the football game 37-34
WHAT CAUSED OUR RESULTS
Struggling pass defense
— Ole Miss entered the game as the SEC’s top passing offense. It averaged 338 yards per game.
— QB Jordan Ta’amu completed 31 of 40 passes for 382-yards and 4 touchdowns.
— Ta’amu may have the “backup” label but he was the best quarterback that Kentucky has faced in 2017.
— Ole Miss had the best group of receivers and left tackle that it has faced in 2017.
— UK had no answer for Ta’amu’s quick release and ability to improvise while extending plays.
— With a lack of a pass rush and inability to cover receivers, the Rebels faced little resistance on two scoring drives that took less than two minutes.
— Ta’amu connected with seven different pass catchers led by A.J. Brown’s 7 receptions, 65-yards, and 1 TD.
— UK defenders lost far too many one-on-one matchups.
— Fast tempo often caught UK in precarious situations that resulted in open receivers.
— Kentucky failed to produce a turnover.
Failure to knock out opponent
— Up 27-17 with momentum to close out the Rebels, Kentucky went on a string of 3-and-outs that started in the 3rd quarter.
— That offensive lull was answered by 10 Ole Miss points. The contest was lost at that juncture in the football game.
— Momentum shifted completely into Ole Miss favor by allowing 10 unanswered while sustaining offensive ineptitude.
— Four 3-and-outs not only gave Ole Miss additional possessions, it prevented at least 5-8 minutes from being drained off the clock.
— This has been an issue in 2/3 of the Cats’ losses.
— Kentucky kicked 2 field goals in the red-zone. Ole Miss entered the game last in the SEC by allowing 28 red-zone touchdowns. 6-points compared to 14 hurt the game’s bottom line.
WHAT WILL WE SUSTAIN–IMPROVE?
— 28 carries, 176 yards, 3 touchdowns.
— Snell is 1 score shy of tying Sonny Collins as UK’s all-time leader in rushing touchdowns.
— He’s also 103 yards shy of a second consecutive 1,000-yard season.
— Benny Snell deserved the W on Saturday and is a generational running back.
— The BBN is being treated to possibly the best running back in program history.
— I’m not ready to proclaim Snell as the best UK RB in program history yet, but he’s definitely in the discussion and will likely earn that distinction if he continues on current trajectory.
— Kentucky has found its replacement for Jon Toth.
— Jackson has played back-to-back solid games against very good defensive line competition.
— Knockdown blocks at the point of engagement helped to spring Benny Snell touchdowns.
— Stephen Johnson finished the game 19/24, 204 yards, and 1 touchdown.
— Johnson was especially accurate in the 1st half.
— 10 different Wildcats caught passes. TE CJ Conrad led the team with 5 receptions, 75 yards, and a touchdown.
— Not good at all. Ole Miss had its way with the Cats through the air.
— 382 passing yards appeared way too easy for the Rebels.
— Kentucky tried to press man, play soft zone, roll coverages, and every other scheme imaginable. Nothing worked.
— Ole Miss has the best receivers that UK will face in 2017, 18, and 19. Yes, they were/are that good.
— UK is last in the SEC by allowing 279.4 pass yards per game.
— It’s also last in the SEC after allowing 88 pass completions of 10+yards.
— UK is now allowing 408 yards per game which ranks 11th in the SEC. This includes a mind-blowing 279 through the air.
— Tackling was not efficient vs. Ole Miss, this especially applied in short passes and against the run.
— Organic defensive line is producing very little pass rush and has not been stout vs. the run against SEC competition.
— UK’s top 2 tacklers are its safeties: Mike Edwards-74 and Darius West-61. Telling statistic given the Cats’ upper-level linebacker corps. This is an indication of not forcing the issue from the defensive line positions.
— A highly winnable game was lost. Sure, Ole Miss had something to say about that but Saturday’s L was more about what Kentucky failed to do to secure the victory.
— The Cats have not put opponents away when it had ample opportunities to close the deal. The 3rd quarter doomed the Cats on Saturday.
— No team can continue to play close games and allow opponents back into the contest and expect to win them all. The Cat’s luck ran out against Ole Miss.
— Kentucky has now lost to two bad teams: Florida and Ole Miss. Both games presented winnable moments that were not capitalized on by Kentucky.
What does all this mean?
Ole Miss was not a good football team. However, it was extremely talented. Regardless of how or why the players found their way to Oxford, the next head coach will inherit a roster that could immediately compete in the West. Opponent talent was A factor in the loss, but UK is accountable for dropping a game it had not business losing. Kentucky lost the game more than Ole Miss won it if that makes sense.
Kentucky has an opportunity to move to 7-3 for the second consecutive week. Furthermore, it has a chance to do so against an opponent that it should beat despite Vanderbilt being a 3-point favorite. That concrete structure with fake grass in which the Cats and Dores will play football may have more blue and white than black and gold in the stands. However, there’s no sugarcoating the obvious; a loss in Nashville would be devastating on many levels. Perhaps an embarrassing home loss and returning to the underdog role on the road will light a fire under a team that’s at the crossroads of the season. There is still a great deal to play for to include bowl locations, pride, and potential best record in decades. The starting point for this team’s destiny now stands at 6-3 with 3 more to play.