Kentucky was the better team Saturday night. Unfortunately, the final scoreboard tells a different story.
It sure looked like the Cats were on their way to upsetting Florida and starting a new streak of their own in the rivalry. Big Blue Nation was having a blast in Kroger Field through most of the game, but the wheels fell off in the fourth quarter and an 11-point lead turned into an eight-point loss thanks to a number of blunders on both sides of the ball.
It’s midnight so let’s overreact to all of it while we’re still upset:
The targeting call on TJ Carter changed everything.
Instead of a sack on 2nd down that would’ve put Florida in a 3rd-and-long situation in the fourth quarter, the Gators moved up 15 yards and earned a free first down with a questionable targeting penalty assessed to Carter on the sack. If Carter was guilty of anything, he was guilty of playing football and making a winning play late in a tight game. The officials saw it differently, though, and Carter was ejected from the game while Florida moved up into scoring position. Three plays later, Florida scored a go-ahead touchdown and never looked back.
How about this blatant hold that wasn’t called on the very next play?
Florida connected on a 30-yard pass immediately after receiving the gift of a targeting call, but holding should’ve been called on the play. Jeff Drummond snapped a great photo of Jordan Wright being pulled down as he hurried the QB before the throw:
Right in front of lead official on gain to first-and-goal… pic.twitter.com/bEQ2AL8EBR
— Jeff Drummond (@JDrumUK) September 15, 2019
We don’t complain about officiating around here, but those were back-to-back plays that went Florida’s way with a little help from the stripes.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before… Kentucky got conservative with its play-calling late in the game.
For the most part, UK’s offense looked good with Sawyer Smith under center all night long, but Eddie Gran let his foot off the gas late in the game with too many weapons on his side against an inexperienced Florida secondary. It seemed like Kentucky was content with Chance Poore trying a field goal on that second to last drive, when they should’ve been looking to continue the attack and go for the end zone rather trusting Poore on his first career attempt at a game-winner. UK had a 3rd-and-2 at the Florida 18-yard-line, and settled for the 35-yard field goal attempt that missed its mark and cost Kentucky the game.
I miss Austin MacGinnis.
We learned the hard way how important it is to have a kicker with the clutch gene. MacGinnis had it; Poore will need to find it. The team put the outcome of the game on his foot and he couldn’t deliver in the big moment.
A backup QB beat Kentucky again. #NoMoreBackUps
Same old song, right? Once Feleipe Franks left the game with an ankle injury, we should’ve known his backup, Kyle Trask, would step in and lead the comeback. We’ve seen that movie way too many times. And that is exactly what he did because that is what backups always do against Kentucky.
With Trask in the game for only a quarter, Florida outscored Kentucky, 15-0, after Kentucky had been up 21-10 until the switch. Things were so much more fun when Franks was in the game.
Can we throw the Wildcat away forever?
Unless Lynn Bowden is running it with an opportunity for some trickery, let’s forget the Wildcat please. The 4th-and-1 was a backbreaker. If you pick that up, you’re 3-0 right now.
Sawyer Smith gives us confidence moving forward.
One positive takeaway from the evening and maybe the most positive of positive takeaways, is the fact Sawyer Smith looked like an SEC quarterback and a player we can trust. There doesn’t seem like too much of a drop off between Wilson and Smith, and Kentucky will be just fine with Smith leading the offense for the rest of the season. He had a couple of bad turnovers, but he also aired it out and showed some mobility with his feet. He deserved to win this game in his first career start.
Ahmad Wagner is incredible.
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) September 15, 2019
Serious question: Why not throw it to him until it doesn’t work? He was targeted three times and had three catches for 70 yards and a touchdown. KEEP FEEDING HIM.
Let’s go beat Mississippi State.