A lot went wrong in Kentucky’s loss at Georgia today. For starters, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are unstoppable and it’s unfair that they’re on the same team. Those two guys are already two of the best rushers in Georgia history, and they share the rock in the same backfield. That is cheating. Then you can throw in the fact that Kentucky’s tackling was as bad as it has ever been, which made two elite running backs even better. Man, tackling was HORRIBLE. How many times did UK have them pinned in the backfield, only to watch them break it to the outside for a big gain? A lot, if my memory serves me well.
But let’s ignore the tackling and get to the real issue weighing on everyone’s minds: the roughing the punter penalty.
When your favorite football team loses by 31 points, it seems pretty crazy to stress over a single play. Obviously a lot of things went wrong, but I’m going to be irrational in my immediate reaction and say the game was over when Kentucky got flagged for roughing the punter. At that moment, Kentucky was up three points and stood to get the ball back with good field position. Who knows, maybe the Cats drive it down the field and punch it in to go up 10-0 at that point, if not for the flag. The way the game started, it’s not absurd to think that could’ve happened. What happens then? Momentum is all the way on your side and Georgia has just been punched in the mouth on its own turf.
A flag was thrown, though, and Georgia got a second chance to make something of its second drive. Instead of giving the ball back to a confident Kentucky team, Georgia drove 66 yards for a touchdown and the lead. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Georgia was scoring there, and they did. The touchdown flipped the momentum and the score, while deflating a UK team that had started well on the road. The game was decided right there.
Now for the decision to try to block the punt. Mark Stoops said on his postgame show he regrets the call. “Wanted to be aggressive and take a shot but it backfired,” he said. “That’s one I’m second guessing now.”
It’s easy to second guess now, but when you’re Kentucky football trying to make something special happen, you have to live with it when it doesn’t work. Should they have dropped back and played it safe? Yeah, probably. But as a 22-point underdog with a small lead you’re lucky to have in the first place, why not try your luck and go at them? It’s ballsy, but UK didn’t pay all that money for a “Why Not” Super Bowl commercial to not play “Why Not.” Unfortunately it ended in the worst case scenario, which decided the entire game, if you ask me.
Damn that roughing the punter call.