By Eli Mitchell on ©October 13th, 2019 @ 10:00am
A win in the Southeastern Conference is hard to come by these days, but Kentucky picked up its first of the year by rallying to defeat Arkansas 24-20.
Lynn Bowden Jr. completed 7 of 11 passes for 78 yards, and a touchdown to go along with 196 yards, and two touchdowns on the ground.
The victory moves Kentucky to 3-3 on the season with a trip to Athens coming up next Saturday.
A Winning Formula
The Kentucky Football team dominated the time of possession by running the ball for 330 yards on 54 carries. Not too shabby.
Trailing by double digits early, the easy decision would have been to put Sawyer Smith back at QB, but Eddie Gran trusted his gut. Bowden Jr. made the decision pay off in a big way.
Following a slow start the Kentucky defense buckled down in the 2nd half, and Calvin Taylor Jr. made a huge deflection on 4th down that sealed the game. It wasn’t pretty, but this young defense is improving each week.
“I was really proud of our team, because I think that, they just, something clicked, the switch went off and really gelled the past couple weeks and we worked hard at that,” Mark Stoops said after the game. “We felt good tonight.”
For a full breakdown of the game, check out Adam Luckett’s 10 Takeaways.
Jared Lorenzen Day
It was an emotional day for the state of Kentucky as we honored one of our own. The scene at Kroger Field as the Lorenzen family was honored is one that I will never forget. “My Old Kentucky Home” played as Lorenzen’s loved ones gathered to celebrate his life.
“Really proud that we got win in Jared’s memory and for his family,” Mark Stoops said after the game. “And proud of our team by the way they played and hopefully they kept him in the back of their mind because that’s how Jared played. He really laid it on the line for his team each and every week and I was proud of our group tonight in his memory.”
22 is smiling down today.
The Postgame Celebration
A winning locker room is a fun locker room.
The UK Football locker room celebration video is great pic.twitter.com/gViVPpYqzX
— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) October 13, 2019
Enjoy your Sunday, BBN.
By ShopKSR.com on ©October 13th, 2019 @ 9:45am
Posted in Main
By Nick Roush on ©October 13th, 2019 @ 12:34am
After 25 minutes of game time, Kentucky was in a 13-point hole. It was a familiar situation, one the Cats faced in their previous two losses. Unlike the road trips to Starkville and Columbia, UK dug out of the hole to defeat Arkansas 24-20.
“I was really proud of our team, because I think that, they just, something clicked, the switch went off and really gelled the past couple weeks and we worked hard at that,” Mark Stoops said after the game. “We felt good tonight.”
It didn’t click right away. Rakeem Boyd ripped off a 74-yard touchdown on the second play of the game. Kentucky’s offense put its defense in a pickle when the Cats failed to convert a fourth down, setting up an easy field goal for the Hogs. Their next drive was a 10-play march down the field that resulted in another field goal.
Kentucky was reeling. Sawyer Smith was warming up on the sideline. The Cats considered making a change, but Eddie Gran remembered what he told himself earlier in the week.
“There were some discussions (on switching to Smith), but we said we had to be patient. Thank goodness that we were. Made that mistake twice, wasn’t patient. So we stuck to the gameplan that we thought was the best opportunity to give our kids a chance to win the good,” said Kentucky’s offensive coordinator.
“They played hard. They could have caved in at the beginning and they didn’t. That was really neat to see.”
When Bowden returned to the huddle, he told his teammates to keep fighting.
“All these guys on the team, they’re all fighters. From the sidelines on the field, everyone’s a fighter. No one wants to lose. Just keeping everybody’s confidence up. I think I did that tonight,” he said.
Led by Bowden, Kentucky’s offense immediately responded. He connected with the tight ends on back-to-back plays, forcing the Arkansas defense to respect UK’s passing game. It completely opened up the offense as the Cats marched 75 yards down the field in ten plays for a touchdown, sparking a 17-0 run that gave UK the lead in the third quarter. The offense got some help from their defense to make it happen.
“We’d like to start quicker and to play like we started in the second half. To start with a couple three-and-outs, that was the goal. You felt the pressure on third down. Guys were making plays. It shows a lot of character,” said defensive coordinator Brad White. “That shows character that they’re responding in adverse situations and that’s growth.”
Even though they were tough lessons to learn at South Carolina and Mississippi State, the Wildcats would not let those losses be in vein.
“The more mature you are, the more you can overcome some of those things,” said Stoops. “I just think that we learned from it…I don’t want to beat a dead horse but I just think the guys really responded well the past two weeks.”
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©October 13th, 2019 @ 12:22am
How big was Kentucky’s 24-20 win over Arkansas? Big enough for Mark Stoops to go crowdsurfing in the locker room afterwards. End your night by watching the team celebrate a much-needed W:
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) October 13, 2019
Thankfully, he didn’t break any ceiling tiles like he did at Missouri.
By Adam Luckett on ©October 13th, 2019 @ 12:15am
It was Jared Lorenzen Day at Kroger Field with the Kentucky football program desperately needing a win. UK’s top two quarterbacks were sidelined with injuries, so the Wildcats would be trying Lynn Bowden, Jr. to see if he had some of that Randall Cobb magic. Boy, did he ever.
Behind an offense that rushed for over 300 yards and a defense that played very well outside of the first series, the Wildcats got their first league win of the season and now there’s plenty of optimism entering the final half of the season.
1.) Lynn Bowden, Jr. Has The Juice
The star wide receiver spent the last two weeks getting all of the QB1 snaps in practice according to the UK radio broadcast and it was clear early on that he was going to get all of the snaps. Bowden received all the reps warming up and was throwing fades in short sleeve hoodie an hour before kickoff.
— Adam Luckett (@AdamLuckettKSR) October 12, 2019
The former blue-chipper rushed for 196 yards on 24 carries and made the big plays in the fourth quarter. Bowden’s 24-yard run put UK in front with under seven minutes left and a 51-yard run followed by a 15-yard gash iced the game on UK’s final possession.
He did his thing on the ground, but he also provided a much needed passing spark. The former high school quarterback hit Justin Rigg on pop passes on RPO looks in the first half and threw a beautiful back shoulder fade to Clevan Thomas, Jr. for a 10-yard score in the third quarter. He provided big time playmaking on third down and made the plays when the team needed it.
2.) Defense’s Progression
Kentucky is very young in the back seven this season due to a multitude of reasons and it has showed. Slow starts have been an issue and there was another one tonight. On the second play from scrimmage, Rakeem Boyd sprinted 74 yards for six on an outside zone and that would allow Arkansas to hold the lead until late in the third quarter. However, the group settled in quick.
UK gave up just one touchdown on three red zone trips, got timely stops, played just 57 snaps, and got two big pressures from their senior defensive ends to end it. After the big run, UK held Arkansas to just 4.1 yards per play. That will win you a lot of a ballgames.
3.) Setting The Pace
It’s no secret how Kentucky wants to win football games under Mark Stoops. The Wildcats want to establish the run and shrink the game as much as possible. UK is most comfortable when they are able to play under 70 snaps and stay with that pace all night.
Arkansas only got off 57 snaps on offense and they came into tonight averaging 73.2 plays per game. The Hogs want to get to at least 80 in their hurry-up, no-huddle offense that is built to go NASCAR fast. To pull off UK’s style, however, your offense has to pull a lot of weight.
Kentucky moved the chains 21 times in 66 plays and converted 50 percent of their 14 third downs. The Wildcats were perfect in the red zone until the kneel out to finish the game. Whenever you are able to run for 300-plus yards you are going to win a lot of football games.
4.) Kentucky Might Have A Kicker
Matt Ruffolo received his second start of the season and the junior would attempt his two field goals from 40-plus yards out. Kentucky entered today with just four makes on eight attempts and most everyone in the stadium seemed skeptical.
Well, the Ohio native had plenty of left of leg on a 47-yard attempt that just went wide. After going backwards on a red zone trip in the third quarter, UK would call on Ruffolo again and this time he delivered on a 50-yarder that would cut the lead to three on UK’s first possession after half.
Kentucky might have a reliable option at kicker.
5.) Pass Rush Delivers
Arkansas entered the game having only given up seven sacks and that ranked third in the SEC and in the top-25 nationally. The pass rush has been a thorn in UK’s side with the coaches recently challenging Boogie Watson to provide some more production.
He did that by recording his third sack in two games in addition to a forced fumble. However, others chipped in in timely scenarios. Calvin Taylor, Jr. continues to play excellent football and collected a huge third down sack on the final Arkansas possession. The next play, T.J. Carter would provide a pressure that would lead to an incompletion. Quinton Bohanna would also notch a sack while Jordan Wright is giving UK some outside pass rush.
This group needs to continue to develop and they are showing some positive signs.
6.) Chunk Plays
One of the main reasons for optimism for this season was that the offense was going to have some big play factor. With more speed at running back and Lynn Bowden, Jr. getting plenty of touches, that meant some more big plays for the offense.
The last two weeks those have disappeared for the most part, but we saw the splash play return tonight. Kentucky recorded six plays of 20-plus yards in the win and all of them came on the ground. We would get four in the final quarter.
The Wildcats got all of these on the last two drives of the game with Bowden’s two runs on the last drive icing the game. When the defense was tired the big plays came and this is something you have to have with Bowden at quarterback.
7.) Run Defense Still Needs Work
Kentucky entered Saturday giving up 4.92 yards per carry and this ranked 106th in the FBS. Tonight that didn’t get much better with the Cats allowing 6.1 yards per carry on 30 attempts. You had 74 of the 183 rush yards came on one play, but this defense continues to struggle at stopping opposing ground games.
When you take out sack yardage, Arkansas put up 7.4 yards per attempt and honestly did not run the ball enough. Leaning on the pass allowed UK to pickup some much needed three-and-outs in the third quarter to ride the momentum built entering halftime. Moving forward, this has to improve if the defense wants to continue the growth they’ve shown in other areas.
8.) Max Duffy Is Still Good
The best punter in college football was only used three times in the game and two of his attempts were downed inside the 20. He booted another attempt 50-plus yards but did outkick his coverage punting from the endzone. That punt led to a big return that was the largest UK has allowed all season. That next possession would give the Hogs their only second half touchdown.
He’s still doing his job and if Jamin Davis makes a tackle we’re likely talking about UK holding an SEC foe under 20 points.
9.) Surprising Pass Game
For those that read my KSR Film Room piece on Lynn Bowden’s prowess as a high school quarterback, you likely were not surprised with the throws he made. It’s very clear that he’s comfortable with the fade and is quite capable off getting it to the tight end in the middle of the field.
Bowden tossed a beautiful ball to Wagner in the third quarter that would have been a big play if he gets a foot down inbounds. However, the big receiver helped out later in the possession when he drew a flag in the endzone. The best throw of the night came on a third down late in the third quarter when Bowden hit Clevan Thomas, Jr. for UK’s first passing touchdown since the third quarter of the Florida game.
The ground game was the story, but the pass game showed some potential.
10.) Winning Is Fun
There was a lot of talk about fans checking out from a ton of people this week and many expected a poor crowd on Saturday. However, that was not the case with Kentucky being at about a 94 percent capacity on a beautiful October night for a college football game in Lexington. The Big Blue Nation knew a win was needed and they helped will their team to the finish line.
After a slow start that saw UK get down 13-0 with just under six minutes left in the second quarter, the crowd never checked out and helped UK go on a run from that point. The team delivered and gave the program a great day in what was a memoriam for Jared Lorenzen.
The Wildcats owned the last 35 minutes of the football game as the defense settled in and the offense took off. Lynn Bowden, Jr. provided the big plays while the defense got the timely stops. In end, Kentucky lined up in the victory formation and now there will be some optimism for the final six games of the season.
There were a ton of reasons to be skeptical entering this week, but both the team and the fans brought it and there is now a chance for this to be a good season again.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©October 13th, 2019 @ 12:05am
On a day fraught with emotion, Kentucky found a way to win. Led by Lynn Bowden, the Cats beat Arkansas 24-20, and as our friend Jared Lorenzen would put it, it was one hell of a game.
“Really proud that we got win for in Jared’s memory and for his family,” Mark Stoops said after the game. “And proud of our team by the way they played and hopefully they kept him in the back of their mind because that’s how Jared played. He really laid it on the line for his team each and every week and I was proud of our group tonight in his memory.”
From KSBar to Kroger Field, Lexington was covered in memories of No. 22. I saw more Jared t-shirts than Kentucky t-shirts, and there was nary a dry eye in the house when his family, friends, and former teammates stood on the field while his highlights played during “My Old Kentucky Home.”
“It’s very special,” Lynn Bowden said of playing quarterback on the day Kentucky honored one of the best to ever do it. “All the film they showed us throughout the week, I feel sorry for his family. He was a great guy, like one of the legends here. I don’t want to talk about it, I might start tearing up here and there’s too many cameras.”
You made him proud, Lynn.
He was one of a kind.
He was Kentucky.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) October 13, 2019
By Nick Roush on ©October 12th, 2019 @ 11:53pm
The players and coaches left the locker room happy after snapping a three-game losing streak with a win over Arkansas. Hear what they had to say about their first SEC victory of the 2019 season.
By Nick Roush on ©October 12th, 2019 @ 11:42pm
That was one hell of a win. See the plays that helped Kentucky overcome a 13-0 deficit to defeat Arkansas 24-20 at Kroger Field.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©October 12th, 2019 @ 11:30pm
Lynn Bowden hasn’t started at quarterback since high school, but on a day when Kentucky desperately needed a win, he stepped into his old role and delivered. With one touchdown through the air and two on the ground, Bowden pushed the Cats to a 24-20 win over Arkansas and may have saved the season altogether.
“It was special to me,” Bowden said of the opportunity to play quarterback. “Two weeks ago when they told me I was going to be in the room I just thought I was giving Sawyer [Smith] a little break. This game week, they were putting me in the rotation, my teammates and my coaches just trusted me back there to lead the team and there’s just something great about it.”
Bowden’s first rushing touchdown came towards the end of the first half to put Kentucky on the board 13-7. Until that point, the Cats were stagnant on both sides of the ball, but Bowden was determined to flip the momentum heading into halftime.
“Just keeping our heads up,” Bowden said of his message to his teammates when Kentucky was down 13-0. “All these guys on the team, they’re all fighters. From the sidelines on the field, everyone’s a fighter. No one wants to lose. Just keeping everybody’s confidence up. I think I did that tonight.”
“I’m a vocal leader on the team so if I get down, then the team gets down. Just kept confidence, always stayed positive throughout the whole game and I think it showed out there with our teammates and how we were effective.”
Bowden admitted that keeping the secret that he was QB1 this week was tough, but the moment really hit home when he saw his old high school coach before the game.
“It’s like a little homecoming thing. My head coach said it too, I saw him during the Cat Walk. It’s just a blessing to be doing that still. I was receiver here, it’s a blessing. I’m at a loss for words for real. Just giving all the glory to my teammates.”
Bowden interrupted Mark Stoops’ postgame interview with the SEC Network with a bearhug:
Lynn Bowden mobs Mark Stoops mid-interview. pic.twitter.com/kA79xYW8Fo
— TheCatsPause247 (@TheCatsPause247) October 13, 2019
“So proud of Lynn, obviously, for what he’s done and the way he’s prepared for the past couple weeks,” Stoops said. “But also just the team for playing really good around Lynn. Offensively, guys were very unselfish, did what they had to do. Blocking, doing tough things on the perimeter, just doing whatever we had to do to move the football.”
Was Bowden disappointed that he missed out on the chance to get another touchdown at the end of the game when Kentucky went into victory formation? Not at all.
“Victory. I just want to win. Anything can happen in football.”
By Nick Roush on ©October 12th, 2019 @ 10:44pm
On Jared Lorenzen Day, Lynn Bowden made magic as the Wildcats’ quarterback, carrying Kentucky to a 24-20 victory over Arkansas at Kroger Field.
Given more than simple wildcat duties, Bowden busted big plays with his legs and made all of the throws Kentucky needed to put the Razorbacks’ defense on their heels. He complete 7-of-11 passes for 78 yards and an incredible back-shoulder fade to Clevan Thomas in the end zone. Bowden carried the ball 24 times for 196 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Most importantly, Bowden kept the boat afloat even after Kentucky fell behind early. A Rakeem Boyd 75-yard touchdown on the second play of the game helped the Razorbacks jump out to a 13-0 lead before UK responded.
Arkansas had a chance to take the lead late, but UK’s pass rush didn’t let Ben Hicks deliver the ball. Leading by four, Calvin Taylor Jr. got a sack on third and eight. On fourth down, T.J. Carter applied pressure, forcing a throw into the dirt. Two plays later Bowden delivered a 51-yard dagger.
Injury woes have plagued the quarterback position all season. With a little help from Lorenzen, Lynn Bowden gracefully ended that trend.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©October 12th, 2019 @ 9:01pm
At halftime, your University of Kentucky Wildcats trail the Arkansas Razorbacks 13-7. That may not sound ideal, but given how bad Kentucky looked for most of the half, being within a score is a blessing.
After a rough start on both sides of the ball, Lynn Bowden finally got the Cats on the board with a three-yard touchdown run, which was set up by a drive that included two huge catches by Justin Rigg. Let’s hope that momentum carries over to the second half.
By Nick Roush on ©October 12th, 2019 @ 8:25pm
Prior to kickoff against Arkansas, the University of Kentucky honored the late, great Jared Lorenzen.
Standing on the goal line, Jared’s family, teammates and former coach, Rich Brooks, received a standing ovation from a packed house at Kroger Field. During the playing of “My Old Kentucky Home,” Jared’s best plays as a Wildcat were shown on the Jumbotron.
Instead of a moment of silence, the BBN got rowdy for the Hefty Lefty.
— Kentucky Athletics (@UKAthletics) October 13, 2019
Terry Wilson kept his promise and rocked No. 22 in a touching tribute.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©October 12th, 2019 @ 6:00pm
All of the hoopla of Big Blue Madness tends to focus on the Kentucky men’s and women’s basketball teams, but the 24-time national champion UK cheerleaders made sure on Friday evening that they earned the Big Blue Nation’s collective attention.
Performing their newest routine for the upcoming season, the cheerleading squad sparked a standing ovation from the crowd following an impressive display of flips and tricks.
If you weren’t there to see it in person or missed it on the SEC Network broadcast, KSR was there to get all the footage.
Take a look below:
And if you missed their title-winning performance back in January to secure the program’s NCAA-leading 24th national championship, check it out below:
The University of Kentucky squad has won UCA’s National College Cheerleading Championship an unprecedented 24 times, taking home the title in 1985, 1987, 1988, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019, more than any other Division IA school.
And judging by their Big Blue Madness performance, they are well on their way for another title.
By Brandon Ramsey on ©October 12th, 2019 @ 5:00pm
It’s GAMEDAY!!! Kentucky’s bye week couldn’t have came at a better time. After 3 straight losses it seemed like all of Big Blue Nation needed a break to regroup. However, I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to have football back in the Bluegrass! This evening the ‘Cats will return to Kroger Field for Homecoming and a very special memorial to the late, great Jared Lorenzen. While questions still swirl around Lexington as to if Sawyer Smith will be able to play and how many snaps Lynn Bowden will see at Quarterback, there are plenty of questions on the opposite sideline as well. Let’s dive in and learn a little bit more about the Arkansas Razorbacks.
1) Questions at QB
- Kentucky fans are well versed in quarterback question marks this season. Not only have the ‘Cats had to shuffle several different players under center themselves; they have faced plenty of back-up quarterbacks as well. This week will be no different. Arkansas traded 2 lost QB’s to transfer for 2 incoming graduate transfers. Ben Hicks, a former SMU starter, won the job out of camp but quickly lost his job after just 2 games. The Razorbacks then turned to Nick Starkel, who began his career at Texas A&M, and started throwing the ball around more with him under center. Starkel has had turnover issues in his time as the QB1. Then, he suffered an elbow injury against his former team and that is where the question marks begin as to who will earn the start at Kroger Field. Starkel has thrown for 7 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, as well as just over 1000 yards this season. Assuming that the former A&M QB is ready for today’s game, expect to see him out there on the first drive.
2) Young, Talented Receivers
- How much the receivers come into play definitely will vary based on who ends up taking the snaps at Quarterback. Either way, the Arkansas freshman wide receiver duo has been prolific so far this season. Treylon Brooks and Trey Knox are lead all SEC freshman in catches and are the only SEC freshman in the Top 10 nationally in receiving. Having each missed a game due to injury, the freshman tandem has still caught a combined 38 balls for over 500 yards. The young Kentucky Secondary will have to be up to the task to limit big plays and keep these guys from going off in their first trip to Lexington.
3) Rakeem Boyd
- Does that name ring a bell? Last Chance U fans will remember him from Independence U and Coach Jason Brown. So far this season, Boyd has rushed for an even 500 yards on 91 carries and reached the end zone 3 times. His numbers on the ground put him 2nd in the Southeastern Conference. While Kentucky, on paper, has the advantage in the trenches, Rakeem Boyd is as talented of a Running Back as the ‘Cats will face all season.
4) Shaky Defense w/ Top End Talent
- To put it simply, the Razorbacks have had one of the worst defenses in the SEC so far this season. They have come up with some timely turnovers, but they have allowed offenses to march down the field and score at an alarming rate. That being said, the Arkansas defense is anchored by former 5-star recruit, and 4-year starter, McTelvin Agim who will look to stop what promises to be a heavy running attack tonight. Behind Agim, 2-time all SEC selection De’Jon Harris is back starting at Mike Linebacker and has gone over 100 tackles each of the last 2 seasons. Anchoring the secondary is leading tackler Kamren Curl. Curl has also picked off a pass and forced a fumble so far this season. There is some talent on this defense, but they just have not been able to put it all together this season. Regardless of who takes the majority of the Quarterback snap for Kentucky, the Wildcats should be able to control the clock and find success on the ground if nothing else.
5) The Give & Take of Turnovers
- So far this season Arkansas has lost 2 fumbles and thrown 7 interceptions through just 5 games. Luckily for them, they have also picked off 5 passes and recovered 5 fumbles to still come out on top of the turnover battle overall. This easily could end up being the key to the game. If Arkansas is able to take advantage of Kentucky’s questions at Quarterback and force a couple of turnovers it will put them in position for a road, upset victory. However, if Kentucky is able to turn the Razorbacks over like other teams have, it will be difficult for Arkansas to exit victorious from Kroger Field.
Today is for you, Jared! Enjoy your day watching from above, and maybe enjoy a little drink of your favorite moonshine with #BBN tonight.
By Nick Roush on ©October 12th, 2019 @ 4:00pm
Big Blue Madness brought it.
The action really got rolling when Rupp Arena dimmed the lights and used the floor as a projection screen for an incredible hype video.
The video was great, but it didn’t bring as much effort and enthusiasm as Bruce Buffer. The fight announcer brought down the house by introducing the players, who proceeded to bring down the house with some fantastic moves.
By Adam Luckett on ©October 12th, 2019 @ 3:30pm
After a much needed bye week, UK returns to Kroger Field and will be facing another SEC team that is in desperate need of a win. Arkansas and Kentucky are set to face for the first time since 2012 and the Hogs make their first trip to Lexington since Bobby Petrino’s first season in 2008. A lot has happened in the decade since.
Nuts and Bolts
Arkansas made the jump to the SEC in 1992 and the program had some rough sledding early on. After a disappointing five-year run by former Clemson national championship head coach Danny Ford, Houston Nutt stepped in for a decade.
The Hogs would win 75 games, go to eight bowl games, play in two SEC Championships, and finish in the top-25 three times under Nutt. Despite winning eight games and upsetting eventual national champion LSU on the road in 2007, the administration decided to make a move. Newly appointed athletic director Jeff Long made quite the splash with the next hire.
Bobby Petrino was fresh off a 41-9 run at Louisville before an embarrassing showing in the NFL . It seemed he resigned from the Atlanta Falcons in December to immediately become the Arkansas coach. What happened next would be the program’s best run in the SEC.
After a 5-7 start, Petrino would lead Arkansas to 29 wins the next three seasons with three top-12 finishes. The Hogs played LSU for a share of the SEC West title on Thanksgiving Friday in 2011 and all signs pointed to them remaining a factor in college football’s toughest division. Then the alleged motorcycle wreck happened.
After the media did some digging, Jeff Long decided to dismiss the very successful coach. Despite this, the program seemed to recover well by hiring Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema who won three Big Ten titles in seven seasons. The Iowa alum would go just 29-34 in five years causing both him and Long to be fired. After what was deemed a bad cultural fit, the Hogs decided to lean into Texas.
Chad Morris was a former state championship winning Texas high school coach before joining the FBS ranks. After one season at Tulsa, he joined Dabo Swinney at Clemson to help build what is college football’s most popular dynasty today. Morris recruited Deshaun Watson and was one of the pioneers in the hurry-up, no-huddle offense becoming a staple in college football. After four years, Morris was hired by SMU in a move that allowed him to return to the Lonestar State.
Despite some excellent recruiting, the wins have not come. Morris has just one winning season in five years and two years with 10 losses. After losing to San Jose State earlier this season, it appears the Hogs are in for another rough year with games against Alabama, Auburn, and LSU remaining.
This is, however, a program with a rich history. The Hogs have been to 42 bowl games, won a national title in 1964, finished second in 1965, and third in 1969 and 1977. The program won 13 Southwest Conference titles and had a great run from 1958-1989. Frank Broyles, Lou Holtz, and Ken Hatfield all had a winning percentage above .700 as the Hogs were perennial contenders in the SWC during those three-plus decades.
This will be eighth meeting all-time between the two programs with Kentucky owning a 4-3 series lead. The last time these two programs met in Lexington, it was Randall Cobb’s coming out party when he scored two fourth quarter touchdowns to complete a comeback victory.
Out in the desert, Kentucky is a 7-point favorite with a total of 53.5. That’s a projected final score around 30-23. The Wildcats are are 3-4 against the spread and 6-1 straight up as an SEC home favorite since 2014. Arkansas is 8-9 against the number under Chad Morris. The under is 4-1 in Arkansas games this season.
Joe Craddock came with Chad Morris to Fayetteville to become an SEC offensive coordinator at the age of 32. The Razorbacks utilize a spread offense with tempo that wants to throw the ball around the yard. That meant a total roster reconstruction after Bielema’s heavy run based system. So the Hogs have gotten really young, but it’s allowing some of their biggest recruiting wins to get on the field very fast.
— Arkansas Razorback Football (@RazorbackFB) October 4, 2019
Both Treylon Burks and Trey Knox have missed one game due to injury this season, but have started every other. The two four-star rookies have combined for 38 grabs, 529 yards, and two touchdowns. The duo is averaging 13.9 yards per catch and are slowly turning into quality wideouts. Burks is a big slot receiver (6-foot-3, 223 pounds) while Knox is guy the Razorbacks will use to stretch the field.
They aren’t the only weapons in the pass happy offense. Mike Woods has started 12 games and is a true sophomore who is the veteran of the receiving corps. He leads the team in receiving yards. Cheyenne O’Grady has been one of the best tight ends in the SEC and he will provide a unique challenge for UK. The big fella was unleashed against Texas A&M when he recorded a career-high eight receptions so you can expect plenty of targets to head his way. He can rumble.
Cheyenne O'Grady with some SERIOUS YAC on this play. ?
— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 16, 2019
The best weapon is found at running back. Rakeem Boyd was on Last Chance U and rushed for 1,211 yards at Independence Community College. The slashing back is second in the SEC in rushing and is on pace for a 1,159-yard season. Stopping the run will be paramount again.
Lining up next to Boyd at quarterback is a bit of a question mark. Arkansas lost two quarterbacks to transfer last season. Therefore, the Hogs brought in two grad transfer quarterbacks who had familiarity with the program. Ben Hicks started for Chad Morris at SMU for two seasons before not being a fit in the offense Sonny Dykes brought to Dallas. Despite being the program’s all-time leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns, he decided to make a move.
Arkansas landed Hicks, but wasn’t done on the quarterback market. Nick Starkel started his career at Texas A&M and beat out Kellen Mond in 2017 before being hurt in the first game. The next year, Jimbo Fisher arrived in Aggieland and Mond would win the QB1 spot. After being A&M’s primary backup last season, Starkel decided to move on. He landed at Arkansas where he would have two years of eligibility remaining.
Ben Hicks won the job leaving camp and started the first two games of the season. In those outings, he completed just 46.7 percent of his passes with a 5.3 yards per attempt average. He’s a game manager who plays it very safe and it was obvious he wasn’t the long-term answer. Therefore, Arkansas turned to Starkel the next week.
The big armed righty started the next three games and put up some pretty big numbers. The transfer isn’t afraid to let it rip shown by 7.8 yards per attempt average and seven interceptions in just 131 passes. The offense moved much better with Starkel in the lineup, but ball security is a major issue.
In the close loss to Texas A&M, Starkel was lost due to an elbow injury that occurred while trying to make a tackle after a red zone interception. Hicks stepped in and played his best game of the season. This week, Chad Morris states that Nick Starkel is good to go, but was vague about who the starter would be. There’s a lot of gamesmanship going on.
The offense’s biggest weakness through five games has been in the red zone. Arkansas ranks 126th in red zone efficiency and 120th in red zone touchdown rate. Kentucky could have an advantage when the Hogs get into scoring territory.
Back in 1995, Phillip Fulmer promoted John Chavis to defensive coordinator at Tennessee. The Vols won a national title three years later and the man they call Chief has called defenses for a quarter-century in the SEC. Tennessee, LSU, Texas A&M, and Arkansas have all employed Chavis, but lately his units have had some issues.
The Hogs currently rank 14th in the SEC in red zone touchdown rate, 11th in scoring defense, 12th in passer rating, and 12th in third down efficiency. Arkansas has been able to rush the passer and force some turnovers, but this old school 4-3 scheme has been a bend-but-don’t-break unit despite having a couple seniors in the front seven who will be draft picks.
McTelvin Agim was a five-star prospect reeled in by Bret Bielema’s staff and he’s played a lot since his true freshman season. The senior has over 30 career starts and will be a bear for UK’s interior offensive line to deal with when they run their normal inside zone concepts. Playing next to him on the line are a handful of seniors and true freshman Mataio Soli at defensive end.
At the second level, De’Jon Harris is back at Mike and the Louisiana native was a second-team All-SEC selection in both 2017 and 2018. The inside linebacker has recorded at least 115 tackles in each of the last two seasons and is a steadying force on the inside. Next to him at Will is sophomore Bumper Pool who is a future star. The Texas native was a blue-chip recruit in the first recruiting class for Morris.
In the secondary, Kamren Curl leads the team in tackles and has been giving the Hogs some very high quality safety play. The San Diego native has two sacks, one interception, and a forced fumble on top of nearly eight stops per game. The strong safety will play a huge role in run defense and he appears to be on his way to All-SEC honors. Surrounding Curl are three sophomore starters as the Hogs have gone full on youth movement in 2019.
Special Teams Breakdown
Connor Limpert is in his third season starting at placekicker and the Allen, Texas native has hit 83.3 percent of his 42 attempts. He’s made multiple 50-plus yard kicks and is a legit weapon for the Hogs when they get into scoring territory. However, in the kickoff department, Lippert has a below SEC average touchback rate of 62.1 percent. Returns will be there.
Arkansas ranks 13th in the SEC in punting, so hidden yards could be there in bunches when facing off against the nation’s best punter on the other side. The coverage teams have been good all season for the Hogs with opponents not picking up many yards.
Keys to Victory
- The offense for Arkansas has been absolutely brutal in the red zone all season and this comes a year after having the worst red zone touchdown rate in the SEC. The Hogs have had turnovers in addition to not getting the ball into the endzone. Through five games, UK has been okay at getting stops in the red zone. This a battle the Wildcats must win.
- Arkansas plays with tempo on offense and would prefer to run about 80 or so snaps on offense. There are quarterback questions to be answered, but there’s no denying that Kentucky wants its defense on the field for no more than 70 snaps. Whoever establishes the tempo and playing style early will have the advantage. UK must get the run rolling early to move the chains and own field position.
- Turnovers could play a huge role with both teams having opportunistic defenses and offenses with a history of loose ball security. If Ben Hicks is in the lineup, expect for the Hogs to be much more cautious. If it’s Lynn Bowden, Jr. at quarterback for UK, this is a question that must be answered.
A Hell of a Game
Kentucky will be honoring one of the most most memorable players in program history on Saturday and earlier this week Mark Stoops said his team was determined to play well. Jared Lorenzen left us back in July, but his memory will be fresh on everyone’s mind Saturday night at The Kroge. It’s no coincidence that this is happening the weekend Arkansas is here.
Back in 2003, UK hosted Houston Nutt’s squad in one of the most memorable college football games of the 2000s. In a contest that would go seven overtimes, UK would fall short but No. 22 would put together a hell of an effort. Back in regulation, he delivered an iconic line that is still being talked about today.
Win it for the legend.
By KSR on ©October 12th, 2019 @ 3:15pm
Before the Kentucky football team celebrates the life and career of Jared Lorenzen, his UK wing-man joins the KSR Pregame Show.
Live from KSBar, former Kentucky quarterback Shane Boyd will join Matt Jones, Ryan Lemond and Nick Roush to share memories and prepare the Big Blue Nation for Kentucky’s matchup with Arkansas. Last night Henry Clay High School retired Boyd’s No. 2.
The radio show begins at 3:30 p.m. ET and can be heard on 630 WLAP or on iHeart Radio.