Run, Locke, Run!
BLISS! Last night, Kentucky pulled off a thrilling 34-27 come-from-behind win. Things looked bleak early as the Cats fell behind 20-6, but the halftime adjustments made all the difference in the world. On the opening play of the third quarter, Moncell Allen forced a turnover, Randall Cobb scored, and the momentum shifted. UK went on to force the Bulldogs into four turnovers and won in Athens for the first time since 1977 and the 4th win between the hedges ever. Let’s break down the game:
-Corey Peters was all over the field. As the Fake Gimel Martinez pointed out during the Live Blog, UK should have been pressuring the QB all night. After halftime, when they went with a heavier blitz package, Georgia didn’t seem to have an answer for the athletic defensive tackle. He forced a fumble that Cox was lucky to recover and clearly rattled the Georgia signal caller.
-Joe Cox absolutely fell apart in the second half. Cox couldn’t handle the pressure and threw two interceptions, lost a fumble, and generally looked shaky. Once the defense shut down the running game and forced the senior QB to beat UK with his arm, Cox failed to deliver.
-Turnovers turnovers turnovers. Brooks said his game plan was to run the ball, eliminate turnovers, and contain big plays. The Wildcats executed his plan to near perfection (at least in the second half). Special teams was huge forcing a turn over and helping the field position battle. Shane McCord and Sam Maxwell had huge interceptions that stopped the Bulldogs from responding offensively.
-Trevard Lindley had an up and down game. He clearly isn’t at 100% and was burned on a few big plays early. He settled down later on and was a key player in the momentum swing of the second half.
-The stats don’t reflect the outcome of the game. The Dawgs had more first downs, total yards, passing yards, rushing yards, third down conversions, and fourth down conversions. They also had the advantage in time of possession. Despite all of that, the Cats come out the victor.
Some quick notes from Tom Leach’s post game interview with Rich Brooks:
On second half adjustments: We played a little more man defense and used more pressure. We attacked the running game (defensively) and stopped the boot legs. We just turned up the effort overall. The big thing is the take-aways.
On special teams: Ryan punted fair to poor in the first half, but very, very well in second. UK got decent field position because Georgia was afraid to kick it to Locke.
On screen passing: UK took advantage of the aggressiveness of UGA’s front four with the screen game. Locke’s stumble on his touchdown run off a screen pass was due to him cramping up.
On Morgan Newton: The protection wasn’t as good as it has been most of the year, but under that pressure Newton took care of the football. That is a huge thing for a true freshman on the road and was an impressive performance. Newton’s numbers aren’t great, but the result is what is important.
On Randall Cobb: The coaches weren’t sure how long he would last when the game started, but he was big. He will be sorer, his shoulder won’t be better, and he probably won’t practice much this week, but he is one of those guys that can do things (in the game) without practicing all that much.
On fans: Again, a great road turn out of real, hardcore fans.
All in all, a thrilling game. Kentucky Christmas ends with a Wildcat sweep. Go Big Blue!