Well, that’s not what we had in mind for Kentucky’s first football game in the 2015 season and its first in the new Commonwealth Stadium. With so much excitement brewing around the program, so many people projecting this is the year UK finally breaks through; the Cats came out and reminded us all just how painful it can be to go through Saturdays as a UK football fan.
Yes, it was a win. Yes, the record says 1-0. But needing a last-minute touchdown to beat a Sun Belt team on such a special night is a little concerning.
This kid knows what I’m talking about:
Things were going so well in the first half, then the wheels fell completely off as Louisiana-Lafayette scored 23 unanswered points in a flash, knotting things up late in the game. Luckily, the Cats buckled down and prevailed in the end, 40-33. I can’t even imagine the devastation had the Ragin’ Cajuns stolen one in Commonwealth.
Let’s talk about it a little bit before bedtime…
It’s easy to look back at the offense’s second half collapse or Lafayette running wild on the defense during the comeback. But let’s not forget the play that opened things up: Boom Williams’ 75-yard rush on the first snap. What a way to break in the new stadium.
Give it to us one time, Tom Leach:
A touchdown on the first play from scrimmage? You can’t script that.
Boom finished with 135 yards on 10 carries and that electrifying score. He’s going to be a lot of fun to watch.
Shannon Dawson isn’t afraid to air it out.
We quickly learned UK’s new offensive coordinator has no problem calling for the deep ball. We saw Patrick Towles attempt a handful of bombs early in the game. In fact, it seemed UK was only running the ball or throwing vertical there for a little while. I’m a fan of the aggression, but QB play will have to improve if that’s the route they’re going.
Speaking of QB play…
Patrick Towles didn’t win anyone over tonight.
Several fans were calling for Drew Barker in the second half when Towles appeared to be completely out of it. Accuracy was Towles’ biggest problem after we heard all summer he had really improved in that area. Sadly, that did not show tonight and the “clear-cut favorite” for the starting job in camp will need a much better showing against South Carolina — or the Barker whispers will only grow louder.
16-of-34 isn’t going to cut it.
The defense must get better.
And with so much youth and a couple key players out tonight, it will. But it was pretty bad in Game 1, outside of a couple solid performers. JD Harmon and Josh Forrest come to mind when looking back at individuals. Melvin Lewis, too. Outside of those three guys, everyone could’ve done a little more to help out, the D-line especially.
Need to get Flannigan healthy and Hatcher back from suspension ASAP.
I’m a big fan of Juice.
That’s Garrett Johnson, in case you didn’t know. He was the team’s leading receiver with five catches for 85 yards and one touchdown. We’re going to hear his name called A LOT this season.
247 yards rushing for Lafayette.
Elijah McGuire, the guy we heard so much about heading into this one, was outshined by his backup, Torrey Pierce. Pierce rushed for 110 yards with two touchdowns and 11 yards per carry. McGuire wasn’t too far behind, racking up 87 rushing yards with 27 carries.
There’s no reason why a Sun Belt team should run for almost 250 on an SEC defense. Unacceptable.
Mikel Horton needs more touches.
While Boom is flashy and capable of breaking one at any moment, Horton may be the back Kentucky needs to survive the conference. As Stoops noted in his postgame comments, Horton showed a great desire to find the end zone on his game-winning carry late in the game.
The sophomore looks like a completely different player from one year ago and he’s going to be a problem for anyone trying to pull him down. Get him the rock.
Shout-out to Charles Walker for the big third down reception.
The sophomore walk-on, who played the role of Elijah McGuire on the scout team all week, made a big reception and fought for a couple extra yards on UK’s final drive. He fell inches short of the first down, but his effort set up Towles’ QB sneak on fourth down to keep the game-winning drive alive.
The pregame atmosphere was incredible.
Seriously. The entire scene was madness, from the Cat Walk (biggest one I’ve witnessed) to the enormous crowd for the Sundy Best concert and everywhere else around the stadium. Awesome showing from the fans and I can’t wait to see what they bring for the Florida game. So much excitement. It’s a shame they weren’t rewarded with a little bit better of a performance on the field, but still a fun day nonetheless.
Kentucky is undefeated in the New CWS.
And in the end, that’s all that matters.
Go Cats, everybody.