An After Action Review is an Army method utilized to analyze an intended action. Let’s apply a version of this process to the Kentucky vs. Eastern Michigan football game to determine what caused the final outcome as well as addressing the Cat’s need to sustain and improve:
WHAT WERE INTENDED RESULTS
Win the football game.
WHAT WERE ACTUAL RESULTS
Won the football game 24-20.
WHAT CAUSED OUR RESULTS
Opportunistic special teams
– Josh Paschal blocked a punt. Coach Dean Hood called a “block” play after EMU’s punter had prior kicks during which he was allowed extended time.
– Long snapper Tristan Yeomans recovered a fumbled punt return.
– Punter Matt Panton averaged 47.2 yards per kick which includes a 71-yarder. He also landed 3 punts inside the 20 yard-line.
Defensive explosive plays
– 6 QB sacks, 7 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble, 2 interceptions.
– OLB Josh Allen accounted for 2 QB sacks and 1.5 tackles for loss.
– Denzil Ware, Adrian Middleton, Kengera Daniel, and true freshman Josh Paschal produced 1 QB sack.
– Multiple Cats contributed tackles for loss: Eli Brown, Adrian Middleton, Denzil Ware, Kengera Daniel.
– Mike Edwards and Kendall Randolph registered an interception.
– EMU lost 43 yards on the ground. It gained 13 total.
– UK defensive line rotated fresh defenders which applied consistent pressure on the EMU OL.
– Linebacker Eli Brown quietly played a solid football game: 6 tackles, 1 tackle for loss.
– The secondary efficiently tackled. Led by Mike Edwards’ 8 tackles, Chris Westry followed with 4.
– Eastern Michigan was good; but not overpowering enough to limit the Cats to 228 total yards.
– Far too many 3-and-outs. Frequent 1st down plays that resulted in negative yardage put it behind the chains.
– No way to sugarcoat the obvious; Kentucky was dominated up-front.
– EMU totaled 5 QB sacks, 10 tackles for loss, forced one fumble.
– 45 negative rushing yards.
– UK OL did not control the point of attack in the run game. It also failed to consistently protect the edge during pass plays.
– QB Stephen Johnson was hit on far too many occasions. However, he did hold onto the football too long during one sack due to EMU coverage.
– Kentucky did not respond to change of momentum situations with touchdowns. This includes plays following forced turnovers, special team’s explosive plays, recovered on-side kick, an EMU 18-yard punt, and QB sacks that produced optimistic field position.
WHAT WILL WE SUSTAIN–IMPROVE?
– 6 QB sacks from 4 defenders: Josh Allen, Denzil Ware, Josh Pashcal, and Adrian Middleton.
– Allowed 13 yards off 27 carries.
– Effective tackling while maintaining gap integrity
– Averaged 49.4 yards per punt.
– 3 punts inside opponent’s 20-yard line.
– Blocked a punt to set up a 12-yard Benny Snell run for a touchdown.
– This group makes a repeat appearance in this category. Unselfish blocking was not overly noticeable due to EMU’s high level of tackling. But it continues to be unselfish and the drops are not a recurrent, postgame theme.
– Kentucky 17, EMU 14. The Cats failed to seal the deal with an ineffective final period for the second consecutive week.
– Time of Possession: EMU 10:22, UK 4:38.
– QB Brogan Roback: 12/25, 119-yards.
– Kentucky was penalized 4 times for 25-yards.
UK 4th quarter drives
Drive 1, Field Position-18-yard punt, Cats start on EMU 24-yard line. 1st down sack and intentional grounding penalty. 2 incomplete passes, missed 53-yard FG.
Drive 2, Field Position-EMU 12-yard line. 1 play TD drive (12-yard run by Benny Snell).
Drive 3, Field Position-UK 20-yard line. 3-and-out.
Drive 4, Field Position-UK 10-yard line. Holding on 1st down; 3-and-out.
Drive 5, Field Position-UK 40-yard line. Recovered on-side kick, 3-and-out.
– Allowed far too many sacks, tackles for loss, and nearly got Stephen Johnson killed.
– Failed to open holes in the running game.
– UK is averaging 128 rush yards per game in 2017. Finished last season with 234.
First Down Offense
– Another repeat appearance. Lost or no yardage on 1st down plays are putting UK behind the chains. 7/17 (41%) on 3rd down is efficient and ranks in the top 5 in the SEC. Matter of fact, my pregame comments were that 40% was actually an applicable goal for offensive success (Normally add 5% to opponent’s season average). Please see above 4th quarter drives. It’s the “When” the 3rd down offense stalls that is the issue.
What does all this mean?
This was a different AAR post to write. If felt that the “What caused our results” portion was far more important than the “Sustain” and “Improve” categories. Film analysis supported initial thoughts. UK excessively lost one-on-one matchups along the offensive line-of-scrimmage. But there were positives. WR play is upgraded. The Cat’s second offensive drive in the first quarter was highly efficient and forceful which resulted in a Greg Hart touchdown reception.
Eastern Michigan was an extremely well-coached opponent that played tremendous defense but lacked offensive weapons around Brogan Roback. Kentucky was coming off a disappointing, no demoralizing loss to Florida. The Cats played winning football in two of the three phases: Defense and special teams. There are obviously many offensive issues to fix which mainly focuses along the offensive line. John Schlarman’s crew is beat up, patched up, and struggled to find continuity and rhythm.
Kentucky is at its best when the football is in Stephen Johnson’s hands. Whether it be an RPO, play-action, or drop-back pass, positive results are more frequent when number 15 controls its destiny; however, the basis for Eddie Gran’s offense starts with the running game. 37 carries for 53-yards will not lead to wins with the meat of the schedule ahead. Ineffective running takes the play-action out of the equation.
The good news is that the BBN is experiencing the most successful 15 game span since the 1977-78 seasons; however, close calls are preventing it from enjoying an accomplishment in program growth. I’ve said it since the opening game, this team is not constructed to light up the scoreboard or break offensive records. But, it has to clean up the penalties and execution flaws prior to Missouri coming to town on Saturday. The Tigers will be well rested and prepared as its coming off a bye week while the Cats are battered. Going into the bye week at 5-1 would be optimal and is probable. The theme for the week is “Urgency.” Compulsion for a fast start and a faster finish. Determination to win one-on-one matchups along the line-of-scrimmage. And, insistence on capitalizing on an opportunity to be 2-1 in the SEC.