An After Action Review, or AAR, is a US Army evaluation tool used to analyze an intended mission/action. Let’s apply this method to the Kentucky-Mississippi State football game:
WHAT WERE INTENDED RESULTS
— Win the football game
WHAT WERE ACTUAL RESULTS
— Won the football game 40-38
WHAT CAUSED OUR RESULTS
— Kentucky resiliently won a home conference game after facing late, self-inflicted adversity.
— UK secondary played its best game under Mark Stoops.
— Offensive line cleared a path for 200-plus rush yards as well as were key contributors in winning the time of possession conflict.
— The Wildcats maximized current/available talent capacity and played with extreme effort/resolve.
— RBs Boom Williams and Benny Snell outmaneuvered the Miss State defense by combining for 227 rush yards.
WHAT WILL WE SUSTAIN? IMPROVE?
Offensive Line Production
Kentucky’s offensive line dominated the line-of-scrimmage. Center Jon Toth led the charge by neutralizing interior defensive linemen and strategically deploying his line-mates to chip up to linebackers on the second level.
— Cole Mosier/Landon Young, Nick Haynes/Logan Stenberg, Jon Toth, Bunchie Stallings/Ramsey Meyers, and George Asafo-Adjei/Kyle Meadows construct the most improved platoon on the team.
— Offensive yardage output: 262 rush yards, 292 passing; 554 total.
— LB Richie Brown, SEC’s 5th leading tackler, was regulated to 4 total tackles.
— All SEC DE AJ Jefferson, 3rd in SEC with 10 TFL, did not register a single tick mark on the stat sheet.
— 44 rushes, 262 yards; 5.95 yards per carry.
— Offensive coordinator Eddie Gran’s IPB, Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield, was precise and timely. UK’s offensive game plan was proven, sustained, and pointedly influenced the victory.
— 26-1st downs (MSU 16); 32:43 time of possession (MSU 27:07).
— Benny Snell: 19 carries, 128 yards, 1 TD. Boom Williams: 14 carries, 99 yards. Kentucky’s one-two punch was accurately deployed for sixty minutes.
— Mark Stoops’ secondary successfully obeyed its 1st General Order: I will guard everything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved.
— Miss State passing statistics: 13-22, 81 yards, 1 INT, 1 TD. 1st half numbers: 7-9, 9 yards.
— 1st Team All SEC WR Fred Ross limited to 5 catches, 50 yards. He did have a late, 4th quarter touchdown catch.
— CB Chris Westry: 7 tackles, 1 tackle for loss
— CB Derrick Baity: 4 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 pass breakup
— CB JD Harmon: 4 tackles, 1 pass breakup
— S/N Blake McClain: 4 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 pass breakup
— S Marcus McWilson: 8 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 Pick 6
— S Mike Edwards: 3 tackles, 1 TFL
— QB Stephen Johnson completed 2 passes including a near miss surgical strike on a post route to Dorian Baker in the end-zone in the game’s final drive.
— OC Eddie Gran meritoriously prepared his unit for the same exact 2-minute scenario it faced on Saturday during practice. Gran dialed up an exact play that led to the Johnson-Badet completion. Jeff Badet remained situationally aware following the catch and fell directly to the ground in order to stop the clock.
— John Schlarman is to be commended for his offensive line’s development and performance. It goes 2-deep at every position other than center with no apparent drop-off from 1st to 2nd team.
— Eddie Gran has proven his worth in the Cat’s three SEC wins. Please see above referencing the 2-minute drive. His offense appears to be consistently battle ready.
— QB Coach Darrin Hinshaw has developed a backup, first year, junior college quarterback to lead the offense to 4 wins. Johnson is a project and has shown flaws. But consider this; where would UK be without his services after Barker’s injury?
— Jimmy Brumbaugh’s defensive line is razor thin and lacks overpowering talent. Preseason reserve players TJ Carter, Tymere Dubose, and Alvonte Bell have been adequate and have shown weekly improvement. Starters Courtney Miggins, Matt Elam/Naquez Pringle, and Adrian Middleton remain in the fight and are trending upward.
Quarterback Ball Security
— Stephen Johnson fumbled twice; one led to a 81-yard, 4th quarter scoop and score. The game could have been put out of reach with either a field goal or touchdown. Johnson’s 2nd turnover flipped momentum to advantage Mississippi State.
— Seven fumbles in five games is unacceptable. UK has allowed 83 points off turnovers and is currently ranked last in the SEC’s turnover margin category.
— There was no secret in MSU’s battle rattle; a heavy dose of QB Nick Fitzgerald as the sophomore accounts for 60% of all MSU’s offensive production. UK fought hard in the 1st half but faltered in slowing Fitzgerald down the stretch.
— QB Nick Fitzgerald rush yard totals: 16 carries, 118 yards, 2 TDs. Fitzgerald’s yardage mostly came from RPO runs aimed at the middle of the line-of-scrimmage.
— Miss State’s rushing numbers: 39 carries, 281 yards; 3 TDs, 7.2 yards per carry.
— Long runs: Nick Fitzgerald-38 yards, Malik Dear-45.
— Grant McKinniss averaged 34.3 yards per punt. A target average for the rookie is 42 yards per punt. McKinniss’ hang time was also insufficient. Low, short punts invite a dangerous counterattack.
— Keith Mixon returned 3 kickoffs for 96 yards which includes a 45 yarder that eventually led to a shortened field, MSU touchdown drive.