An After Action Review is a military method utilized to analyze the success or failure of an intended action. Let’s apply this process to the Kentucky vs. Southern Miss football game:
WHAT WERE INTENDED RESULTS
Win the football game.
WHAT WERE ACTUAL RESULTS
Won the football game 24-17.
WHAT CAUSED OUR RESULTS
– Won the turnover margin 3:1.
– Improved defensive front seven that forced disruption, scored a touchdown, and limited star RB Ito Smith to just 37 yards off 16 carries for an average of 2.3 yards per attempt.
– Strategic punting that placed the opponent inside its 20-yard line on 5 occasions to include 2 inside the 2-yard line.
– Explosive plays by TE CJ Conrad.
WHAT WILL WE SUSTAIN–IMPROVE?
TE CJ Conrad
The junior caught 3 passes for 97-yards, scored a touchdown and averaged 32.3 yards per reception. Conrad possesses deceptive speed and a next-level skill and can be an invaluable weapon for Eddie Gran in the play action passing game.
The oft-maligned defensive lineman answered critics against Southern Miss as he registered 4 tackles including a tackle for loss. In addition to stat sheet impact, Elam consistently disrupted the line-of-scrimmage and occupied multiple blockers.
Wow, the most obvious improvement for the Kentucky Football team was at the punter position. Matt Panton averaged 42 yards per punt with 5 kicks landing inside the opponent’s 20-yard line; 2 inside the 2.
Coach Dean Hood’s imprint could be seen in all special team’s aspects. Coverage teams were discipline, fast, and accurate by staying in assigned lanes. Austin MacGinnis’ kickoffs were properly placed and the senior was perfect on the day on his FG and PAT attempts. Punt return team remained locked in on assignment and stopped a fake punt.
Defensive line disruption
30 combined tackles and 1 tackle for loss. Defensive line personnel accounted for 38.9% of UK’s 77 total tackles and this is not including Denzil Ware/Josh Paschal who are listed as an OLB. Tremendous improvement on the stat sheet. Adrian Middleton was tied for 3rd for most tackles on Saturday. But the stat lines were filled with defensive linemen which is a major upgrade from any times during the Mark Stoops era. Coach Derrick LeBlanc was worthy of the game ball for the play of his eager defenders. Kordell Looney, Calvin Taylor, Kengera Daniel, Quinten Bohanna, and TJ Carter were at their best against USM. Naquez Pringle is going to be pushed during practice this week to sustain his spot in the NT rotation.
Courtney Love missed two tackles late in the game but don’t let that overshadow the vast improvement the senior showed throughout the game. He led the team with 9 tackles and seemed to be much quicker from recognition to reaction. Jordan Jones was not called upon to have an enormous number of tackles as he had help from his fellow LB’s. OLB’s Josh Allen and Denzil Ware combined for 8 tackles, 2 QB sacks, 4.5 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, and one touchdown. Rookie Josh Paschal showed flashes that justified fall camp praise. There is also quality depth with Eli Brown and Kash Daniel receiving game reps with no drop off in production. This collection of linebackers are upper-shelf in the Southeastern Conference.
38 carries for 55 yards is very un-Kentucky like.
Running back timing
This especially applies from the Wildcat formation. There were occasions when Benny Snell rushed his breaks before holes were opened for a running lane. This actually led to Snell’s red-zone fumble. Some of this can stem from the lack of motion and fake that normally takes place prior to the running back heading up field. Positive is that Benny Snell is eager and hungry to excel. Timing and execution is likely to improve.
Offensive line continuity
The offseason was dominated by headlines regarding the Wildcat offensive line as being diverse with multiple players possessing the skill set to play several different positions. This theory was put to the test early when center Bunchy Stallings sustained an injury. Guard Nick Haynes was moved to center. Of all the “Improve” categories, this one should be the most likely to remedy.
3rd down offense
Three out of 13 is not good. The fourth quarter was a perfect example of this deficiency as the Cats were outgained 147-47 yards. In a time when drives must be extended to secure a win; the Cats did not do so. Diversity in 3rd down play calling will be emphasized against EKU on Saturday.
Southern Miss quarterbacks completed 22 of 40 passes for 309-yards and 2 touchdowns. UK failed to intercept a pass. The Wildcat pass rush was effective, but USM receivers won the majority of 50/50 balls. Remember, Southern Miss receivers are listed by Phil Steele as the best in Conference USA and will be one of the better groups that the Cats face all season. But, battling for the football when the QB throws it up for grabs will be a point of emphasis this week in practice.
Late game tackling
Southern Miss ran 77 offensive plays. It outgained the Cats 147 yards to 47 in the fourth quarter as missed tackles extended drives for the Golden Eagles. It was nearly 100 degrees on the field, but that is no excuse. However, this category is of a team variety as the offense’s propensity for late-game three and outs did the defense no favors.