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Cats Start Strong, Rolled by Tide 34-6

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

Kentucky was a tipped pass away from taking a 10-0 lead in Tuscaloosa, but the ball started to bounce Alabama’s way.

The Cats’ defense stood its ground on the opening drive.  They didn’t let Alabama dominate the line of scrimmage.  Backed up deep into their own territory, they did not flinch, forcing a turnover on downs.

The offense immediately responded.  Boom Williams picked up 10 yards on the ground, C.J. Conrad earned tough yards after the catch and Stephen Johnson delivered a rifle on third down to Tavin Richardson to put the Cats in scoring position.  Austin MacGinnis knocked down a 45-yard field goal to draw the first blood.

Somehow, some way, things continued to go Kentucky’s way.

Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts wasn’t on the same page as the rest of his team.  Looking to pass, the running back went to take a handoff, knocking the ball out of his hand.  De’Niro Laster fell on the ball in Bama territory, giving Kentucky momentum and a scoring opportunity.

Eddie Gran went right at Alabama.  After Garrett Johnson broke a big gain on third down, they went for the killshot.  Bama bit on the play action pass.  C.J. Conrad was WIDE OPEN and could have walked into the end zone, but the pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage.  Two plays later, Johnson was sacked and stripped.  Instead of taking a 6-0 or 10-0 lead, the Crimson Tide took the momentum and never gave it back.

The first fumble hurt, but it didn’t kill the Cats.  They remained in the game until they received a knockout punch in midway through the second quarter.  Trailing 10-3, Johnson was stripped from behind.  It was picked up by Ronnie Harrison who took it 55 yards for a touchdown.  Johnson would let the ball fall on the turf one more time before the game came to a close.

Mark Stoops was upset Johnson didn’t take better care of the ball in the pocket.  “We talked about it all week, about not being back there dancing with the ball.” He added, “The bad thing is we’re still capable of so much more, and that’s what aggravates you.”

Against the No. 1 team in the country, there is no room for error.  Although aggravating, Kentucky showed signs of good things to come.

A Battle in the Trenches

Nick Saban’s bread and butter has been in the trenches.  On both sides of the ball, Alabama beats up their opponents until they are too demoralized to continue.  Down the stretch, you saw signs of fatigue from Kentucky, but that wasn’t the case early.

Sideline reporter Tom Luginbill continually complimented Kentucky’s front seven for using speed to slow down the Crimson Tide.  Three weeks ago, nobody thought Kentucky’s front seven could hold their own against a Sun Belt team, let alone Alabama.

Josh Allen was proficient in the pass rush.  Jordan Jones was once again a disruptive, explosive force.  De’Niro Laster was physical at the point of contact.  Eli Brown only had five tackles entering today’s game, but left Tuscaloosa with eight.

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

On the offensive side of the ball, they attacked Alabama’s future first round picks.  Freddie Maggard believes Jonathan Allen is the best defensive player in the country.  The defensive end left the game impressed with Kentucky’s young offensive line.

“That’s probably one of the most physical games I’ve played since I was in college. I have to give Kentucky a lot of credit.”

Calvin Ridley Could Not Be Stopped

The defense was formidable up front, preventing one of the nation’s best rushing teams from busting big plays, but they had no answer through the air.  Calvin Ridley caught 11 passes for 174 yards and 2 touchdowns.  No matter what the defensive backs did, Ridley did as he pleased.

Where was Benny?

In the last two games, true freshman running back Benny Snell’s five powerful touchdowns turned him into a fan favorite.  When they needed tough yards, Snell delivered.  Tonight, he didn’t deliver, because he didn’t have the ball.

Snell received his first carries on the final two plays of the first half.  He had more yards per carry than any other running back (4.8) but only touched it eight times.  Some thought they were simply saving his legs for the second half, which makes zero sense when you’re losing by two touchdowns.

Mark Stoops tried to make sense of it after the game.  “Benny was in the game plan for the entire game, but there were too many three and outs to get him touches.”  That shouldn’t be a problem moving forward. “We need to get Benny in there, and we’re going to,” Stoops said.

A Solid, Sustained Drive

When they faced adversity against Florida, the Cats tucked their head in between their legs.  Tonight, they fought back and didn’t stop fighting until the final whistle.

Trailing 34-3 with 14:51 left to play, Kentucky methodically marched down the field.  With Jojo Kemp in the Wildcat, he ground up 35 yards in seven plays to take Kentucky into enemy territory.  From there, Stephen Johnson showed that he wasn’t rattled after three earlier fumbles, completing passes to Juice and Sihiem King to make sure Kentucky would score once again.

The drive didn’t end with a touchdown, but they ended the game on a high note.

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

You can’t call a 28-point loss a moral victory, but it wasn’t as bad as the score might say.  There are still concerns moving forward — your quarterback can’t put the ball on the ground three times — but the greatest concern from the first two games of the season is gone.

Kentucky has learned how to handle adversity.  Instead of letting one bad play turn into two, then ten, they forgot about it and continued to fight.  It was not enough to get a win against an overmatched opponent, but it can help salvage Kentucky’s 2016 season.

Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

36 Comments for Cats Start Strong, Rolled by Tide 34-6

  1. AGSlater
    12:18 am October 2, 2016 Permalink

    Cats battled tonight. Good effort. Stephen Johnson is brutal. Wished we coulda played that one with a good QB

  2. Chesters Daddy
    12:23 am October 2, 2016 Permalink

    Wouldn’t matter if we played it with Tom Brady as long as stoops is coach we had no chance

  3. Chesters Daddy
    12:26 am October 2, 2016 Permalink

    Maybe if Benny was in not as many 3 and outs

    • KatsKlaws
      12:31 am October 2, 2016 Permalink

      That was my same thought…you beat me to it….

    • UK Fan In Nashville
      10:03 am October 2, 2016 Permalink

      Or maybe there were too many 3 and outs because they didn’t get Snell the ball. This staff is so freaking prideful. They don’t want to admit they aren’t a passing team. So frustrating.

    • UK Fan In Nashville
      10:03 am October 2, 2016 Permalink

      Oh wait that’s what you were saying. My mistake.

  4. KatsKlaws
    12:37 am October 2, 2016 Permalink

    Lol too many 3 and outs to get Snell in is almost as good as “if the play had worked it would have been a good play”…every time I start to put a little more trust in Stoops he takes it back with statements like this…

    • RealCatsFan
      12:40 am October 2, 2016 Permalink

      Or “it’s a football thing, you guys wouldn’t understand”.

  5. Bozferatu
    12:42 am October 2, 2016 Permalink

    Cats cover. 98% of betters lost tonight. Louisville came a yard short from keeping their National Championship hopes alive and Alabama had their lowest point total of the season. One or two things break in our favor and we are in back in the game. Losing sucks but between some of the potential Cats showed tonight, and all the schadenfreude I’m relatively pleased

    • Chesters Daddy
      1:16 am October 2, 2016 Permalink

      Are you serious? Only reason it was that close Sabah was going to run score up on his friend that’s close to the hot seat

    • The REAL Billy Hill
      11:45 am October 2, 2016 Permalink

      English, Chester. God damn.

  6. Patrick_David
    8:48 am October 2, 2016 Permalink

    Saban doesn’t give a damn about anyone or anything…..except winning at all costs. To say, and I will use your own words…..”only reason it was that close Sabah was going to run score up on his friend that’s close to the hot seat”……spelling, grammar, and the fact that what you have written makes no sense….if I am interrupting your gibberish correctly….it is total bull poo-poo. Saban would have put 78 points on the board if he could have.

  7. Howdy Doody
    9:10 am October 2, 2016 Permalink

    So now we are down to “Moral Victories” ?
    Saban only hung 28 on WKU and they scored 10.

    • UK Fan In Nashville
      10:05 am October 2, 2016 Permalink

      Bama scored 38* against WKU. This was their lowest point total all season. So that’s good I guess.

  8. dano
    9:20 am October 2, 2016 Permalink

    Cats played better, but this is no moral victory. For years we have not had an effective O Line, and I don’t care how physical the opponent says we are. When our line is repeatedly laying on the ground and the opponent is crushing our QB or RB, we need to adjust the play calling.

    I do not understand why Grand did not call more quick slants and screens to help negate a rush that never seemed to end. Johnson had one fumble that was on him trying to stretch a run. Other than that he was getting collapsed all night.

    Snell needs to be the #2 behind Boom.

    Marcus McClinton should quit counting blades of grass and get his head into the game. He has become the MVP for opponents passing game.

    • dano
      9:22 am October 2, 2016 Permalink

      Gran not Grand

  9. Tej
    9:34 am October 2, 2016 Permalink

    I don’t understand why all these Sunday morning qbs are not on coaching staffs at Division 1 schools.

    • UK Fan In Nashville
      10:14 am October 2, 2016 Permalink

      I had just as much head coaching experience as Stoops when he got to UK…

  10. UK Fan In Nashville
    10:00 am October 2, 2016 Permalink

    All that being said, the defense has truly turned the corner. I’m proud of the way they’ve played the last two weeks, and if we stop trying to be a passing team, focus on the power run game, and control the time of possession battles going forward, we could make a bowl. It probably won’t happen though. The minute we fall behind in a game, the staff will abandon this plan and allow the team to get blown out.

  11. gcat4496
    10:06 am October 2, 2016 Permalink

    No doubt the Kentucky defense is playing a lot better. No doubt Benny Snell needs to be the featured back and Boom Williams needs to be used more in space. But there was not a chance that UK would beat Alabama or even keep it close. Alabama has 60 future NFL players compared to maybe 5 for UK. It’s like playing a NFL team. They were so much stronger, bigger, faster, better coached. It was no contest. It was a slow methodical demolition of the Cats. Unlike basketball, FB takes an army to win at the highest level.

  12. pithuahua
    10:17 am October 2, 2016 Permalink

    Johnson’s fumbles are acute and correctable but the defensive backs inability to cover is chronic.

  13. Sunshinesbright
    11:20 am October 2, 2016 Permalink

    We’re dragging along to a sub .500 record for the 4th straight year. Moral victories might be good enough for this program and administration, but it’s not going to get us closer to a bowl game or elite recruits. Who wants to come to UK and work their tail off for four years of disappointment?

    • The REAL Billy Hill
      11:50 am October 2, 2016 Permalink

      For the FOURTH straight year? Damn. I miss the glory days of five years ago. 🤔

    • BluKudzu
      12:08 pm October 2, 2016 Permalink

      Yeah, Billy is right. Who was the Athletic director 5 years ago that made this brilliant move,……oh wait, never mind.
      At least our offense held their defense to just 6 points.

  14. Beavis
    11:41 am October 2, 2016 Permalink

    Did anyone expect them to beat Bama ? They are looking better as a team but you have to wonder why it takes 4 games into the season to start looking like a decent team.

    Ok The Ville-N. Where are you today ? You talked smack all week about The Ville. Come on back to the site after you got beat last night.

    • Kernel Sanders
      12:18 pm October 2, 2016 Permalink

      Did you really just call out a UofL fan? I despise UofL. I despise Petrino. Having said that, UofL went into one of the top 5 most intimidating college FB stadiums, on a night where longtime Clemson fans claimed it was the loudest it has ever been, and came within a whisper of beating a really good Clemson team with an experienced QB.

      Petrino will do his best to hang as many points as possible on UK. I can foresee Jackson still in the game throwing and running all over us down to the last minute. UofL won’t sleepwalk and play disinterested against UK like Bama did for a half.

      Ugh, UofL was within about 2 yards of playing for a national championship, with only Houston left as a challenge on their schedule. Sickening to compare/contrast the 2 games last night.

    • Beavis
      5:43 pm October 2, 2016 Permalink

      You are correct, I called out a U of L fan that was on this site for a week talking smack. They make themselves easy targets. Before the game I invited him to come back on the site after they lost.

      Hope you are not suggesting I compared/contrasted the two games. Reread my post.

      Let me make it easier on you. I did not for one minute think Uk could play with Bama. However the Cats did show some improvement. U of L is better than I thought but the Clemson QB threw 3 bad ints and Clemson fumbled the ball inside the U of L 10 yard line twice. Game should not have even been close at the end.

  15. PretendRyanLemond
    11:41 am October 2, 2016 Permalink

    Bama isn’t as good as they’ve been in the past. Ohio State is going to destroy them in the playoff.

  16. UKBlueGreen
    12:03 pm October 2, 2016 Permalink

    I’ve been following UK football and basketball for over 40 years. I get frustrated with football too. It’s the nature of the beast at Kentucky. We don’t get some of the top recruits like Bama and other schools. I’ve accepted that we will probably never be a top 5 team. If they make improvements and the necessary adjustments that’s good enough for me right now. But don’t get me started on basketball. How in the hell can you be up over 20 points then lose that lead after half-time? That’s happened to us more than once!
    If anyone has an explanation I am willing to listen because I sure as hell can’t find one.

  17. chris47601
    12:17 pm October 2, 2016 Permalink

    Ok. Do you people have no idea what it means to NOT throw a coach under the bus in public?

    Stoops made an excuse for Gran…bad is it was… and then said, it shouldn’t be a problem going forward….aka….Benny is gonna get the GD ball.

    Now, for actual critique: I felt like Gran screwed the pooch when he didn’t give the ball to Snell right after a key 3rd down conversion mid-way thru the second quarter at midfield in what, I believe was a 10-3 game.

    Instead, we threw incomplete, ran Kemp for 4 yards, and then Johnson dropped to pass and fumbled a TD.

    After the 12 yard pass for a 1st down at midfield, the Bama Defense was struggling….we should have hit Snell RIGHT THEN. Pounded them on 1st down. If he gets 5 yards or more, THEN you run the flea flicker on second down. If not, you run Snell again!

  18. chris47601
    12:24 pm October 2, 2016 Permalink

    “no answer through the air?”

    The secondary played well all night. Most of Ridleys stuff came on broken plays extended by Hurts legs and lack of pass rush until Ridley got free….

    What game were YOU watching Roush?

  19. JaxUK2012
    1:56 pm October 2, 2016 Permalink

    It’s not like we were gonna win yesterday. Nice to see us move the ball some. We missed lots of opportunities for scores and big plays on offense. Defense looks to still be improving. Everything now all hinges on this Vandy game next weekend. Win and we are still in the hunt, lose and our season is probably over. They held UF to 14 so that may mean we don’t score. Fingers crossed we stay alive.