Well, that was a lot of fun. In another soak filled day at C.M. Newton Grounds inside Kroger Field, Kentucky ran by, around, and over a bad Louisville defense. The result was a 45-13 stomping and now everyone in the Big Blue Nation can enjoy a very happy Thanksgiving holiday.
Live from the warm and comfy confines of the press box, it’s time to go inside the box score of Kentucky’s drubbing over the Red Team.
1.) Elite Rushing Attack
We talked about the numbers all week, but there were still quite a few skeptical of this offense. After facing two very bad rush defenses in the previous two games, Kentucky once again proved this attack was not a fluke. It really is amazing to see what Eddie Gran has built in the last seven games of the season. It all starts with Lynn Bowden, Jr’s magic behind center.
Kentucky ran wild for a school-record 517 rushing yards in Saturday's win over Louisville.
Lynn Bowden Jr. accounted for 284 of those yards, the most in a game by a QB in SEC history. pic.twitter.com/xAyusEvjl2
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 30, 2019
The most versatile player in college football put up 284 yards on 22 carries on his way to four rushing touchdowns. He set the tone from the beginning and once again proved that he is one of the most valuable players in college football. He led the way, but the superstar got plenty of help.
Christopher Rodriguez, Jr. rushed for over 100 yards for the second time this season. The Wildcats had five rushes over 40 yards and scored twice on 60-plus yard plays. It was domination for 60 minutes.
2.) Elite Offensive Line
We all know that the box score is not made for offensive lines, but there was no denying that UK’s group was the biggest factor in the blowout win. UK only attempted two passes the entire game while the Wildcats ran the ball 40 times. UK averaged 12.9 yards per rush and pushed around a small Louisville defensive front the entire game. The program has now set a record for most rushing yards in a single-season.
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) November 30, 2019
Entering the contest, the only chance Louisville had was to create some havoc. For the Cards to have a chance, they had to come up with tackles for loss and force some turnovers. UofL was only able to collect two tackles for loss and didn’t force a takeaway. The big boys played their best game of the season and Louisville never had a chance with them playing at that level.
John Schlarman belongs with the elites when we discuss college football offensive line coaches.
3.) Defensive Domination
Louisville ranked 11th nationally in yards per play and their offense was one of the top scoring attacks in college football. The Cards had one of the best running backs in college football through 11 games and quarterback Micale Cunningham had been one of the most efficient passers in the game. After the first drive, Brad White’s group controlled the game.
Louisville scored on two big chunk plays, but outside of that it was all Kentucky. Scott Satterfield’s offense didn’t have one red zone trip, were 6 0f 16 third down, and allowed 13 tackles for loss. That number was a season-high and Louisville’s yards per play total (4.54) was their second lowest of the season. Only the Clemson Tigers had more success against this Louisville offense.
Kentucky’s new defensive coordinator is a good one.
4.) Stolen Possessions
In any game that you expect to be close, giving away possessions can be a back breaker. Everything told us that Kentucky was the better football team entering the game, but it was imperative that the Wildcats not give away possessions. Thanks to punt defense and ball security, they were able to accomplish that.
Following their third possession and trailing just 14-6, Scott Satterfield inexplicably decided to get cute on fourth down. The Cards ran a nicely designed reverse, but Kentucky was all over it. UK did not capitalize with points despite starting at the Louisville 34, but it was a big swing.
Louisville fake punt grades:
A for creativity.
F- for execution pic.twitter.com/ZmJVEE79p2
— Aaron Torres (@Aaron_Torres) November 30, 2019
Louisville’s second touchdown of the game happened in the second quarter after the Wildcats were stuffed on fourth-and-short at the UofL 44. Instead of a blowout at halftime, it was all of a sudden a one-possession football game.
In the turnover battle, the Wildcats ended the day plus-two. Jordan Griffin picked up his second interception of the season after a nice pass break-up by Cedrick Dort, Jr. in the second quarter on a corner route. UK forced multiple fumbles and only put the ball on the turf once. Louisville never had a shot if they didn’t produce some extra possessions.
5.) More Points Than Plays
Kentucky scored 45 points. They only snapped the ball 42 times. That is what the analytics world would call efficient.
The Wildcats averaged 12.4 yards per play and that is extremely hard to do. The two pass attempts actually really held them down. They did whatever they wanted on offense and finished drives when they got into the red zone. It was a complete butt whoopin’ from Eddie Gran’s unit.
6.) Pass Defense Is For Real
There was a lot of talk this week about Kentucky’s pass defense being a fraud. The secondary had benefitted from some poor playing conditions and not great passing offenses. Meanwhile, Micale Cunningham had been on fire throwing the football for Louisville and a lot of people thought the Cards could torch the Cats through the air.
They were mistaken.
The redshirt sophomore quarterback threw the ball 11 times and completed just six passes. His 78 yards were the lowest total since the Clemson loss and 33 of those came on a prayer on fourth down on the first possession. Cunningham’s quarterback rating of 125.9 was easily his second worst performance of the season.
The Wildcats were sticky in coverage and the defensive front produced six sacks. The dual-threat only gained 27 rushing yards and had a high of just 14 yards.
Get excited about the UK secondary with the additions of Davonte Robinson and LSU transfer Kelvin Joseph joining the rotation in 2020.
7.) Special Teams Produced
We’ve discussed Kentucky’s awareness in punt safe, but the Wildcats dominated the other parts of the kicking game as well. UK made kicks, won the punting game, and kept one of the sport’s best kick returners in check.
Walk-on Matt Ruffolo stepped in and drilled all six extra points in addition to nailing his third field goal of the season from 45 yards out. Max Duffy was only needed twice, but he pinned Louisville inside their five once and did not allow one return. Only one of Louisville’s 11 possessions started better than their own 30 as the Wildcats dominated the field position battle.
It was a great day for Dean Hood’s specialists.
8.) Series Lead
Kentucky now leads this series 17-15. Since the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville were established, the two institution’s football teams have played 32 times. Kentucky has won 17 and Louisville has won 15. The public university in the state’s biggest city has never held the series lead. Don’t let anyone tell you any different.
There is no such thing as modern history.