It was an ugly day in Lexington where Kentucky powered their way to a 50-7 win over UT Martin on a soaked field turf. The Wildcats took care of business from the opening kickoff and secured bowl eligibility for the fourth consecutive season. Live from the press box, here are the quick reactions to the big win with all eyes now moving to the Governor’s Cup.
1.) Lynn Bowden, Jr. Runs Wild
The dual-threat quarterback entered the game with 822 rushing yards as he looked to give the offense its fourth consecutive season with a 1,000-yard rusher. After posting 129 yards on 11 carries with two touchdowns, he is well on his way.
The junior now leads the team with seven rushing touchdowns and 922 rushing yards. The offense had struggled with the funky 3-3-5 defense employed by UTM, but that all changed when the Eddie Gran decided to let No. 1 rumble in the second quarter. Impressive performance from Kentucky’s best player.
2.) Pass Rush Feasts
Kentucky entered Saturday with 20 team sacks, but the team produced one or less in three of the last four games. This was a group that was playing well, but had not produced nearly enough havoc in recent weeks. That all changed in the victory.
The Wildcats recorded six sacks in the first half with Calvin Taylor, Jr. leading the way with 1.5. The redshirt senior has emerged into one of the best interior rushers in college football and his 7.5 sacks for the season rank at the top of the SEC charts. He got a lot of help on Saturday.
Joshua Paschal had 1.5 sacks while his pressure created one that Taylor got credit for. On the edge, both Boogie Watson and Jordan Wright got in on the action while T.J. Carter also chipped in. It was a team effort in a dominant full game performance from the defense.
3.) Potent Ground Attack
We touched on what Bowden did running the football, but there was plenty of help he received along the way. The Wildcats rushed for 462 yards and that was good for a school record. Every player that got into the game chipped in positively one way or another.
A.J. Rose scored on a 69-yard inside zone run in the first quarter for his longest play of the season. The redshirt junior recorded a 100-yard outing for the second time this season. Christopher Rodriguez, Jr. was the main reason for Kentucky’s only touchdown of the third quarter and the redshirt freshman finished with 49 yards on six carries. Kavosiey Smoke chipped in 40 yards on 11 carries, but there was a huge surprise in the final quarter.
True freshman Travis Tisdale and walk-on Tyler Markray both dropped 40-plus yard runs in the quarter on Kentucky’s two scoring possessions. UK had seven runs for over 25-plus yards and the big plays allowed them to score a ton of points. Behind one of the best offensive lines in college football, the Wildcats are balling out in the run game.
4.) Defensive Scores
Kentucky hadn’t recorded a defensive touchdown since last year’s win over Middle Tennessee on senior day. However, the defense was able to get the team on the board twice on their first two possessions.
Thanks to two bad snaps, UT Martin retreated to their own endzone twice to recover the loose ball. On the first snafu, John Bachus III recovered and threw the ball away. However, he was in the tackle box and the ball didn’t get pass the line of scrimmage. The result was a safety. The same thing happened on the next possession and inexplicably Bachus did not fall on the football. Yusuf Corker quickly zoomed in and recovered the ball to give UK an early 9-0 lead. The Wildcats never looked back.
Brad White’s group is becoming the king of bad snap defense.
5.) Two Completions
Despite rushing for nearly 500 yards and putting up 10.3 yards per carry (that’s a lot), Kentucky somehow found a way to put up 50 points while only completing two forward passes. Put this box score in the UK Athletics Hall of Fame.
This is art. pic.twitter.com/VnVB021A0S
— Adam Luckett (@AdamLuckettKSR) November 23, 2019
Lynn Bowden, Jr. just cannot get the timing down on the deep balls and missed a bunch of throws that were targeted for Josh Ali. On one of the incompletions, Bowden misfired on a quick throw to Clevan Thomas, Jr. and the ball went backwards and out of bounds to put the offense behind the chains. Even with Sawyer Smith, the Wildcats could just not get off the ground.
Run the damn ball is a way of life.
6.) Defensive Domination
The Wildcats gave up just 2o4 yards on 70 snaps and that was good for 2.91 yards per play. This was the lowest total allowed since the Miami (OH) win in 2013. The Skyhawks finished with negative-12 yards rushing and only put up 0.4 yards per attempt on non-sack carries. That is owning you opponent.
UTM never had a possession that lasted more than four plays against UK’s ones and finished the ballgame with just 14 first downs and six third down conversions. The defense continues to impress with the season coming to a close.
7.) Max Duffy’s All-American Campaign
The Australian has been a superstar for the Wildcats this season and his stellar play continued in the blowout win. For the first time since the home win against Missouri, Max Duffy was needed in the first quarter and he responded with a 51-yard rugby punt that pinned UT Martin at their own six-yard line. He even made a touchdown-saving tackle on the next return.
He has made punting fun to watch and his ability gives Kentucky a great chance to succeed with Bowden Ball. He’s an all-timer.
8.) All Eyes On The Governor’s Cup
With the victory out of the way and Kentucky moving the 3-0 in non-conference play, the Wildcats will look to record seven regular season wins for the fourth season in a row when Louisville comes into town. I think the team will be ready.
Dawn Davenport tried to ask Lynn Bowden about next week's game vs. Louisville, but he stopped her and said, "We don't say that name around here."
— Tyler Thompson (@MrsTylerKSR) November 23, 2019
Kentucky romped all over Louisville last season in Cardinal Stadium to take over the series lead again and officially end the Bobby Petrino era. However, Scott Satterfield has done a tremendous job turning the program around in year one and has UofL playing quality football. The Cardinals have a very potent offense and will be a challenge for UK. As always, the game will bring some huge bragging rights to both the fans and the coaching staffs on the recruiting trail.