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Kentucky-Auburn After Action Review, Presented by the Kentucky Army National Guard

It’s back. AAR is a military term that stands for After Action Review which we’ll use to examine what was supposed to happen and what actually happened in Kentucky’s 29-13 loss at Auburn. We’re proud to partner with the Kentucky Army National Guard for all AAR’s this season. A message from the Kentucky Army National Guard: 

The Kentucky Army National Guard is YOUR Kentucky home team.  The Soldiers of the Kentucky National Guard are your friends, neighbors, coworkers and classmates.  We are from each county in Kentucky and we stand together to support our fellow Kentuckians in times of natural disaster and civil unrest.  We also serve our nation at the direction of the president should the need for national defense arise.  Soldiers in the Kentucky Army National Guard are able to take advantage of opportunities in education with trade skill training, student loan repayment and up to $60,000 in tuition assistance to state public universities while serving part time.  Do you think you have what it takes to be a member of our team? For more information about joining the Kentucky Army National Guard, Text “KYGUARD” to 95577.  Live Here, Serve Here, Kentucky Army National Guard.

Looking back at my How Kentucky Beats Auburn post, Kentucky failed to accomplish some of the goals, which led to its loss at Auburn. Let’s take a look: 


Rush for over 200-yards. The Cats rushed for 140-yards off 40 carries. An average of 3.6-yards is not the recipe for a win for a team like Kentucky that has lived off the running game. Saturday was actually a tale of two halves. The first half was typical Kentucky. Its offense was staying on schedule by running the football. The Cats went away from that tendency in the second half and was often behind the chains after passing on first down.  

Terry Wilson complete 60-65% of his passes. Wilson threw for 239-yards while attempting 37 passes, completing 24 for an average of 64.8%. He also threw a touchdown as well as an interception. Kentucky accomplished this goal. 

WR’s win 1-on-1 battles. There were instances when the Wildcat receivers won these contested plays, but the second half saw the group failing to separate from an untested Auburn secondary. I realize there are frustrations in the passing game, but football takes all 11 players executing on the same page. With little threat of a deep shot, Auburn was able to cheat more defenders in the box which resulted in UK averaging 3.6 yards per carry on the ground. Football is a circular game. 

Prevent LB K.J. Britt from accumulating 10 tackles. Britt finished the game with 11 stops. We talked at-length about the AU linebacker corps. They exceeded lofty expectations by shutting down Kentucky run plays before they got started beyond the line of scrimmage. Owen Pappoe racked up 9 tackles and was active against the pass as well. 

Win first down. Again, tale of two halves. First half, yes. Second half, not so much. Kentucky rolled when living in 2nd and 5’s or better in the first half. It got off schedule in the 3rd and 4th quarter.   


Keep Bo Nix in the pocket. Nix ran for 35-yards but Kentucky did a good job keeping the sophomore in the pocket. However, Nix improved greatly from his freshman year to his sophomore season opener by accurately attacking the Wildcat secondary which was expected to be a team strength. Nix finished the noon kickoff by going 16/27 for 233-yards and 3 touchdown passes. Most of his completions were in the pocket. WR Seth Williams proved why he’s arguably the best receiver in the SEC by snagging 6 passes for 112-yards and 2 touchdowns. Williams won the 50/50 balls. The Cats didn’t have an answer for the Nix to Williams connection, especially in the red-zone. 

Don’t bite on the flashy lures. I thought UK did a good job with this. It maintained gap integrity and wasn’t fooled by motions and misdirections for the most part. Auburn focused on attacking the edge in the run game which negated NT Quinton Bohanna and the interior defensive line from making a lot of plays. QB Bo Nix was the Tiger’s leading rusher with 35-yards. The Cats held AU to 91 rush yards off 30 carries. That’s good enough for 3 yards per attempt. 

Be ready for tempo. Tempo didn’t bother Kentucky. Auburn’s speed at the receiver position and a heady quarterback did. 

Win first down. Surprisingly, Auburn only ran 57 plays for 324-yards. Points off turnovers and a botched fake punt provided the Tigers with a shortened field in which it took full advantage. 


Be clean on special teams. Auburn caught the Cats on a fake PAT after its first score and UK had a fake punt that was unsuccessful that gave the Tigers excellent field position. 


Simply stated, a team can’t expect to beat a Top 10 team on the road after losing the turnover battle 0-3 and going 1/3 in the Red Zone. An untimely Wilson third and goal interception followed a replay driven missed call on the Christopher Rodriguez touchdown. The Wildcats could have gone into the locker room at halftime up 14-8, but instead trailed 8-7. Down 15-13, Wilson fumbled on the 23-yard line which was followed by a Nix to Williams touchdown. Demarcus Harris fumbled in the fourth quarter which pretty much sealed the Cats fate. 

All things considered, Terry Wilson did some good things. His mistakes can be cleaned up. Kentucky getting off schedule in its first two offensive series in the second half was a precursor for the game’s final outcome. The Wildcats have to go back to what its best at; running the football. 140-yards was significantly less than expected, especially when facing a reconstructed defensive line. 

Kentucky ruled the Time of Possession with a 38:29 to 23:31 margin. It outgained Auburn 384 to 324. The Cats were efficient on third down after converting 12 of 19 attempts compared to AU’s 4/10. The Red Zone was again a driving factor in the outcome. UK was 1/3 inside the 20, Auburn was much more effective by scoring three touchdowns out of four chances. 

Kentucky will go back to work. The Cats have Ole Miss next Saturday. The Rebels have an amped up offense. It rolled up 613-yards and 35 points against Florida. Lane Kiffin’s team also gave up 642-yards and 51 points to the Gators. With an all-SEC schedule, there’s no time for moping after a loss. The Wildcats need a bounce back performance in its home opener. 

Article written by Freddie Maggard

Former University of Kentucky Quarterback and Andy Griffith Fan Club President

17 Comments for Kentucky-Auburn After Action Review, Presented by the Kentucky Army National Guard

  1. kjd
    12:21 pm September 27, 2020 Permalink

    I would disagree about Wilson cleaning up his turnovers. Been prone since coming to UK.

  2. makeitstop
    12:25 pm September 27, 2020 Permalink

    We keep tiptoeing around Terry Wilson’s problem. He can’t get rid of the ball quick enough, Makes poor decisions u don’t expect for a guy w that much football under his belt, not taking free shots and that hair brained INT but he also cannot run through tackles and puts in on the ground too often. These aren’t “clean up” material for a 4th year guy, Freddie. They should be built in by now. Timing w receivers, reads, ok, it’s a cold start to the season but like, offsides, flag thrown, and not taking a deep shot? The pitch that could’ve been a fumble and was TFL when the defender was clearly already committed? That is not 4th year stuff.

  3. jaws2
    12:30 pm September 27, 2020 Permalink

    Like I said Freddie:

    We were screwed on the ‘non’ TD call. But, very poor tackling in the secondary, very poor play calling in vital situations, poor game management as usual, and Wilson is not,has not, and will not be a very good QB got this team beat. We ain’t playing 4 gimmes this year. He’s petrified of contact and has been since he arrived. He does not see all the field, and for a 5th year player STILL does not know where he is on the field when sliding for a 1st down. Oh, and what’s with throwing the ball in the stands on the extra try. He didn’t even attempt to run, reverse field or find someone else. He just gave up. All of these are required of a good SEC QB. Rusty is no excuse.

    If you have one of the best OL’s in the SEC, which I and experts believe, WHY not stuff it down Auburn’s throat 4 plays at the goal line. That pass on 3rd down was just a ridiculous call. And why would you EVER let Wilson sneak the ball for yardage? The guy does not want contact and does not have the size. When he went under center with the RB up, everyone knew this was a QB keep. Every team we play is successful at the sideline pass and we get thrown for a loss or gain 2-3 yards at best. Smoke NEEDS more reps.Overall defensively not all that bad with the exception of poor tackling in the secondary. Good luck against Kiffin and Leach.

  4. Pensacola_Cat_Fan
    12:57 pm September 27, 2020 Permalink

    Next week is going to be very telling. I’m not sure we can score enough to beat the Rebels.

  5. BigBluSoTru
    1:08 pm September 27, 2020 Permalink

    Auburn was playing with at otal new offensive system and the Cats had everything in their favor per KSR and others . So what happened is that we are not the team that Matt guranteeed would beat Auburn plain and simple.

    • dcforuk
      2:28 pm September 27, 2020 Permalink

      Are you kidding me? Is SoBlu stepping away from his Halloween costume. Are you really a closet fan? Is your pronoun utilization legit this time. Maybe you are actually becoming less Blu!

  6. 77CatFan
    1:38 pm September 27, 2020 Permalink

    Stoops is going to get exposed with a 10 game SEC schedule. 3-7 if that. We have a middle school offense with a robot QB.

  7. VMI1957
    2:15 pm September 27, 2020 Permalink

    Kitty Cats are at it again…….thought they would be much improved but appears to be like the Cats of old….2-8, maybe 3-7 at best for the season.

  8. dcforuk
    2:21 pm September 27, 2020 Permalink

    The control designs are good. Those designs just did not operate effectively. We said what we do. We just did not do what we say. Raise your hand if that never happens to you at work (or home). Relevant exceptions to the operational effectiveness of those control designs were noted so let’s assess the real (vs the faux) problem, the impact and the solution.

    • JTT15
      2:39 pm September 27, 2020 Permalink

      Could’ve bet the farm that head coach VMI1957 would be chirping!

  9. dcforuk
    2:23 pm September 27, 2020 Permalink

    Negative Nancy’s are at it again. Thought they would be much improved and (2020) refined but appears to be like the Negative Nancy’s of old. Weeping and maybe whining at best for the season.

  10. dcforuk
    2:31 pm September 27, 2020 Permalink

    It will be interesting to see the adjustments made by staff throughout the year. Ball control is desired. There are some growing pains to getting more balanced. Getting behind hurts our style. Must do better overcoming adversity and not throwing gasoline on the fire of mistakes. Coaches got to coach better and players got to play better!

    • BowdenQB4ever
      5:37 pm September 27, 2020 Permalink

      When have you known this staff to make adjustments? Bowden to qb is the only one, which was forced, and as SEC teams figured it out we weren’t able to adjust at all. Hell, Tennessee lost to Georgia state and Pruitt still found a way to steal the game from CMS.

    • dcforuk
      5:54 pm September 27, 2020 Permalink

      UT has one like 7 or 8 in a row. That is not a great comparison but from your perspective it certainly fits your paradigm

    • dcforuk
      6:21 pm September 27, 2020 Permalink

      “Won” not “one”. Siri is as good a listener as the video replay booth is at reviewing!

    • BowdenQB4ever
      1:36 pm September 28, 2020 Permalink

      Tennessee beat South Carolina, UAB, Kentucky, Missouri, Vandy, Indiana, and South Carolina. They got smoked against the teams we think we’re trying to catch. Pruitts hot streaks look a lot like CMS. We’re the only team on that list that could match them on talent.

  11. VMI1957
    4:04 pm September 27, 2020 Permalink

    JT15….Cats will have to prove me wrong for me to change my tune.