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Kentucky won an emotionally charged game against Vanderbilt on Saturday. The Wildcat offense showed improvement while the defense surprisingly struggled against the Commodores. A win is a win in 2020. Let’s take a deeper dive:
Find a passing game. Relatively yes. Terry Wilson completed 13 passes while throwing for 110-yards and 2 touchdowns. True freshman Beau Allen made his college football debut and completed 3 passes for 40-yards. 150 team passing yards isn’t lighting up the stat sheet, but the Wildcats were efficient through the air and was supported by a 308-yard rushing game. UK QB’s completed 16 passes to 10 different pass catchers.
Feed #24. Yes. Chris Rodriguez rushed for 149-yards off just 13 carries. The sophomore scored 2 touchdowns on the ground and averaged 11.5-yards per carry.
Dominate the turnover margin. Push. Kentucky and Vanderbilt combined for zero turnovers in a game in which the turnover margin was a significant advantage for the Wildcats.
Block #10. Yes. Defensive lineman Dayo Odeyingbo registered just 3 tackles. Furthermore, Odeyingbo was held to zero QB sacks and tackles for loss.
Successfully even out the Run/Pass ratio. Yes. Kentucky accumulated 38-points off 55 offensive plays. Of those 55, 35 were runs compared to 20 passes. The Cats didn’t require a higher number of pass attempts due to the success of its dominating ground attack.
Bend but don’t break. No. Vanderbilt entered Saturday’s contest ranked 14th or last in the SEC in Red Zone Offense and 121st in the nation. The Commodores converted 100% of its Red Zone chances by going 4/4. Of all defensive statistics, this was the most alarming given the fact that the Kentucky defense was ranked 1st in the conference in this category.
Influence Ken Seals. Not consistently, no. Kentucky recorded 1 QB sack and 3 QB hurries. Seals enjoyed a comfortable pocket and was able to find open receivers.
Tackle #21. Not consistently. RB Keyon Henry-Brooks had 29 carries for 121- yards. He left the game late in the 4th quarter due to injury, but the sophomore provided several aggravating yards.
Take that #1 ranking for a test ride (#1 ranked SEC Pass Defense). No. Ken Seals completed 21 passes for 225-yards and 2 touchdowns. The true freshman found open receivers in the Wildcat secondary and enjoyed success in the passing game. Kentucky failed to record an interception and had just 2 pass breakups on Vandy’s 33 pass attempts.
Duffy be Duffy. Not applicable. Max Duffy did not play in the game. Colin Goodfellow filled in nicely for the All American by averaging 46.3 yards per punt.
Be the best FG team. Yes. Chance Poore was perfect on his PAT attempts and converted a 28-yard field goal.
WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN?
Kentucky won an SEC game in the face of adverse circumstances. Mark Stoops team dealt with the passing of offensive line coach John Schlarman with class and perseverance. UK ran 55 offensive plays for 458-total yards (308 rushing, 150 passing) while not losing a yard in the rush game or giving up a quarterback sack. The Big Blue Wall owned the line of scrimmage and its play paid tribute to its beloved leader.
Quarterback Terry Wilson returned to the field and was highly efficient through the air and on the ground. Wilson completed 86.6% of his passes while throwing for 2 touchdowns. He also had 7 carries for 83-yards and a score. True freshman Beau Allen made his college football debut and completed 3 passes for 40-yards. QB and WR play was vastly improved and it was obvious that Eddie Gran and company worked on the aerial attack during the bye week.
In true John Schlarman fashion, UK was dominant on the ground in a game that saw the Cats average 8.8-yards per carry and featured a 149-yard performance from Chris Rodriguez. Kentucky averaged 8.3-yards per play and controlled the line of scrimmage.
Surprisingly, the Kentucky defense struggled. The Cats entered the contest ranked 1st in the SEC in multiple categories. The Commodores were averaging 12.8-points per game coming into Saturday’s contest. It scored 35 by running 80 plays that totaled 407 yards. Much like against Missouri, Brad White’s defense could not get off the field. Vandy converted 11/17 on 3rd down (64.7%) and 2/2 on 4th. The Commodores racked up 29 first downs (13 by pass, 12 by rush, 4 by penalty). LB Jamin Davis continued his string of double digit tackles by recording 15. First time starting LB Marquez Bembry registered 10 tackles and filled in nicely for DeAndre Square.
A win is a win, especially given the circumstances surrounding Saturday’s game. The Cats honored John Schlarman with a victory.
Next up is a trip to Tuscaloosa and the number one ranked Crimson Tide.