After taking over a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter yesterday afternoon, the Wildcats crawled their way to the finish line, just barely scraping by the Eastern Michigan Eagles by a final score of 24-20.
But Kentucky’s uncomfortable end to their fourth victory of the season was yet another example of the offense’s tendency to come close to a complete stop after establishing “control” of the game.
Against Southern Miss, Kentucky managed just 47 yards to go with zero points in the fourth quarter. They totaled only 105 yards after going up 14-3 with 7:01 remaining in the second quarter.
In the following game, Kentucky managed 107 yards in the fourth quarter against Eastern Kentucky, but this mostly occurred because they had to in order to pull off the victory. The Colonels went up 16-10 with 4:08 remaining in the third quarter, and the Cats maintained just a 17-16 lead with 14:00 left in the game.
Against the Gamecocks in week three, the Wildcats racked up 121 yards in the fourth quarter. Kentucky’s two scoring drives, however, stalled out in the end and resulted in field goals from the 26 and the three-yard line. Kentucky’s effort against South Carolina was easily their most impressive.
Kentucky’s game against Florida was easily their most frustrating example of playing “not to lose.” The Wildcats took a 24-14 lead with 5:54 remaining in the third, and after Darius West picked a ball off back to the UK 46, many fans thought the game was over.
Kentucky ran the ball three consecutive times for one yard on a drive that took just 2:06 off the clock.
After the defense held the Gators on a fourth-and-three at the Florida 49, the Wildcats took over on downs. Three consecutive runs, one Stephen Johnson incompletion to Tavin Richardson, and 16 yards later, Kentucky kicked a 50-yard field goal to go up 27-14 with 11:33 remaining in the fourth quarter.
In two drives, seven of eight plays were kept on the ground for a total of 17 yards, with 3:58 total taken off the clock.
After Florida responded with a touchdown to cut the lead to just six, Kentucky went three-and-out, a drive resulting in negative-five yards. A two-yard rush, a sack, and an incompletion on a drive that had the potential to seal the victory and, ultimately, end the streak.
The Gators got the ball back, and the rest is history.
Yesterday against Eastern Michigan, Kentucky’s second-half offense was absolutely putrid.
EMU’s Jake Julien punted the ball a whopping 18 yards, giving the Wildcats unbelievable field position at the 24. From there, Johnson was dropped for an 11-yard loss on an intentional grounding penalty, followed by two consecutive incompletions and a missed 53-yard field goal. 24 yards to go to start the drive, zero points to show for it. Unbelievable.
Josh Paschal blocked EMU’s following punt to the 12-yard line, and Benny Snell responded with a touchdown on one play to push the UK lead to 24-14 with 11:56 remaining in the game.
From there, Kentucky managed three consecutive three-and-outs for a total of 11 yards.
Your Wildcats finished with 14 total plays for a whopping total of 12 yards in the fourth quarter.
I love Eddie Gran to death, but pounding the air out of the ball on three consecutive runs with a lead just isn’t going to cut it. You have a stellar quarterback with weapons for him to play with. Use them, especially if the defense is stacking the box with nine men, essentially daring you to throw.
Kentucky has had the opportunity to put the opponent away in each of their first five games, but stubbornness has cost a 30-year streak being broken, a 5-0 record, and some pretty convincing blowouts to prove to the national media the Wildcats were absolutely legit.
Step on their throats. Go for the kill. Give them a Mortal Kombat-esque “FINISH HIM!”
However you want to word it, Kentucky needs four quarters of actual offense.