For most college football players, a seven-reception, 129-yard performance to lead all receivers in a true road game would be one worth celebrating.
Kentucky star wideout Lynn Bowden is not like most college football players.
For the junior playmaker out of Youngstown, OH who had All-SEC hype going into the 2019 season, Bowden’s impressive numbers on the box score were overshadowed by multiple brutal drops in Kentucky’s attempted comeback effort against Mississippi State on Saturday afternoon. Two of them were guaranteed touchdowns.
Down 21-3 with just under five minutes to go in the second quarter, Kentucky managed to claw back and cut the MSU lead to just eight points in the fourth quarter. While there were other mishaps to factor in – Sawyer Smith’s opening-drive pick-six, a separate touchdown drop from Ahmad Wagner, and two missed field goals from Chance Poore, just to name a few – a disappointed Bowden said after the game that just one of his drops in the end zone could have been the difference in Kentucky’s 28-13 loss.
“I’ve just got to reel them in,” the star receiver said. “I dropped two or three balls. … I’ve got to get back in the lab, dropped too many balls, man.”
Despite breaking the 100-yard mark for just the second time in his Kentucky career and being in a position where he could have pointed fingers after the loss, Bowden was quick to put the loss on his shoulders.
“I don’t blame nobody but myself, I’ve just got to be better,” the junior wide receiver said. “I’ve got to reel them in, connect on those deep balls.”
When asked about how he builds off of the good – 129 receiving yards and 37 rushing yards is nothing to scoff at – and moves on from the bad, Bowden says finding that happy medium is difficult for him. As a player with tremendous confidence in his abilities, he expects to make those clutch plays in crunch time.
One of those moments came on a 4th and 8 at the Mississippi State 33-yard line, where the talented playmaker juked and fought his way through several defenders for a 21-yard gain.
“That’s Lynn right there,” Bowden said. “I’ve just got to get back to being myself for the full game.”
When he doesn’t make those plays, he admits he’s hard on himself.
“I’m a very confident person, but when I make mistakes, I get very hard on myself,” he said. “It’s like a 50/50 thing, just have to be stronger minded, that’s it.”
So how does he plan on finding that middle ground with yet another difficult road matchup set for next Saturday at South Carolina?
“Stop listening to everybody and play the football I know how to play,” Bowden said.
Outside of his own personal mistakes, the Youngstown, OH native is confident in his team’s ability to shake off the back-to-back losses and find success the rest of the season.
And it starts in the red zone.
After getting the ball inside the 11 yard line on two separate occasions in the fourth quarter, Kentucky came away with just three points. It starts there, with Bowden stressing that the team has to find a way to finish off strong drives with touchdown scores.
“We want to score every chance we get,” he said. “We’ve got to work on finishing. I don’t think we finished well tonight. We just go to get back to the lab.”
In the first half, Bowden felt the entire team reverted back to “old Kentucky football,” but came back after intermission with an edge that put them in position to make things interesting at the end of the game.
Keeping that same late-game mentality is a necessity as the team heads to Columbia, SC next week.
“In the second half, we came out and played our ball. But we played old Kentucky football in the first half. So we just got to make up for mistakes [moving forward].”