For the second straight week, Kentucky lost a football game. For the second straight week, it was because of costly errors that do not bode well for the rest of the ten-game season.
Before we break down the excruciating details of today’s 42-41 overtime loss to Ole Miss, a few remarkable stats. Kentucky led by 14 points with 10:41 remaining in the third quarter. The Cats finished with 408 rushing yards and an average of 7.3 yard per carry. Three players rushed for over 100 yards: AJ Rose (12 carries, 117 yards, 1 TD), Terry Wilson (22 carries, 129 yards, 3 TDs), and Chris Rodriguez (17 carries, 133 yards, 2 TDs). Kavosiey Smoke sat out the second half with bruised ribs, but even without him, the Cats’ rushing attack dominated Ole Miss’ defense. Unfortunately, it’s all for naught because of critical mistakes. Again.
First big mistake: Coasting on what should have been a touchdown
Let’s start with Rose’s 72-yard run on Kentucky’s first play from scrimmage, a beautiful run that would have been a touchdown if Rose hadn’t looked back at his defenders, put up deuces, and been tripped up. For a fifth-year senior, that is inexcusable. If that wasn’t frustrating enough, two plays later, Rose fumbled the ball after trying to run it into the end zone. In a horrible case of deja vu, it looked like Rose was in for the touchdown, but the officials disagreed. Seven points that should have been on the board but never made it.
He put up the ?? … and then it went bad ? pic.twitter.com/RidTVbdENA
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 3, 2020
From there, Kentucky forced a three and out and scored on the next series, a four-yard touchdown run from Terry Wilson thanks to a fantastic block by Kenneth Horsey. 7-7. A huge sack by JJ Weaver and Marquan (Bully!) McCall set up Kentucky’s next touchdown drive, this one courtesy of the aforementioned Rose, who redeemed himself with a two-yard score. This one was also reviewed, but thankfully, stood. 14-7 Cats.
First-half groaners: Flags, secondary torched
On the next drive, Kentucky’s lack of discipline burned them again. Taj Dodson was flagged for a late hit, which was originally ruled targeting. From there, Ole Miss did what it did all too well all day long: throw it over the middle for first downs. Matt Corral connected with Kenny Yeboah for the touchdown to tie it up again. 14-14.
A few drives later, a holding penalty on Clevan Thomas became a hole too big for Terry Wilson to dig out of. Three and out. Thankfully, Kentucky’s defense withstood its own holding penalty on the next drive to force an Ole Miss punt. Kentucky ended the first half on a spectacular note, with Terry Wilson bursting free for a 22 yard touchdown run to put the Cats up 21-14.
Second (and third?) big mistake: Missed field goal set up by an incomplete pass
The second half got off to a great start, with AJ Rose, Terry Wilson, and Chris Rodriguez having their way on the ground. Rodriguez’s 22-yard run on 3rd and 1 put Kentucky up by two touchdowns, 28-14. It all was going so well.
Once again, Ole Miss sliced Kentucky’s secondary to score on the next drive, a 24-yard pass from Matt Corral to Jonathan Mingo to cut the deficit to seven. In response, Kentucky easily moved the ball back down the field, but what would have been a touchdown pass from Terry to DeMarcus Harris fell just short. While it was slightly underthrown, it was still catchable. Adding insult to injury, Matt Ruffolo’s field goal attempt bounced off the upright. Three more points that should have been on the board off, bringing the total to ten.
Third (and fourth and fifth?) big mistake: Bossman Fat giveth, and taketh away
For a few minutes, it looked like Bossman Fat had redeemed himself after getting Moss’d by Seth Williams at Auburn. A pass interference call on Davonte Robinson ushered the Rebels down the field, and it looked like they scored, but upon further review, the officials said it was just short. Ole Miss went for it on fourth and goal, but Jerrion Ealy was dropped for a loss by…Bossman Fat. Rejoice!
Not so fast. On Ole Miss’ next drive, Bossman Fat got beat on back-to-back plays, giving up a touchdown to Jonathan Mingo to tie up the game. Maybe we’ll just call him Kelvin Joseph for a while.
Second half groaners: Sack on fourth down, turnover on downs
A gorgeous pass from Terry to Josh Ali got Kentucky into Ole Miss territory. Three runs later, the Cats decided to go for it on fourth and eight on the 35-yard line. It didn’t work. Terry was sacked for a 12-yard loss. On Ole Miss’ first play on the next drive, Matt Corral connected with Kenny Yeboah for a 41-yard gain. Three plays later, the Rebels scored to take the lead, becoming the first team to score at least 35 points on Kentucky since 2017.
Fourth big mistake: Missed. Extra. Point.
Kentucky’s offense did its part. Eddie Gran even sprinkled in some passing on the final drive of the fourth quarter, but it was Rodriguez who ran it in to tie the game up. After Kentucky’s defense forced a punt to take the game to overtime, the offense came through again. Terry’s ten-yard touchdown run was the ultimate high, followed by the ultimate low of Matt Ruffolo’s missed extra point. That split second swing was an absolute gut punch. Eleven total points that should have been on the board gone. From there, you know what happened.
Last week’s loss to Auburn was disappointing, but at least you could talk yourself out of it. Kentucky turned the ball over three times. Auburn was a top ten team. It was on the road (even if the crowd was limited). Terry was knocking off the rust!
Tonight, however, is a much harder blow. The mistakes are still there and even more infuriating. Terry played well and the rushing game dominated, but was negated by the pass defense and special teams. Eight penalties for over 80 yards. Judging by the Georgia/Auburn game, the Tigers aren’t even that good. Mike Leach’s Mississippi State might throw for 800 yards on this secondary.
Can Kentucky still have a good season? Yes. But it has to stop shooting itself in the foot.