After having some time to sleep it off and eat one of my homemade breakfast crunchwraps, allow me to share a few more final thoughts on last night’s game. Normally we’d do the Morning Wakeup post here, but I’m not ready to move on. We’ll look ahead to Big Blue Madness a little later today.
Missed opportunities, man.
Missed opportunities are the reason Kentucky’s two losses this season aren’t wins. The Cats played well against Florida and Auburn, but a couple of potential scoring plays going the other way kept them on the wrong end of the scoreboard.
Against Florida, it was Dorian Baker’s touchdown drop early in the game that had us sick to our stomachs. The Gators intercepted the next pass and ran it back into scoring territory for a 14-point swing. Missed opportunity.
Last night, Baker dropped another one in the end zone on third down, forcing the Cats to settle for a field goal in a six-point game, rather than taking a lead into the fourth quarter. If he catches that one, who knows what happens in the final 15 minutes. But as I’ve said before, if my aunt had balls she’d be my uncle.
And then the one I believe hurts the most: Towles missing a WIDE OPEN Garrett Johnson in the end zone early in the game. He forced it to Baker instead, only to be picked off by Auburn.
That’s hard to watch.
Jeff Badet almost came down with the late 50/50 ball.
I was standing on the field just steps away from where Jeff Badet nearly hauled in the 40-yard pass from Patrick Towles with under a minute to play in the game. Like everyone else in the stadium, I did not like the call to go deep when Kentucky needed only three yards for a first down, but Badet was so close to hanging on to that football and putting his team inside the 5-yard line. It was in his hands as he came down and the defender swiped it at the very last second — a great play by the Auburn DB and a real heartbreaker for UK.
I still don’t understand the run call with no timeouts.
Yes, as Stoops said, it would’ve been a genius call had it worked. But can’t you say that about all play calls?
Walking out of the media room, I overheard Shannon Dawson say to someone, “I knew I was going to get hammered over that one.”
In all fairness, there was potential to break the run wide open the way things were aligned, but it’s still too big of a gamble that late in the game with no timeouts. It cost Kentucky 10 seconds on a drive when several seconds had already been wasted.
Why did Gus Malzahn punt?
It’s easy to say it was the right call now, but at the time, Gus Malzahn’s decision to punt when his team needed a couple of inches against a defense that couldn’t stop them all night, was questionable. It gave Kentucky the rock, down three, with three timeouts. The call could’ve cost him his job had the Cats taken advantage of the opportunity.
He must’ve known UK’s two-minute offense is not a threat.
It did not take long for Rich Brooks to get over the loss.
Coach Brooks tweeted out his daily golf score moments after the final whistle:
Shot a good round of golf today. Gagged it on 18 with a bad double for 80. Did win some money though.
— Rich Brooks (@UKcoachbrooks) October 16, 2015
He also tweeted, “Cats need some work on 2 min offense. Let way too much time run off on the last drive. Close but no cigars.”
Yeah, the two-minute offense could definitely use some help.
Kick return coverage was a killer.
As we said on the pregame show, Kentucky needed Austin MacGinnis to play and it needed Austin MacGinnis to force touchbacks on kickoffs. Auburn ranked fourth in the nation heading into the game in kick return average and its return game has been its best (and only) offense all season.
Unfortunately, Stoops had to go with his backup kicker and the leg just wasn’t there to pin the Tigers back. Auburn turned six short kicks into 155 yards, setting its offense up in great field position on most drives and nearly breaking a couple of those for TDs. Kentucky, on the other hand, had one return for 18 yards.
Let’s end with positives…
— Garrett Johnson is special. He and Dorian Baker (when Dorian’s catching the ball) form one of the best receiving duos since I’ve been following the team, and they’re only sophomores.
— Boom Williams, also special. I can’t remember a back that can get outside and turn the corner like him. And when the offensive line creates a big hole? Bye. He gone.
— 359 yards for Patrick Towles. That’s 400+ without the four or five blatantly dropped balls, probably closer to 500. The interception is still unforgivable, however.
— The defense continues to make stops when its back is against the wall. When Kentucky cut the game to three with four minutes remaining, it needed the ball back in a hurry. The defense did its part and got the ball back, quickly.
— Kentucky is 4-2. That’s better than most fans expected at the halfway mark when we were breaking down the schedule in the preseason. The losses hurt, especially because UK had the ball with a chance to win in both, but 4-2 is 4-2. Still plenty of time to make this a special season, although the next three games won’t be easy. Need to steal one, hopefully two.