That was ugly, ugly, ugly. There’s just something about Columbia, Missouri and Starkville, Mississippi. Every game appears to lack energy and more times than not UK’s offense tends to play very bad in what is usually a mid-afternoon kickoff with a bad broadcast going on with the SEC Network. Yesterday was more of the same in one of the worst offensive performances from a UK team in a very long time.
Despite the defense succeeding in some key metrics, they just could not get off the field on third or fourth down leading to a large number of snaps played and not enough big momentum changers to bail their offense out. The result was another one score game in the fourth quarter that turned into a double-digit loss to a team that Kentucky is probably better than. You add that in with an overtime upset loss at home and you have a disappointing 2-3 start with a monster road beatdown of Tennessee in your back pocket. 2020 just keeps delivering the weird factor.
In every football game, it usually comes down to couple plays that determine the difference between winning and losing. This time it was a whole lot of bad for a Kentucky team who could’ve setup a monster game with Georgia at home with win.
1.) Missed Offensive Execution
When you turned on the LSU-Mizzou tape, you saw wideouts from LSU constantly running away from Mizzou secondary players. They were hit for multiple shot plays and you can guarantee that was something UK planned for all week. On the first snap, they decided to get vertical and the play was there to be made.
Lined up in the slot, Keaton Upshaw runs a fade and beats the nickel defender from the jump. Safety help is not in the correct position and it looks like UK has a chunk play to get the party started. However, Terry Wilson underthrows the deep ball allowing the defenders time to recover. Upshaw is unable to reel in the contested catch and the nickel is able to collect a PBU.
A play that was likely practiced all week was there for the taking and the offense could not execute. This led to a three-and-out to start the football game and what would be a very rough day for the offense.
2.) Timely Stops
Facing a third-and-10 at midfield, Eli Drinkwitz called a run on the obvious passing down to set his team up for a fourth down attempt. If UK is able to force a stop it would set their offense up with some pretty good field position and a chance to swing the momentum of the game early in the second quarter.
In the boundary, Kelvin Joseph finds himself lined up against Mizzou X receiver Damon Halzleton. After being engaged, the offensive player is able to win inside leverage creating an easy throw for Connor Bazelak to move the chains. The Tigers would then methodically move the ball into the endzone seven plays later.
Brad White’s defense did a lot of really good things in the game, but they could not get off the field in timely spots. Mizzou’s offense snapped the ball 25 times on third or fourth down in the game. They converted 56% of these plays. Drinkwitz’s offense made aggravating plays and it allowed drives to extend and created consistently bad field position for UK’s offense.
The Wildcats did not play complementary football on Saturday.
3.) Blown Final Opportunity
With everything that went wrong in the game, UK found itself with the ball trailing by one possession with over 11 minutes left in the game following Missouri’s only three-and-out of the day. UK decided to not roll with Chris Rodriguez Jr. and faced a third-and-long in what was the biggest play of the game for the offense.
On the pass drop, left tackle Landon Young allows an outside pressure but there did appear to be room forward and a potential running lane if Terry Wilson would climb forward in the pocket. Instead, the senior quarterback fades and scrambles right creating a winless scenario for the offense. A punt would follow and Mizzou would go on a 15-play drive that covered 61 yards bleeding over seven minutes off the clock extending the lead to two possessions.
With everything that went wrong, Kentucky had a chance to tie the game but some bad reps from both the left tackle and quarterback led to another quick turnaround for a very tired defense.
The offense is going to take the brunt of the criticism leaving this game and it is well deserved. A unit with a ton of seniors has been disappointing this year and that has lowered the team’s ceiling. However, they weren’t put in very many good spots and that was mostly due to Mizzou’s ability to consistently move the chains on offense. Neither side could make a game-changing play and it led to a disappointing road loss to an inferior team.