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Wildcats Win Governor’s Cup and Respect

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

Kentucky entered Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium as a 27.5-point underdog and later left the Ville with the Governor’s Cup Trophy, respect, and a program boosting 41-38 win over the 11th ranked Louisville Cardinals.

This was no fluke or gimmicky win; the Wildcat’s offense dominated the line-of-scrimmage as the defense forced 4 turnovers against the nation’s top ranked scoring offense.

Let’s take a look:

OFFENSE

Simply stated; Eddie Gran outcoached Louisville’s defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. Gran mixed the run with the pass as the Wildcats rolled up 581 total yards against the nation’s 7th ranked defense. Stephen Johnson continued to do Stephen Johnson things but on a much grander scale this time. The junior quarterback merely wins while offering the offense a sense of California calmness mixed in with a heavy dose of JUCO shoulder chip confidence.

By the Numbers

Scoring: 41 points
Rush: 229 yards
Pass: 352

Total: 581

Time of Possession: 32:30

3rd Down: 10/18, 55%

Red Zone: 2/2

Sacks Allowed: 0

Points off Turnovers: 10

Statistical Leaders

-Offensive Line: 581 total yards while allowing zero QB sacks and just 11 negative yards for the game. John Schlarman’s big fellas were the game’s MVP’s.

-QB Stephen Johnson, Passing: 16-27, 338 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception. Rushing: 8 carries, 83 yards, 10.4 yards per carry.

-WR Garrett Johnson: 5 catches, 164 yards, 2 TD’s.

-WR Jeff Badet: 4 catches, 52 yards.

-WR Ryan Timmons: 4 catches, 50 yards.

-WR Dorian Baker: 1 catch, 35 yards, 1 TD.

-RB: Boom Williams: 14 carries, 63 yards, 1 TD.

-RB Benny Snell: 11 carries, 51 yards, 1 TD

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

Observations

-Stephen Johnson was not 100% and walked with a noticeable limp. However, the robust signal caller was clutch during critical, chain-moving runs. Johnson was his best on the season’s biggest stage.

UK’s two-deep, physical offensive line dominated the line-of-scrimmage. Kentucky’s final numbers demolished Louisville’s seasonal, defensive averages in virtually every statistical category.

-Guard-Center-Guard (Jon Toth, Nick Haynes, Logan Stenberg, Ramsey Meyers, Bunchie Stallings) neutralized UofL DT Deangelo Brown as the senior registered just 1 tackle for the game. Brown had accumulated 11 TFL and 3 QB sacks on the season. This trio, regardless of rotation, has to be considered the strength of the offense.

-Tackles Cole Mosier, Landon Young, George Asafo-Adjei, and Kyle Meadows all but shut down and all but shutout Louisville’s elite edge defenders James Hearns and Devante Fields. Fields and Hearns combined for just 4 total tackles and 1 QB hurry.

Louisville presented the nation’s 7th ranked defense surrendering just 292 yards per game. Kentucky finished with 581.

-The Cardinal rush defense was ranked 6th in the nation as it allowed 99 yards per game. Cats finished with 229.

-Card pass defense came into Saturday ranked 24th in the nation; 193 yards per game. Stephen Johnson torched the turf with 352 yards and 3 touchdowns.

-Eddie Gran and Mark Stoops were universally praised following Saturday’s win. I’d argue that QB coach Darin Hinshaw deserves a bulk of the praise for identifying and signing Stephen Johnson as well as developing the JUCO transfer into winning 7 football games.

-Boom Williams and Benny Snell were steady and dangerous. Williams had a 36-yard sprint to the end zone. Snell later scampered 18 for a score.

-Receiver drops had the BBN, and me, flustered in the 1st half. Lamar Thomas’ crew made up for it in a big way in the 2nd. The former UofL WR coach had been the target of social media banter from the Card Nation. The blue cladded Thomas had the last laugh on Saturday.

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

DEFENSE

The Kentucky defense had their hands full for 60 minutes as it faced the nation’s top rated scoring offense and the likely Heisman Trophy winning quarterback. Stoops’ defenders bent and broke but also forced 4 turnovers.

By the Numbers

Scoring: 38 points

Rush: 280 yards

Pass: 281

Total: 71 plays, 561 yards

Forced Fumbles: 1

Interceptions: 3

Sacks Allowed: 3

Points off Turnovers: 7

Time of Possession: 27:30

Statistical Leaders

-LB Jordan Jones: 10 total tackles (8 solo), 2 tackles for loss, 1 QB sack.

-Safety Marcus McWilson: 9 tackles, 2 tackles for loss.

-OLB Denzil Ware: 7 tackles, 1 tackle for loss.

-Safety: Mike Edwards: 6 tackles, 2 interceptions, .5 tackle for loss, .5 QB sack.

-CB Chris Westry: 6 tackles.

-DE Alvonte Bell: 6 tackles, 1 pass breakup.

-OLB Josh Allen: 2 tackles, .5 tackle for loss, .5 QB sack.

-DL Naquez Pringle and Courtney Miggins: combined for 1 QB sack.

Observations

-Lamar Jackson was as good as advertised.

-Edge defenders Denzil Ware and Josh Allen provided containment and pressure as the sophomores outplayed Louisville’s vaunted duo comprised of James Hearns and Devonte Fields.

-UK defensive line played its best game of the season. NT Naquez Pringle registered just 1 tackle, but the junior controlled the interior of the line-of-scrimmage as he consistently ate up 2 blockers and pushed the Louisville center into the backfield.

-DE Alvonte Bell played his best game as a Wildcat.

-LB’s Jordan Jones and Courtney Love battled, chased, and disrupted. Love’s tackle on Lamar Jackson during a Run/Pass/Option play was textbook. Jones has played himself into All SEC contention. Love’s leadership was never in question, however his late-season improvement is noteworthy.

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

-Safeties Mike Edwards, Marcus McWilson, and Blake McClain were explosive. The trio combined for 3 interceptions, 2.5 QB sacks, and 2.5 tackles for loss.

-CB Chris Westry contributed 6 tackles including a high effort, touchdown saving stop on Lamar Jackson.

-The Cats produced 2 turnovers in the 4th quarter. Resiliency and “don’t flinch” defined.

-The Kentucky defense was resistant. At times, Lamar Jackson ran through, past, and around the Cats. But, it prevailed with 2 turnovers on Louisville’s last 2 offensive possessions.

-The Wildcats racked up 8 tackles for loss and 3 quarterback sacks. Given the season’s trend, this was a high number for both categories.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Statistical Leaders

Kicker Austin MacGinnis: 5-5 PAT’s, 2-2 Field Goals.

-MacGinnis’ 47-yard FG with :12 left in the 4th quarter proved to be the game winner He also hit a 35-yarder with 2:43 left in the 3rd quarter.

-MacGinnis is money. The junior has 2 game-winning field goals on the season.

Punter Grant McKinniss averaged 35.8 yards per punt.

-Punt team limited the ever-dangerous Jaire Alexander to 2 returns totaling just 6 yards. This stat won’t jump off the box score but it should be considered a key component of the UK win.

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

What does this all mean?

-Lamar Jackson sprinted Louisville out to an early 7-0 lead. Instead of an “uh oh” response, Stephen Johnson connected with Garrett Johnson for a one-play, 75-yard touchdown drive which set the tone that the Wildcats were not going to back down from the high flying and highly ranked Cardinals. “Don’t flinch” was this team’s motto; Kentucky put those words into action on its first offensive possession.

Mark Stoops and his staff coached their guts out. Left for dead after starting the season 0-2 and losing its starting quarterback, the Kentucky head coach said what Mark Stoops always says, “We gotta put our heads down and go back to work.” These simple words frustrated some but provided an accurate picture of the 2016 Wildcats. It wasn’t always pretty and had obvious flaws. However, it improved weekly, never doubted, and kept working.

-Stoops now has a win over Bobby Petrino. Saturday’s Governor’s Cup victory could prove to be invaluable on the recruiting trail as Stoops and staff have the vast majority of their depth chart returning for 2017. National talking heads now have the Cats trending upward.

-Bowl destinations were upgraded with the 41-38 win. Now it looks as if the Cats will be Holidaying at either Nashville or Jacksonville instead of Birmingham or Shreveport.

-Stephen Johnson has won 7 games in which he has played extensively in both the 1st and 2nd half. He didn’t start the New Mexico State or Austin Peay games, so there’s that technicality. Johnson has been unfairly criticized throughout the season to my dismay. I’d think that after his Governor’s Cup performance and 7th win that the BBN will take a more appreciative stance on their quarterback. Oh yeah, he throws a pretty deep ball.

-UK is the only Power 5 football program that sports 2, 1000-yard rushers in Boom Williams and Benny Snell.

-Mike Edwards has to be considered as an elite SEC safety. Same can be said of Jordan Jones at linebacker. It’s imperative to remember that UK starts 7 sophomores on defense. Kentucky started just 1 senior on offense.

-Kentucky beat a talented Louisville team with several future professionals on its roster. UofL may have featured the Heisman favorite and a high ranking; but UK was the better team on Saturday.

-The victory ensured that Mark Stoops will finish with a winning record in 2016.

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

The BBN welcomed its team home in style. Fans, players, administrators, and coaches were ecstatic, rightly so. Good on them. This team was chastised on both the local and national level. A former Louisville coach once proclaimed that UK had the worst defense in the history of college football. That defense and team overcame strife and cheap shots from the cheap seats to finish the season 7-5. A CBS talking head once described the Cats as the “Kentucky Junior College”. That JUCO is bowl eligible, went 4-4 in the SEC, and will possess the Governor’s Cup Trophy for the next 364 days after beating the #11 team in the country on their home field.

I was happy to see Mark Stoops and his family smiling upon their return to Lexington. However, I can most likely predict Stoops’ press conference remarks, “We’re going to put our heads down and get back to work.” Heck, what else can he can say?

That’s so Kentucky Football.

Article written by Freddie Maggard

Former University of Kentucky Quarterback and Andy Griffith Fan Club President

30 Comments for Wildcats Win Governor’s Cup and Respect



  1. UK Big Board Update
    1:25 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

    Stoops beat a top 15 team on the road.

    Something Petrino hasn’t done in his entire career.



    • Angelo
      12:42 am November 28, 2016 Permalink

      Wow!



    • UK Big Board Update
      7:51 am November 28, 2016 Permalink

      UK’s win Saturday broke a 14-14 series tie with Louisville. Cards have never had an all-time winning record against UK in bball or football.



  2. runningunnin.454
    1:44 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

    Forgot we were called a “junior college”.
    I know some football know-nothings said we were only the ” 3rd best program in the state”.
    Guess some of these people might want to learn the game before broadcasting their insight.



  3. rickwhitetx
    1:56 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

    I apologize to every player, coach, staff member, and true Blue fan. After the Southern Miss game I vowed to never watch another UK football game again. I was frustrated and disappointed. I didn’t watch a second of the Florida game or the New Mexico State game. I didn’t watch a full game until South Carolina. I let the Cats for dead. And, boy, was I wrong. I started watching and rooting again. I watched the game yesterday and didn’t really get excited until that last Loserville fumble. Great regular season; great victory over Loserville; great performance by Johnson. So, yeah, sorry I gave up hope. I was wrong.



    • Saul T. Nuts
      4:13 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

      That’s big of you. I leaned my lesson in 2006 after the 49-0 loss to LSU…I was calling for Rich Brooks’ head, and I was flat-out wrong. Football is different…it really is a process, and it takes time. I’m just glad we have Stoops…I’m happy for him, and happy our program is heading in the right direction.



    • RealCatsFan
      10:24 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

      Rick, I’m on that train with you, and I am a little ashamed about it. My wife even told my I am a “bad fan”, because I was putting so little faith that the Cats could beat Louisville yesterday that I kept working on tearing out our bathroom floor while she had the game on in the other room with my kids. As I heard them cheering loudly over and over, I got drawn into watching parts of the game. Needless to say, that project had no chance of being completed yesterday! 😀 Even as I sat and watched that last kickoff after we took the lead with 12 seconds left, I was still waiting for Lucy to once again pull out the football, with visions of Louisville running back the kickoff for a TD dancing in my head. I guess you could call it PKFTLD (Post Kentucky Football Traumatic Loss Disorder). Perhaps Stoops & Co have finally found a cure. I sure hope so – GO CATS!



  4. roundball fool
    2:19 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

    A great game and another corner turned for UK football.

    Go Big Blue!



  5. wdmalone
    2:37 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

    FREDDIE, your football posts are outstanding. You’re honest and blunt; call it and give it a name, don’t sugar coat, and give us a real picture of what life is like within the football program. That is what makes this article… your integrity… this is a REAL story of success for which we’ve long hoped and it feels so darn good!



    • Lunthax
      10:20 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

      I couldn’t have said it any better myself wdmalone!!



  6. sincitycat
    2:38 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

    LOL: I guess we will let Coach Stoops unpack now and the Dirty Birds can eat a huge crow sandwich…do you want fries with that?



    • onlyone
      3:25 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

      Fries and a Heisman pose please…lol



    • UK Big Board Update
      3:48 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

      onlyone October 8, 2016 at 11:12 pm | Permalink | Reply
      Like It (0)
      Anyone who thinks this team that is coached like it was today will win 3 more games needs their head examined. Austin Peay ok but wins over Miss. St and Missouri are out of the question. Maybe just maybe one of those but both will not happen.



  7. BlueDew
    2:50 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

    I enjoy your observations and comments every week. I respect your ensigns because you have played ‘at that level and know what you are talking about. I’m going to comment on a statement you made that rings true. People have not given Steven Johnson the credit he deserves. That is crap! A lot of fans are carried away with these northern KY QB. Everyone of them are thought to be the second coming of Tim Couch. Remember a QB that was benched for a northern KY QB after he led us to a bowl game. That decision led to a QB that grew for over 10,000 yard and only won 5 SEC games in four years. Last year we started anoer QB from that area and he lost his job to another QB from NKY. he was 0-2 and down when he was replaced because he was hurt. I’ve seen and heard people want to know after the game yesterday if Barker would be healthy and ready to play next year. Sad people just can’t let go of the idea these certain players are saviors, but can’t produce WINS instead of states that look phenomenal on paper. Come on people let’s get behind this QB and team.



    • onlyone
      3:27 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

      Amen my man amen



  8. onlyone
    3:29 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

    Looking at next year the biggest need of this team is a punter. I mean good grief hold a student try out or something these pathetic 30 yard punts are team killers.



    • UK Big Board Update
      3:48 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

      onlyone October 8, 2016 at 11:12 pm | Permalink | Reply
      Like It (0)
      Anyone who thinks this team that is coached like it was today will win 3 more games needs their head examined. Austin Peay ok but wins over Miss. St and Missouri are out of the question. Maybe just maybe one of those but both will not happen…



    • UK Big Board Update
      7:52 am November 28, 2016 Permalink

      #7-5



  9. jaws2
    7:04 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

    Dear 502CodeRed,

    Weren’t you the one calling us ‘Slapdicks’ prior to this game? Looks like we slapped it in your face ALL DAY Saturday!!
    I’m sure you’ll spend the next 364 days pulling yours in your mommy’s basement!!

    Oh, Happy Holidays!!!!



  10. Rick_S
    11:36 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

    Mark , It’s ok to unpack now.



  11. AllBlueAllDay
    11:52 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

    I’m just as guilty as many others for not having faith in us yesterday. I told my family before the game I thought we would lose anywhere from 4 to 6 tds. Don’t get me wrong, from the opening kick I was cheering my butt off, but I just didn’t see us establishing a passing game or winning the turnover battle. Those reasons alone just made me feel like we would have the horses to run with the heisman favorite. I’ve never been happier to be wrong and I’m still in shock we won. I couldn’t be happier and I’ve always wanted stoops to succeed. I think he finally has everyone’s full attention including mine. Great win and I’m sorry I ever doubted the team yesterday. Go cats and I can’t wait to see the recruiting success that comes from this win.



  12. Catuary
    12:06 am November 28, 2016 Permalink

    I’m so tired of reading platitudes about Lamar Jackson. He wasn’t as good as advertised. He turned the ball over 4 times! This is a week after getting blown out by Houston.



  13. Ridge Runner
    3:33 am November 28, 2016 Permalink

    Great insight as usual Freddie. To further your point on special teams play, shout out to King on the kick returns as he gave us positive yards and sound field position.



  14. HoosierCatfan
    8:07 am November 28, 2016 Permalink

    Did anyone else notice Stephen Johnson smiling when he looked over the defense before our first offensive snap? I noticed on the live broadcast and then saw it again when I watched the replay yesterday. I believe that Eddie Gran must have told him, that if they line up like this, we got them, and that must have been what Stephen saw when he smiled and walked up to snap the ball. I’d love to find out if this is true.



    • bigaa69
      9:30 am November 28, 2016 Permalink

      I saw it!!! I told my buddy that it looked like he just smiled and said, “I love this $hit.” Then he dropped back and just threw a beautiful bomb to a wide open receiver that looked like he was being covered by a linebacker. Loserville must of come out in a run heavy defense to start the game and when he saw that defensive mismatch he cracked a big ole grin!!!



    • HoosierCatfan
      9:53 am November 28, 2016 Permalink

      I think that’s what it had to be. The kid hardly ever smiles period, and it’s hard to believe much else would have caused him to show emotion like that, at that time, other than that. I loved it!!!! It was like a UFC fighter running across the ring and landing a flying knee right when the bell rang! I think it set the tone for the whole game!



    • Rixter
      10:03 am November 28, 2016 Permalink

      Gran said he called that as the first play early in the week. Johnson said he was hoping Louisville would be in a certain defense, and wen he w they were, all he had to do was look off the safety, and knew the play would work. Thus, the grin.



  15. runtsfan
    8:07 am November 28, 2016 Permalink

    Usually I don’t get into superhype, but IMO this is a bigger deal than a basketball national championship.



  16. It was me Stoops the whole time
    11:52 am November 28, 2016 Permalink

    I will just say this again. Tap the brakes a little. This was a great win and I am very happy for the players and coaches. Stephen Johnson has shown tremendous improvement the last several weeks. This was definitely a step in the right direction and I hope Stoops is the guy to take this program to sustained success. I will admit to believing that is more likely than I thought. I will still however wait until the bowl game and next season before I slap another contract extension out there.