I said earlier in the season that, by the Kentucky vs Mississippi State game, we would know more about this Wildcats football team. We match up well, and it’s Week 3.
So was tonight’s game an anomaly, or is this the defense we thought we had at the beginning of the season?
Given that this is the first year of Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense in Starkville, and that UK came into the game dead last in the country against the pass, I’m leaning more towards it being an anomaly. I’m also recognizing that the defense has had some growth over the past week,
Kentucky is coming off an overtime loss against Ole Miss, where they allowed 42 points to a young Rebels offense. Auburn was also allowed to make big plays all over the yard, and UK allowed 3 touchdowns through the air.
Thinking they would hold this offense to zero points was not something many believed was possible. But here we are.
The Kentucky offense never got into a groove. Quarterback Terry Wilson struggled all night long, in both facets of his game. Wilson went 8 of 20 for 73 yards and a score in the air and gained 50 yards on 13 rushes.
A bigger problem is that he would be the leading rusher. Running backs Chris Rodriguez and AJ Rose never got anything going, and Kavosiey Smoke was not available.
For a rushing offense that gained over 400 yards just a week ago, this was not at all expected. Even with Smoke out, this rushing offense was statistically one of the best in the country.
Josh Ali was the only receiver to have more than one catch, and he only had two. This was not a good night for the Wildcat offense.
The defense, on the other hand, was spectacular. The only Mississippi State score was on a special teams blunder. The snap went over the head of Max Duffy, forcing him to knock the ball out of the end zone. Resulting in the only two points the Bulldogs would score.
But that would be the only time Duffy wouldn’t show off his skills. Kentucky would punt eight times, three of which Duffy put inside the 20. Because of this, the field position game played a big part in Kentucky’s victory.
The Cats did come into tonight’s game last in passing defense. That was not hyperbole. The secondary has not lived up to the accolades it received before the season.
Defensive end Josh Paschal also had one, and he came very close to returning it for a touchdown. Defensive back Kelvin Joseph had the remaining pick.
Eight times the Cats got to the quarterback. Two of those resulted in sacks. With five other tackles for loss, the Kentucky defense spent some time behind the line of scrimmage.
The offense needs to get their passing game figured out. It’s been anemic all year. Tonight, the entire squad was bad. Thankfully, the defense and special teams stepped up to fill in the gaps.
This Kentucky vs Mississippi State matchup was an indicator game, as we head into the rest of the year. Hopefully, this is the defense we have been waiting on, but, hopefully, this was not an accurate representation of the offense.
This was a big win for the Kentucky program. One I wasn’t sure they’d get. It might be just what they need to actually pull off a decent season in the SEC. Especially since they have one of the toughest remaining schedules in the country.