Another week, another win. The Wildcats throttled the Zips of Akron 47-10 on Saturday and finished up their last non-conference game before a tough SEC slate. Kentucky looked great at times, and less than great at others, and I’ve got my post-game breakdown finalized for this week.
For the third straight contest, Hartline comes out and has a hell of a game. Granted Akron isn’t exactly going to be vying for the BCS championship, but 21-29 for 250 yards and two touchdowns is a solid outing against anyone. He’ll have to step it up this week though, because Florida’s defense will be light-years better than anyone the Cats have faced thus far.
Another game comes and goes, and Derrick Locke plays out of his mind again. Racking up 166 yards rushing is impressive, but doing so while averaging 9.8 yards a rush and without having a single run stopped for a loss is downright stellar. Locke was able to take over the offense with Cobb out for the second half and control the game. The thing that impressed me the most this week was his ability to run between the tackles and explode for big games. He looked good blocking as well, and I’ll say I’d like to see the swing pass a little more. Locke in the open field is a problem for any team in the country and the swing pass is one of the best ways to get a speedy runner in space.
The reserve running backs looked good too and I thought each showed flashes of how effective they could be when their time comes to be the primary ballcarrier. Russell was able to drive the ball down the field and was a load to take down every time he touched the ball. George got stopped in the backfield, but I think he’ll be a powerful downhill runner for the Cats. Williams was able to provide a spark late in the game and slashed the defense for 30 yards on only six carries. Then there’s Raymond Sanders. I’m going to go ahead and say that every team in the southeastern conference is going to regret letting this guy slip through the cracks.
Randall Cobb played well in limited action, and he looked more like a natural wide receiver than he’s ever looked in the past. His timing was nearly perfect and his routes were crisp. If he wasn’t sidelined for the entire second half, I bet he would have put up another 100 yards between receiving, rushing, and kick returns.
In case you were wondering, Cobb was held out of the second half because he had a bad case of heartburn. To be clear, this can happen someone is OVER-hydrated, and I’m pretty sure Randall was not fed Chili’s chicken crispers as a pre-game meal. I’ll bet you anything that Joker has a bottle or two of pepcid AC in Gainesville just in case.
LaRod King had a nice game and provided Hartline with a safety valve and did a great job of picking up yards after the catch. Matthews didn’t have a huge statistical game, but looked very good blocking downfield and was able to break Locke on a couple of long runs. The rest of the receivers blocked well and caught the ball when the opportunity was there.
Ask and you shall receive. A week after I point out that it’s hard to expect much from the tight end position, Jordan Aumiller comes in and racks up a career best 55 yards on three catches in addition to a good game as a blocker. Tyler Robinson only caught one pass, but he was sealing the edge on several runs and did a great job of sealing off bigger guys.
The offensive line had a better game this week and really woke up after a sluggish first quarter. The offense totaled 544 yards and that’s not possible without stellar play from the hawgs up front. I though Chandler Burden looked particularly impressive and he was absolutely mauling the guy in front of him on every play. I love to watch the offensive line and Chandler is a throw back guy. He is athletic enough to move his feet and pass block, but when push comes to shove, he’d rather just decapitate someone. Center Matt Smith played a solid all around game as well and also had one play where he knocked an Akron linebacker into next week.
Both guards where able to control the line of scrimmage and open holes wide enough to drive a John Deere combine through. Warford and Hines might be the most unsung heroes of the entire team and the rushing game’s success will lie primarily on their shoulders from this point forward. The SEC has some of the best defensive tackles in the country and those are the guys these two will be charged with facing every Saturday.
I do have to point out that both Brad Durham and Billy Joe Murphy were beat badly in this game by a vastly inferior player. Durham specifically looks extremely slow and is going to have to get some pep in his step if the gameplans are going to call for him to pull and block outside. He’s a monster when he’s blocking straight downfield, but I want to see a little more diversity from the senior.
I swear, every time I think Danny Trevathan can’t play a better game he does. This guy is literally playing sideline to sideline and he is the embodiment of what you’re looking for in a weak-side linebacker in a 4-3 defense. His versatility allows the defense to play in multiple looks, knowing they’ll have a capable guy on the field in any formation.
I thought the other linebackers did well when they got in. Huzzie and Sneed where both flying to the ball and really doling out some licks when they were on the field. Dufrene looked particularly good in pass coverage. I do have to say that Ridge Wilson is beginning to frustrate me. He has absolutely everything you looks for in an outside linebacker and he has as much upside as any player on the Kentucky roster. With all of his talents, he still can’t beat out Dufrene and take over as the starter at the strong-side linebacker. When he finally gets it all together though, look out.
True freshman Jewell Ratliff had a nice stop in the fourth quarter as well. He looks like he was a major steal. It’s hard to believe he flew under the radar for so long.
The defensive line applied great pressure on the Akron offense all night and had a good game despite the lack of statistical evidence. The staff was substituting these guys left and right and while it kept everyone fresh, it also limited snaps for everyone. Evans did step up and play well after two games of being virtually non-existent. True freshman Nermin Delic looked like he’s going to be a star at some point. It’s no secret that I was extremely high on this guy as a prep player and he’s showing everyone how talented he really is. The play where e sacked the Quarterback by grabbing him and just throwing him to the ground shows just how naturally strong the FRESHMAN is.
I don’t want to really come down to hard on the defensive backs because the end result is what you look for. Akron’s starting QB went 4-19 for 47 yards, and half of those yards came on one pass. The problem I have is what might have been. I re-watched the game and saw both of Kentucky’s starting cornerbacks get beat deep twice. And remember, this is Akron. Drops and overthrows saved Neloms and Burden but the upcoming schedule will not be as forgiving as Akron. You can’t get beat deep repetitively and expect to win against good teams. As bad as the Akron passing attack was, there should have been at least one interception, probably more.
The safeties both looked like they had solid games at first glance, but the stat sheet is deceiving. Mychal Bailey played better than his stats look, and was able to man up the slot receiver and let Kentucky keep three linebackers on the field. Winston Guy did the same on some plays, but he missed a couple of tackles because his head was down. I’m not really in the mood to beat a dead horse, so I’m going to leave that alone for now.
Tydlacka did a nice job punting, and placed the ball well enough that Akron could return either kick.
Mansour was murdering the ball on kickoffs and outside of the kick out of bounds, had a great night. His leg is as advertised.
McIntosh had a relatively good night kicking the ball, hitting the two chip shot field goals and narrowly missing the 51-yarder. I will say that missing PATs is unacceptable and this is the third straight game the Cats have done so. That will get you beat against a better team.
I love that the offense has now gone three straight games without a turnover. Making a fourth against Florida will greatly improve the Wildcats chances of winning.
There were too many penalties again this week. You have to keep these under control. For Kentucky to knock off the Gators at home next week, limiting turnovers and penalties will be a major key.
Once again, the offense has great balance. The ground game mulled out 290 yards and the passing game piled up 250 yards. If the offensive gameplan remains this balanced, teams will be guessing all year.
I harp on the defense a lot, but I’ll give credit were credit is due. It wasn’t pretty, but holding any team to 172 total yards is pretty impressive. If I subtract the 93 yards the Zips gained in the fourth quarter against Kentucky’s backups, the starters only allowed the Akron offense 79 total yards.
Offensively, 100% scoring in the redzone is what you want every week. Considering how dead the offense looked in the first quarter, it’s even more impressive.
Going three for nine on third down conversions is not good enough against Akron. The Cats started the game with their first five drives falling short on third down. Of course, the offense did follow that with six touchdown drives in a row.
The Wildcats actually played a really good game after a sluggish first quarter. There will be no opportunity to start slow this weekend though because the Gators will make Kentucky pay for mistakes they got away with in the first three games. I do want to go on record saying that I truly believe that Florida is a beatable team and if Kentucky gets some breaks and takes advantage of them, we could see an upset that would likely land the Wildcats in the top 25 for the first time since 2007.