The LSU contest has come and gone, and resulted right about how everyone thought it would. The Tigers were able to run their power offense, and utilize their punishing running game to set up the pass. The LSU defense was just as daunting as they were made out to be and they rendered the Wildcat offense into a vegetative state. As most expected, the #1 Tigers made quick work of the Wildcats in a 35-7 win.
So What happened?
This game was as easy to break down as any I’ve watched in a long time. Kentucky’s offense was overpowered by a significantly better LSU defense and Kentucky’s defense was left out to dry to often by their anemic offensive teammates. The reality of the situation is that Kentucky had a very slim chance of competing with LSU and everyone knew it. In my gameplan and execution post on Thursday, I pointed out that Kentucky would have to limit turnovers and penalties and would have to catch the ball to have any shot against the Tigers. The Wildcats had a fumble converted into a touchdown by Tyrann Mathieu, committed 6 penalties, and completed only 7 of 25 passes on the day. Not exactly a recipe for success. Kentucky was able to hold LSU to only two touchdowns in the first half, and was still relatively “IN” the game until the Tigers pulled away after halftime.
Room For Improvement
- Well, it seems like we bring up the fact that Kentucky cannot effectively utilize any form or function of the passing game on a weekly basis. This week is no different. In addition to sloppy routes and dropped passes, the receivers also now appear to be giving up on the play early and not fighting for the ball. This is by far the most disappointing group of “playmakers” I can remember at UK. We all knew that losing Cobb and Matthews would hurt, but I don’t think anyone really thought it would be THIS bad. The whole group needs to get it together, but I don’t necessarily blame them. Which leads me to…
- Joker Phillips really needs to step up and accept responsibility for the atrocious play of the wide receivers. As the former position coach and recruiting coordinator, he was the guy who brought in the players we currently have on the roster. You know what La’Rod King, Matt Roark, Gene McCaskill, Bryan Adams, and E.J. Fields all have in common? They all played quarterback in high school. Seriously. These guys are not only adjusting to the college game, but are also learning how to catch and run routes at the same time. Yes, Randall Cobb was a high school QB and so was Keenan Burton, but it’s hard to really fault these receivers for their struggles catching the ball when the staff knew they had no experience catching it when they signed them.
- The offensive line play continues to improve, but the unit is still not there yet. It’s tough to grade anyone against LSU, but the O-Line will have to play better if they expect to win some of the remaining games on the schedule. Five sacks in a game is way too many.
- I love how I write a piece on Morgan Newton’s improvement last week and he comes out and has one of the worst games of his career. Oh well. After the LSU defense, it’s all down hill from here and hopefully Newton can get back on track soon. Being benched for the 3rd quarter should have sent him a wake up call to either make the throw accurately or get rid of the ball. He takes entirely too long in the pocket and puts Kentucky behind the chains by giving up sacks too often.
- Man, I really thought that Kentucky’s defensive backfield would be better than this. Randall Burden is basically a three year starter and Anthony Mosley is a 5th year senior. I know that Rueben Randle is one of the best receivers in the SEC, but Odell Beckham is a true freshman and he torched the backfield for 75 yards on only three catches. Outside of the receivers, the corners have been one of the most disappointing position groups on this team. It’s not a wonder that UK has targeted so many defensive backs.
- Am I the only one that thinks it is ridiculous that we have a safety and a linebacker returning kickoffs, and a cornerback returning punts? Do we seriously not have a single offensive weapon that is enough of a playmaker to fill any of these roles? It would be nice to have someone step up that is used to having the ball in their hands.
- Josh Clemons played well. He has to hit the open holes a little better and do a better job of not holding the ball like a loaf of bread (which he is doing FAR too much of). Clemons did a nice job of picking up the blitz as well and looks to have a bright future ahead of him at UK.
- The entire Kentucky defense did a good job of locking down the LSU offense. Think about this for a second. Morgan Newton was benched in the third quarter by the staff and finished 6 of 20 on the day. Jarrett Lee had a couple of guys make big plays for him after the catch, but finished 8 of 21 against a Kentucky defense that has received very little praise. It’s always tough for me to give a pat on the back to a defense that gave up four touchdowns and 179 yards rushing, but I’ll give the entire unit some props here. With the LSU offense dominating the time of possession for the first three quarters and the Kentucky offense only going 3 for 15 on third down conversions, the UK defense had a tall order in front of them.
- The defensive line for Kentucky had a really good game. Despite once again finishing the contest without a recorded sack, the unit put pressure on the LSU offense all night and did a great job of eating up blockers on running plays. Mister Cobble, Donte Rumph, Mark Crawford and Luke McDermott all get some props here.
- Once again the Kentucky linebackers had a very good game. As solid as Trevathan and Guy always are, Ronnie Sneed is really coming into his own as a senior and has had a couple of solid performances in a row. Ridge Wilson has been good (not great) and Malcolm McDuffen, Miles Simpson, Alvin Dupree Avery Williamson, and Tyler Brause have all looked good in limited action. This looks like it may be a position of strength for years to come.
- Kentucky’s specialists continue to impress. Ryan Tydlacka and Joe Mansour specifically have had solid outings.
Mister Cobble. He did a great job of clogging up the middle and disrupting the running plays in the backfield.