The first game of the Mark Stoops era at Kentucky didn’t exactly get off to the start everyone had hoped for, as they fell to the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in Nashville, 35-26. The game was close for three quarters, and UK had the ball three times while trailing 21-17, but could never gain the lead, and WKU ultimately pulled away with a late third-quarter surge. UK added a late score to pull to within 35-26, but a missed XP effectively ended the game.
The story of the night was UK’s lack of ability to make tackles consistently on defense. Whether it was All-American candidate Antonio Andrews gashing the Cats’ defense, or receivers catching passes and making the first man miss, UK defenders just couldn’t wrap-up consistently enough to get WKU’s offense off of the field, and the offense couldn’t keep up, despite a serviceable performance from Jalen Whitlow.
Speaking of Whitlow, he played well enough to have a chance to keep the starting job, but Max Smith came in and played well in the fourth-quarter, leading UK into WKU territory three times, but only manged to score 10 points after Ryan Timmons fumbled one possesion away at the 30-yard line. Smith will undoubtedly get more playing time next week against the Miami Redhawks, who the Cats will host in their home-opener as they look to rebound and get their first win of 2013.