Kentucky Football: Pros and Cons from Loss to Florida

LEXINGTON, KY - SEPTEMBER 23: Tyrie Cleveland
LEXINGTON, KY - SEPTEMBER 23: Tyrie Cleveland /

After what could be considered the biggest emotional letdown in recent Kentucky Football memory, it’s time to look at the pros and cons.

Kentucky football suffered a heart-breaking loss to Florida on Saturday, as if you didn’t already know. It felt as if the Cats were finally about to break the losing streak, then, well, they didn’t.

Maybe it was a mental lapse. Maybe it was all in the players’ heads. Maybe Florida was just the better team. No matter the reason, Kentucky football fans may have never been so disappointed with a game.

Let’s take a look at the pro’s and con’s of this game.

Pro: UK’s offense is better than initially realized

Fans were not sold on this offense and the general lack of creativity going into Florida week. The playbook was vanilla and UK struggled at times against inferior foes.

Coach Eddie Gran changed that narrative and let it rip. We saw jet sweeps, play-action passes, shots downfield, and exotic looks out of the Wildcat formation. Kentucky moved the football for most of the night and it was beautiful.

Con: UK’s ground game is still lacking

Kentucky lacks of a consistent ground game. Big Blue Nation was spoiled last year with two 1,000 yard rushers. The swing back to mediocrity has been unsettling, to say the least.

Benny Snell has been solid, but isn’t dominating like many expected him to this year. Aside from Sihiem King, who played great, no other back touched the ball. This is concerning as conference play really heats up in two weeks.

The offensive line was thought to be the strength of the offense coming into the season, but it is still in progress. A silver lining is that last year’s unit took a few games to get in sync and it is still early in the season.

Pro: UK’s defense looks good

For the majority of the game, UK’s defense was stout against Florida. While the Wildcats didn’t keep the Gators from scoring a go ahead touchdown, they didn’t completely fold late in the fourth quarter.

With Jordan Jones still out due to injury and Derrick Baity being taken out of the game after the half, Kentucky rotated players without a big drop in play. As Kentucky heads into the meat of the conference schedule in a few weeks, it will pay dividends if injuries pile up.

There were some missed tackles and a major trick play that fooled the Wildcat defense, but overall, they played well. Moving forward, they will only build on that.


Con: UK’s defensive miscues

This is squarely on Mark Stoops and he has shouldered all of the blame. He didn’t throw anyone under the bus, which is admirable.

After the same issue causing a loss to Vanderbilt two years ago, it is unfathomable that it should happen again twice on the same night. Stoops will be under intense scrutiny and pressure if he doesn’t get his staff and sideline better organized.

Pro: Special teams is definitely a strength

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Special teams used to be a liability with opposing teams gorging themselves on return yards. This year, players have been doing exactly what is asked of them by coordinator Matt House and the results have been nice.

Charles Moushey is a star. He made some great special teams plays. Charles Walker has quietly led Kentucky to the top of the conference in punt return yards per attempt.

Austin MacGinnis continues to be solid in putting points on the board. He is a weapon that will sorely be missed after the season.

Con: Penalties

The veteran laden team committed numerous penalties that made our collective hearts groan. Kentucky had 7 penalties. Florida had 8. The penalties were unnecessary. They ultimately kept the Kentucky defense out on the field.

Kentucky needs to clean this up with Eastern Michigan coming on Saturday. It is a dangerous trap game as the Wildcats are coming off a tough loss and the Eagles will be looking to take advantage.

Pro: Stephen Johnson

Stephen Johnson played with poise and purpose. When the ball was in his hands, all he did was move the chains and score touchdowns. His throws were quick, accurate, and he got eight different Wildcats in on passing game..

Johnson knew when it is time to pull the ball down and take off. When the defense got to him, he just took the sack and protected the football instead of forcing.

Finally, the UK offense was turnover free against a defense that has made a living returning balls for touchdowns and Stephen Johnson was a major part of that.

Next: SEC Power Rankings Heading Into Week 5

In conclusion, the season is still young. The Cats will continue to improve. The coaching staff definitely has some stuff to work on, but believe it or not, there are positive signs coming out of Saturday’s game. Now, Kentucky just has to look forward.