Kentucky Football: Fast start Wildcats behind Rodriguez send early message

Kentucky's Chris Rodriguez Jr. Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports
Kentucky's Chris Rodriguez Jr. Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports /

The energy was an issue for Kentucky football last year when they went to Missouri and were beaten in every way. This year the Wildcats were determined to remedy that and send an early statement and that’s exactly what they did.

An electrified Kroger Field crowd aided in that effort and offensive coordinator Liam Coen wasted little time in pulling the trigger to feed off of that.

Kentucky was ready to send a message to the rest of the Southeastern Conference and the FBS schools that this team deserves to be in the talk of best in the conference.

Kentucky football converts opening two drives into touchdowns from Rodriguez

On its first two possessions, Christopher Rodriguez, Jr. found the endzone. The first time came courtesy of his first-ever catch that resulted in a touchdown, and then rushed one in on the Wildcats second drive.

Wan’Dale Robinson set it up by breaking free for a 64-yard scamper on the second play of the game on an end-around before being pulled down at the 8 on the third play of the game.

Rodriguez with the catch in the flat two plays later and Kentucky led 7-0 with 12:52 to play. That drive went 75-yards in just five plays.

Head coach Mark Stoops told Tom Leach on this radio show this week talked about the way the game went last year and made no excuses.

"“Missouri was definitely tired of hearing about how many times in a row Kentucky had beaten them. They came out with a chip on their shoulder. We didn’t. And that’s on me.”"

Kentucky went to every player on the field it seemed like and when Will Levis found Josh Ali on a 19-yard catch, with that reception it sent him over 1,000 receiving yards for his career, becoming the 31st player in program history to do so.

Rodriguez again had his number called and delivered with a 2-yard touchdown giving Kentucky a 14-0 lead after two possessions. Rodriguez now has five straight games with a rushing touchdown, behind his predecessor Benny Snell who holds the record with six games in a row.

Inopportune mistakes rear their head again

Kentucky looked like it had Missouri stopped again on their second drive, but a pass interference penalty on Chris Dort gave the Tigers new life and they took advantage of the gift.

Connor Bazelak marched his team the rest of the way down to the endzone hitting Daniel Parker for a 6-yard touchdown.

Wildcat fans witnessed deja-vu again as Levis tried to hit tightened Isaiah Cummings but just like last week when he tried to hit Josh Ali the pass was high and behind Cummings and ricocheted off his hands and into the arms of Missouri’s Jaylon Carlies.

Shake it off Will and make them pay

True to form like last week Levis didn’t dwell on the mistake and quickly rallied his troops downfield after the defense nullified the turnover.

He found Robinson again with a 49-yard floating bomb to the Mizzou 7 that he stretched out for with ease. Seems like a reoccurring theme.

And just to keep the confidence rising Levis carried the ball in himself from 3 yards out to cap off a 92-yard drive that took just eight plays.

The Penn State transfer never hangs his head when he makes a mistake or sulks alone on the bench. He is way, way, way too competitive. It just seems to anger him more.

His mom has said even when they play Monopoly the intensity is through the roof and can result in the game tokens flying through the air in frustration.

He is just a warrior who wants those around him to succeed at whatever cost.