Kentucky football: Wildcats stuff Cardinals with all-around dominating effort

Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Will Levis ( Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports)
Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Will Levis ( Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Kentucky football
Chris Rodriguez Jr of the Kentucky Wildcats (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

No. 2 The kicking game got everything cleaned up just in time for Senior Day

In a season where the special teams and kicking woes caused lots of angst and indigestion for Kentucky falls all season, it was spot on and smooth all day.

Snapper Cade DeGraw, holder Chance Poore, and Matt Ruffolo have taken a lot of flack over how many of the field goal attempts have gone astray this season. But give them credit for keeping it together and working through the issues to put on a rock-solid performance against Lousiville. He was named the game’s most valuable player.

In 2019 Ruffolo was 4 for 5 on field goals and 18 of 20 on extra points. The following season 12-14 on field goals and 22 of 23 on PATs and equally impressive last season knocking through 10 of 13 field goals and an incredible 54 of 56 extra points. This season he is now 16 for 24 and 25 of 27 on extra points.

When things started going wonky at Ole Miss, a team that must have inflicted some bad karma dating back to last year, kicks were blocked, sailed right and left, snaps scooted along the turf to Poore, some came up short and a few got blocked.

However, on this day, Ruffolo connected on a career-best 4 for 4 field goals that were all true and smooth. He was asked how emotional the season had been.

"“Emotionally, I mean, we started off really strong but in the middle of the season, to be completely honest, it was not my best year and as a unit, it was not our best year, but we stuck together, and we stuck together until the end. Today it really showed our mental toughness by sticking together.”"

Well done fellas.

No. 3 Louisville native JJ Weaver leads the defense in stuffing the Cards offense

It had to be extra special for senior JJ Weaver to have a spectacular day and led the Kentucky defense in shutting down the Cardinals. The Louisville native from Moore High School finished with 7 tackles, one tackle for a loss and one for a sack, one pass break up, and a fumble recovery which he nearly took in for the touchdown before falling at the Louisville six-yard line.

Weaver chased and knocked down quarterback Brock Domann causing the fumble and the senior scooped it up nearly taking it in for the score.

Keidon Smith, Jordan Wright, and Trevin Wallace all added seven tackles each and Wallace had an interception. While Deone Walker, Jordan Lovett, and Carrington Valentine all had six tackles with Lovett also snatching an interception. For Wallace and Lovett it marked the second pick for each of the players this year.

The defense had held the Cards in check all night allowing just 185 until the final two drives that ate up 124 yards.

No. 4 Kentucky football finished with a win and that’s what matters

If we have learned anything from watching Kentucky football this season it’s that nothing is ever pretty or spectacular in their wins or losses.

There is no arguing that Levis will be a very high draft pick in the upcoming NFL draft and its unfortunate that the offensive line just couldn’t protect him very well this season or that Liam Coen who set him up for success last season running the offense left and Scangello didn’t have as much success.

What is most important is that the team stuck together and finished the regular season while losing 16-6 to Georgia last week but held them to their lowest offensive production and points of any other team and built on that and put the clamps on Louisville and finish with an impressive victory.

Stoops was also asked about this upon reflecting on the win’s importance.

"“You know, if you’re in the arena and you’re playing you’re going to have some ups and downs, and you got to be able to respond. I felt like that’s what I’m proud of this team. Maybe things didn’t go exactly how we all wanted it to, and certainly, there is a lot of things that I could do better and will do better and will work at. … But they hung really tough and finished with a win that we all know we needed to have, we desperately wanted.”"

Here is hoping Levis does choose to play in whatever bowl Kentucky gets selected for and Rodriguez and the rest of the seniors get one last shot at making Kentucky bowl history.