Kentucky improved to 2-0 after a win over in-state rival Eastern Kentucky. For the third straight meeting, the Colonels gave the Wildcats a bit of a scare, before UK could put them away.
The Wildcats would win 28-17, after a big third quarter where they scored 14 points. Quarterback Devin Leary started off sluggish, but finished with four passing touchdowns and one yard short of 300 in the game. The Colonels bottled up Ray Davis on the ground for just 52 yards on 12 carries.
Defensively, Kentucky was good, but let up a few big passing plays. EKU had passes that went for 39 and 40 yards, which helped them move the ball and finish with 17 points.
It was a closer game than expected, but a win is a win, and Kentucky football now sits at 2-0 heading into another non-conference game against Akron.
Takeaway 1: Tayvion Robinson is a surprise star
Heading into the season, Barion Brown figured to be the star of the receiving group. Dane Key was supposed to be his Robin. After two games, Tayvion Robinson might be the best of the bunch.
Robinson exploded for 6 receptions, 136 yards, and 2 touchdowns, leading the Wildcats in those departments.
The three-headed receiving crew all have 9 receptions after two games, but it’s Robinson who leads the pack with 174 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns.
While Brown is still likely the top guy, Robinson’s success has been a nice addition. The fifth-year player has always been a steady option, even going back to his days at Virginia Tech, but if he can keep up this pace, Devin Leary has no excuses but to throw for four TDs every game.
Takeaway 2: Slow starts are an issue
After a 30-point win over Ball State, people were quick to forget that Kentucky actually trailed after the first quarter, 7-3.
Against EKU, the Wildcats trailed 7-0 after the first quarter. Kentucky was able to tie it up at 7 heading into the second half.
Regardless of their second-half play, UK has been suspect in the first quarter of games this season. Inferior teams are outscoring the Cats 14-3. With SEC play starting in two weeks, Kentucky football needs to figure out how to become a first-half team, or else they may find themselves in big holes to start games.
Takeaway 3: Clean up the penalties & third down defense
Penalties and third-down defense have been costly for Kentucky football this season. Through two games, the Wildcats have committed 17 penalties for 121 yards. Their opponents have only committed a combined 8 penalties for 63 yards. That’s a major gap and one that, again, will be costly in SEC play.
The third-down defense has also been an issue. I listed it as a takeaway following the Ball State game, after Kentucky let the Cardinals go 9-for-17 on third downs. Against the Colonels, it was only slightly improved, as EKU was 6-for-12 in moving the chains on third down.
These may seem like small things, but football is a game of inches, and so far, Kentucky has looked sloppy in some of the finite areas.