Kentucky football: 3 takeaways from win over Akron

Kentucky football is now 3-0 after arguably their most dominant win of the season. The Wildcats put away Akron, 35-3, after going for 450 yards of offense.

Defensively, Kentucky was all over Zips quarterbacks DJ Irons and Jeff Undercuffler Jr. The Wildcats had five sacks as a team and only allowed 190 passing yards. Against the rush, UK only let up 49 yards, proving that their defensive front can be dominant.

There was a lot of good in the win for Kentucky football, but also some concerns, especially with an SEC battle with Vanderbilt on the slate for Saturday.

Takeaway 1: Devin Leary is starting to hit his stride

After two underwhelming starts with his new team, Leary had easily his best game in a Kentucky football uniform to this point.

Leary set personal bests as a Wildcat with 315 passing yards, a 64.0% completion rate, and an 87.5 QBR. He was picked off for the third straight game but also had the play of the game. On a 3rd &11, Leary looked like he was about to go down for a big sack. Somehow, he found a way to sling it to Ray Davis, who scampered 55 yards for the touchdown. That play showed Leary’s strength, awareness, and talent, all in one throw.

Through three games, Leary hasn’t been as good as Wildcats fans might have hoped, but he’s still shown his abilities. Leary has thrown for 855 yards, 8 TDs, and 3 INTs. It’s not great, but it’s helped UK to a 3-0 start.

There were a few notable plays where Leary had open receivers downfield. The speed of guys like Barion Brown and Tayvion Robinson helps, but let’s also not forget that Leary has a new offensive coordinator in Liam Coen. The two seem to be hitting their stride, three games in.

Takeaway 2: Trevin Wallace will be an NFL player

We saw glimpses of how good Wallace could be last year after he found a way to stack 54 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and 2 interceptions as a sophomore.

This year, Wallace is on pace to crush those numbers. The 6-2, 241 linebacker had 2 sacks alone against Akron, bringing his season total to 3.5. He’s also got 24 tackles in three games, and should pass last season’s mark by Kentucky’s 7th or 8th game of the season.

On a defensive front with so many stars, like D’Eryk Jackson, Deone Walker, and JJ Weaver, Wallace has turned into the clear leader. He leads Kentucky football in total tackles, sacks, and even has a forced fumble. Heading into SEC play, having a force like Wallace is crucial.

Takeaway 3: The slow starts need to stop NOW

I mentioned this last week, how through two games, Kentucky football was being outscored 14-3 after the first quarter. Against Akron, it seemed as if the Wildcats had gotten past those issues. They jumped out to a 7-0 lead not even five minutes into the game.

But then they proceeded to go scoreless until a Tayvion Robinson touchdown with 8 seconds left in the second quarter.

Luckily, the Kentucky defense stepped up to the plate while the offense struggled to put together drives. In fact, between the two scores in the first half, Kentucky went punt, punt, fumble. That’s not going to cut it in the SEC, even against a Vanderbilt team that UK should beat.

Week 4 is already a third of the way into the season, so there are no more excuses for these slow starts.