Saturday night, Kentucky football zipped through Akron to improve to 3-0 on the season. Don’t let the final score of 35-3 fool you though, this Wildcats team has to improve in some areas before advancing to SEC play next week.
Let’s take a look at the good, bad, and the ugly from the Akron game.
Devin Leary had his best outing of the season. Leary was 16-for-25 for 315 yards with just 1 interception. Leary spread the ball out well, completing passes to five different players, including a dump pass to Ray Davis on the first play of the game that went for 39 yards.
Kentucky’s running backs had their best game of the season as a group against the Zips. The team ran for 135 yards and Ray Davis, Demi Sumo-Karngbaye, JuTahn McClain, and Ramon Jefferson all averaged over 6.0 yards a carry. Look for Kentucky football to utilize more backs as long as they can all continue to produce at this level. If not, it’ll be the Ray Davis show.
Kentucky’s defense allowed the Zips to rack up 239 yards of offense against them while going 6-15 on third downs. Akron was 29-41 passing for 190 yards while rushing the ball 25 times for 49 yards averaging 2.0 yards each carry.
Going into SEC play it’s important that Kentucky’s defense establish an identity. The “Bend but don’t break” defense may work against MAC teams, but the SEC is a different animal. Brad White’s unit must improve going into next week’s game at Vanderbilt.
Style points aren’t given in football and I’m not sure Kentucky would have received many Saturday night in Lexington if they were. This team struggled with many issues that I don’t expect to see Mark Stoops coached teams struggle with, especially against MAC teams. Fumbles, interceptions, bad snaps, and holding penalties prevented the Wildcats from opening up this game even more.
Devin Leary found Anthony Brown-Stephens in the third quarter for a 64-yard touchdown, however, that touchdown didn’t stand and was called back due to a holding penalty called on Jager Burton. The very next play, Leary threw his only interception of the game. Stephens lost out on his first touchdown as a Wildcat and Kentucky left another touchdown on the field.
Jordan Dingle made what should have been the catch of the season however, after hauling in a Leary pass one-handed and trying to fight off Akron defenders and gain more ground, the ball was stripped and recovered in the endzone by Akron resulting in a touchback. Another opportunity missed by this Kentucky football team.
Bad snaps can kill a team if they aren’t cleaned up. Saturday night Kentucky had two bad snaps resulting in total losses of 33 yards. If they can’t find a long snapper to work out of the pistol and shotgun, they will have to put Leary under center and run more play-action to keep the defense honest.
Kentucky is packed full of talent and at times is exciting to watch, but if they can’t clean up these mistakes at Vanderbilt next week, we may be in for a long season. Good SEC teams will capitalize on the mistakes UK has made so far this season and convert those mistakes to points. Stoops and company have to clean up these mistakes soon.