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Breaking down the numbers of a mind-boggling loss for Kentucky football

Jack Pilgrim10/03/20

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Article written by:On3 imageJack Pilgrim
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<small>UK Athletics</small>

UK Athletics

Statistically, I don’t even know if Kentucky football’s 42-41 loss is possible. It couldn’t be, right?

On offense, the Wildcats absolutely dominated the line of scrimmage, gashing the Ole Miss defense for a whopping 559 total yards, including 408 on the ground.

Individually, three different Kentucky players rushed for over 115 yards, with Chris Rodriguez leading the way with 133 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries, followed by Terry Wilson with 129 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries, and AJ Rose with 117 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. Kavosiey Smoke was the lone rotation back to miss that 100-yard mark, and he missed the entire second half with a rib injury. He still added nearly 30 yards on 5.8 yards per carry.

Six touchdowns and 408 yards on the ground as a team. Six. 408.

Wilson even had a solid day through the air, passing for 151 yards on 14-18 overall, good for a quarterback rating of 148.2. Three of his incompletions were drops by redshirt freshman DeMarcus Harris, with one being a true misfire. Take out his incompletions to Harris, and Wilson was 14-14 on the day.

Looking at team numbers, the Wildcats finished with a full 100 yards more than the Rebels – 559 to 459 – the second consecutive week they’ve finished with more yards than the opposition. Finished with the same number of first downs (26), better efficiency on third down (55% to 50%), more yards per play (7.6 to 6.9), and dominated the time of possession (36:05 to 23:55).

So where did things go wrong? Defense and kicking. As impressive as the offensive numbers are, they’re equally poor on the other side of the football and on the kicking front.

Through the air, Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral managed 320 total yards and four touchdowns on 24-29 passing, good for a QB rating of 221.

Wide receiver Elijah Moore caught ten balls for 92 yards and a touchdown, followed by 128 yards and two scores on eight catches for Jonathan Mingo and 83 yards and a touchdown on three catches for Kenny Yeboah.

Mind you, this comes just a week after Kentucky gave up 233 yards and three touchdowns through the air to Bo Nix and the Auburn Tigers.

The common theme? A putrid UK secondary with serious questions to answer moving forward.

Taking a closer look, Ole Miss gained 8.8 yards per play in the second half and overtime against the UK defense, scoring touchdowns on four of six drives. The only time the Wildcats got off the field without giving up points after halftime came on the overturned touchdown at the goal line that led to a fourth-down stop and Ole Miss’ final drive of regulation.

As for the kicking, UK missed one field goal and one PAT on the day, adding to the frustrations that began in 2018.

In his time at Kentucky, Austin MacGinnis missed only 13 kicks, finishing with a 79.7% conversion rates on kicks. Since his departure, here is the year-by-year breakdown of UK’s kicking numbers:

  • 2018 stats: 43-43 PATs, 9/15 field goals
  • 2019: 42-46 PATs, 9/13 FGs
  • 2020: 7/8 PATs, 0/1 FGs

Offensively, the Wildcats performed very well. Very little to complain about when you put up 41 points, manage 559 yards of total offense, and dominate the time of possession.

Defensively and on special teams, though, woof. Concerns are very, very real on those front, specifically for the former.

Hey, at least UK doesn’t have Mike Leach and the Mississippi State Bulldogs, who put up 632 total yards against a top-ten LSU team to open the season, coming to town next week, right?

*shudders*

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2022-10-05