Three Plays: Kentucky gets contributions from all phases in first win
Kentucky is 1-0 after handling Miami (Ohio) in a 37-13 victory after a big second half at Kroger Field. The Wildcats have a huge matchup with Florida awaiting them next week, but we’ll get into previewing that colossal SEC East matchup starting on Monday. Now is the time to take a look back at Week 1.
After a somewhat slow start to the game, Kentucky hit the gas in the second half to turn a close contest into a romp. Football is a game with three phases: offense, defense, and special teams. Kentucky won each going away on Saturday.
KSR is here to provide the three plays that made the ultimate difference in the ballgame.
Tayvion Robinson flashes open field juice
Kentucky did not wait long to let Will Levis air it out on Saturday. Facing a 7-0 deficit, the Wildcats went to a wide zone play-action look to get the redshirt quarterback on the move on their first snap. Levis then hit Virginia Tech transfer Tayvion Robinson on a quick shallow outbreaking route, and the senior did the rest.
Robinson flashed the playmaking juice that made him such a good player in the ACC on his first play with the Big Blue. The former top-500 recruit made three Miami (Ohio) defensive backs miss in open space and that created an instant scoring opportunity for Kentucky to begin the game.
The big play was just a sign of things to come as Robinson finished his first game at Kentucky with six receptions on eight targets for 136 yards, and a pair of catches went for over 30 yards.
The Cats might have another star receiver in the slot.
Barion Brown can be a difference maker
A big field goal before the half gave Kentucky a 13-10 lead heading into the break, but the double-digit home favorite found themselves in a close game against a good MAC squad. The Wildcats were going to have to land multiple haymakers to put Miami (Ohio) away.
The first of many shots landed happened on the first play of the second half. Ladies and gentlemen, Barion Brown is a home run hitter.
To open the second half, Brown returned the Miami (Ohio) kickoff 100 yards to give Kentucky its first kickoff return touchdown since 2009. After getting a good seal from his wall at the 20, the former high school track star veered left and took off down the sideline.
That return got the party started in the second half as Kentucky quickly turned a close game into a blowout in the blink of an eye.
Kentucky’s defense lands knockout blow
Following the kickoff return on the heels of a late second quarter field goal, Kentucky held a dominant 10-0 advantage in the Middle 8. Miami (Ohio) found itself in the danger zone when they touched the ball to begin the third quarter. The RedHawks walked right into a big punch on their second snap of the half.
As Miami’s Jaylon Bester is forced to bounce a busted zone run outside, super senior safety Tyrell Ajian does a good job coming down in support and puts a good hit on the tailback. Ajian’s shoulder pad appears to directly hit the ball to force a fumble. The loose football immediately bounces into Keidron Smith‘s lap as Kentucky nearly scores its first defensive touchdown of the season.
Two snaps later, Will Levis connects with Chauncey Magwood as Kentucky turned a tie game into a 17-point lead in just seven plays. From that point, the game was over as the big takeaway allowed the Wildcats to seize total control of the game.
On to Florida.