Three plays: Kentucky starts hot, finishes strong to defeat Missouri

Aritcle written by:Adam LuckettAdam Luckett

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Chris Rodriguez
(Photo courtesy of Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Kentucky is now 1-0 in the SEC after beating Missouri for the sixth time in seven seasons. This was a good way to begin the 2021 conference slate.

How the Wildcats got there was a roller coaster throughout the 60 minutes at Kroger Field on Saturday night.

Despite a significant yardage advantage and a 6-0 edge in plays over 25 yards, Kentucky squeaked out a one-possession win over Missouri. A lot had to happen for this game to be close.

These are the plays that got us across the finish line.

Explosive jet sweep

The jet sweep with the Los Angeles Rams was a staple play of the playbook. To counter the outside zone action, the offense would constantly give the ball to Cooper Kupp, and Robert Woods on jet sweeps to try and sneak a quick one pass the defense.

After not seeing the play last week, it was only a matter of time before Liam Coen broke it out against Mizzou. It occurred on the second play from scrimmage.

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In 12 personnel, Kentucky sends Robinson in motion and gives him the ball on the jet sweep. Tight ends Brenden Bates and Justin Rigg get excellent blocks to free the junior skill player, and the play ends in a 64-gain for the biggest chunk play of the game.

Kentucky punches the ball in three plays later to grab an early lead that the Wildcats would not relinquish for the rest of the game.

Unfortunate fumble

Holding a 21-7 lead in the second quarter, Kentucky started a beautiful drive at their own 12 with just over eight minutes remaining until halftime. The Wildcats then marched 88 yards in 12 rushing plays milking over six minutes off the game clock.

Kentucky was ready to land a haymaker. However, star tailback Chris Rodriguez Jr. put the ball on the ground.

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On first-and-goal, Kentucky goes to an inside zone run and a lane opens as wide as the sea. That leaves Rodriguez one-on-one with free safety Jaylon Carlies. However, the sophomore defender puts his hat on the football, and that leads to a backbreaking turnover.

The Tigers score nine plays later to enter the halftime break down just seven. This was a 14-point swing that turned a potential blowout into a back-and-forth affair in the second 30 minutes.

Kentucky creates a free runner

Kentucky had a very difficult time forcing some negative plays. Heading into the fourth quarter, the Wildcats had yet to record a tackle for loss. That changed quickly.

The Wildcats recorded a tackle for loss on a very well-time cornerback blitz, and J.J. Weaver was able to force a fumble on a quick pass to Dominic Lovett. However, the biggest play came at the end of the game on Missouri’s final possession.

Kentucky shows just a four-man rush, but Marquez Bembry does a good job bluffing. Meanwhile, DeAndre Square times up his blitz perfectly, and the right guard is unable to recognize. As he slides down to help the center with Octavious Oxendine. This leaves the right tackle in a no-win situation. He does the right thing by taking the inside rusher, but that leaves J.J. Weaver as a free runner. The redshirt sophomore finishes with the biggest play of the night on a key third down.

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The havoc play leaves Missouri with a fourth and 13 that the Tigers are unable to convert. Kentucky walks off a winner, and the well-executed pressure was a huge reason why.

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2021-09-24