This was one of those games that started off bad, and ended up good.
In the first quarter, I have not seen Kentucky so ... inept all year. All they could manage against the 0-2 Akron team was a measly field goal after a full quarter, and yet, somehow you just knew that didn't mean much. Truly, it meant nothing. Kentucky would go on a 17-3 tear in the second quarter, 20-0 in the third, and it was goodnight, sweet Zips. Even though Joker Phillips had to pull the Wildcats together for a tongue-lashing in the second quarter to get them going, it worked just fine, and the Wildcats never looked back.
This represents the end of the easy portion of Kentucky's schedule, and the Wildcats ended it fittingly and convincingly with the lopsided win everybody expected. But that doesn't mean this game didn't have a few problems for Kentucky. For starters, the offense looked like it didn't care who won the game for the first four possessions, which ended in a field goal, a turnover on downs, a punt, and a missed field goal attempt. It was honestly the four poorest possessions of the season so far, all manged in the same 15-minute span.
But after the Zips tied the score at 3 with a field goal of their own with 11:35 remaining in the first half, it was as though a switch was flipped, and Kentucky suddenly realized that this thing could go the wrong way. Akron had just missed on a couple of skinny post verticals that could have put 14 more points on the board besides the field goal if either their quarterback or receivers had managed their end of the connection, and Kentucky had barely threatened the Zips at all.
Then, suddenly, Kentucky struck on a Hartline-to-Cobb connection, and the game was no longer in doubt.
After that hook-up, UK went for 34 unanswered points, and the game was never again in doubt. It was as though the Wildcats had been toying with the Zips as the cat toys with a mouse, just before swallowing it whole.
- Mike Hartline has, at least temporarily, made a believer out of me. He threw the ball with zip, with accuracy, and mostly without flutter or wobble. It was, in my view, his best game ever as a Kentucky Wildcat.
- Randall Cobb was great, but he struggled in the first half, even dropping a pass that hit him right in the chest. Cobb wound up with only 94 all-purpose yards, but whenever he touched the ball after the first quarter, good things happened.
Derrick Locke was a stud, as usual, with 166 rushing yards and 203 all-purpose yards. Game ball.
- Jordan Aumiller looked like the reincarnation of Jacob Tamme with 3 receptions for 55 yards. Overall, UK got 77 yards receiving out of the tight end position with Brian Adams and Tyler Robinson chipping in with receptions as well as Aumiller.
- Kentucky's receiving corps continues to look very good, despite a drop or two in the first half.
- Danny Trevathan was all over the place. That kid is making me forget about Micah Johnson.
- Once again, I thought that Kentucky's secondary was more lucky than good. They could have been burned over the top for 250 yards and three more touchdowns than the official stats show. That is worrisome.
- Raymond Sanders and Donald Russell looked great, and so did CoShik Williams. UK has tremendous quality depth at the running back spot.
- Special teams looked much better this game in almost every respect. Craig McIntosh was excellent in his first start, making all the should-makes and almost making a bomb.
- The defense stopped the run, but they were very lucky against the pass. I am still most worried about our performance on the defensive side of the ball.
- Chris Matthews has to catch more than 2 balls a game.
- I sure hope Moncell Allen's hammy isn't bad.
The Wildcats swatted the Zips, but now they begin playing teams that can swat back. Florida at the Swamp will tell us more about this team than all the other three games combined. Florida looked vulnerable against Tennessee today, even in victory, and if the 'Cats get crushed next week, my hopes for this season may get crushed also.
But Kentucky's offense is dangerous, and Hartline is proving to be as capable as almost any SEC quarterback I have seen, and I mean that in a good way. Bottom line: We still don't know much about this Kentucky football team, but in seven days, we will.