Well, Kentucky tried hard. They played hard, the battled injuries, the did everything you can do. But they lost because they were inferior to their opponent, as has been the case this entire season in the SEC.
Congratulations to the Mississippi St. Bulldogs. They simply had too much of everything for the Wildcats. As UK has all year, they failed to move the football consistently, failed to cover people in the defensive backfield, and failed to pressure the quarterback whatsoever. It was more of the same, but a little different.
I'm not sure if the loss of Morgan Newton was a blow or a boon. Maxwell Smith came in and played by far the best he has played all year, and he looked mostly like an SEC quarterback. He hit receivers on the short routes all night long, and to some very decent effect. His release and reads were quick. He looked competent, to my surprise and somewhat to my pleasure.
This loss was tough for many reasons. It kills any momentum Kentucky may have had coming out of the Jacksonville St. game. It ruined the so-called "blackout" effort to get the fans and team engaged. It has not quite ruined any bowl hopes this team may have entertained, but it certainly put a major dent in them.
Here are my observations:
- I have to admit, Matt Roark played astonishingly welll. He caught the football and made plays. He was the best player on the field tonight for UK, and no mistake.
- Maxwell Smith played extremely well in relief of Morgan Newton. This kid may have a future. He is much quicker to get rid of the football, and as the game wore on and he gained confidence, he really started to make plays. Newton may have to share his job more often, now, and frankly Smith was much the best at reading and reacting to the defense.
- CoShik Williams continues to impress. If he were onlye 6'1", 215.
- What the heck happened to our secondary? It is awful, and we have rarely had an awful secondary.
- Matt Roark caught more balls this game than he has all season. You have to wonder whether that was his fault, or Newton's.
- If we only had a few more wide receivers who were effective.
That's really about all. This game was competitive, but Kentucky was just too weak on both sides of the ball to win the game. I have to admit that Smith looked way better in this game than any previous, and the confidence he got could turn out to be very valuable. I do wonder if the line can block well enough for him to be effective, but I have to admit, he was an improvement over Morgan Newton today.
Maybe we'll have better luck against the Mississippi Rebels next week.