First off, the Missouri Tigers came into Commonwealth Stadium ranked number eight in the country for a reason. Gary Pinkel has a damn good football team. Mizzou had Kentucky outmatched at nearly every position on the field and completely deserved the win. Kentucky has only been blown out once this season and that was at the hands of Alabama. I'm not saying Missouri is on that level, but the Tigers are the second best football team the ‘Cats have faced all season.
That being said, the referees didn't help the case too much. The Wildcats make enough of their own mistakes without the refs helping in that regard. Mark Stoops was hot blooded all day and we got a full dose of the Stoops Stare. The blunders were highlighted by a series of botched calls near the end of the second quarter. At that point, Kentucky was down 21-3 and the ‘Cats were ready to punt. The Tigers received the kick, Miles Simpson punched the ball out of the arms of the returner, and the ball was recovered in the red zone.
But there were two flags on the field. One was against Kentucky for an illegal formation that I have yet to see, and the other was against Missouri. At first, the refs were just going to give the ball to the Tigers where Kentucky recovered the fumble. However, they would not award Kentucky the fumble because the play was blown dead. The rules state that if two penalties are called, they offset and the previous play must be repeated. After a few minutes of confusion, the refs huddled, the replay booth reviewed the play, the ball was given back to Kentucky in order to punt again; the ball was punted a second time, downed at the Mizzou 12 yard line, then placed at the 13 yard line for some reason, and then the Tigers went down the field to score, making it a 28-3 deficit for Kentucky going into halftime.
Whew! That was a lot of fouling up in one sequence. Again, I doubt the outcome of the game would have been much different even if Kentucky would have been rewarded the ball and scored a touchdown after the fumble, but the Wildcats don't need any more help losing.
- The special teams have been a highlight all season, but today they contributed in putting Kentucky into a deep hole early in the game. A short 13 yard punt and a blocked punt gave Missouri two short yardage situations in the first half. Up until Landon Foster's 13 yard kick, Kentucky was leading 3-0 and the Wildcat defense was playing Missouri very tough. After the two botched punts, Missouri took advantage and never looked back.
- Jalen Whitlow had a pretty decent game. He totaled 267 yards and a rushing touchdown. He still isn't the quarterback that this team needs to implement the offense that Neal Brown wants to run, but right now he seems to be the best option and he is trying his best.
- Kentucky's offense didn't have a terrible day. They totaled 367 yards total, 233 passing and 134 rushing. Jo Jo Kemp and Jalen Whitlow led the way on the ground, but neither one rushed for over 50 yards. Raymond Sanders rushed for 34 yards and a touchdown in short yardage.
- The offensive line plain got whupped most of the day. Missouri's defense is big, fast and strong.
- Ryan Timmons and Alex Montgomery were both out for today's game so Javess Blue and Jeff Badet were the featured receivers. Neither received a touchdown but Blue did have 62 yards receiving. Sanders led the team in receiving with 68 yards. Drops are still a problem as are inaccurate passing.
- Kentucky won the turnover battle 2-1 but were unable to do much when they were given the gifts.
- Was it just me or did it seem like Missouri converted every third down opportunity? They were 50% on third down conversions, not overwhelmingly great but still good, but were 100% on fourth down conversions. That was killer.
- Kentucky actually averaged more yards per pass than Mizzou, 8.3 compared to 7.3, but the rushing averages were the storyline. Kentucky averaged 2.6 yards per rush while Missouri averaged 7.4 yards. Like I said, our O-Line got whupped.
- Henry Joesy is a bad man. He alone averaged 10.3 yards a carry and had 113 yards total to go along with two touchdowns. Oh yeah, he also threw in a touchdown reception for the heck of it.
- Blake McClain and TraVaughn Paschal were the highlights for the Wildcat defense. Paschal had five tackles and three of those were for a loss.
- Next week the Wildcats travel to Vanderbilt to take on the Commodores, who just beat Florida 34-17 in the Swamp and dropped the Gators below .500 (bye, bye Will Muschamp), making a stretch of the schedule that seemed manageable at the beginning of the season seem even more daunting.
I still like the fight in this team. They kept playing hard, as they have all season, but the talent and the execution still isn't there. I know Mark Stoops hates to lose, as he should, but sometimes you have to find the silver lining. I guess that's why I'm not a football coach; I'm too much of an optimist.
Glenn should be back next week doing the postmortem. I hope you guys didn't mind me filling in.