Kentucky's performance against UT-Martin is rightfully being considered a success. The first team offense moved the ball well, while the first team defense did a solid job against an outgunned opponent. Problems were apparent - the offensive still looks shaky in short yardage situations, and the back-up defense did not play as well as the first string - but it's worth it to dwell on the positive.
It's important to highlight the mundane and routine plays that UK made which resulted in several big plays. In one game it appeared the team has improved the fundamentals of blocking and tackling. When you make the routine plays, and have the athletes, positive things can happen.
[special thanks to @warroomeagle and @gojoshforth for teaching me the ways of the .gif, Check out their work at College and Magnolia and Arkansas Fight.]
Free Safety AJ Stamps
Stamps continued to make a positive impression building on his successful spring game debut. He delivered hard hits in the backfield, and was also impressive in pass coverage. His abilities were on display for his one-handed interception.
Here UK appears to be in Cover 3 with Stamps patrolling the middle third of the field:
(Figure courtesy of CougCenter)
UT-Martin correctly read it as Cover 3 (or interpreted it to be Cover 3), and so aimed for a route that ran along that coverage's soft underbelly along the seam. It didn't matter as the ball had a bit too much loft which was all Stamps needed to make the interception. Kudos should also go to Za'Darius Smith who hurried the quarterback into a poor, arching throw. Poor throw or not, it's been a long time since UK had a safety who can cover so much area as quickly as Stamps. Stamps executed his role and he made a big play as a result.
Receiver Blake Bone
Freshman receiver Bone also got in to the scoring action thanks to the offense executing.
Bone takes the receiver screen for a TD, but not without great blocks by Ryan Timmons, offensive guard Zach West, and Center Jon Toth who set up a clear lane for Bone. It also appears as if Towles was given the choice between two screen options. The other option was Stanley Williams coming out of the backfield. The defense saw this screen and went to cover it, so Towles took what the defense gave him. Again, solid routine execution all around that resulted in an easy touchdown.
Running Back Braylon Heard
In Heard's first TD run as a Wildcat one can see his speed and patience as a runner. In the clip below UK has spread out UT-Martin's defense. It appears to be man coverage with no safety playing deep (essentially Cover 0). This is a risky proposition and UK made them pay.
UK fakes the screen on both the right and the left sides of the field. This draws the defensive backs who are keying their man-to-man reads. After they pounce the screens there's nothing but green grass ahead for Heard. The offensive line gets a good push, and once Heard makes it to the second level (I tried to slow down the .gif here), he patiently reads his blockers, and navigates to the wide open beyond.
UK seemingly runs the same play on Heard's second touchdown as well. Also, notice the pancake block by back-up left guard Cole Mosier on the middle linebacker.
Both of these plays were smart play-calling. UT-Martin showed earlier in the game that they were going to aggressively defend the bubble screens that UK likes to run. Neal Brown countered by faking bubble screens to both sides which opened up space in the middle of the field. UK had more blockers than UT-Martin had defenders, and Heard's running abilities made it look easy.