The Kentucky Wildcats fought hard enough to go into halftime trailing just 10-3 at Georgia, but the Bulldogs would roll in the second half en route to a 27-3 win.
UK's offense mustered up 181 yards of total offense and just three points and trailed 24-3 as the final frame began. The defense played great for stretches, but the offense failing to do anything was ultimately too much for this team to overcome as the Cats are now 4-5 entering a three-game stretch that will decide their postseason fate.
With that said, here's a look at our biggest takeaways from this game.
Special teams killed any hope of an upset
If Kentucky was to win this game, the Cats had to come out and execute in all three phases while avoiding critical mistakes. They did neither, especially on special teams with several brutal penalties and mistakes early on that buried UK.
It began after UK's first offense possession when they went three-and-out and Landon Foster got off a mere 35-yard punt. Making matters worse was UK was called for kick catching interference as a Wildcat hit Georgia returner Reggie Davis before he caught the ball, leading to a 15-yard penalty that put the Dawgs at the UK 45-yard line.
As badly as the Cats' defense has been struggling as of late, any opposing possession that begins in Wildcat territory is essentially guaranteed to end in a score. This one ended in a 28-yard TD run by Terry Godwin that gave UGA a 7-0 lead.
Two drives later as Georgia was punting, Ryan Timmons muffed the punt and the Dawgs recovered. That led to a field goal that gave UGA a 10-0 lead. Though not a big hole, it was a big enough hole to prevent any hope of an upset in this one with how bad the offense is right now.
Talent gap still large between UK and much of SEC
As bad as Georgia has been playing in recent weeks, they still are loaded with talented players throughout the roster, something Kentucky can not claim. A good example of this is when opposing ball-carriers can drop the ball, pick it up and still run 28 yards for a touchdown relatively untouched. Another good example is when a team runs for 300 yards, which is what Georgia did to Kentucky.
Mark Stoops has taken this program to heights far greater than what it was at when he got here, but the gap between UK and the Georgia's, LSU's, Florida's, Tennessee's, and Mississippi State's of the world is still significant.
A close game with Florida, wins over South Carolina and Missouri, and a 4-1 start made it appear that gap was very small, but it was simply an illusion. That's not meant to make it seem doom and gloomy (this program is still in a good spot and moving on up), but to lower the expectations for this year's team after they were getting higher than they should have been.
No Boom Crippled Offense
By no means was the Kentucky offense one you would call 'good' when Boom Williams was healthy, but it was at least above average when the star running back was on the field. He was good for a couple of big plays per game that put UK's offense in position to score at least double-digit points.
Boom is the difference between this offense being bad and being above average. While the latter isn't good enough to beat a team like Georgia, it may be the difference in beating teams like Vanderbilt and Louisville down the stretch.
Receivers not making enough tough catches
If you wanna play big-boy football in the SEC, you have to make big-boy plays, and UK isn't making enough of them. Patrick Towles isn't playing good at quarterback, but he is putting the ball where his receivers can make plays, which they're simply not doing enough.
Dorian Baker has to make these catches https://t.co/bmruhz9Mq7— Jason Marcum (@marcum89) November 7, 2015
Another tough catch not made that UK receivers need to make more of https://t.co/I7rzN2mGrk— Jason Marcum (@marcum89) November 7, 2015
That's the kind of tough catch guys like Dorian Baker has to make for this offense to succeed against strong defenses like Georgia, regardless of who's at quarterback.
That said, it's time for Drew Barker to play
I give Mark Stoops credit: He's loyal to a fault, and it's taking a lot for him to go away from Towles as his QB, but we've reached that point. I'm not saying Towles needs to go to the bench for good, but it's time to at least give Drew Barker some run, maybe a series or two, and see what he can do.
To be fair to Stoops, I think Barker would have played more last week and even in this game had he not suffered a shoulder injury against Mississippi State two weeks ago. Stoops said Barker wasn't healthy enough to play last week, and the injury may have factored into him not playing as much n this one.
Either way, someone else needs to get some snaps at QB early in games and not when they're out of hand. Towles was very bad in this one as he completed just 8-of-21 passes for 96 yards with two interceptions and ran for -8 yards on one carry.