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Kentucky Football: Takeaways from the loss to Tennessee

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Kentucky had a number of issues in their loss to Tennessee.

NCAA Football: Kentucky at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

And with that, the SEC East dream has vanished.

The Cats weren’t entirely in control of their own destiny, but the loss eliminated them from SEC East contention regardless of what everyone else did. Kentucky’s loss to the Tennessee Volunteers featured some shaky wide receiver play for the second week in a row, plus a lot of injuries and terrible red zone execution. On the plus side, The run game was as good as ever.

Receivers are still dropping passes

The problem we thought had been solved has become a theme for back-to-back weeks now. After a week full of drops, including one that turned into an interception and potentially cost Kentucky the game, Kentucky came back with another set of drops this week. All week we’d heard that the Cats were moving on past those bad drops last week, but what we saw today was exactly the opposite.

The running game should be used as much as possible

At this point, I think I’d be fine with it if Kentucky didn’t pass the ball once in a game. A steady diet of Boom Williams and Benny Snell is what Kentucky used today, and it worked (until they got to the red zone). Williams had 127 yards and 1 touchdown, while Snell had 79 yards. Add in Jojo Kemp’s surprise contribution of 90 yards and 1 touchdown (on a 71-yard run), a 75-yard run by Stephen Johnson and a 75-yard performance by Sihiem King and it’s clear that the run game was unstoppable.

In the end, the Cats totaled 443 rushing yards, and still lost by two possessions. Observe the fact that Johnson had a completion percentage of 41%, and you could say that maybe it’s not a bad idea to run the ball as much as possible.

Injuries are the worst

Kentucky could not stay healthy this week. There were significant injuries left and right, including Derrick Baity, Chris Westry, Denzil Ware and Jeff Badet. It seemed like every time you looked up, the Cats were losing another big player. One of the points of emphasis going into the game was to capitalize on Tennessee’s injuries, but instead the Wildcats found themselves in the same situation as Tennessee multiple times in the game.

Mark Stoops’ Cats are really bad in November

If it weren’t for Austin Peay being on the schedule, I’d have a doom-and-gloom suspicion that the Cats were going to lose out and finish 5-7 yet again. In their second game of the month of November, they lose again, and Mark Stoops is still win-less in SEC games in the month of November. It seems as though this team just disappears once the calendar changes, and they’re falling victim to that trend yet again.

Kentucky could not convert in the red zone

Kentucky’s biggest offensive weakness was failing to put up a touchdown when they got deep into Tennessee territory. The Cats had three red zone drives that didn’t end in a touchdown; two ended in a field goal, and one ended in a Benny Snell fumble. Out of Kentucky’s 36 points, only two of their touchdowns came from inside the red zone. They were living and dying by the big play, and other than that they were relying on field goals.