BBN rejoice, the Wildcats are .500! The 17-10 win over South Carolina brings the Wildcats to 2-2 on the season, and gives the Cats a third straight win over the Gamecocks.
Kentucky impressed on both sides of the ball this week, putting up huge rushing numbers and stumping South Carolina’s offense, holding them to 10 points. With this win, the Wildcats have pulled themselves out of the depths of despair and a “lost season” to give themselves a bit of hope at going 6-6 and making a bowl game. The running backs looked good, the defense was stout, and Mark Stoops may have improved his standing as head coach.
Here are some key takeaways from the game.
Mark Stoops’ defensive direction might make a difference
Kentucky’s defense was miles ahead of where it has been in past weeks, and I can only see Stoops’ supervision as the reason. We can chalk last week’s defensive struggles up to growing pains, as the defense certainly got better in the second half last week. This week, the defense looked good for a full four quarters, which is about as rare as it gets for the Cats. After giving up 500 yards last week, the Cats allowed just 268 yards this week. They also were able to keep the Gamecocks off the field, winning the time of possession battle 32:40-27:20. The defensive presence was a welcomed change, as the offense didn’t have to put up 60+ points.
Kentucky’s running game is one of the most dangerous in the SEC
Stanley “Boom” Williams and Benny Snell Jr. were a deadly duo in the backfield this week. The Cats didn’t rely on the passing game much, as Johnson only had 135 passing yards, but it was because they were able to get all their yardage on the ground. They ran for a total of 216 yards, with 123 of it coming from Williams and Snell getting 73 of it.
The running game also accounted for both of their touchdowns. On a very impressive note, Snell now has 5 touchdowns in the last two games.
Stephen Johnson looks good when he’s under control
The running game being as good as it was allowed Johnson to be under control in the passing game. There was no need for him to air it out, and the result was an 11/19, 135-yard day. When the run game can put up over 200 yards, there’s no need for Johnson to even throw for 200 yards. Despite the interception, the good running game kept him from having to stuff the stat sheet with passing yards.
Jojo Kemp didn’t impress coming off injury
The only bad takeaway I have is that Kemp didn’t impress coming off of injury this week. Kemp had just 4 carries for 16 yards, with a longest carry of 6 yards. Kemp certainly didn’t look like himself, and with Snell’s explosion onto the scene, Kemp may lose his spot as first off the bench at running back.
The Wildcats’ season may not be lost after all
A couple weeks ago, the sky was falling in Lexington and the only way to stop it was to fire Mark Stoops. Now, the Cats sit at 2-2 with at least four games left on their schedule that they have a legitimate shot at winning. If nothing else, that gives us hope, and them a chance to make this the bowl-bound season we all were expecting. The Cats still have a fighting chance.