That was hard to watch. Kudos to you all that stayed tune until the end. Lamar Jackson demolished the Kentucky Wildcats today, 44-17. He had 372 total yards, which was more than the entire Kentucky roster.
The Wildcats finish the season 7-5 for the second straight season and are headed to a bowl. However, his is never the way you want to end the year. Here are six takeaways from today’s embarrassing loss to Louisville.
I am not sure you can call it a fight, there were no punches thrown. However, the wrestling match between Jordan Jones and Lamar Jackson in the first quarter seemed to be a huge momentum swing early in the game. For some reason I will never understand, Jackson went after Jones and ended up in a dangerous situation before they were separated.
Inexplicably, nobody got tossed. Although the momentum never really went in Kentucky’s direction, it did seem to wake up the Kentucky front seven for a quarter or so. The secondary, on the other hand...
Oh, the secondary.
Louisville’s wide receivers ran wide open the entire day, much like SEC receivers throughout the season. Behind Benny Snell, this secondary was the highlight of all preseason Kentucky football talk. However, it has continued to be the weakest unit on the field week in and week out.
I’ve said it all season, I’ll say it again: Mark Stoops is a former DB’s coach, yet Kentucky’s secondary couldn’t play any worse.— John Morgan Francis (@MonJorgan) November 25, 2017
On paper, this should be an outstanding group. Mike Edwards was all-SEC last year, Chris Westry had NFL corner written all over him from the time he walked in the door, and Derrick Baity was poised for a huge season. Yet, time and again this secondary has been abused and today was perhaps the epitome of their season.
Lamar Jackson went 15 for 21 with 216 passing yards, and most of his incompletions came on drops. It was obvious throughout the game that he could do whatever he wanted, and his receivers could get open whenever they wanted. It was a pathetic showing for the Kentucky defensive backs once again.
Jones has been a wildcard every time he has suited up for the Wildcats. Many times, his brand of “passion” has helped to make plays and motivate his defensive teammates. Today, however, he crossed several lines. After going all out with Lamar Jackson in the first quarter (which I think most of us enjoyed), he became unhinged.
After back to back blatant unnecessary roughness penalties in the third quarter, he was benched for the majority of the rest of the game. It should have been the entire game, and many are unhappy with how Mark Stoops handled the discipline (or lack there of) of his team today. So the question remains whether Stoops and company can help Jordan Jones harness his passion, or will he continue down a path that will ultimately hurt his football career... and the Kentucky defense in the process.
Benny Snell had 73 rushing yards in the first quarter, and he continued to be Kentucky’s only offensive option throughout he game as he finished with a career high of 211 yards. He scored his 18th rushing touchdown of the season, setting yet another school record. Snell also leads the entire SEC with 1,318 rushing yards.
Snell gonna be a Heisman candidate next year?— Jason Riley (@JasonRileyWDRB) November 25, 2017
Snell is on pace to set every Kentucky rushing (and potentially scoring) record and leave as one of the best to ever play in a Wildcats uniform. I wonder how frustrating days like today must be for him, getting little to no help and being expected to overcome Kentucky’s offensive and defensive woes against one of the most electric players we have seen in quite some time in Lamar Jackson.
Stephen Johnson’s struggles.
If that season’s Louisville game was Johnson’s Mona Lisa, then today was whatever Da Vinci’s crappiest painting happened to be. He hit only 8 of 19 passes, and many of those misses weren’t even close. He also did not handle the pressure from the defensive rush very well, and he was pressured much more than normal.
It is a shame that his last time at Kroger Field was one of the only eggs he ever laid. But make no mistake, he has been a huge part of this team’s success over the last two seasons. He is a program-changing kind of guy. His heart should never be questioned, even when his throws are not on target.
On to a bowl.
The best thing that could happen for Stephen Johnson and this Kentucky defense is to get another chance. This game is not the taste you want in your mouth for the entire off season. Thankfully, Kentucky will likely still end up in a pool of six bowl and will have the chance for some redemption before taking the rest of the winter off.
However, that is an opportunity that this team must take advantage of. This fan base is not quick to forgive, and after the embarrassing loss to Louisville it will demand a solid bowl game appearance. And I think we can all agree that Stephen Johnson and the other seniors deserve to leave on a positive note after all they have done for this program.