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Kentucky Wildcats edge Eastern Michigan Eagles: 3 things to know and postgame chatter

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About as ugly of a game as you could ask for, but the Cats rebounded from a gut-wrenching loss to Florida with a gut-check win over EMU.

Jeremy Chisenhall

The Kentucky Wildcats beat the Eastern Michigan Eagles, 24-20, and that’s probably the nicest way to sum this one up for the Cats.

Here are three things to know from an ugly, defensive-heavy game.

Another Disastrous Start

Just as the case in Week 2 vs South Carolina, the Cats needed all of one play before disaster struck.

On the first offensive play of the game, Stephen Johnson dropped back to pass, but he was strip sacked as Eastern Michigan got the ball.

Making the play even worse was Johnson came off the field favoring his arm in clear pain. He went to the sideline and was examined by trainers.

As for the Eagles, they capitalized with a 20-yard touchdown to take a 7-0 lead.

Thankfully, Johnson returned to the field on the ensuing drive, and he went on to throw a game-tying touchdown to Greg Hart.

Just like the South Carolina game, Kentucky bounced back with authority, scoring 14 straight points and 24 of the next 31 points. The slow starts must stop, but at least Kentucky is rebounding with authority from them.

Speaking of Johnson...

This may have been the most physically-demanding game of Stephen Johnson’s career. He was manhandled in this game by Eastern Michigan, mostly due to poor blocking by Kentucky’s offensive line. After hurting his arm on the first drive, Johnson injured his leg late in the game after Landon Young was pushed right into the back of Johnson’s leg.

But as much of a beating as Johnson took, he kept getting up and never let Drew Barker enter the game. Perhaps Johnson knows one ounce of let up could be all Barker needs to get back into the starting QB mix, but Johnson has done more than enough to have his spot secured, even if he’s injured.

Good Game?

Many will claim it’s a bad look for Kentucky to struggle at home to a non-Power 5 team, but I would argue this is exactly what the Cats needed. After what most would call a choke against Florida, the best way to get over it was to have another gut-check game and actually come out on top this time.

This game was in doubt for nearly 60 minutes, but Kentucky made big play after big play to stay ahead and gut out a hard-fought win.

The defense especially looked great and made all the plays needed and then some. The offense let them down time after time, but instead of giving up a lead like last week, they consistently made big plays to keep the Eagles off the board, while also putting the offense in good position to score.

Yeah, we all would have liked to see Kentucky look like a real SEC team, but then again, the SEC is as weak as it’s ever been, so even a flawed Kentucky team can make noise in the conference.

Now, let us hear your postgame thoughts!