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Kentucky Wildcats Football beats Central Michigan: 4 Things We Learned and Postgame Banter

What you need to know from Kentucky’s season-opening win over Central Michigan.

Rose and Schlarman Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

For the most part, it was a tale of two halves for the Kentucky Wildcats.

Compared to years past, fans saw a familiar start to the game. Kentucky had multiple turnovers, and aside from AJ Rose and Benny Snell each finding a gap in the CMU defense, UK had an offense that wasn’t moving the ball.

When Gunnar Hoak entered the game for Terry Wilson at quarterback, he sparked the offense in a 55 second drive down the field to take a halftime lead of 21-20. In the second half, Hoak continued to get reps before he was later replaced by Wilson.

As the Cats dominated the second half en route to a 35-20 win, here are four things we learned.

UK’s Quarterback Battle is Ongoing

Despite Wilson’s return in the second half and clearly playing much better, Hoak’s surge late in the first half can’t be ignored. On one drive alone, Hoak mustered more passing yards than Wilson did in almost two quarters.

Hoak’s connection with David Bouvier was timely as well, which is something Kentucky needs down the stretch of the season to move the chains.

With Wilson coming back in during the second half and playing with much better poise, head coach Mark Stoops will have some re-evaluating to do this week as they head to Florida.

Wilson was better in the second half, but his three first-half turnovers nearly crippled Kentucky. If he’s going to remain the starter, Wilson has to be steadier for Kentucky to have any chance of winning in the SEC.

Frankly, Hoak didn’t get enough of a chance to see what he’s really made of with just three drives of work, one of which ending in a touchdown.

Rose & Snell Dominate in Opener

Following a standout performance in Kentucky’s spring game, Rose worked his way into the running back committee for this season. With Snell reportedly ill for Saturday’s contest, Rose received a share of the workload and was far from disappointing.

The redshirt freshman totaled 104 yards on the ground off of just eight carries, including a 55-yard burst for a touchdown followed by a goal-line rush from the Wildcat for his second score of the game.

Rose and Snell worked well together, as Snell also had a productive day coming out of the backfield. The NFL prospect also gained 125 yards on 20 carries, erupting for a 52-yard touchdown run of his own as well as a Wildcat TD score.

With a two-headed monster this season, offensive coordinator Eddie Gran will have twice as many plays to run for the talented backs.

Defense Steps Up

Leading up to the regular season, Kentucky’s veteran defense received a considerable amount of hype. With a senior-vested secondary and NFL prospect Josh Allen leading a talented front-7, most projected the unit would be much better than it was last season.

Judging on Saturday’s outing, most would be proved right. The Wildcats didn’t received any favors by the offense coughing up turnovers for CMU-favored field position, yet they only surrendered 13 points throughout the entire game.

Allen, recording a sack with a handful of tackles for a loss, posted a solid start to the season. Combine his performance with the lack of passing yards from the Chippewas (137) and Kentucky’s defense has as good an outing as one could ask.

It’s a long season and Kentucky still has a few questions, certainly at the most important position, but the Wildcats look even more primed for their best season under Stoops.

Kicker Still A Mystery

Because Kentucky scored five touchdowns, we really didn’t see anything from new kicker Miles Butler. He hit all five extra points but didn’t attempt a field goal as he looks to replace one of the school’s all-time great kickers in Austin MacGinnis.

It would have been nice to see Butler attempt a few kicks to get his feet wet. After all, Kentucky plays at Florida next week, and you can bet there will be some big kicks needing to be made for the Cats to pull the big upset.

Then again, we’d be fine with Kentucky scoring five touchdowns next week.

Now, let’s discuss Kentucky’s first win of 2018!