Game 1 is in the books for the Kentucky Wildcats.
While things were dicey for three quarters, Kentucky finished the game on a 31-3 run en route to a 38-24 victory. Seemingly every position stopped up and had some big moments, whether it be the rebuilding secondary or newfound passing game that looks vastly improved thanks to receivers not named Bowden stepping up.
But perhaps the best story of the day was Joshua Paschal. After melanoma on his foot cost him must of the season, he did return to play two games but looked like a shell of the guy he was as a true freshman: A rising star bound for big things at Kentucky.
Paschal spent a lot of this offseason getting treatment on his foot to make sure the cancer never comes back. That led to him getting off to a slow start in training camp, so much that he was a backup behind Jordan Wright for much of camp.
But as Paschal got his footing (no pun intended), he won the starting job and had a great showing in Game 1. The redshirt sophomore recorded four tackles (3 solo), one TFL, one sack and one forced fumble.
“He’s night and day from when I had him at the end of last season for those last three games. His movement skills are better, he’s physical, he’s violent,” said defensive coordinator Brad White. “There are some things that we have to clean up and he knows it, but we’ll get those. We knew it wasn’t going to be a perfect game, but he got his feet under him. It was good to see him go make some big plays. I think he forced the fumble and got the sack, so that was good to help sort of turn the tide.
“But he’s good, he knows that he’s just starting. This isn’t a peak for him, he’s just at ground level and now it’s about building that, so I was pleased.”
Getting the full Paschal back was a key storyline for the 2019 Wildcats. So far, it looks like a big win.
Tweet(s) of the Day:
Josh Paschal. An inspiration to us all. pic.twitter.com/bPpAggMbiA— BBNation (@BBNation15) August 31, 2019
With Jeremy Pruitt about to lose by two TDs to a Sun Belt team, remember, Tennessee fired its former AD when he was hours away from hiring Mike Leach.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) August 31, 2019
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“It was exciting,” Paschal said. “We knew we had to make some plays. That’s what we focused on coming out of halftime — we’ve got to make some plays, turn the game around, change the momentum. And that’s what we did.”
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