The Kentucky Wildcats started their game against Mississippi State just as their previous loss to Florida began.
The defense could not get a stop, and the offense was not able to gain any momentum. Although they closed the gap before the final whistle, the Cats picked up their second loss of the season with a score of 28-13.
Penalties, dropped passes, and a lack of capitalizing on great opportunities were the story of the game. AJ Rose led the Wildcats offensively with his biggest game of the season. He racked up 105 yards on just 9 carries. Despite multiple drops, Lynn Bowden led the receiving corps with 7 catches for 129 yards.
Overall, Kentucky did not do enough on either side of the ball to get the job done. Next week will be another hostile environment in Columbia, South Carolina. Will Kentucky be able to pick up a win? Or will they be hosting Arkansas in October coming off of a 3-game losing streak?
Shooting yourself in the foot
We are still trying to figure out who this Kentucky Football team in a number of ways, but one thing we know for sure is that they are consistently their own worst enemy. Obviously, a pick-6 on the first drive is less than ideal. You cannot miss chip shot field goals. And the consistent penalties in critical situations are absolutely inexcusable. Between untimely penalties, turnovers, dropped passes, and a myriad of mental mistakes, it is almost impossible to win a football game if you are giving your opponent that much help.
Struggling front seven
Kentucky’s defensive line and linebacker corps were outstanding through the first three games of the season. But in their first away game of the year, they appeared to be completely lost. The Bulldogs gashed the Wildcats defense for 241 rushing yards, led by quarterback Garrett Shrader and running back Kylin Hill, who had 125 and 120 yards on the ground, respectively.
They also did not pass the eye test, missing multiple tackles for loss and allowing freshman quarterback Shrader to break containment on several huge possessions. With the offense struggling to find direction, the defense has to stay superb for this team to win games.
Arguably the strongest unit on the team, the offensive line did not have its best outing against Mississippi State. Not only did they give up 3 sacks during the game, but even though AJ Rose had a good, game the rushing attack left something to be desired. While everyone is going to have a bad game at some point, Mississippi State had proven themselves vulnerable to the rush. This was a huge opportunity for Kentucky to have a big game offensively, but that all starts with the offensive line.
Echols continues to impress
JUCO transfer Brandin Echols is showing the world that he is a football player. He led Kentucky in tackles against the Bulldogs and had a huge strip sack in the third quarter when Mississippi State was in the red zone.
Echols also had a huge stop against Florida last week, and continues to show that he can be the leader of this young secondary. As a junior, he has a strong upside and could become a monster before leaving Kentucky.
Chance Poore missed two more field goals against Mississippi State, one from 47 yards and then a chip shot from 26 early in the fourth quarter. While the first miss was frustrating, the second field goal could have made it a one possession game.
Poore was a phenomenal high school kicker. He has obviously proven in practice that he has the ability to kick, and he seems to have a strong leg. But at this point, he has missed more field goals that he has made on the season (3 for 7).
Matt Ruffalo came in late in the fourth quarter to knock down a 29 yard attempt. Does that mean this is his job now? And how consistent will he be? As a junior, this was the first field goal attempt of his Kentucky career. There has to be a reason we have not seen him before now, right?
Now, let’s discuss the game.