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5 more thoughts and postgame notes from Kentucky’s win over EMU

The Cats win, but now the

Eastern Michigan v Kentucky Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Kentucky Wildcats came into Week 2 looking to build on their performance last week and improve to 2-0 as they faced the Eastern Michigan Eagles.

Kentucky got off to a good start, as they took their second possession of the night 26 yards in just 3 plays after a Lynn Bowden punt return got UK deep into Eagles territory. AJ Rose took it in for the 8-yard TD run, making it 7-0.

After a defensive stop, the Cats drove 90-yards in 6 plays, capped off with a 32-yard TD run by Kavosiey Smoke, pushing the lead to 14-0.

Kentucky would drive down the field, but unfortunately, a fumble on the 1-yard-line by Rose would turn the ball over to EMU.

From that point on, the offense came to a halt and had a hard time getting in any rhythm.

With just under 8 minutes left in the half, Chance Poore drilled a 40-yard FG to make it 17-0, and that would be the end of the scoring for the Cats.

EMU started to find their footing offensively and drove down the field, but the defense stood their ground and held the Eagles to a FG, and the Cats would take a 17-3 lead into the break.

After halftime, Kentucky’s offense came out with a purpose.

The defense forced a punt, and the offense drove 94-yards in 15 plays, capped off with a 2-yard TD run by Terry Wilson to make it 24-3.

After an EMU TD made it 24-10, Kentucky began another promising drive, but on a dirty tackle by an EMU defender, Terry Wilson went down and had to be carted off the field with a left knee injury.

Backup QB Sawyer Smith would enter the game and complete a 54-yard TD pass to Ahmad Wagner to make it 31-10.

The Eagles would drive down the field and find the endzone again making it 31-17.

Smith would lead the Cats back down the field in the final minutes. With 54 seconds remaining, he hit Lynn Bowden for a 2-yard TD, and the Cats would win it 38-17.

Thoughts on the game

Terry Wilson’s injury

There is no doubt that all of BBN is sad today after watching Wilson go down with what looks like a season-ending knee injury.

It can’t be a good sign that he didn’t put any weight on it, and that they put a brace on it immediately. On top of that, he had to be carted off the field.

All we can do now is hope for the best. It really speaks to how much Wilson is beloved in the Bluegrass to see Kroger Field giving him a standing ovation as he left the field.

It took only one season in Lexington for Wilson to become a UK legend, as he helped the 2018 Wildcats win 10 games the Citrus Bowl. Wilson had some erratic performances, but he balled out in the win at Florida, ending the dreaded losing streak to the Gators.

Who knows when Wilson may be back on a football field, but regardless, he’ll always be loved in Lexington.

Kavosiey Smoke emerging as top back

Coming into the year, we all expected Rose to be the lead back and take most of the snaps.

While he is still getting most of the snaps, Smoke is gaining ground as he had another great performance. Against EMU, he rushed 11 times for 92 yards and a TD. He also had a TD called back for a holding penalty.

The way Smoke has started the year, we could see him start taking more and more of Rose’s touches.

Sawyer Smith showed promise

With Terry out, Smith is going to have to step up, and he showed he is capable of that.

With the game not yet in hand, Smith came in and went 5/9 passing for 76-yards and 2 TDs.

He will have a much bigger test next week going against the Florida Gators defense, but it is nice to see we have a high-quality backup for Wilson.

Lynn Bowden stepped up in the second half

The first half wasn’t that great of a performance for Bowden, as he had a fumble and a couple of drops.

But in the second half, he stepped up in a big way on his way to a 7-reception, 54-yard, and 1-score night. He also nearly returned a kickoff for a TD but gained 37 yards on it.

If Terry is out, Bowden becomes even more important than he already was and will have to take another step forward for this team going forward.

The defense looked much better

Last week, the defense got off to a slow start, but as the game went on, we saw then improve tremendously.

In this one, they came out of the gate looking to make a statement. The defensive line was especially impressive as they put a ton of pressure on the QB which forced him into throwing two INTs that we really needed with the game still close.

The secondary made some big plays, but they also had some mistakes throughout that will need to be cleaned up, especially with Florida and offensive guru Dan Mullen on deck.

However, improvement is all you can ask for and what we saw in this one was improvement from a week ago.

Now, here are the postgame notes via UK Athletics:

Team Records and Series Information

  • Kentucky is 2-0. Eastern Michigan is 1-1.
  • This was the second meeting between the teams, with UK winning the first matchup (24-20) in 2017.
  • Kentucky is 22-3 against teams from the current alignment of the Mid-American Conference, including 12 wins in a row.
  • Next for Kentucky: the Wildcats host Florida on Saturday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN.

Team Notes

  • This marked Kentucky’s seventh consecutive non-conference win.
  • Kentucky is off to a 2-0 start for the third straight season and fifth time in the last six years.
  • UK has won each game this season by at least 14 points, first time that has happened since the first two games of 2014.
  • Kentucky has won 12 of its last 15 games, tied for the second-best record in the Southeastern Conference in the last 15 games.
  • It’s UK’s best record in a 15-game span since Dec. 31, 1976 through Sept. 30, 1978, when the Wildcats were 12-2-1 during that time.
  • UK scored 38 points in each of the first two games, first time that has happened since 2007.
  • Kentucky had touchdown drives of 90 and 94 yards. UK also had two 90+ touchdown drives last week, giving the Wildcats four on the season.
  • UK has already matched the team total of four 90+ yard scoring drives from last season.
  • UK made 9 of 14 third-down conversions, 64.3 percent, the team’s best since last season’s win at Florida (9 of 13).
  • UK has made 121 consecutive extra points, the ninth-longest active streak in the nation.
  • UK has allowed 24 points or less in 15 of its last 16 games. That is the best such stretch since October 14, 1978 to Sept. 6, 1980. UK allowed 24 points or less in 18 of 19 games in that stretch.
  • UK had three players complete at least one pass vs. an FBS opponent for the first time since 2012 vs. Georgia.
  • UK had at least one interception in each of the first two games, the first time that has happened since the 2016 season.
  • This is the first time UK has had a linebacker with an interception in consecutive games since 2014 vs. South Carolina (Bud Dupree) and Louisiana-Monroe (Josh Forrest).

Player Notes

  • UK’s game captains -- LB Josh Paschal, QB Terry Wilson, LB Kash Daniel and athlete Lynn Bowden Jr.
  • The honorary captain was former linebacker Chris Chenault (1985-88), UK’s No. 2 all-time leading tackler (482).
  • Junior quarterback Terry Wilson completed 14 of 26 passes for 114 yards. He also rushed eight times for 43 yards and a touchdown. He left the game late in the third quarter with a left knee injury.
  • Wilson is 12-3 as a UK starter, best record for any UK QB in his first 15 starts with starting lineups available since 1993.
  • QB Sawyer Smith, a transfer from Troy, saw his first action at Kentucky. His first pass was a 54-yard touchdown throw to WR Ahmad Wagner. For the game, Smith 5 of 9 passes for 76 yards and two touchdowns.
  • Wagner had his best game as a Wildcat, catching three passes for 71 yards, including the 54-yarder which was his first collegiate touchdown. He also drew three pass interference penalties during the game – one negated by an offsetting UK penalty and the other on his touchdown catch.
  • Junior athlete Lynn Bowden Jr. caught seven passes for 54 yards and one touchdown.
  • Now has 1,086 career receiving yards, moving past Derek Homer for 27th place on the UK career receiving yardage list.
  • Threw a 32-yard completion to Terry Wilson that set up Kavosiey Smoke’s first-quarter touchdown run. Bowden has completed 4 of 6 passes for 124 yards during his career.
  • He is the first UK player with at least six receptions in each of the first two games since Randall Cobb in 2009.
  • Redshirt freshman RB Kavosiey Smoke had career highs with 11 carries for 92 yards. He also had a 32-yard touchdown run.
  • With game stats available since 1946, Smoke is the first UK player to have scoring runs of at least 32 yards in each of the first two games of the season. He also had a 40-yarder last week vs. Toledo.
  • Junior RB Asim “AJ” Rose had a career-high 17 carries for 82 yards, including an eight-yard touchdown run.
  • Rose and Smoke each have a rushing touchdown in the first two games of the season, first UK teammates to tally rushing TDs in the first two games since Tony Dixon and Alfonso Smith in 2007.
  • Senior LB Kash Daniel picked off his first career interception. He added five tackles.
  • Senior S Jordan Griffin had his first interception of the season, the second of his career.
  • He also notched the first quarterback sack of his career and had a career-high two pass breakups.
  • Sophomore LB Josh Paschal had five tackles, including a career-high two tackles for loss.
  • Sophomore WR Allen Dailey Jr. made his first collegiate start.