The Kentucky Wildcats got a much-needed win Saturday night by defeating the Mississippi State Bulldogs 24-2.
Mike Leach made his return to the Bluegrass State but was greeted with a stout defensive effort from the Cats. And that is where we will start our good, bad, and ugly.
That was what we thought the defense was going to look like from Day One this season. They shut out the State offense from scoring and picked off two quarterbacks a combined six times.
Jamin Davis, Boogie Watson, Josh Paschal, Jordan Wright, and Kelvin Joseph were some of the players that got in on the INT fun. Brad White was able to use a three front, drop eight scheme that gave KJ Costello a lot to think about. Even though White dropped eight players he was still able to remain aggressive and bring pressure.
Maybe something clicked with the defense. If the Cats can continue to play like this on the defensive side of the ball then things are going to look much, much better as the season rolls along.
The defense held Mike Leach to his lowest point total in his coaching career. That’s a pretty amazing stat.
Josh Paschal left the game with an apparent leg injury and never returned. Initially I thought it was just cramps but the fact that he never came back into the game is cause for concern.
Mark Stoops was quiet about Paschal’s health in his postseason press conference. If Paschal cannot go against the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday then that is a blow to the defense. He is arguably Kentucky’s best player on defense and that was on display last night. Before he left the game, he was causing havoc in the backfield for the Bulldogs and he even nabbed an interception.
His ability to split the offensive line and free up space for blitzers makes him invaluable. Hopefully he will be available Saturday.
The offense. Yuck.
The Cats were only able to muster 157 yards of total offense. You read that correctly. Not 157 yards passing or rushing; yards combined. The offensive line couldn’t block, Terry Wilson looked uncomfortable, and the receivers couldn’t catch a cold.
While Wilson’s numbers were particularly bad, I’m not putting this all on him the way some are. The Big Blue Wall allowed him to be sacked twice and he was running for his life last night for most of the game. His receivers also didn’t help him as they continually dropped the ball.
Now this isn’t to say that Wilson was completely innocent. There were some BAD throws mixed in with those drops as well.
And for whatever reason the rushing attack was a non-factor. After running all over the Ole Miss Rebels for 408 yards the previous week, the running game could never get going. Eddie Gran seems to have affinity for AJ Rose even though he’s the least effective of the three main backs on the team. It’s like Gran forgot about Christopher Rodriguez.
Rodriguez had more yards, more yards per average, and a touchdown yet he carried the ball one less time than Rose even though Rose fumbled yet again last night. When Benny Snell was the running back there was no question who was getting the lion’s share of the carries. Gran needs to quickly figure this out.
While the defense was stellar, Kentucky cannot win in the SEC with offense like that.
Maybe we will finally see them put it all together on both sides of the ball at Tennessee this weekend.