The Kentucky Wildcats fell to 3-5 on the season after losing to Alabama 63-3 on Saturday. The Cats showed some promise early, moving the ball on the Crimson Tide almost at will. However, that did not translate to points and Alabama capitalized on all of Kentucky’s many mistakes to get the blow away victory.
Per the usual, Kentucky convincingly won the time of possession battle through the first three quarters (before Bama started graciously running out the clock). But looking at the box score, that is almost the only category where the Cats were competitive. A litany of mistakes, missing several top players, and abandoning a solid game plan all led to the Wildcats looking as if they did not belong on the same field as Bama.
Here are the key takeaways from the game:
The Wildcats were missing several key players, some due to COVID and others due to injury. Jamin Davis, Chris Rodriguez, Justin Rigg, Max Duffy, Luke Fortner, D’Eryk Jackson, Torrance Davis, Taj Dodson, Jamari Brown, and Brendan Bates were all unavailable on Saturday. Leaving that amount of talent at home would make it nearly impossible to win any game, let alone the No. 1 team in the country. Hopefully the guys will get healed up for next week when Kentucky plays at Florida.
So. Many. Mistakes.
Mishandled snaps by the quarterback, untimely penalties on both sides of the ball, failure to take advantage of opportunities, and inept special teams play all played major roles in Saturday’s massacre. Despite looking crisp throughout the first quarter and early second quarter, all of these issues kept Kentucky from getting points on the board and gave Alabama great field position time and time again.
Shooting yourself in the foot has been a constant for Kentucky football over the years, but the last two seasons have shown us that these mistakes are not inevitable. Fans had hoped that the “curse” of untimely mistakes had passed, but this season keeps reminding us that the Wildcats are not immune to beating themselves.
I was very impressed with Kentucky’s offensive game plan in the first quarter. There was lots of pre-snap motion, misdirection, and varied play calling that incorporated both the running and passing game. Although they only had three points to show for it, Kentucky had three great drives and then...they stopped doing the things that were working. It is hard to continue defending a coaching staff that repeats the same mistakes week after week.
Questions For the Future
Kentucky has only two games remaining on the schedule, Florida and South Carolina. The Wildcats have no chance to play for the SEC Championship. Due to COVID, there is no minimum number of wins necessary for bowl eligibility. And given the uncertainty of the season in general, it is time to question whether or not “wins” should be the priority for the rest of the year.
This is Terry Wilson’s last year at Kentucky, and there are two talented guys sitting behind him. Should it be time to start getting game experience for those guys? There are some talented, young wide receivers on the roster not getting any snaps. Should they get some more reps in the next two games?
A movement toward youth for the rest of the season is a decision to focus on the future. Any experience the young guys can get will benefit the team for the next few seasons. So it is up to Mark Stoops at this point to decide if he wants to focus on the future or to ride out the season with the guys that he feels have helped him build the program. The decision is not an easy one, but it will absolutely be an important one.