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Kentucky falls at Auburn: 4 things to know and postgame banter

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The Cats stood their ground but made too many mistakes to pull off the upset.

NCAA Football: Kentucky at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

The Kentucky Wildcats started strong against the Auburn Tigers in their season opener, but ultimately picked up a 29-13 loss. After dominating time of possession early and moving the ball at will, the offense completely stalled in the second half and hung the defense out to dry.

While a loss is never fun, there were some bright spots for the Wildcats. All of the running backs looked good in spurts. The offensive line mostly lived up to expectations. And if you take away 3-4 tough plays, Terry Wilson made plays that moved the offense forward.

Before you move on and start thinking about next week, here are four things you need to know about Kentucky’s opening game.

The Call

With time winding down in the first half, Chris Rodriguez lined up in the wildcat formation. He took the ball straight up the middle, carrying defenders into the end zone...or so it appeared. He was ruled down by forward progress at the 12 yard line, and the horrid call was upheld upon review.

Kentucky then chose the pass the ball on third down and Terry Wilson threw an interception. Thankfully, Auburn’s touchdown on the return was called back. However, the fact that Rodriguez’s touchdown was not called not only took seven points off the board for Kentucky, but it took the wind out of the sails of their offense that was running so smoothly.

Penalties

Kentucky had some very costly turnovers for the game. The first one likely took points off the board for the Wildcats. On a dominant drive in the second quarter, tight end Keaton Upshaw had a very costly holding penalty. What could have been a 2nd and 2 from Auburn’s 22 yard line turned into 1st and 20 from the 40 yard line.

The drive ultimately led to a punt by Kentucky. While a touchdown was obviously not a guarantee there, it was likely Kentucky would have come away with something. And at that particular time of the game, it could have been a huge score for the Wildcats.

Similarly, Kelvin Joseph got himself an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by pushing an Auburn player during a dead ball situation. His talent is obvious, but that led immediately to an Auburn first down and eventually to a touchdown for the Tigers.

The Wildcats have to clean up the penalties, especially in big moments, if they hope to win big games.

Ball Control

Much like in the last few seasons, Kentucky completely dominated the time of possession against Auburn. Unlike last season, however, the offensive attack was very balanced. The Wildcats threw the ball almost as often as they ran it, and found success in both areas at times.

Kentucky controlled the ball for 21 of 30 minutes in the second half and held the ball for 37 overall. Playing that style of football does a number of things. First of all, it keeps your defense relatively fresh and wears down the opposing defense. Most importantly, it limits the scoring opportunities for the opponent.

Terry Touch-n-go

Terry Wilson started his second SEC season today, and his performance was all across the board. He made some outstanding throws and some big runs. He made some really good decisions. He also made some questionable decisions that cost Kentucky dearly, and he did not always take good care of the football.

It is difficult to fault Terry for showing rust after missing nearly an entire season. But this certainly makes it tough for those that have been defending Terry as “the guy” to stand their ground, and it gives everyone hoping to see Joey Gatewood get a chance (by the SEC and the Kentucky coaching staff) a leg to stand on.

Now, let’s discuss Kentucky’s first game of the new season.