Despite Kentucky falling to the Auburn Tigers 29-16 on Saturday — It was obviously glorious to see the return of SEC football across the south.
The Cats won’t have long to lick their wounds because they now have an important game against Ole Miss in the opening game at Kroger Field.
Kentucky will take on the Ole Miss Rebels Saturday October 3rd at 4 PM.
The game can been seen on the SEC Network, and as always, you can hear Tom Leach on the call by listening to WLAP 680 or streaming on iHeart.
With this being the first football game hosted in Lexington since the pandemic began it will be interesting to see just the logistics will work at Kroger Field. With the 20% capacity threshold in place, you can expect to see around 10-12,000 people inside the stadium. As of now the weather looks like it will be great for football with temps in the lower 60s.
There are plenty of things that Mark Stoops and his staff could focus their attention on this week at practice in preparation for Ole Miss.
Despite UK dominating several statistical aspects of the game against Auburn, including time of possession, they just weren’t able to capitalize where it matters the most — the scoreboard.
Several costly mistakes were the story of the game. Most notably Terry Wilson’s brutal interception in the red zone, and a crucial fumble that ended another Wildcat drive.
Take a look at the team stats below — if you can stomach it.
Total yards: UK 384 Auburn 324— Big Blue Drew (@BigBlueDrew33) September 26, 2020
Passing yards: UK 239 Auburn 233
Rushing yards: UK 145 Auburn 91
First downs: UK 21 Auburn 16
Time of Poss: UK 36:30 Auburn 23:30
Turnovers: UK 3 Auburn 0
As we’ve seen in years past, many members of the Big Blue Nation took issue with the play call choices of UK offensive coordinator Eddie Gran.
It’s worth mentioning that UK passed the ball 38 times compared to just 40 rush attempts down at Auburn on Saturday. Of those 40 rushes, Terry Wilson had the most carries with 13.
Despite breaking a long touchdown run in the first quarter, Kavosiey Smoke only touched the ball a total of seven times. His nearly 9 yards per carry should prompt some more touches this weekend.
It’s clearly been a while since Gran had someone under center that allowed him to dial up downfield passing plays but I think most would agree that utilizing the Big Blue Wall is the best recipe for success moving forward in SEC play.
The Ole Miss Rebels will travel to Lexington winless themselves after being torched 51-35 by the Florida Gators in an absolute shoot-out on Saturday.
Checking the stat line to that game should put big smile on the face of Eddie Gran.
Ole Miss surrendered 642 total yards, including 446 through the air. The Rebels put University of Florida Quarterback Kyle Trask in the Heisman conversation by allowing him to throw for six touchdowns on 30/42 passing. Their defense didn’t discriminate by also giving up nearly 200 yards on the ground.
If Kentucky can clean up their mistakes they should be able to follow the blueprint of the Gators and have a much better offensive showing than they did at Auburn. Ideally the Cats will be able to get away from short screen passes they exhausted on Saturday and find some open space further down the field.
I think the signs are there to anticipate a big bounce back game from Terry Wilson.
Despite his highly-visible turnovers he at least looked spry and didn’t seem to be favoring that knee, which is far more important in the long term. It’s tough to come down a guy for not having the best feel for the game when he was out of live competition for over one full calendar year.
Terry should be just fine over the course of an entire season and Ole Miss coming up next might be just what he needs to get rolling in the short term.
All that being said, the Ole Miss offense did all that it could to keep pace with Florida’s scoring explosion. Lead by redshirt sophomore Quarterback Matt Corral the Rebels had over 600 yards of total offense themselves on Saturday. Very similar to Kentucky they were able to keep pace with their opponent but should couldn’t punch the ball in.
Kentucky’s secondary played an uninspired second half which is a call for concern considering the Rebels had three different receivers total 60 or more yards, including an incredible 10 reception 227 yard game from Elijah Moore.
One of the things to keep your eye on his how UK defensive-back Kelvin Joseph responds after being dominated by Auburn’s Seth Williams. He took to Twitter fairly immediately after Kentucky’s loss and it was clear his confidence was unfazed. His play against Ole Miss could prove to be critical.
I won’t go as far as to say Saturday’s game with Ole Miss is a “must-win” but if the Cats were to fall to 0-2 it will be quite difficult for them to recover and have a successful season in comparison to the last few years.
Game: Ole Miss Rebels at Kentucky Wildcats
Date: October 3rd at 4 pm EST
Stadium: Kroger Field
TV Channel: SEC Network
Radio: UK Sports Network.
Odds: Kentucky opened as a six-point favorite.
Early Prediction: TeamRankings projects a 32-26 victory for Kentucky.