This was a very important game for the Cats as they are looking to have a very special 2021 season.
It was a rollercoaster ride to say the least as Kentucky looked to be on the way to a dominating win. But after some self-inflicted errors, Missouri found themselves right back in the game and Kentucky found themselves in a battle.
Thankfully, the Cats were able to step up when it mattered the most and come away with a 35-28 victory to move to 2-0 on the season.
The Cats will be at home again next week when they face the Chattanooga Mocs. That game will kickoff at noon and will be streamed on ESPN+.
Now, here is a look at the risers and fallers from the SEC opener.
Wan’Dale Robinson: After an impressive opening game in Lexington Week 1, Robinson backed it up again against Missouri. Robinson started the game off with a 64-yard run and went on to finish with 73 rushing yards on 3 carries and 5 receptions for 101 yards. He’s the real deal and looks like someone who will be playing on Sundays.
Chris Rodriguez: Week 1 was all about the passing game for the Cats since it was something this fanbase hasn’t seen in years. However, Rodriguez still churned out over 100-yards rushing against ULM. Against Missouri, Rodriguez was doing what we have come to expect breaking tackles and fighting for extra yards. He did have the one crucial fumble at the goal line but responded very well. He went on to finish with 27 carries for 206 yards and three TDs as well as a five-yard receiving score.
Liam Coen: The BBN was excited after what they saw from Coen’s play calling in Week 1. His balanced attack was a pleasant sight, and he continued his impressive offensive attack again this week. Specifically, I want to point out the play-action pass. Will Levis linked up with Robinson Week 1 with the PA pass and the connection happened again this week. Coen has brought an offense the BBN has wanted to see, and he knows how to take advantage of the talent he has.
3rd-Down Efficiency: A big key to a successful offense is moving the chains. Being able to get in 3rd and manageable situations and converting those downs is very important. The Cats were excellent in that category in the first half converting 6/6 3rd downs. Eventually the Cats did have to punt, but they went on to convert 8/12 3rd downs.
Jacquez Jones: After an injury in full camp kept Jones sidelined for several weeks, it wasn’t even a lock he’d be ready for the season opener. Thankfully, he’s been able to take play a heavy amount of snaps for two-straight games now. And this week, his third-quarter interception was one of the biggest players of the game, as it led to one of what were just two second-half scores for the Cats.
Pass Rush: Kentucky has struggled a lot in recent seasons with getting pressure on opposing QBs in passing situations. That was not an issue in Week 1 against ULM, but against the tougher competition of Missouri, the Cats struggled getting to the QB giving him a lot of time in the pocket to read the field. The Cats recorded just 1 sack and 1 tackle for loss.
Turnovers: The only real complaint so far this season has been the Cats giving the ball up too much. Kentucky has an outstanding chance at the end of the first half to take a hold on this game. Unfortunately, Rodriguez fumbled on the 1-yard line and instead of it being 28-7 Cats, it went to halftime 21-14. Kentucky is still -4 on the turnover margin, which needs to change sooner rather than later.
3rd-Down Defense: The story of the game against Missouri last season was the fact that the defense couldn’t get off the field on 3rd down. That was the case again tonight as Missouri converted 9/15 3rd-down plays. The Cats’ defense was expected to be stout once again, but it appears that they have a lot to work on going forward.
Kavosiey Smoke: So far this season, Smoke has not got going yet. He didn’t see much action in Week 1 getting just five carries. While Rodriguez was having a lot of success against the Tigers, Smoke was not able to find the same success as he finished with five carries for 39 yards and was a non-factor in the passing game.
Pass-catchers not named Wan’Dale: After Kentucky had a host of pass-catchers making an impact in Week 1, it was not so this week. Outside of Wan’Dale Robinson, no one really stepped up in the passing game. Josh Ali had just two catches, and no other Wildcat had more than one grab. That’s not going to be anywhere close to good enough if Kentucky is going to hang with teams like Florida and Georgia atop the division.
Who were your biggest risers and fallers? Let us know in the comments section!