The Kentucky Wildcats dominated the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks in the first game of the 2021 season by a score of 45-10.
While Kentucky didn’t get off to the best of starts, they did turn it around quickly. The offense was exactly what we all were hoping for. UK looked like a completely different team offensively.
Despite falling down 7-0 early, Kentucky took a 28-7 lead into the half on the backs of Will Levis, Wan’Dale Robinson, Josh Ali, and a dominant defense. UK did slow down significantly in the second half, but it looked like they were trying to get more guys involved out of Robinson and Ali.
Regardless of the slow start and boring second half, it was fun to watch and a great start to the season.
Next up, the Cats will face the Missouri Tigers in Lexington and will seek to avenge last year’s loss.
564 yards of offense.— Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) September 4, 2021
419 passing yards.
Eddie Gran should stay off Twitter this afternoon.
Big plays negate sloppy start
Kentucky got off to a slow start after a Levis pass bounced right off Ali’s hands and resulted in an interception on the first pass attempt of the season.
Despite the Cats getting a stop on third down and forcing a field goal, they got an illegal hands to the face penalty, which gave ULM a first down and ended in a touchdown.
However, UK didn’t waste any time bouncing back with a 33-yard touchdown pass of their own from Levis to Robinson. That was quickly followed up with a stop, but Robinson muffed the punt return. It was miraculously recovered by Kentucky, but fans were certainly holding their breath.
Once again, the Cats responded, this time on the first play, with a beautiful 58-yard dime from Levis to Ali. After a third straight touchdown, however, Kavosiey Smoke fumbled the ball on what was looking like a beautiful run.
But...you guessed it, after UK got a stop, Levis threw another 62-yard bomb to Robinson. Levis then followed it up with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Robinson, which once again negated the mistake.
Kentucky got off to a bit of a sloppy start and didn’t completely clean it up, but they more than made up for it.
Wan’Dale Robinson is home
Frankfort, Kentucky native and Nebraska Cornhuskers transfer Wan’Dale Robinson was welcomed home in the best way possible. Robinson’s first touch as a Kentucky Wildcat was a 33-yard touchdown catch for the Cats’ first touchdown of the season.
Robinson is absolutely electric. When he’s in space, it looks impossible to bring him down. He’s lightning quick and isn’t afraid to run or catch the ball. He’s the do-it-all guy this year that will likely remind many fans of Lynn Bowden.
How about over 100 yards receiving and two touchdowns in his debut for the blue and white?
Look out, Paul Hornung, ‘Dale Robinson is on his way.
Will Levis is that man
A pair of 100-yard receivers in Levis’ first start? Are you kidding me? This was the first time Kentucky has had two players with over 100 yards receiving in the same game since Matt Roark and La’Rod King versus Ole Miss in 2011...and they did it in the first half!
Levis also became the first UK quarterback with three passing touchdowns in a game since Terry Wilson against Louisville in 2018 and the first with 300 yards passing in a game since Stephen Johnson against Louisville in 2016 (notice a theme...UofLOL). This team looked like the complete opposite from the last few years. It was fun to watch and Levis looks like the man.
Josh Ali with a career game
Ali was very impressive today in his 2021 debut. We knew he had talent, but we couldn’t tell just how talented he was because of the Cats’ lack of a passing attack the last few years. Well, today we found out.
Ali dropped a couple balls, but overall, he was close to unstoppable. The tandem of Ali and Robinson looks like it could be one of the best in college football. Who would’ve thought? The depth behind them is obviously a concern, but even Isaiah Epps was close to the 100-yard mark.
Chris Rodriguez was a workhorse
This one isn’t a surprise is it? Rodriguez was expected to be a workhorse this year, but he didn’t get a ton of glory as the passing game dominated throughout.
However, despite failing to break off a long run until late in the second half, he was steady throughout before busting through the defense for a 31-yard run in the fourth quarter. Rodriguez broke the 100-yard mark for what I’m sure will be the first of many this season.
The passing game was impressive, but don’t forget about baby Benny in the backfield.
The Kentucky defense was dominant
You didn’t think I’d forget about the defense, did you? Although we all expected this unit to be fine this year, it was still an impressive showing. They were stout per usual, wreaked havoc, and definitely did not disappoint.
DeAndre Square, Yusuf Corker and Josh Paschal are the leaders of this group, but UK got contributions from a lot of guys, which was a good sight to see. Octavious Oxendine looked especially impressive on one drive where he had three straight tackles. JJ Weaver returned to action with two sacks in his first game back. And Davonte Robinson looked like he had that burst back that he was missing last year.
This was also the first time in 25 years that Kentucky held an opponent to under 100 yards, as the Warhawks mustered up just 87 today.
I know no one was necessarily concerned about this group, but their performance today was awesome nonetheless.
Now, I also know the concern was and has been the offense. Well, the Cats certainly alleviated those concerns in a big way.
Levis easily matched the preseason hype, as did Robinson and Liam Coen. Couple that with UK’s dominant defense, and this is just the beginning of what could very well be a really special season for Kentucky.
Look out, here come the Cats!