The Kentucky Wildcats made the trip down to Oxford, and left with a loss to the Ole Miss Rebels, 22-19.
The first half for the Cats was one to forget.
In what was easiest the worst this squad has looked all season, it was the return of Chris Rodriguez and the play-calling of Rich Scangarello that led the way. Mix in the special teams mistakes, and UK put themselves in a hole from the beginning. Luckily though this team mimics their head coach, and were up for a fist fight scoring a late touchdown to make the score only a one possession game at 19-12.
The second half was much of the same we have seen from this Kentucky team this season, except for the offensive struggles. The defense stepped up time and time again, making this into a fist-fight game that Mark Stoops always love to coach in.
Until the fumbles by Will Levis that ultimately cemented the win for Ole Miss.
It is also worth noting that Jacquez Jones injured his foot early in the first quarter, and left the game after trying to give it a go in the third. Despite that he had one of the bigger plays of the game for Kentucky as he picked off a pass as the Rebels were threatening to score late in the first half. His availability will be something to monitor over the next week.
Now let’s take a look at four things to know as the Cats fall in Oxford:
Chris Rodriguez Returns
The Kentucky running game has struggled through the first four-games of the season, but with the return of Rodriguez there seemed to be a bright spot in that facet of the game for the first time this season.
With a touchdown to end the first quarter, as he ran right up the gut, it was sight for sore eyes.
Now the game needs to run through their All-SEC running back, and let the other guys contribute when they can.
Barion Brown is Elite
Kentucky has not had a receiver like Barion Brown in a long time, if ever.
With almost another kick-off returned for six, the true freshman has proven to be the most electric player for the offense.
It is time Rich Scangarello and this offensive staff find a way to get him more touches.
Defense vs Lane Kiffin
Lane Kiffin is known for the pace with offense’s play with, and this Ole Miss team is starting to find their rhythm.
We saw Northern Illinois put this Kentucky defense on their heels several times last week, but the Rebels only solidified the point of the time they need to get everything all set.
Despite those struggles they only held this explosive Ole Miss offense to two scores in the first half, and played well all throughout the second. When they get set, they are one of the best units in all of college football.
Kicking Game Struggles
Throughout the first four games, there have been some serious issues with the kicking game. That continued today, and put the Cats in a hole early.
Matt Ruffalo has proven over the course of his career he can knock down the kicks, but it is the inconsistency in these big games that always seem to come back to haunt him.
But overall it is on the whole field-goal unit to help close the gap from what we saw today. Whether it is blocking up front, to the snap and hold. Need to see a full-180 before South Carolina comes to town next Saturday.
Now, let’s chat. This is a safe space.