Another game, another horrendous start for the University of Kentucky Wildcats.
It wasn’t a botched first-play like we saw last week against South Carolina, rather a slew of unforced errors that got things off on the wrong foot on Saturday night. Prior to the start of the game the Cats led the entire country in fewest penalty yards per game with just 27.
However, through only two quarters of football against Mississippi State, Mark Stoops’ team accumulated what was seemingly a season’s worth of penalties.
Poor play aside, you don’t expect a team in jeopardy of losing three games in a row to come out as mentally unprepared and Kentucky was. From turnovers, to false-starts, to missed assignments, it was anything but what the Big Blue Nation had hoped to see.
Speaking of the BBN, they deserve some major props for showing up to Kroger Field in full force on Saturday night despite two gut-wrenching losses in back-to-back weeks. It wasn’t quite a sellout, but there weren’t many available seats inside Kroger Field.
Somehow, Kentucky found themselves tied at the break after Matt Ruffolo made up for a previous miss by connecting on a 28-yard chip shot to make it 3-3.
Less than exciting stuff.
Kentucky outgained MSU 177 yards to 96 in the first half, but a range of bizarre circumstances prevented the offense from capitalizing on what was a masterful first 30 minutes from Brad White’s side of the ball.
Things took a horrendous turn early in the second half when Will Levis dropped back and found Barion Brown for a 33 yard reception. Levis was tossed to the ground injuring his shoulder, causing him to head into the locker room and take all of the stadium’s energy with him.
Levis being the tough competitor that he is would return to the game the following series.
Following the Will Levis injury UK kicker Matt Ruffolo would connect on another short field goal attempt giving Kentucky a 6-3 lead.
The teams would trade a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter making it 13-10 as the game finally began to have a flow to it.
Heading into the fourth quarter it felt as if more was on the line for Mark Stoops and his team than just one win or loss. It was important to keep the season on the rails, avoid the dreadful three-game losing streak and to keep the fan base totally engaged.
Thankfully, they got it done, winning 27-17.
The MVP post usually writes itself if Chris Rodriguez is participating in a football game.
Rich Scangarello received last week’s message of upping C-Rod’s usage loud and clear. The Cats rode the bruising back all night and #24 gave absolutely everything he had in the tank.
With all of the visible struggles that Kentucky has offensively, it’s impossible to quantify all that Chris Rodriguez does to provide stability and an identity.
On the night C-Rod would finish with 31 carries and 197 yards with two scores.
Honorable mention to true freshman Barion Brown, who took another kick return to the house on Saturday night, only it was unfortunately negated because of a block in the back call.
The speed demon from Tennessee remains to impress through his first handful of games as a Wildcat. His usage as a special teams threat has been UK’s best offense at many points during this season.
Brown’s contributions weren’t only in the kick return game against Mississippi State, he also hauled in seven passes for 62 yards.
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