Whether it was dumb penalties or poor execution, the Cats never stood a chance. Georgia drove right down the field with ease on the opening drive and never slowed down. Meanwhile, Kentucky shot themselves in the foot over and over again and simply played themselves out of the game.
Hopefully, this is a wake-up call for a team that’s played subpar competition up until this point. The good news is most of the BBN expected a loss in this one, so it’s just about taking care of business from here on.
Next up, the Cats return to Lexington to battle the Missouri Tigers on Saturday night. It was just announced that the game will kick off at 7:30 pm ET on the SEC Network.
Good news on the injury front
Barion Brown (hamstring, which he’s been dealing with since camp) and Tayvion Robinson (ankle) were questionable for the game on Saturday, but both played and looked healthy. I will note that freshman wide receiver Anthony Brown-Stephens was back for kick returns after Georgia’s first kickoff, so Robinson may not have been completely 100%.
One other injury to note is Maxwell Hairston, who had a hard cast on his wrist as recently as Friday, but he also played and looked healthy. Hairston, who had two(!) pick-sixes against the Vanderbilt Commodores, actually had heavy tape on his wrist a week ago against the Florida Gators, so it may be a lingering issue, but he still managed to snag an interception tonight that led to a Ray Davis touchdown that made program history.
For now, it looks like Hairston can play through the pain, which is significant for the defense.
Leary is not what we all expected
Realistically, Kentucky never had a chance in this game. Sure, they could've pulled off an unbelievable upset, but the talent gap is so wide that it would've been just that—an unbelievable upset.
I just wanted to acknowledge this before I go in on Devin Leary because he wasn't great this game, but the concern is all season, not just tonight.
Just two seasons ago, Leary had 35 touchdowns and five interceptions to go with more than 3,400 passing yards. Last season, the NC State transfer didn’t look as dominant, with four interceptions in just five and a half games, but he got injured in the sixth game and was out for the rest of the year.
Obviously, the expectation was if he had kept playing, he would've been better, and he’d definitely be better this season if he could just stay healthy.
Well, I'm here to tell you that’s not the case in this offense and in this conference. Maybe it’s the injuries, maybe it’s the competition (ACC vs. SEC), but Leary is just not that good right now. Many hoped, myself included, that Leary was a better college quarterback than Will Levis, while Levis was the better professional prospect, but I don't even think that’s true.
But I want to be clear that this doesn't have to do with just this game. We all know Georgia is the best team in the country. Leary has five interceptions on the year to go with just 10 touchdowns. He’s incredible in the pocket, but the misses have been maddening. There were multiple times against Georgia, including on Kentucky’s first drive, that Leary just missed wide-open receivers. Those aren’t drive killers, like penalties: Those are game-changers.
Let’s hope we see more going forward.
Mental mistakes killed the cats
This was just a brutal, all-systems failure.
The Cats failed on the penalty front. On the first drive, there was a holding on Jager Burton on a big run that turned into a drive-killer (on top of Leary's bad pass). On the second drive, another horrific personal foul penalty on Burton (should've sat down and not got up) was a drive-killer.
On UGA’s third drive, the Cats finally got a stop, but a horrible personal foul on Deone Walker extended the drive. It could've been 14-7 early second quarter (maybe better), but instead, it was 21-0, and the game was over.
On top of the penalties, Kentucky had dropped passes again, and Leary missed wide-open receivers. Those mistakes can’t happen against a team like this. It was just bad all around, and the majority of the ugly is on Stoops for clearly not having his team ready.
Great offense is about precision.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) October 8, 2023
Kentucky has good pieces and typically a good plan. Florida proved they can bully too. But precision? Very little.
Linemen commit crushing penalties, receivers drop a maddening number of passes and the QB gets the yips on wide-open targets.
Time for a reset. Let’s hope for a bounce back next week.