The Kentucky Wildcats cruise past the Ball State Cardinals after an early initial scare, 44-14.
After going down 7-3 early, the Kentucky defense stepped up and wreaked havoc on the Ball State offense, with the changing of momentum coming off a scoop-and-score for six on a vicious hit by Alex Afari. Jalen Geiger returned it.
Kentucky would finish strong on the day with a mostly conservative offensive approach, which is expected in these early season games.
Vanderbilt transfer Ray Davis added 112 yards and two touchdowns on the ground in his Wildcat debut, including one with seven seconds remaining in the game that may have mattered to some people in the gambling world.
Devin Leary seemed to struggle somewhat in his first game in Lexington, and that may just be growing pains that come from a change of scenery and new coaching, teammates, etc. While Leary looked a little out of sync, I expect him to get back on track next week against Eastern Kentucky.
And again, for the second straight season opener, Barion returns a kickoff to the house. That’s his second career kickoff return for a touchdown.
The game MVP for me was the entire Kentucky defense. After a slow start, they hunkered down and really only played two bad possessions, both of which resulted in Ball State touchdowns.
A pair of forced fumbles, a fumble recovery for a touchdown, eight tackles for loss, a blocked field goal, and was spearheaded by Trevin Wallace with a game-high 12 tackles.
Also, a huge shoutout to Jalen Geiger, who missed most of last season with a torn ACL, went through an offseason full of rehab but still got back on the field for Game 1 to score a defensive touchdown off a fumble return.
You really do love to see it for the senior!
Devin Leary is going to be just fine. A few errant throws but I'd just ignore that.— Justin Rowland (@RowlandRIVALS) September 2, 2023
This is like the quintessential Kentucky opener under Mark Stoops. Up 37-14 in the fourth quarter against an overmatched opponent, a few really exciting things and enough mistakes to keep everyone worried.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) September 2, 2023
Kentucky ran 18 plays in the second half and had the ball for only 8:45 of the 30 minutes.— Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) September 2, 2023
Fully expecting a lot of bad hot takes about the offense today. Hard to get 600 yards when you only run 51 plays. Reality is Kentucky has averaged 7 yards per play. Stretched out over all of last year that would have been 3rd in the country.— Justin Rowland (@RowlandRIVALS) September 2, 2023
Ray Davis sends A LOT of Kentucky fans happy with the long TD run at :06 in the 4Q to help the Cats cover the 26.5 spread. Maybe a spot on SVP's Bad Beats? Still a kickoff to come, though...— Jeff Drummond (@JDrumUK) September 2, 2023
Boulware's special teams unit the standout group of the day. Add a blocked FG to its resume.— Justin Rowland (@RowlandRIVALS) September 2, 2023
Barion Brown and Dane Key (5 catches, 96 yards, TD) are as exciting a receiver duo as Kentucky has had since? https://t.co/dRgmpIbmuH— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) September 2, 2023
NEVER DOUBTED THE OVER AND COVER— Drew Franklin (@DrewFranklinKSR) September 2, 2023
Final Advanced Box— Adam Luckett (@AdamLuckettKSR) September 2, 2023
Snaps: UK 51, BSU 71
Success Rate: UK 41.2%, BSU 29.6%
YPP: UK 7.0, BSU 4.2
3rd/4th: UK 4/10, BSU 10/19
Explosive Rate: UK 15.5%, BSU 9.9%
Havoc Rate Allowed: UK 11.8%, BSU 15.5%
Pts Per Scoring Opp: UK 5 (30/6), BSU 2.8 (14/5)
Possessions: UK 9, BSU 10
"I don't think I've ever won a game by that score and been so disappointed with some of our play." - Mark Stoops postgame— Justin Rowland (@RowlandRIVALS) September 2, 2023
Mark Stoops says the oline play was better than a year ago.— Dylan Ballard (@DylanBallard_UK) September 2, 2023
Says Devin Leary will be better and is a great football player. Also says it’s not all on the QB pic.twitter.com/hCgIlrA48J
Congrats to coach Stoops and the Cats on the nice win over Ball St. BBN off to a good start.— Rich Brooks (@UKcoachbrooks) September 2, 2023
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