The Cats started off quickly, putting up 21 points in the first quarter, which tied a school record. Then all of a sudden, the wheels started to fall off. The offense slowed down, and the defense started to rack up some penalties, which allowed Vandy to keep themselves right in this football game.
Despite all of that, Kentucky headed into the locker room (or tent, in this case) with a 24-10 lead.
The second half continued to show much of the same. The offense still struggled mightily, and the defense held its own to ensure it propelled this team to a win.
It wasn't pretty after the first quarter, but a win is a win.
Next up is a date with the Florida Gators on Saturday at Kroger Field for a noon ET kickoff.
Let’s look at four things to know from Kentucky’s win over the Commodores.
Hairston and secondary answer the call
A major question mark coming into the season was the new-look pass defense for the Cats. With Maxwell Hariston and Andru Phillips both taking over the reins at the cornerback spot, there have been some rough spots, but the whole secondary unit helped put the BBN’s mind at ease with their performance today.
The duo of AJ Swann and Will Sheppard is a dangerous one, but Chris Collins had his unit ready to stifle them for much of the game, including not one but TWO pick-sixes by Hairston.
Hairston became the first Wildcat ever to have two pick-sixes in one game. While we’re only a quarter of the way through the season, Hairston has put himself firmly in the all-conference race.
Now heading into the heart of SEC play, this secondary is ready to roll.
Changes on the offensive lines
Entering today, Mark Stoops made the announcement that Eli Cox would be moving back to center, and Jager Burton would be shifting over to right guard.
Through the first three games of the season, the offensive line has still shown some troubles, but with the changes today, things seemed to be a little smoother.
It was FAR from perfect, but it was smoother, and that will need to keep up next week for Kentucky to hang with a much better defense in Florida.
This Vandy defense is not an elite SEC unit, but the fact the offensive line could get some kind of push is a welcomed sight.
Offense still struggles
This game started off giving us all the hope that this unit had finally figured it out. Well, that is just not true, unfortunately.
From drops and errant throws, this offense has too good of skill talent to look this bad. That span from the mid-second quarter to late in the third quarter was just flat-out awful, and it allowed Vandy to get to go on a 13-0 run and get to within 24-13 in the second half when the game should have been over at halftime.
Short and simple at this point; if it doesn't get better, these next few weeks could be quite rough.
Saying this, we do have to point out that Devin Leary threw an absolute dime late in the game that Dane Key hauled in for a SportsCenter Top 10-level grab.
Thank you, Brad White
There is a reason why he is considered one of the best coordinators in the SEC. Today is just another example of how his unit has become a staple in the Mark Stoops era.
The offense might still have a ways to go, but this defense is carrying the major workload to this point, and they’ll need to keep it up for Kentucky to keep winning now that SEC play has begun.
Yes, there have been some struggles at times, even against teams like EKU, but once this unit finds more consistency, they’ll be more than good enough to hang with the upcoming schedule.
Now, let’s celebrate!