The Kentucky Wildcats broke the ice on the 2023 season with a decisive 44-14 opening game victory over Ball State.
The win was impressive when you consider how much the Cats left to be desired on both sides of the ball.
Having things to clean up is expected in Week 1, and live game reps are the only solution for any kinks that need to be ironed out.
Liam Coen’s newly formed offense only ran 51 total plays on Saturday, which didn’t allow a ton of opportunity for Devin Leary to adjust to playing with his new teammates.
Kentucky takes the field again on Saturday, September 9th, against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels at Kroger Field.
Get a viewing plan now, because this one will be televised on ESPN+ and SEC Network+.
Not sure what these are? Here is a recap of how to find these channels.
SEC Network+ is complementary to SEC Network viewers and accessible with your TV provider login info. Access it through the ESPN App on smartphones, tablets, connected streaming devices, or by going to WatchESPN.
As for ESPN+, this is a standalone service that requires a subscription separate from your TV provider. It’s available to stream through the ESPN App and on ESPN.com. Sign up for it at ESPN.com or on the ESPN App. It’s also available as part of The Disney Bundle that features access to Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu.
And we have to mention the whole ESPN/Spectrum debacle, so also be aware of that when trying to watch the Cats this season.
Now, back to the game, which will kick off at 3:00 pm ET with initial weather forecasts calling for glorious temps in the low 80s with sunshine.
If that favorable forecast holds true, it’ll be a welcomed change of pace for the home crowd. Despite the noon kickoff this past Saturday, it was blistering hot for the fans who were in attendance for the Ball State game.
Kentucky aims to stay in the win column against an Eastern Kentucky team that was thrashed 66-13 by Cincinnati in their opening contest of the season. The Colonels found themselves down 42-0 at the halftime break.
Senior quarterback Parker McKinney completed 13/24 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown. He also threw two picks.
Six different EKU players rushed the ball three or more times on Saturday, mustering up 125 yards.
Things won’t get much easier for EKU’s Walt Wells, as his team will play on the road as heavy underdogs against an SEC opponent.
Wells is now in his third year as head coach and is coming off a 7-5 campaign in 2022.
ESPN’s matchup predictor gives the Cats a whopping 99% chance at victory.
Things to keep an on will be the search for some additional offensive continuity, especially between Devin Leary and his wideouts.
The NC State transfer had a modest debut tossing 18 completions in 31 attempts that totaled 241 yards. Leary was able to connect with Dane Key for a few big plays that included a five-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.
But overall, there were some misses in the passing game and some things that need polishing up.
Ray Davis confirming his ability to act as a workhorse in the backfield was a huge positive from Game 1. Davis carried the ball just 14 times but managed to tally 112 yards to go along with two scores.
And we have to mention the special teams, which were a major weakness last year. Against Ball State, that unit produced a 99-yard kickoff return touchdown from Barion Brown, three 40+ yard field goals from new kicker Alex Raynor, and a blocked Ball State field goal by Octavious Oxendine.
Here’s what you need to know for Week 2.
Game: Eastern Kentucky Colonels at Kentucky Wildcats
Location: Kroger Field
Time: 3:00 pm ET on September 9th
Radio: UK Sports Network
Replay: WatchESPN and SEC Network (check local listings).
Early Odds: ESPN’s matchup predictor gives Kentucky a 99% chance of achieving victory. Check back at DraftKings this week for official game odds.