By Zack Geoghegan on ©September 22nd, 2019 @ 1:00pm
Following four consecutive sub-.500 seasons as the manager of the San Diego Padres, Lexington native and former Kentucky Wildcat, Andy Green, was relieved from his position on Saturday.
Sitting on a record of 69-86, the Padres are on pace to finish with 90 or more losses for the fourth straight year. Green ends his tenure in San Diego with an overall record of 274-366 after he was hired back in Oct. 2015.
Green did not offer a comment on his firing (although he plans to in the future), but Padres General Manager A.J. Preller had this to say.
“I want to thank Andy for his tireless work and dedication to the Padres over the last four seasons,” Preller said. “This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we felt was necessary at this time to take our organization to the next level and expedite the process of bringing a championship to San Diego. Our search for a new manager will begin immediately.”
After excelling at Lexington Christain Academy during his high schools days, Green stayed in his hometown and played four seasons at the University of Kentucky from 1997-2000 where he still holds five school records. He was inducted in the UK Athletics Hall of Fame back in 2015.
According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, the team cited “communication issues” as to what led to Green’s firing. Preller had this to offer about where the team stood with Green.
“When you look at the way the last two months … and what improvements are being made and how things were playing out on a daily basis, it just didn’t feel like we were going to get there with Andy as our manager,” said Preller, according to The San Diego Union-Trubine. “That’s a tough thing to say. Ultimately, we hire a manager and it’s my job to put players on the field. I’ve been beating myself up a lot over the course of the last few months. It just didn’t feel like this was going to work for the long-term.”
With only a week left remaining in the regular season, the Padres felt it was better to go ahead and begin building towards next year. The Padres have gone 1-9 in its previous 10 games.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©September 22nd, 2019 @ 12:30pm
UK Athletics is honoring #22 with $22 off football tickets for the upcoming game against Arkansas at Kroger Field on Saturday, Oct. 12.
In remembrance of Kentucky legend Jared Lorenzen, you can now purchase 200-level sideline tickets for only $23 when the Razorbacks come to Lexington in a couple of weeks.
Click the link here to cash in on the deal while you still can. You’ll need to enter your phone number and then ReplyBuy will send you the code for the deal. Or, you can text “KENTUCKY” to 20123. Once you receive the text, follow the instructions provided. You’ll be able to purchase the tickets by replying with “BUY KENTUCKY” and the number of tickets you would like to purchase (ex. BUY KENTUCKY 2). A direct link to the offer can be found here.
The game will kickoff at 7:30 p.m.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©September 22nd, 2019 @ 12:00pm
In an effort to forget about Saturday night’s loss, let’s shift focus to the former Kentucky Wildcats taking the field for the pros on Sunday.
It’s going to be a busy day for the Cats in the NFL, so let’s take a look at what’s on the slate for today’s games, starting with the 1 p.m. matchups.
1:00 – Dolphins @ Cowboys (Randall Cobb)
Through two games, one of the all-time greats at Kentucky, Randall Cobb, has already caught nine receptions for a total of 93 yards and one touchdown for the Dallas Cowboys. Heading into Week 3, Cobb and his new team will host the miserable Miami Dolphins, who have been outscored by 93 total points in the team’s first two games. Miami has allowed 633 passing yards in the 2019 season, the sixth most among all NFL teams. Cobb has thus far been included as one of Dallas’ top-three receivers and Dak Prescott should have a field day tossing the ball all over the grass to Cobb, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup.
- Cobb’s ESPN fantasy projections: 11.4 points (25.4 total points through two games)
1:00 – Broncos @ Packers (Za’Darius Smith)
Defensive end Za’Darius Smith has quickly asserted himself as one of the Green Bay Packers most important and impactful defensive players. He played 92 percent of all defensive snaps in Week 1 and 86 percent in Week 2, combining for a sack, six solo tackles, one tackle for loss, and four quarterback hits. Against the Denver Broncos, who have been a middling team in terms of both passing and rushing offense, Smith could have himself a nice game for a team that ranks No. 2 in overall defensive points (they have allowed only 19 points through two games).
4:05 – Panthers @ Cardinals (Corey Peters)
Defensive tackle Corey Peters is banged up with a knee injury but is expected to suit up for the Arizona Cardinals matchup against the Carolina Panthers and backup quarterback Kyle Allen. Through two games, Peters has recorded one sack, three solo tackles, and two tackles for losses. Peters will be necessary against the Panthers solid running game led by Christian McCaffrey.
4:05 – Giants @ Buccaneers (Mike Edwards)
After hardly receiving any reps in Week 1 for the Bucs, Mike Edwards played 92 percent of defensive snaps in Week 2 against the Panthers, recording two solo tackles in the win. Going up against rookie quarterback Daniel Jones in his first career start, Edwards will hopefully have plenty of opportunities to bust out some big defensive plays.
4:25 – Texans (Lonnie Johnson) @ Chargers
Making his first NFL start last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars, cornerback Lonnie Johnson will line up again this week as a key piece to the Texans secondary. Three solo tackles and an important pass breakup in Week 2 should have Johnson feeling good heading into a matchup against a top 10 passing offense in the Chargers.
4:25 – Steelers (Bud Dupree, Benny Snell) @ 49ers
A pair of Wildcats will take the field together against the San Fransico 49ers. Bud Dupree is currently dealing with an ankle injury but is expected to play, which is great news for the Pittsburgh Steelers, as Dupree has already racked up one sack and six solo tackles and has been an important piece to that Pittsburgh defensive line. Benny Snell will try to find the field again this week after busting out for a 23-yard carry in Week 2. Starting running back James Conner suffered a minor knee injury last week, but that isn’t expected to keep him out for Sunday. However, don’t be surprised if Snell sneaks in for a couple more snaps.
4:25 – Saints (Larry Warford) @ Seahawks
The starting offensive guard for the Saints, Larry Warford, has played 100 percent of offensive snaps for New Orleans through the first two weeks. He was named to the PFF NFL Team of the Week for his performance in Week 1 and he’ll have a big task against a Seattle defensive frontline that has only given up 115 rushing yards through two games.
8:15 on Monday night – Bears (Danny Trevathan) @ Redskins
Outside linebacker Danny Trevathan has been a dominant force for the Chicago Bears defensive so far this season. Recording 13 solo tackles and one quarterback hit, the former Wildcat has been an impactful presence in the middle of a top-10 defense. Washington hasn’t shown much life of an exciting offense through two games with Case Keenum at quarterback. Expect Trevathan to make some noise on Monday night.
It looks like it’s going to be a busy day for our NFL Cats, so go ahead and fire up the ole NFL RedZone.
By Adam Luckett on ©September 22nd, 2019 @ 11:00am
Fresh off a tough loss at home to Florida, UK received what some would view as good news before Saturday’s matchup with Mississippi State. Penn State grad transfer Tommy Stevens was a scratch and that meant true freshman Garrett Shrader would be getting the first start of his college career. Facing what would be the most inaccurate quarterback in the SEC through three games, things looked promising for Kentucky.
However, that all changed when Sawyer Smith threw a pick-six on UK’s first possession. All game long the Wildcats were trying to climb out of a hole and a win never felt likely. Thanks to some missed kicks and red zone blunders, UK once again blew all the momentum they built in a strong third quarter. It’s back to the drawing board with Mark Stoops remaining winless in Starkville.
Kentucky collected 386 yards (154 rushing, 232 passing) on 70 plays on their way to averaging 5.5 yards per play. On Saturday, third down became a major issue for the first time since the Toledo game. UK’s offense only converted 1-of-12 third downs after being one of the best offenses in college football on the money down the last two weeks. Add this in with just one touchdown on four red zone trips and that is how you don’t give yourself a chance to win on the road. It also doesn’t help when your quarterback throws a pick-six right off the bat.
Sawyer Smith got off to a rocky start and was kept off balance by some excellent blitz calls by Bob Shoop. Smith completed just 15 of his 41 passes, was sacked three times, had a couple fumbles, and put up just 5.66 yards per attempt. Despite this inefficiency, 58.6 percent of the plays UK ran on Saturday were passes despite putting up 7.6 yards per attempt on non-quarterback carries. That must change, but it was good to see A.J. Rose rediscover his groove.
The redshirt junior was putting up just 4.1 yards per carry entering yesterday, but exploded for 105 yards on just nine carries. Rose was much more patient and showed some burst when lanes opened up. He flashed some wiggle, broke some tackles, and looked like the back we saw in small glimpses last season. The problem was that UK did not ride the right hand.
After a very strong performance against Florida, Kavosiey Smoke put up just 25 yards on 10 carries despite scoring his third touchdown of the season. The redshirt freshman had a ton of runs stuffed at the line of scrimmage and really could not find much running room. UK must do a better job of discovering who has the hot hand and making sure he gets the appropriate amount of touches.
In the pass catching department, it was a game of inefficiency. Lynn Bowden, Jr. had just a 50 percent catch rate despite pulling in seven grabs for 129 yards. The junior had a couple drops and couldn’t reel in what would have been a huge touchdown play in the second quarter. Despite all of that, he bounced back well and made a huge fourth down conversion in the third quarter.
Outside of Bowden, Josh Ali had a nice game recording five grabs and 61 yards on eight targets. Kentucky threw the ball much more to Ahmad Wagner, but the big guy had just one reception on six targets. He did draw a couple more flags. In all, it was an inefficient day for the passing game with Justin Rigg, Allen Dailey, Jr., and Bryce Oliver combining for seven targets and zero receptions. You cannot have that.
The offensive line did allow three sacks, but when you consider that the Wildcats had nearly 50 dropbacks, that isn’t that bad. They created plenty of running room for the ballcarriers and UK likely has a huge day on the ground if they stay committed to the run. Logan Stenberg had another penalty, but the group for the got the job done on not their best day.
We’ll get into the kicking issues later, but in Davis Wade Stadium, the Wildcats put up just one touchdown on four red zone trips. In two SEC games, UK has just three touchdowns in eight red zone possessions and you could point to this as the biggest reason for the losses. UK is not finishing drives and they are leaving scoring chances to a shaky field goal kicker. Add in a red zone turnover against Eastern Michigan and UK is leaving way too many points on the field.
Kentucky allowed 421 yards (265 rushing, 180 passing) on 62 plays with the Bulldogs putting up 6.8 yards per play. Despite holding their first two SEC foes to 65 plays or less, UK’s defense is giving up a ton of yards. The Wildcats were unable to force one three-and-out and were playing with a huge field position disadvantage for most of the game.
UK had quite a challenge slowing down Kylin Hill who leads the SEC in rushing. Despite Hill putting up 120 yards and three touchdowns, UK’s front did a good job of keeping him in check. The junior put us a season-low 4.6 yards per carry and his longest run of the day went for just 18 yards. Where UK struggled was defending the quarterback run game.
Shrader is a power runner in the mold of Nick Fitzgerald and the former four-star recruit collected 125 yards on 11 carries. His 49-yard run above officially ended the game in the fourth quarter. When facing two real quarterback run threats this season (Toledo’s Mitchell Guadagni and Shrader), UK has given up 198 yards and 7.9 yards per carry. We’ve found one huge weakness in the first four weeks of the season.
UK had the SEC’s worst third down defense and they did not help their case against Joe Moorhead’s offense. State converted 60 percent of their third downs and only punted three times. Through two SEC games, UK has yet to produce a three-and-out. That needs to change.
Kentucky has been a bend-but-don’t-break defense a year after having one of the sport’s best units. If you’re going to play that style, it is essential that you are able to force turnovers. For the fourth game in a row, UK’s defense forced exactly two turnovers and these two came when Mississippi State had scoring opportunities. Qunadre Mosely picked a great time for his first career interception to give UK some much needed momentum before halftime.
On State’s next possession, Brandin Echols recorded a sack fumble in the red zone to give UK two huge takeaways. The Wildcats are going to give up a ton of yards this season, so it becomes vital that they master situational football. The turnovers are a start and now they must find a way to improve the third down defense.
Speaking of Echols, the junior college corner led the team with 10 tackles and continues to make big plays. UK’s only two sacks of the day came from blitzes as the pass rush continues to struggle to create pressure with four. Quinton Bohanna was a factor in run defense and Joshua Paschal now has four tackles for loss. Starting safety Jordan Griffin was noticeably absent from the lineup.
Kentucky had a large advantage entering the contest and was unable to take advantage. The defense could not get third down stops and that meant not much need for a punter. In his only return opportunity, Lynn Bowden, Jr. had a 25-yard punt return. Max Duffy again averaged over 50 yards punting, but it’s time to get to this kicking situation.
Chance Poore missed two field goals after drilling a 40-yard attempt in the first quarter. You can live with the 47-yard miss to end the second quarter, but you cannot have the 26-yard miss he had in the fourth quarter. On the next possession, UK threw out walk-on Matt Ruffolo and he hit a 29-yarder. We could be seeing a change coming at kicker.
Poore is now 5-for-11 on field goals in his career and he currently looks like a player with a ton of confidence issues. If Ruffolo can provide you with accuracy from 35 yards and in, you have to roll with him and just use Poore in long kick situations.
It was a matchup of two teams coming off tough losses and it was pretty clear early on that Mississippi State was the more desperate football team. Behind a pick-six on the first possession, the Bulldogs rode a wave of momentum to a 21-3 halftime lead on their way to a 28-13 victory. However, they received plenty of fortunate bounces on the way.
Ahmad Wagner dropped a touchdown pass and Lynn Bowden, Jr. had a drop that would’ve given UK first-and-goal at the two. On a deep shot, Bowden was unable to make a play on what seemed like a catchable ball. Sawyer Smith missed a wide open Keaton Upshaw that would’ve created a one-possession game with 12 minutes left. Chance Poore missed two field goals and has now missed four of his last five kicks. Kentucky just did not give itself a legit shot at picking up a road win.
Sitting at 2-2, it’ll be back to the drawing board with one game remaining before the first bye. In the four trips to Starkville under Mark Stoops, the Wildcats are 0-4 and have only once scored more than 20 points. UK has lost three of the four by double-digits and has just really never played well at Davis Wade Stadium for whatever reason. In week five, they will be heading to a place where they have consistently played good football.
Under Stoops, UK is 3-0 against the spread versus South Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium. Look for UK to build off some positive things from Saturday. The run game found their mojo thanks to A.J. Rose and with Sawyer Smith banged up, look for UK to lean more on the ground moving forward. The defense continues to create takeaways and has shown some nice traditional run defense the last three games.
There is plenty of stuff to improve on, but also a lot of things to build on. We have a lot of ball left to be played.
On to South Carolina.
By Hayden Hooper on ©September 22nd, 2019 @ 10:00am
Posted in Main | Tagged Cats in the NFL, Georgia Bulldogs, Joe Burrow, Kentucky, Kentucky Football, LSU Tigers, Mississippi State Football, NFL Football, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Sawyer Smith, Tennessee Volunteers, Vanderbilt Commodores | 8 Responses
Good morning, everyone! Hope everything is going well this weekend as we all wind down the last weekend of summer.
Hello, fall! Please make it colder by the way! I would really appreciate it.
Kentucky vs. Mississippi State
In other news, in case you did not watch the game yesterday, the Cats fell to the Mississippi State Bulldogs, 28-13. Missed opportunities put the Cats in a chokehold in the first half. However, the response in the second half was from a different team. A team that could come back from a deficit if it came to it.
The score might not show it, but by only giving up just one touchdown in the second half until the last few minutes of the game, the defense turned up. The increased tenacity caused not only a fumble but a few scenarios that gave the offense an opportunity to go score in the fourth quarter.
In most of the second half, the Cats got to the red zone but didn’t finish the drive how they would have wanted to. In his post-game press conference, Lynn Bowden Jr. spoke about the problem in the second half – not finishing drives.
“We want to score every chance we get,” said Bowden on not finishing drives in the second half. “We just gotta work on finishing, I don’t think we finished well tonight. We just got to get back to the lab.”
One thing to look out for going forward is that, while Kentucky was gearing to go back into the second half and make the run, Cats fans got a scare. Grad-transfer quarterback Sawyer Smith was seen heading back to the locker room as the second half was being kicked off.
Sawyer Smith questionable to return with a Shoulder injury
— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) September 21, 2019
For the gritty QB, Smith said post-game that he felt “100%” going back out there and said there was no way he wasn’t going to go back out there with his teammates.
Smith’s sore shoulder might be something to look out for during this upcoming week. Take a look at Mrs. Tyler Thompson’s article on what head coach Mark Stoops had to say about the injury.
If you want to find more takeaways on the game, here’s what Starkvegas’ #1 tourist Drew Franklin had to say about the loss against Mississippi State.
Kentucky’s next game will be in a week against South Carolina on the road in a night game down in Columbia.
Other SEC Action on Saturday
Like every Saturday in college football, there are more games being played. For the SEC, history was made early in the day by LSU quarterback, Joe Burrow.
Against the Vanderbilt Commodores, the LSU Tiger put up a historic amount of passing TDs with six total in the game – a school record.
— LSU Football (@LSUfootball) September 21, 2019
The Tigers ultimately won the game against Vandy, 66-38.
While Burrow was making history, Florida was gearing up for a rivalry game against SEC East rival, the Tennessee Volunteers. The first game since the grueling injury to starting quarterback Felipe Franks. In case you didn’t hear 50 million times yesterday, it was the first start for Florida’s quarterback Kyle Trask since his freshman year in high school. For his JV squad.
The Gators punished the Volunteers all game with a score of 34-3.
Kyle Trask was 20/28 completions with a couple of passing touchdowns and interceptions.
Then lastly, the big game of college football yesterday was the HUGE matchup for Georgia as they welcomed in a seventh-ranked team in the country, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
If you didn’t see the game, let me tell you this, it was PHAT in Sanford Stadium. Yes… PHAT.
Red out at Georgia pic.twitter.com/CuKZFNQzuV
— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) September 22, 2019
A crazy game with a crazy finish as this was the last touchdown for Georgia as they would go on and beat the Irish, 23-17.
Fromm to Cager for the TD and the Georgia crowd erupts ?
— Bleacher Report CFB (@BR_CFB) September 22, 2019
What a ball from Jake Fromm.
Also, as a band member, shoutout to my fellow colleague in UGA’s band. Way to be passionate!!
When someone pulls in your driveway to turn around… pic.twitter.com/B0nGNJ42jq
— Chris Marler (@VerneFUNquist) September 22, 2019
Cats in the NFL
As college football has come to a close this week, that means one thing. NFL SUNDAY BABY!!! Here is today’s rundown with former Cats on the gridiron.
Hope everyone’s Sunday is a great one! Last day till we all get back to work and next Saturday will be here faster than we know it. One last thing, I want to give a shoutout to my brother and my mom, Happy Birthday!! Some of my favorite people that have made me who I am today!
Happy Fall, y’all. Go Cats!
By Drew Franklin on ©September 21st, 2019 @ 11:45pm
Well that didn’t go as expected.
Kentucky went down to Starkville with that post-Florida motivation on its side, to face a team that lost to Kansas State one week earlier on the same field, but the final score did not go in UK’s favor. Mississippi State fought off a late fight to win, 28-13; a fifth straight loss for the Cats in Davis Wade Stadium.
Here’s all I have to say about it:
Starting the game with a Pick 6 is no way to go through life.
First things first, the game got off to a HORRIBLE start with the Pick 6 on the first drive. When you’re a touchdown underdog playing on the road, you can’t give away seven points in the beginning of the game like that, especially to your opponent’s defense. You just can’t get in that hole when you’re already needing your best football to earn a road win in the SEC. Once Sawyer Smith hit the DB in the numbers and watched him take it the other way for a score, it set the tone for the game.
And Smith stared down his receiver before turning it over for the score. I think Bryan The Intern would’ve intercepted that ball.
I don’t know what to make of Lynn Bowden.
Lynn Bowden is a special talent. The University of Kentucky has a better football program because Lynn Bowden walked through that door three years ago. He’s as dynamic as they come, maybe the most dynamic since Randall Cobb. When Lynn Bowden has the ball, you sit up in your seat because you know he can break loose at any moment.
Lynn Bowden has made more than one mistake this season. Drops, quitting on routes, fumbles — he’s made mistakes that Lynn Bowden can’t make. For Lynn Bowden to be the Lynn Bowden he wants to be, a first-round pick and All-SEC talent, he can’t make the backbreaking mistakes he’s made on more than one occasion so far this year. He is still an otherworldly talent with the ball in his hands and I wouldn’t trade Lynn Bowden for anyone, but when you’re Lynn Bowden, you’re held to a different standard, and he has to clean up the mistakes. He knows it more than anyone and I’d bet he’s kicking himself over it right now because Lynn Bowden is too good at football to drop catchable balls.
Kicking is a problem. A big problem. So what does Mark Stoops do? Do you quit on Poore, the redshirt freshman kicker you recruited to be your guy? He is supposed to be your kicker for the next four years, but he missed a chip shot to potentially beat Florida and he was bad again in Starkville. 75 percent (I made that number up) of kicking field goals is mental, between the ears, and right now Poore’s confidence is shot. I don’t know what you do if you’re the UK coaching staff, but the current situation ain’t good.
A.J. Rose played well, so there’s that.
Rose heard everyone demanding he be benched and he responded with a 100-yard game on only nine touches. Kavosiey Smoke got more carries, like so many people demanded, and only rushed for 25 yards, but did get a score.
I’m not going to tell you what to do with your life, but instead of pitting them against each other in a running back competition, let’s just appreciate a deep stable of backs. One Saturday we’ll see Rose shine; other Saturdays it’ll be Smoke or maybe even Chris Rodriguez if he ever gets out of the doghouse for fumbling.
Mississippi State had two 100-yard rushers.
It’s hard to beat any team in America when that team has 250+ rushing yards from two guys. I don’t care what team it is; you’re having a bad day if two players combine for 265, like Mississippi State’s Kylin Hill and THIRD-STRING QUARTERBACK Garrett Shrader did.
UK’s front seven is strong this year. Not today, though.
I don’t care what anyone says… there is a backup QB curse.
For awhile I blamed the staff for not being ready or making adjustments for a new QB whenever there would be an unexpected change, but eventually you accept the curse and Kentucky is cursed by a higher being right now.
Who is Garrett Shrader and how in the world did he go 17-of-22 for 180 yards and another 125 on the ground? How???
Kentucky beat itself for a second week in a row.
You. Can. Not. Beat. Your. Self. In. The. S. E. C.
But that’s where we are right now. Last week, Kentucky was better than Florida. There is no debating that. Kentucky was the more talented football team, yet the final scoreboard said otherwise.
This week it was an even fight and Kentucky could’ve easily won that football game. The Pick 6, the missed field goals, dropped passes…. Kentucky made the mistakes you can’t make. Again. And there is another L because of it.
Let’s bounce back at South Carolina next week.
Clean it up and make it six straight against the Gamecocks. Let’s go.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©September 21st, 2019 @ 11:30pm
While there were numerous crucial moments that proved to be detrimental in Kentucky’s 28-13 loss to Mississippi State on Saturday night, it’s tough to argue that any single mishap was more costly than quarterback Sawyer Smith’s opening-drive interception returned for a touchdown.
While Kentucky turned things around in the second half and put itself in position to win late in the fourth quarter, it was evident that starting from behind killed any and all momentum the team had going into the game. A 7-0 start quickly snowballed into a 21-3 deficit with just over five minutes to go in the second quarter.
After the game, Smith took full responsibility for his early mistake and was quick to admit that it proved to make things difficult for his team moving forward.
“I threw the ball a little behind Justin Rigg,” the junior quarterback said. “You cannot start a football game off like that. And that kind of swung the momentum of the whole game. I have to work on that, take better care of the ball, and take the blame for what happened there.”
And while some felt the slow start was nothing more than a hangover from Kentucky’s disappointing loss to Florida last week, Smith said he didn’t believe that to be the case in the slightest. Take out his interception, and the 6-foot-3 quarterback believes the outcome of the game is different.
“No, I don’t think [there was a Florida hangover],” he said. “I think we had short memory with that. I think if I didn’t throw the pick-six at the start of the game, it’s a different game.”
But it wasn’t just the early interception that made life difficult for the Troy graduate transfer.
After tweaking his wrist a bit last week, Smith, who finished the day with 232 yards and an interception on 15-41 passing, also came up favoring his right shoulder after taking a hit near the end of the second quarter. After halftime came to a close and the Kentucky defense took the field, Smith returned to the locker room to have x-rays done, leaving third-string quarterback Walker Wood as the likely option to take over the offense.
Once the Kentucky offense returned to the field, though, so did Smith, with the junior quarterback sprinting out of the locker room and into the UK huddle to resume his duties under center.
After the game, Smith said his injury didn’t affect his performance in the second half and that he was ready to roll against South Carolina next week.
“No, I went back in, didn’t miss a snap,” he said. “I was good. I was good. I thought we passed the ball pretty well in the second half. I’m 100% [for next week].”
In terms of any other factors that could have potentially played into his his underwhelming performance against the Bulldogs, Smith was quick to dismiss them all.
Miscommunication with the wide receivers or offensive line struggles? Nope.
“They were bringing some good blitzes today and they just got to me a few times,” he said. “We made some plays, they made some plays. That’s nothing on the o-line, that’s probably just me needing to get rid of the ball. We were good communication wise, there were no missed assignments or anything.”
The hostile environment in Kentucky’s first true road game of the season? The obnoxious cowbells? Not that, either.
“No, I played at Clemson in Death Valley when I was a freshman,” he said. “They had a good environment here, but Clemson was a little more loud.”
At the end of the day, it simply came down to a few throws he’d like to get back.
“I mean, I think we left some points out there, especially late in the game,” Smith said. “You’ve got to convert there. I had about two or three throws that I wish I could have back right now. I just wish I had better throws.”
While Smith was hard on himself, Kentucky running back AJ Rose added that in the first half, no one on the team played with the fire necessary to win in a tough road environment like the one they saw in Starkville.
“I mean the pick on the opening drive, that was a killer,” he said. “But we just played flat the whole first half. We’ve got to change that and get better, go watch some film.”
While it was difficult to play from behind right out of the gates, Rose said no one on the team converted on the opportunities handed to them late in the second half.
“It’s definitely frustrating. We can’t play catch-up in this league,” the junior running back said. “We had all the chances in the world to come back at the end of the game, but unfortunately we didn’t.”
Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran also came to Sawyer’s defense, saying there were inconsistencies all over the field, including on the sideline with him as a coach. While he said the pick-six was a major gut punch, the offensive play-caller feels he deserves the most criticism out of everyone.
“I obviously didn’t get them ready to play today, and that’s totally on me,” Gran said. “I’ll go back and look. I really felt that a week ago we went into that game and gave them a chance to win. I’ll go back and watch this film, but with the first pass [thrown by Smith that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown], there was inconsistency with a lot of things. Not just catching balls, not just throwing on time. With picking up protections, we weren’t as good there. We came out and I just didn’t have them ready to play, that’s on me, and that just can’t happen.”
While he wasn’t happy with the total offensive product, Gran was impressed with how the Wildcats responded in the second half and feels they will be ready to compete on the road at South Carolina next week.
“I did think that after being challenged, they came out and competed in the second half,” he said. “On the road, that’s a tough climb, and we still had chances. Convert on a couple of those redzone plays, and that’s a different football game, in my opinion. But woulda, shoulda, coulda, those don’t get it done. That’s on me, and we’ll go back as an offensive staff and they’ve got to be ready on the road in a hostile environment again.”
At the end of the day, Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops still has confidence in his starting quarterback to find success moving forward.
“He’s just got to play. We all still have a lot of confidence in him,” Stoops said. “The kid is banged up already. He’s got a wrist and a shoulder [injury]. He’s banged up, but he’s going to lay it on the line and everyone can relate to that, respect that. He’s going to make mistakes. It was his second start and he’s going to learn from it.”
By Nick Roush on ©September 21st, 2019 @ 8:40pm
The fall from the mountaintop has been far from graceful. Five quarters of football ago, Kentucky was steamrolling a top ten team. Now, the Cats are 2-2 after an ugly first half of football in Starkville.
Before you wave the white flag or throw in the towel, allow me to remind you that it’s just one game.
To say the Cats were bad in the first half would be an understatement, but this team did not quit. They fought tooth and nail and had the chance to win on the road before ultimately failing to capitalize on fourth quarter opportunities. If they bring that fight to the second half of the season, there’s plenty of success that can be salvaged.
Before the season, the dream scenario was a 2-1 record through the Florida-Miss. State-South Carolina stretch of games. Even if Kentucky falls to 0-3 in this stretch, winning eight regular season games for just the second time since the mid-80s is still in play thanks to a lackluster second half of the schedule. If you’re prepared to write off a sixth straight win vs. South Carolina, allow me to inform you that South Carolina got housed 34-14 today at Missouri.
We saw talent in the trenches and in the backfield in Starkville. A.J. Rose had his first 100-yard rushing day, getting 105 yards on only nine carries. We also saw some serious deficiencies could plague the team for the rest of the season.
In week one, Kentucky’s wide receivers had their best game in recent memory. A month after not dropping a pass for 60 minutes, UK’s wideouts dropped three passes that would have scored touchdowns. If Lynn Bowden reels in the long bombs, Kentucky does not have to go to the red zone, its worst enemy in 2019. Without Benny Snell chewing up yards, UK has left the red zone without scoring on five of its 16 attempts, just over 30% of the time. That is losing football.
Kentucky would not leave the red zone empty-handed so often if Chance Poore could kick from the hashmarks. He can kick any ball straight, but once it gets to the hashes, it’s out. It’s hard to win football games win your kicker can’t help you hang around when you are not at your best. UK may have to roll with Matt Ruffalo if Poore cannot shake off the dreaded yips.
The harshest reality to accept is that Terry Wilson is gone for the season. After an exceptional first start, Sawyer Smith took a step back in Starkville, throwing a pick six on his second pass attempt and completing just 15-of-41 throws. Will Smith improve? Sure. This mirrors what happened when he was inserted into the starting role at Troy. Even so, Kentucky cannot live up to their potential without Terry Wilson at quarterback.
The passing game doesn’t get any better on the other side of the football. Garrett Shrader entered this game completing 47 percent of his passes through two games. Tonight he completed 17-of-22 (77%) for 180 yards. Through four games, opposing quarterbacks have been able to get whatever they want underneath. That doesn’t look like it’s changing anytime soon.
The Big Blue Nation learned some harsh realities in Starkville. Mark Stoops’ team can fight through some of the early season growing pains to get back on track, although, fixing the problems in the offensive and defensive passing game might not happen at all. It does not mean that Kentucky still can’t be successful in the second half of the season. How they perform next Saturday in Columbia will tell us if they’re prepared to fight to make things right.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 21st, 2019 @ 8:22pm
Senior linebacker Kash Daniel did not start vs. Mississippi State, nor did he represent the squad as team captain, a decision Mark Stoops told reporters he came to after watching the second angle of the incident vs. Florida, which showed Kash grabbing and twisting Gators quarterback Kyle Trask’s ankle as he got up from a dog pile.
“With Kash’s situation, after that second viewing came out and looking at that again — because obviously that was a little different viewing. We all felt, I just talked to Kash — and myself and Kash, we have a great respect for this game and we’re going to honor the game and do things as good as we possibly can. That was 100% my call to not have him be a captain and not have him play to start the game.
“I know you’re going to open yourself up to more or less or anything else but the way we’re going to try to do things right. We’re not perfect. We try to respect the game. Our players are going to respect the game and respect people and compete. It’s an emotional game, so I’d like to just leave it at that.”
On Wednesday night, Kash vehemently denied committing a dirty play, claiming that he was instead trying to free his hand from the pile. On Thursday after practice, Stoops told reporters Kash would play vs. Mississippi State, but admitted tonight that at the time, he was still considering a punishment.
“I said he’d be out there. I was still mulling through everything at that point and thinking and talking to Kash and working my way through it.”
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 21st, 2019 @ 7:55pm
Kentucky’s bad showing in Starkville was exacerbated by an injury to quarterback Sawyer Smith’s shoulder. The junior out of Troy was 15-41 for 232 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception in Kentucky’s 28-13 loss to Mississippi State, and was in noticeable pain throughout the second half.
“Sawyer got hurt at the end of the second quarter,” Mark Stoops said after the game. “He got dinged with his shoulder, went in, got an X-ray. At the start of the second half, he gave it some throws and was hurt, was in pain. They went in and X-rayed it and he came back. I thought he was done but he came back, gutted it out and really gave us everything he had in the second half but he was dinged up in the shoulder”
Sawyer also hurt his wrist at the end of the Florida game, but Stoops is hopeful he’ll be able to go vs. South Carolina.
“I would think [he’ll be able to play] but you don’t know how he’s going to respond or what he’s going to wake up and feel like.”
Stoops added later that he admired Sawyer’s grit in returning and trying to lead the comeback.
“He’s just got to play. We all still have a lot of confidence in him. The kid is banged up already. He’s got a wrist and a shoulder [injury]. He’s banged up, but he’s going to lay it on the line and everyone can relate to that, respect that. He’s going to make mistakes. It was his second start and he’s going to learn from it.”
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 21st, 2019 @ 7:36pm
By Nick Roush on ©September 21st, 2019 @ 7:20pm
In the first half, I don’t think you could describe what Kentucky did in Starkville as “football.” An ugly affair, Mark Stoops’ team put the embarrassing 30 minutes in the past to mount a valiant second half comeback. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late.
Mississippi State weathered the storm and played stout in the red zone to hold off Kentucky for a 28-13 at Davis Wade Stadium.
A pick six from Sawyer Smith on the fourth play of the game immediately put Kentucky behind the eight-ball. The Bulldogs surged to a 21-3 lead before the Cats showed any life. An interception by Quandre Mosely gave UK a chance to score in the final minute, until a deep ball bounced off Lynn Bowden’s fingertips, setting up a 47-yard missed field goal by Chance Poore.
The Cats turned a new page in the second half. After the defense forced a fumble, UK went 80 yards in 11 plays to setup a Kavosiey Smoke 2-yard touchdown run. A quick stop gave UK another scoring opportunity, driving all the way down to the 8-yard line. Instead of scoring a touchdown, Poore missed his second field goal of the night, UK’s second scoreless trip to the red zone of the night.
Kentucky got one more shot at putting up points, but the 26-yard miss cut too deep. The Cats settled for a field goal, this time by Matt Ruffalo, to make it a one-score game. Needing a stop, Garrett Shrader’s 49-yard run set up a score that officially iced the game.
The Cats were hungover from the Florida loss for a half. Luckily, it was only one half. If the Cats can solve their red zone woes, there’s still a path to a successful season.
By Nick Roush on ©September 21st, 2019 @ 5:36pm
Well, that was…something.
On the fourth play of the game Willie Gay Jr. jumped Sawyer Smith’s pass to Justin Rigg for an interception. The pick six set the tone for the rest of UK’s abysmal first half. At least Quandre Mosely picked off a pass right before the end of the half, but the Cats could not cut into State’s 21-3 lead.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©September 21st, 2019 @ 3:15pm
Kentucky football has arrived at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville.
This afternoon, the UK coaches and players were greeted with cheers from the Big Blue Nation as the buses pulled up for the first road CatWalk of the year.
KSR was there to see head coach Mark Stoops walk off the bus first, followed by Vince Marrow, Eddie Gran, Darin Hinshaw, and the rest of the football department.
Check out the footage:
And it didn’t take long to get settled in, with the Wildcats taking the field for warm-ups not long after.
T-minus 45 minutes until kickoff.
Let’s get this money.
By Nick Roush on ©September 21st, 2019 @ 3:00pm
QB1 for Mississippi State is officially out.
Tommy Stevens was not dressed in full gear when he walked onto the field at Davis Wade Stadium. The Penn State grad transfer injured his throwing shoulder two weeks ago against Southern Miss, limited to only one half of action in last week’s loss to Kansas State.
Without Stevens, Joe Moorhead will turn to true freshman Garret Shrader. In his first two games he’s completed only 47 percent of his passes for 122 yards. The dual-threat quarterback has been more effective on the ground. He’s scored a touchdown and is averaging 5.2 yards per carry in 19 attempts.
Shrader’s most deadly weapon is this beautiful neck beard.
If Kentucky’s front four can pressure Shrader and force him to throw from the pocket, it could be a long afternoon for the Dogs in Starkville.
Stevens is not the only player sidelined. The Bulldogs will also be without their second-best wide receiver, Steven Guidry. While they lose two, they’re adding two on defense.
Defensive tackle Lee Autry and linebacker Willie Gay Jr. are just a few of the players who have been suspended seven games for improper use of an academic tutor. They can serve those suspensions at Joe Moorhead’s discretion. That means State’s ball coach believes this is one of the most important games of the season. Coaches desperate for a win will do whatever it takes; keep that in mind throughout this afternoon’s action.
By Brandon Ramsey on ©September 21st, 2019 @ 2:45pm
It’s GAMEDAY!!! Kentucky suffered a heartbreaking loss last week at Kroger Field, but the great thing about college football is that we have a new week in front of us now. The ‘Cats are in Starkville wearing their all whites and ready to bounce back with a big SEC East road win!
1) Who is Playing Quarterback?
- Terry Wilson may be gone, but at least Kentucky fans know who will be under center this afternoon. Bulldog fans, however, are still waiting to see who will be available to lead their offense. Penn State grad transfer Tommy Stevens has had to leave the last two games due to a shoulder injury and is certainly banged up. True freshman Garrett Shrader stepped in and has only completed 47.8% of his passes during his time at quarterback. Shrader is able to make some plays with his legs, but if Mississippi State is forced to turn to him they may be limited in terms of passing the ball.
2) Great Rushing Attack
- Especially with the uncertainly at QB, the Bulldogs will turn to star Running Back Kylin Hill to lead the offense. Hill is the SEC’s leading rusher and is currently ranked third in the FBS with 431 rushing yards. The workhorse rusher did his part during last week’s loss to Kansas State running for 116 yards on 24 carries. Regardless of which Quarterback gets the nod this afternoon they will look to run a bit as well, Stevens and Shrader combined for 17 runs for over 100 yards last week. Still, it will be Hill who will be looked upon to do the majority of the ground work and Kentucky’s defense will need to be up to the task to keep the talented Junior from running wild.
3) Defensive Question Marks
- Mississippi State lost 3 first-round picks to the NFL last year on the defensive side of the ball and the talent gap has shown through the first 3 weeks of the season. Sawyer Smith should be given plenty of time in the pocket as the Bulldog pass rush has only gotten 1 sack in 3 games this year. Linebacker Erroll Thompson, Safeties Brian Cole II and Jaquarius Landrews, and Corner Cameron Dantzler are the names to know on the Bulldog defense. Kentucky should have opportunities to move the ball and will simply need to limit turnovers in order to put points on the board.
4) Shaky Special Teams-Lynn Bowden Touchdown?
- I’m going to go ahead and call it, today is the day we get a Lynn Bowden Kick Return/Punt Return for a touchdown. The Bulldogs surrendered a kick return touchdown last week and Kicker Scott Goodman has not been good at getting touchbacks so Bowden should have the opportunities to make plays on special teams.
5) Unimpressive Start to the Season
- The Bulldogs struggled Week 1 against Louisiana, not LSU, not just Louisiana, coming away with a 38-28 victory. Mississippi State took care of Southern Miss in Week 2 despite giving up a few big plays through the air. Last week Kansas State came into Starkville and beat the Bulldogs 31-24. K-State got outgained 352 to 269 but took advantage of 3 turnovers to secure the win.
By Adam Luckett on ©September 21st, 2019 @ 2:30pm
The crushing loss to Florida is still fresh on everyone’s mind, but the season rolls on like a freight train coming downhill. Mark Stoops and his squad make the trip to Starkville for the fourth time and the hope is that he can finally get a victory in Davis Wade Stadium.
Nuts and Bolts
Before Dan Mullen arrived in Starkville, the Mississippi State Bulldogs were the kings of mediocrity in the SEC West. Former Washington State, Pittsburgh, and Texas A&M head coach Jackie Sherrill took over the program in 1991 and he followed six coaches who all had career losing records at the school. Despite an SEC West title and four AP Top 25 finishes, Sherrill would finish with just a .5oo record after 13 seasons.
Sylvester Croom stepped in the following year to become the first African-American head football coach in SEC history. The NFL assistant and former Alabama center went just 21-38 in five seasons with just one bowl appearance. After 2008, State convinced Florida offensive coordinator Dan Mullen to make the move to Starkville.
The Urban Meyer disciple quickly became the best coach in program history by recording 69 wins in nine seasons with three AP Top 25 finishes. Mullen had the Bulldogs in the national title hunt in 2014 and appeared to have another contender returning in 2018 before he left after the 2017 season. His presence still looms large in Starkville.
Newly appointed athletic director John Cohen quickly hired Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead once the job opened despite no ties to the south. Moorhead has surprised some on the recruiting trail, but his offenses have not been what they were cracked up to be through 16 games.
At Penn State, Moorhead had the No. 6 scoring offense in FBS in 2017 thanks to the work done by Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley. The heavy RPO scheme took the Big Ten by storm his two seasons in State College and Moorhead quickly became a huge hit.
"The transition to Joe Moorhead from Dan Mullen is going to be about as seamless as you can possibly get. That offense is good enough to put the fear of God into anybody it plays" – @BarrettSallee pic.twitter.com/9zLeSUOY3C
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) April 23, 2018
With a roster loaded with legit NFL defensive talent at each level and an experienced quarterback, many thought Mississippi State could challenge Alabama for the SEC West last season. That was not the case.
On their way to an 8-5 season, the Bulldogs were upset three separate times and most notably lost to Dan Mullen in his return trip to Starkville. State put up a combined three points against Alabama and LSU on their way to finishing unranked after being upset by Iowa in the Outback Bowl. Despite a contract extension, there is some pressure on the former Fordham head coach this season.
Joe Moorhead has agreed to a four-year contract extension through the 2022 season.#HailState?
— Mississippi State Football (@HailStateFB) May 21, 2019
This will be the 47th meeting in the series with the teams tied up at 23 games apiece. Kentucky has won two of the last three, but before that lost seven in a row. UK hasn’t won in Starkville since 2008.
Out in the desert, Mississippi State is a 6-point favorite with a total of 48.5. That’s a projected final score of around 27-21. UK is 3-0 against the spread this season with the over hitting each time. Mississippi State is 1-2 against the number with the over hitting each outing. The Bulldogs have been the betting favorite in the series every year since Mark Stoops arrived. The last time UK was favored was in Dan Mullen’s first season a decade ago.
It was clear that Joe Moorhead’s offense just didn’t work for Nick Fitzgerald last season. Despite dual-threat quarterback Keytaon Thompson having a bunch of talent blended with experience, the second-year head coach decided to go with something more reliable.
Tommy Stevens decided to grad transfer from Penn State after it became clear that Sean Clifford was going to win the QB1 job. It did not take long for him to pledge to Mississippi State. The 6-foot-5, 235-pound righty got off to a fast start throwing for two scores and averaging 7.9 yards per attempt in the season opening win over Louisiana. However, Stevens injured his shoulder the next week against Southern Miss and did not look like himself against Kansas State.
The Indianapolis native has been pulled in consecutive games and only completed 7 of his 15 passes last week. The grad transfer is clearly dealing with a shoulder issue and we’re not sure if he’ll be ready to play a full 60 minutes despite being listed as day-to-day. A true freshman has been used off the bench.
Garrett Shrader was a top-250 prospect and Moorhead’s first quarterback recruit. The plan was to redshirt the 6-foot-4, 220-pound freshman but an injury to Stevens and Keytaon Thompson’s unknown status has forced him into early action. Through two halves of football, Shrader has been the SEC’s least accurate passer.
The dual-threat is completing just 47.8 percent of his passes with a woeful 5.3 yards per attempt average. State could be in trouble if they have to turn to him, but he can do damage on the ground and isn’t afraid to put his body on the line.
HE WENT AIRBORNE ? pic.twitter.com/I0eLNsn7gh
— ESPN (@espn) September 14, 2019
This offense wants to toss the ball around the yard, but it is clear that State is dealing with some significant quarterback issues at the moment. The Bulldogs likely need to lean on the run, but that is not a bad thing when you have Kylin Hill to ride.
The Mississippi native was a huge recruiting win for Dan Mullen and he currently leads the SEC in rushing. Hill ranks third in the FBS in rush yards (431) and his 21.7 carries per game rank sixth. He has been a workhorse despite suffering an ankle injury against Southern Miss. Expect a heavy workload from No. 8 on Saturday because the other two backs on the depth chart have a combined 17 carries through three games.
The Mississippi State receivers really struggled last season and they might have had the worst receiving corps in the SEC in 2018. Most of those guys return, but this group still has a long way to go. Osirus Mitchell is turning into the go-to option.
The former low three-star prospect leads the team in receptions (13) and is putting up 16 yards per grab with three touchdowns. He has a next level frame (6-foot-5, 210 pounds) and will be a tough cover.
Outside of Mitchell, the Dogs are really scrambling. Junior college transfer Stephen Guidry was a big time recruit who just hasn’t panned out. Redshirt senior Deddrick Thomas operates out of the slot, but the long-time reserve has been inefficient. Farrod Green is more of a blocker than pass catcher at tight end. Big things were expected from Kansas State grad transfer Isaiah Zuber, but he has been a disappointment through three games.
Joe Moorhead is 16 games in and he’s still desperately searching for good, consistent wide receiver play.
In the trenches, redshirt senior Darryl Williams returns and slides down to center after starting at left guard. He figures to be one of the top centers taken in the upcoming NFL Draft. He wasn’t the only one who shifted around this offseason. Stewart Reese move from right tackle to right guard while Greg Eiland went from left tackle to right tackle. State has a lot of experience in this group.
Bob Shoop got his first FBS defensive coordinator gig when James Franklin was hired at Vanderbilt and since then he’s been running defenses. Shoop has worked at Vandy, Penn State, Tennessee and Mississippi State with only one of his defenses finishing outside the top-50. Four of his units have finished in the top-20 with last year’s group taking home the crown as the top defense in FBS. Despite all that, Eddie Gran has had a ton of success against him.
In three meetings with Gran calling plays, Kentucky is putting up 31 points per game and 6.6 yards per play. Despite never passing for more than 200 yards in a single game, UK is still averaging seven yards per rush attempt. For some reason, Gran has had Shoop’s number.
Lost off last year’s defense were three first-round picks and they’ve been dearly missed. Most notably Jeffery Simmons and Montez Sweat on the line. Those two were unblockable and this year State is really missing the havoc they created. So far the defensive line has only produced 3.5 tackles for loss and one sack despite having a two-deep littered with former blue-chip recruits. This is the biggest reason Bob Shoop’s defense ranks 11th or worse in the SEC in yards per play, yards per pass, scoring, and rushing.
At the second level, Erroll Thompson was a preseason All-SEC selection and is one of the finer Mike linebackers in college football. He’s second on the team in tackles and this will likely be the redshirt junior’s final season in college football. Kentucky better get him blocked when they run inside zone.
Former Kentucky target Brian Cole II made a pitstop at East Mississippi Community College after transferring from Michigan before landing in the Starkville. The senior plays the Star position (nickel) for the Bulldogs and has been very good this season. He leads the team in sacks and causes the most havoc of any individual player.
Leading tackler Jaquarius Landrews lines up at strong safety, but corner Cameron Dantzler is the name to know.
The junior missed last week’s game against Kansas State, but will be back this week. The Louisiana native was a second-team All-SEC member last season and look for him to be the guy State puts on Ahmad Wagner more often than not.
Special Teams Breakdown
Currently the Bulldogs rank 108th in the SP+ rankings thanks to some iffy play all around the board.
Kansas State recorded a kickoff return touchdown and gained 44 yards on punt returns last week. Kickoff specialist Scott Goodman has a touchback rate of just 42 percent. The Bulldogs have hit just 3-of-5 field goals and are averaging just 17.9 yards per kick return.
Malik Dear has been a highlight in the punt return department and that’s about the only good thing going for their special teams.
Keys to Victory
- Despite Kylin Hill doing his thing on the ground, State has struggled to protect the passer. The offense currently has a sack rate of nine percent and that is no bueno. UK’s defense has a sack rate of 6.5 percent and that has a chance to bump up on Saturday.
- It’s going to be a hot afternoon in Starkville and depth will be a question mark for both teams. Due to last week’s targeting penalty, T.J. Carter will miss the first half and Phil Hoskins is currently listed as questionable. That means Kordell Looney will be getting his first career start. UK could be calling on youngsters Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald, Davoan Hawkins, and Qua Mahone to play early. They need to be up to the challenge to slow down the run.
- In just about every statistical category, Mississippi State’s defense ranks towards the bottom of the SEC except one. The Bulldogs have been excellent in forcing takeaways having created 10 turnovers in just three games. That leads the SEC and ranks second nationally. Ball security has been an issue for Kentucky and if they don’t get it fixed it could cost them another close game.
Just a week before Mississippi State kicked off the season, the school reached an agreement on a punishment with the NCAA due to a tutor taking exams and doing assignments for student-athletes. However, due to a government law, the names of the players are not allowed to be identified. After three games, we have a good idea who those players are.
Starting defensive tackle Lee Autry played against Southern Miss, but missed the two other games. Starting Will linebacker Willie Gay Jr. has missed all three games. These are the most prominent players that seemed to be tied to the suspensions, but there are others such as backup safety Marcus Murphy and former blue-chip receiver Devonta Jason.
The school is allowed to stagger these suspensions so it’s not a guarantee that these players will miss Saturday’s game. Add this in with the starting placekicker being suspended the first game for a DUI arrest and it has been quite the roster balancing act.
By Nick Roush on ©September 21st, 2019 @ 1:45pm
Kentucky is hungry to put the Florida game in the past. If the Cats can successfully execute the following, it will be a whole lot easier to leave Starkville with a win.
1. Pressure the Quarterback
No matter who is taking snaps for Mississippi State, the Bulldogs’ offensive line has not been good at protecting the quarterback in the first three games of the season. State quarterbacks have been sacked seven times, the most in the SEC. Their 7.6% sack rate ranks 88th in college football.
Kentucky’s defense has accumulated seven sacks so far this season, but they’ve been awfully close to a handful more. If the defensive line turns those hurries into sacks, whoever is lined up under center is going to have a long day.
2. Take Care of the Football
This could be a “key to the game” before every game. The numbers heavily favor Mississippi State in this matchup. The Bulldogs have ten takeaways already, with seven coming from fumbles. Even if their luck runs out, UK can’t make it easy for them. The Cats have put the ball on the ground four times and thrown three interceptions. That trend needs to stop ASAP.
3. Anybody But Kylin Hill
Mississippi State’s best offensive weapon is a bruiser in the backfield. Kylin Hill has rushed for at least 100 yards in every game and leads the conference with 431 rushing yards. The strength of Kentucky’s defense is in the middle against the run, Hill’s bread and butter. If Kentucky wins this matchup, it’s going to be awfully difficult for Joe Moorhead’s offense to score points.
4. Finish in the Red Zone
To put it simply, UK has left too many points off the scoreboard this season. In 12 trips to the red zone, Kentucky has scored eight touchdowns and lefty empty-handed three times. Being successful in short yardage situations and ball security will solve this devastating problem.
By Nick Roush on ©September 21st, 2019 @ 1:15pm
Beau Allen put on a show in the Holy War between Lexington Catholic and Lexington Christian Academy. KSR was there to see it all.
The future Kentucky quarterback was almost perfect through the air, completing 24-of-28 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns, including a 31-yard dime that tied the game up in the fourth quarter after the Knights trailed by two touchdowns. He also rushed for 142 yards and three touchdowns, including a score from 43 yards out.
Unfortunately, it was not enough for the Knights to win. LCA’s Mattie Lebryk stripped the ball from Allen with two minutes to play. In less than a minute LCA marched down the field, scored a touchdown and completed a two-point conversion to take the lead. Allen got the Knights into field goal range with four seconds to play, but the 33-yard attempt missed.
Allen finished the night with five touchdowns and 374 total yards, yet LCA left with the 43-42 victory.