(image courtesy of Chuck Cook-USA Today Sports)
The first game of the 2017 season has come and gone and Kentucky is 1-0. Lots of positives and negatives but at the end of the day we’re 1-0 which is better than last season. With the win, UK now leads the series against Southern Miss 2-1. This also marks Kentucky’s 600th win as a football program. Here are some takeaways.
1. Too much wildcat?
I like the wildcat formation as much as the next guy but I thought we ran it too much today. One play in I want to point out is the play on 3rd & inches when we ran the wildcat with Sihiem King. In that situation I’d rather see AJ Rose who has a bit more power than King (Snell was hurt at the time). We became too predictable out of the wildcat as we ran every time and by halftime, USM wasn’t even worried about a possible pass play. If UK wants to be successful out of the wildcat, we have to mix things up a bit.
2. Darius West was impressive
In his return, Darius West had an impressive game that included two forced fumbles. Not only did he force two fumbles, both were recovered by Kentucky. Another impressive play Darius had was on USM’s second to last drive when he made a potentially game saving tackle. Griggs for USM had broke two tackles and had green grass to the end zone but West was able to catch up and make the tackle. If he can play how he did today, he can revive his career quickly.
3. Johnson to Conrad finally worked
Remember last year when Stephen Johnson always missed the over the middle pass to CJ Conrad? It looks like that’s in the pass as they connected three times over the middle for three big gains. The first one went for 59 yards down to the four, the second one was a 23 yard reception for a TD, and the final one was an easy 15 yard catch. Conrad ended the day with 97 yards and a TD on only three receptions. If they can keep that connection healthy, big things are coming for both guys.
4. Defense looked like an SEC defense
The defense made a great effort today as they were gassed by the 4th quarter due to limited time on offense. You could see that fatigue in the 2nd half as they were missing tackles but they won the game for the cats today. Three fumble recoverys by the defense gave the offense great field position which lead to our very little offensive production. Josh Allen was a beast today as well as he forced a fumble and recovery as well as being in the backfield constantly. Defense 100% won this game for Kentucky today.
5. We found a punter!
Field position lost us some games last year and today it looked like it’s in the rear view mirror. Matt Panton looked really good today as he put the ball inside the one yard line twice. USM had to start inside the 20 seven times due to our great punting. If we can win the field position battle, our defense showed today they can force turnovers and get the offense into short field situations. Is Kentucky punterU again?
Overall I would consider this game sloppy. You’ll always take the win but we definitely got some improving to do. Take this game with a grain of salt as there’s always rust to wipe off in the first game. We’ll get another opportunity to knock off some rust next week against EKU. Don’t forget to follow @ukfansallday on Twitter and Facebook as well as me which is @BradenNeviusBBN!