Buy or Sell: Your hot takes on UK football
Once again CI publisher Justin Rowland takes on your UK football hot takes...
As you might expect, they're hot after UK moved to 1-0 in league play after the first game on 2021 SEC schedule. The Cats are now alone in first place in the SEC.
You're right. And he's got some weapons down there. A really good line. A quarterback who isn't afraid to throw the ball into the end zone on a short field. A great running back who apparently can now catch. A balanced assortment of tight ends. Two good SEC-level starting receivers. And he's made good use of them. I was impressed that he doubled down on the ground game and didn't try too hard to get cute.
That's a really good win that should have been by a larger margin. And yes, cleaning it up would have done it. The line was five last time I checked and they won by seven. It's not going to be easy in the SEC. This game was between two of the better teams in the East, or so we think it was. Had there not been the goal line fumble before the half, a 14-point swing, it feels very different.
They just did, so definitely buy that. Mizzou is one of the better offenses they will face. Kentucky might need to win a couple more shootouts because the defense is going to need to lock down better than last night. I wonder how comfortable Stoops was coaching more of an up and down the field game last night.
The funny thing is they ran the ball probably 75% of the time but it did feel like a shootout. They can probably trust the passing game even though Levis had just 18 attempts.
This makes sense to me. I think the defense is going to be okay overall but the pass rush, pressure, and havoc issues were too pronounced to ignore. Three tackles for loss on well over 70 Mizzou plays isn't good enough and it reinforces a narrative from the offseason. The offense is good enough, the defense suspect enough in a couple of areas (pressure, CB depth) that there could be more swings in play and outcomes than usual.
I thought the coverage could have improved but the tackling in the open field has to get better. Too many times Tyler Badie or one of Bazelak's other pass catchers juked the first man to the ball. There were some big-time throws, too, like the one Bazelak made on the touchdown throw across his body to Chism against coverage.
Agreed, everyone should be excited about this team.
They're at least the third best team in the East this year. They're pretty clearly the third best program in the East. I don't want to stick them in that third spot for sure this year because the game against Florida could be interesting.
Tend to agree with you on UGA. I think they'll score on the Bulldogs this year and it could be more interesting but have to continue to go with the talent on that defense especially.
Quandre Mosely played really well when he was in the game. That was important to see from their No. 3 corner. But the depth situation is far from ideal, especially with the legal issues as you said. I'm not sure it's problematic as a distraction because they're 2-0 and getting used to playing in those circumstances.
They're throwing the ball down the field really well. Levis is 6/10 with a whole bunch of yards and several touchdowns on throws 20+ yards down the field. I think they're picking good spots for that.
Turnovers have been a problem. Not only are they losing that battle, they've been untimely and UK hasn't been forcing as many.
We'll see a blowout this coming week. Had there not been the fumble before the half UK goes up 28-7 and the second half is probably different. I don't want to say it would have been a blowout though.
This is one of my favorite takes from after this game and I agree wholeheartedly. Find a way to generate pressure on opposing QBs and 10 wins is not out of the question. But they're going to lose a game or two that will make fans upset if they struggle to create havoc at the level they did last night.
I mentioned on social media last night that the change goes back to 2018. Give Josh Allen a lot of the credit for single-handedly willing Kentucky to close out some of those games defensively. Before 2018 this is a game they lost. Guaranteed. Since then, they've found ways to close out some games that looked grim. When Mizzou tied it up at 28 ... Well, it's impressive they reversed that momentum and closed it out.
That's going to be a question that follows this team until they prove it shouldn't. I do think that they showed last night, when push came to shove, a couple of guys stretched themselves and elevated to make a play. That's a good sign and they've got a lot of leadership.
Sell. I know they left some points out there and they shouldn't have given up all they did, but I'd call that their B- game. Not their best but not a clunker.
Liam Coen felt that way too. After the game he cited the fumble and how they had almost put them away in the first half before catching himself. It sure looked like that was the case. That was a huge turning point.
And yes, they seem like a hard team (and Bazelak seems like a hard quarterback) to pressure.
Way too early for that in my mind. I'd still put Texas A&M third in spite of them looking so bad against Colorado. They just find ways to win under Jimbo. After that trio I'd put Kentucky in a cluster with Florida, Auburn, Ole Miss, Arkansas, and maybe even Mississippi State as the next tier.
Time will tell. We still have to find out how good the defense really is. There are some things they can clean up to really improve from Saturday. Conversely, there's been some sloppiness in different respects and we'll see if that's a feature or a bug as we watch more games. It's just hard for me to say how they should be playing through two weeks. But I do tend to agree that we haven't seen their best game yet.
It would not surprise me if they beat one of those teams. But I'm not sure I'll ever not be surprised if they beat both of them. Florida's quarterback who is running all over people is going to be hard to contain. LSU's got a lot of talent. But I'm leaning toward thinking UK takes one of those games.
Definitely on the deep ball. He may be the best deep ball thrower I've seen at Kentucky, at least since Tim Couch. On the crossing patterns, intermediates and short stuff, there's still room to improve. I think you've got to be happy with it overall though.
Special teams can definitely stand to be cleaned up. There have been some hold your breath moments and the blocked field goal wasn't good. The punting has taken a step back as expected. There's nothing that would cause you to panic but it can improve. The tackling would be one of the issues I'd circle as needing to improve after Saturday, as well as the pass rush, so buy that for sure.
I don't think he'll go in the first three rounds but he's going to have interest and will have the opportunity to play his way onto a roster. He's not the kind of freak that Jamin Davis was but he's very experienced and plays hard. That was a great game for him and helps his cause for the next level.
I thought it was the right call at the time and said so myself. It wasn't one of the harder kicks Ruffolo is going to attempt this season and if you go up 10 with that amount of time left the game is over. In hindsight, I see that those calling for Stoops to go for it also had a solid case to make. One yard, the way they'd run the ball? Game over if they get it.
If that's how you feel I'm not going to try and argue you out of that position but I think, trying to be objective, that Kentucky would be an underdog on a neutral field in both games. Against LSU they'd probably be an underdog by a couple of points and against Florida it might be a little more. But I see both games as winnable and great opportunities for the program.
Excellent point and I felt that way during the game seeing all the comments on the forums and social media. They were five point favorites and won by seven. It was arguably their biggest game of the year and they won. They're 2-0 and 1-0 in the SEC. That's a great spot to be in and people are mad that they didn't put the game away in the first half.
Buy. Definitely better to worry about cleaning up ball security after only two games, especially since the turnovers have largely been pretty flukey. Smoke's fumble two games ago was the worst but C-Rod's fumble was a helmet on the ball and pretty tough to avoid, while Levis' two picks are timing throws they can focus on.
I'm not saying you're right, but it wouldn't shock me. Lots of football to be played this year so who knows how people will feel about Coen by the end of the year but you have to say he's orchestrated a pretty remarkable turnaround thus far.
I think they're going to tackle better on the perimeter than we saw from them this week. And I definitely agree with the second sentence. I've long felt this is a tough matchup because of how Kentucky gives up the short stuff, and how Bazelak will take that all day. He's like the point guard you can't speed up beyond his comfort zone, and has some guys who are tough to bring down.
Well, they weren't going to beat Georgia just running right at them and trying to out-physical them. You have to be balanced and present the threat of the big play. So this offense at least gives them a chance. The defense has to be a lot better to win that game.
They're going to be above .500 overall, the question is whether they can get to 5-3 or 6-2 in the SEC. But I agree with you that Weaver is the most important player on the defense because he's got a knack for havoc and stepping up to create it, which is just what they need.