QUICK TAKES: UK vs. Eastern Michigan
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky's 38-17 victory over Eastern Michigan proved bittersweet on Saturday night at Kroger Field. The Wildcats dominated most of the game against their second consecutive MAC opponent to open the season but lost starting quarterback Terry Wilson in the process.
Wilson, who has won 12 of his first 15 starts since arriving at UK, went down with a left knee injury late in the third quarter after a horse-collar tackle by Eastern Michigan's Turan Rush. The junior quarterback was carted off the field and will have an MRI on Sunday to reveal the extent of the damage.
Prior to leaving the game, Wilson had completed 14 of 26 passes for 114 yards, rushed for 43 yards and a touchdown, and caught a 32-yard pass from Lynn Bowden out of the "Wildcat" formation.
Sawyer Smith, a graduate transfer from Troy, came off the bench to complete five of nine passes for 76 yards and a pair of touchdowns -- a 54-yard strike to Ahmad Wagner on the first attempt of his UK career and a 2-yard score to Lynn Bowden late in the game.
Kentucky (2-0) had a balanced offensive attack with 239 yards on the ground and 222 through the air. Redshirt freshman running back Kavosiey Smoke led the rushing attack with 11 carries for 92 yards and a touchdown. Junior running back A.J. Rose added 82 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.
Eastern Michigan (1-1) passed for 337 yards but was held to 49 yards rushing on 22 attempts by the UK defense, which forced two turnovers.
In this Cats Illustrated feature, our staff shares its first impressions on the UK victory...
I was all set to talk about this game when UK was on cruise control in the third quarter ... and then Terry Wilson got hurt. We had heard Sawyer Smith throws a nice deep ball and he confirmed that right way. Kentucky does give up some in the way of mobility if Wilson is out, but we don't know much else. This introduces so much uncertainty moving forward, but my gut instinct is that Kentucky can still find a way to succeed if Smith is behind center. More on tonight's game, a truly dominating first-half performance that should have resulted in a larger scoring disparity. But I was most impressed by how the overall roster depth and talent showed up on both sides of the ball.
The talk of the game will be what’s severity of Wilson’s injury, but the thing that stood out most to me was the number of times the Cats were undisciplined on offense. Kentucky could’ve easily been up 24-30 points at the end of the first half but, because of untimely penalties, drops, and fumbles, they left points on the board. However, some playmakers arose. Kavosiey Smoke has shown that he can be an elite level running back and Ahmad Wagner continues to show that he can be a deep ball threat, something the ‘Cats will need if Terry Wilson is out for the foreseeable future.
This game felt a lot like last week's game against Toledo, although I don't think Eastern Michigan posed as big a threat as the Rockets did. UK was in total control from the start but once again hurt itself with penalties, fumbles, and mental mistakes. The fact that the Cats have put up 38 points in each of their first two games is kind of impressive considering the number of times they've shot themselves in the foot. The big question now is how they will react as the competition level goes a notch higher with Florida coming to town next weekend and the uncertainty surrounding Wilson's injury.