Kentucky Opens Conference Play with Early SEC East Showdown
Kentucky will head under the lights for the first time this season when it opens Southeastern Conference play against divisional rival Missouri at Kroger Field on Saturday night. Game time is 7:30 p.m. EDT and it will be televised on the SEC Network.
The Wildcats unveiled a new offense under the guidance of coordinator Liam Coen, who came to Lexington after a successful tenure on the staff of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams, in a smashing debut that ended in a 45-10 victory over ULM and 564 yards of total offense. With a deep, veteran offensive line bookended by All-American Darian Kinnard and LSU transfer Dare Rosenthal, the power running of Chris Rodriguez Jr. and a wide receiver corps that features Josh Ali and Wan’Dale Robinson, the Cats showed the hallmarks of an explosive group.
Defensively, the Cats are mixing a youth movement with productive seniors Yusuf Corker, Marquan McCall, Josh Paschal, DeAndre Square and others. The unit swarmed ULM, racking up 14.0 tackles for loss, six sacks and leads the nation in total defense at just 87 yards allowed.
|Kentucky vs. Missouri|
|Sat., Sept. 11 – 7:30 p.m. ET
Game Notes: UK | MU
Digital Gameday Program
|14.0||Kickoff returns (avg)||15.0|
|3.0||Punt returns (avg)||2.0|
|31:47||Time of possession/game||28:01|
|54.5%||Third down conversion||9.1%|
|00.0%||Fourth down conversion||00.0%|
|87.0||Total yards allowed/game||468.0|
|16.0||Rush yards allowed/game||167.0|
|71.0||Pass yards allowed/game||301.0|
Cat Scratches: Kentucky Defense Looking for Bigger, Better Effort Against Missouri
The Kentucky defense put up some very solid numbers in Saturday’s win over ULM. The Cats allowed just 87 total yards in the game, including just 17 yards on the ground.
So the numbers themselves are impressive. But what did UK defensive coordinator Brad White see when he watched the film?
“A couple of things. One, I’d like to start faster. Obviously, giving up a touchdown on the first drive of the game is never ideal. I like the way they responded, though,” White said. “Two, we need to get turnovers, we didn’t get any turnovers. And three, down the stretch, after that first drive, we sort of settled down and did a decent job on third down. But that first drive was extended by two third down plays. We had a chance to get off early.”
This week’s challenge will be much greater as SEC East foe Missouri comes to town. The Tigers dominated time of possession in last year’s 20-10 win over the Cats in Columbia.
White recalls his unit struggling with a couple of aspects of that game…Read More
Series vs. Missouri
• Kentucky leads the all-time series 7-4.
• Missouri won, 20-10, in Columbia on Oct. 24, 2020 the last time the teams met.
• The SEC East rivals have met every year since 2012 with Mizzou winning the first three meetings and UK the next five before the Tigers scored a win last season.
• Biggest UK win: 22 (29-7) in 2019 in Lexington.
• Biggest Mizzou win: 31 (48-17) in 2013 in Lexington.
• Games decided by eight points or less: UK leads 5-0.
• UK coach Mark Stoops is 5-3 vs. Missouri.
A UK Win Would…
• Give head coach Mark Stoops 51 career victories at UK, putting him just nine wins shy of tying Paul “Bear” Bryant for the school’s alltime winning coach.
• Give Kentucky a sixth win in the last seven meetings between the SEC East schools.
• Give Kentucky a fourth straight win over Missouri in Lexington.
• Make Kentucky 5-1 all-time vs. Missouri in Lexington.
• Improve UK’s overall record at Kroger Field to 163-133-4 (.551).
• Former UK kicker Grant McKinniss (2016-19) is a graduate transfer at Missouri. He graduated from UK in May of 2020 with a degree in psychology and is currently working on a master’s degree in sport and exercise psychology at Mizzou.
• In 2020, McKinniss punted 32 times for an average of 42.8 yards for the Tigers.
Last Time Out
• Kentucky blasted ULM, 45-10, with an explosive offense that produced one of the best passing performances of the Mark Stoops era.
• The 45 points and the 35-point margin of victory are the most in a season opener since a 59-14 win over UT Martin in 2014.
• UK’s 564 yards total offense is the most since in a non-overtime game since 601 yards at Louisville in 2018.
• It’s the most yards in a season opener since totaling 656 vs. UT Martin in 2014.
• UK passed for 419 yards, most since 422 vs. UT Martin in 2014.
• It’s the first time UK had a 300-yard passer, two 100-yard receivers and a 100-yard rusher in the same game since 2006 at Vanderbilt (Andre’ Woodson, Keenan Burton/Rafael Little, Rafael Little).
• This was the second time in school history that UK had a 300-yard passer, 100-yard receiver and 100-yard rusher in a season opener. The other occurrence was 1998 at Louisville (Tim Couch, Craig Yeast, Derek Homer).
• UK had two 100-yard receivers in a game for the first time since 2011 vs. Ole Miss (La’Rod King and Matt Roark).
• The Kentucky defense limited ULM to 87 total yards. That’s the fewest in any game since holding Central Michigan to 78 total yards in the 1988 season opener. UK held ULM to 17 net rushing yards, fewest since Eastern Michigan had 13 rushing yards in 2017.
• UK held ULM to 70 passing yards, fewest since Georgia had 35 passing yards in 2019.
• UK had 14 tackles for loss, including six quarterback sacks.
• QB Will Levis passed for 367 yards and four scores in his UK debut. It is the most passing yards for a Kentucky player in his first game as a Wildcat, and the most passing yards for a UK quarterback since Patrick Towles threw for 390 in 2014 vs. Mississippi State.
• WR Wan’Dale Robinson hauled in 125 receiving yards and two scores. It is the most receiving yards for a UK player in his first game.
• WR Josh Ali led the team with 136 receiving yards, surpassing 100 yards in a game for the first time.