It’s officially soccer time in bluegrass!
The Kentucky Wildcats kicked off the season the way we all wanted by beating the Miami (OH) Redhawks by a final score of 37-13.
The first half started with a nightmare scenario for the Big Blue Nation as the Redhawks and Brett Gabbert marched down the field to score easy.
The Cats quickly answered with their own score, including a 45-yard first play from Tybion Robinson’s scrimmage.
From that point on, Great Britain smashed through two field goals and caught Miami’s one to give the locker room a 13-10 lead.
The second half started with a bang as Barrion Brown then stole it 100 yards home for a kickoff return touchdown.
The Cats didn’t look back from there, pedaling and smashing the Redhawks on both sides of the ball.
In case you missed the match, here are five quick tidbits you should know from tonight’s win.
Chris Rodriguez absent
Going into the week, the Cats were expected to miss the Star running back. When the number was called, I don’t think anyone expected them to have such a hard time. Especially the red zone.
Tonight the group had a blast in the second half as a running game was played by a committee of Cabozy Smoke, Ramon Jefferson, Jutan McLain and LaBelle Wright, and Rich Scangarello could be seen trying to establish a running game.
Rodriguez looks set for next Saturday’s game in Florida, but his performance on the ground tonight is a letdown for next weekend, especially given how much this offensive playbook relies on play action. I was only more hesitant about what the outcome would be.
Will Levi’s stay consistent?
After a great first drive, the English quarterback definitely left something to be desired. But he continued to do enough to lead this team to victory.
He finished the night with 303 yards on 21/32 passes and also added 3 touchdowns and 1 interception.
No one on this roster went into this season with more weight on their shoulders than Levis. With the NFL hype running high this summer, it’s clear he has a talent for his arm…now he’s piecing together the rest.
There were a few errors throughout the night, but without Levi’s the Cats, we could have gone much closer.
Kentucky finally got a player to make a difference at quarterback, but unfortunately still has some growing pains as he’s going through a second offensive coordinator in his second season at Lexington.
WR and TE Speak Out
One of the big issues going into this season involved the lack of experience from outside skill positions. Tonight, the Tayvion Robinson-led wideout has some answers to those questions.
Alongside Robinson, Dane Key and Baryon Brown have demonstrated their potential that the Big Blue Nation will look to for years to come.
Mark Stoops and Rich Scangarello have been tirelessly praising the tight-end room this offseason, and they lived up to the hype early on. Scoring his first score, Jordan Dingle wiggles in the open field and is clearly going to be a key factor in this offense.
There are a few errors and drops throughout, but expect most of them to clear up when we head to Florida next week.
Defense remains the norm
Despite some back-end concerns, this defense is likely to be the star of the team once again.
After a rough first series, Brad White’s unit came out and attached the clamps for the rest of the game, holding the Redhawks to a pair of field goals after a touchdown on the opening drive.
The front seven the cat has is one of the better units in the SEC.
And hopefully Kentucky will have pass rusher Jordan Wright back soon after being held out tonight for secret reasons.
Struggling offensive line
The Big Blue Wall is a staple of this Kentucky program. After he lost three starters in the NFL last season, there were serious concerns about this young unit coming in tonight.
Simply put, they had a hard time.
Kentucky has different looks and stunts than the Redhawks defense and was completely bad at protecting Will Levis tonight and getting consistent pushing from running backs.
Considering the fact that there are five new starters (Eli Cox is technically a returning starter, but has moved from guard to center), Kentucky is the third offensive line coach in three seasons. The struggle really isn’t that surprising.
Still, if this team only has a winning record in SEC play, what happened tonight won’t happen again. This league is too physical up front to have many wins with this kind of performance.
Zack Jenser is looking to fix a few mistakes before making his way to The Swamp.
Time to celebrate 1-0!