Before their game against Georgia in Athens, the question was could Kentucky do enough on offense to keep things interesting. By the end of the first half, it looked like the Wildcats came to Athens prepared for a fight. It was 14-7 at halftime and the eyes of college football were looking towards the second half, wondering whether the Cats could take advantage of the momentum they had built.
Come to find out, the Wildcats didn’t have an answer for the Dawgs in the second half. Although Kentucky did something that no other team in college football has accomplished this season — they scored two touchdowns against the Georgia defense — in the end, it really didn’t matter. Georgia took care of business in the second half and outscored the Wildcats 16-6 on their way to a 30-13 win.
Of course, the second touchdown for Kentucky came with four seconds left in the game, but Mark Stoops wasn’t leaving Athens without at least trying to score more points. I don’t blame him. His team needed all the success they could muster against the dominant Georgia defense and to cap off an otherwise mediocre day.
J.J. Weaver #13 of the Kentucky Wildcats sacks Rhett Rodriguez #4 of the ULM War Hawks at Kroger Field on September 04, 2021 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
“They’re a great defense,” Will Levis said. “I think we were able to do some things that we’re going to be proud of looking at the tape, but could’ve had opportunities to do a little more.”
That’s the problem right there with Kentucky, there’s always an opportunity to do a little more, which keeps me on my toes when discussing them. This team must continue to push the right buttons on offense. Running back Chris Rodriguez can make plays happen for the offense, but gaining only seven yards against Georgia won’t garner success for the rest of the season. Will Levis also has to start setting up the play action better and the wide receivers need to do a better job of finding space.
I honestly believe this Kentucky team is good. I don’t think they’re fool’s gold, as some have speculated about past teams coached by Mark Stoops. The ability of this defense to get after the quarterback shouldn’t be lost on anyone. The Florida and LSU games showed us that this team can play in the trenches. I take this past weekend as a learning opportunity for Kentucky, as it’s going to be hard for any team to beat Georgia this season, especially at home.
J.J. Weaver #13 of the Kentucky Wildcats runs with the ball after intercepting a pass against the Florida Gators at Kroger Field on October 02, 2021 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Do the Wildcats have room to grow? Absolutely. But that’s a good thing for this squad, especially the offense. There needs to be more passes to the flat and more creative ways of getting the ball in Wan’Dale Robinson’s hands. Teams are going to continue playing Robinson close, so they must find ways either to spread things out down the field or to get the ball to him out of the backfield. He had twelve receptions for 39 total yards against Georgia, but only one carry, which came on a sweep. Getting him more involved in this offense will help take the load off of Rodriguez and Levis.
This team will find success against defenses that don’t look like they’re ready to play on Sundays. They found that success against LSU and Florida, and they should definitely find it against Mississippi State in two weeks.
There was a lot to learn from the first true road test of the season in Athens. Kentucky is currently 6-1, with remaining games against Mississippi State, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, New Mexico State and Louisville. I can’t find a reason why this team shouldn’t finish the regular season with ten wins.
Kentucky quarterback Will Levis (7) celebrates a Chris Rodriguez Jr. (24) touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Louisiana-Monroe in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb) (AP Photo/Michael Clubb)
So, let’s see what this team can take away from their first loss of the season. Let’s see whether Kentucky can finally take the next step and not drop a game they should win. If they can handle their business, I see no reason why this team won’t be playing in a New Year’s Six bowl game.