I hope that as you read this that I don't come off as one of those guys. One of those guys who can't accept a loss and blames it on everything but the real reason. This is far from that, believe me. In my opinion, and based on what I've seen online, a lot of people seem to think the same thing : Kentucky beat themselves on Saturday and not the other way around.
Obviously, Ole Miss scored more points than Kentucky did, which is a credit to them, but if it wasn't for the Wildcats' self-inflicted struggles, I'm confident in saying that they'd still be undefeated right now. As I sit here rewatching the game, I took notes of all of the mistakes the team made, which ultimately led to their first loss of the season. Discuss them with me if you will.
Dropped 4-yard pass by Kavosiey Smoke with 2:58 left in the first quarter. (score 7-0 Ole Miss)
Missed 39-yard FG by Matt Ruffolo with 2:50 left in the first quarter. (score 7-0 Ole Miss)
Missed interception by Carrington Valentine on Ole Miss’ second drive with 1:35 left in first quarter. (score 7-0 Ole Miss)
Blocked 11-yard extra point by Matt Ruffolo with 0:00 left in the first quarter. (score 14-6 Ole Miss)
Will Levis gets sacked in the Ole Miss end zone for a safety. 10:29 left in the second quarter. This is also when Will Levis broke his finger. (score 14-6 turned 16-6 Ole Miss)
Dropped interception that was right in the chest of Tyrell Ajian with 9:11 left in the second quarter. (score 16-6 Ole Miss)
Failed field goal snap with 1:23 left in the second quarter. (score 19-12 Ole Miss)
UK ends up going 12 minutes and 41 seconds without a significant mistake. Definitely a rough start kind of thing and the second half performances have been so much better this year:
Barion Brown gets tripped by his own teammate on a kickoff return attempt that would’ve likely been a touchdown with 2:19 left in the third quarter. (score 22-19 Ole Miss)
Will Levis fumble with 3:02 left in the fourth quarter. (score 22-19 Ole Miss)
Will Levis false start (pass to Dane Key in end zone) with 1:03 left in the fourth quarter. (score 22-19 Ole Miss)
Blocked pass on Will Levis from missed block by the right tackle with 0:56 left in the fourth quarter. (score 22-19 Ole Miss)
By my count, that's 11 major mistakes (eight took place in the first half) by Kentucky, in which 5 came from the offense, 2 came from the defense, and 4 came from special teams. These are arguably plays that can be prevented and are what led to a lot of points left on the field for the visiting team. Surprisingly, this doesn't even include the common mistakes that come with just playing the game itself, such as quarterback sacks, dropped passes, penalties and things like that. This post could have been way longer if I wanted to have been extremely critical and hard on this team's performance, but I don't want to be. Despite all of these mistakes, Kentucky almost won against an SEC West opponent on the road (a feat that Mark Stoops has yet to do), inside of a conference environment, against a top-fifteen team in the country and that should be recognized as well. There are many exciting things we saw from this team today without a doubt. But, if we want to keep trending towards the upper tier of college football, we must hold ourselves accountable when needed. These are the moments that stuck out to me and are likely what will be reviewed on game film during practice on Monday.
I really, really hope this doesn't come off as me being negative. There were plenty of great things that I saw from this game, but when the result is a loss, these things stick out a little bit more, unfortunately.
After all that has been said, Kentucky moves to 4-1 on the season, takes minor drop in national rankings to No. 13 in the country and will host the South Carolina Gamecocks next weekend for a night game. As the Cats should get back on track in the win column with that matchup, we will keep 'trucking on' until that scoreboard makes it official in just seven days.