Despite early losses, Kentucky’s football team seems promising

Eli Dyer, Editor-in-Chief

Over the last two years, the University of Kentucky football program has developed rapidly. Under Stoops, the team has transitioned from a joke into a legitimate contender. Last year, my family and I drove to Charlotte to witness Kentucky win a bowl game, which has not occurred often in the history of the program. It was fun to be a Kentucky football fan, which has not always been the case.

Kentucky football has made major steps in the past few years, and people have noticed. Some sources ranked UK within the top 25 teams in college football in the preseason. However, Kentucky didn’t quite live up to those expectations, losing both of their first games. Those losses, against Auburn and Ole Miss, were particularly frustrating because they were winnable. Kentucky’s offense performed excellently through the two games. In week 5 (the week we played Ole Miss), Kentucky had the second highest graded quarterback in the country, Terry Wilson; the second highest graded wide receiver in the country, Josh Ali; and the highest graded running back in the country, Chris Rodriguez. Despite that success on the offensive side  of the ball, Kentucky lost by one point in overtime due to a missed extra point, thanks to kicking that has been questionable since the departure of Austin McGinnis.

However, the loss can’t be chalked up to the kicking, as many Kentucky fans seem to be eager to do. Kentucky’s defense was abysmal, allowing a lackluster Ole Miss team to put up 320 yards passing and 139 yards rushing.

But the third game against Mississippi State couldn’t have been more different. Kentucky’s offense was questionable at best, but we still found a way to win. In contrast to the 559 yards our offense put up against Ole Miss, we only achieved 157 against Mississippi State. But to offset the offensive drop-off, the defense played incredibly. They were a different team on defense, preventing the Mississippi State offense from scoring at all. Their only points came from a safety on an atrocious long snap, which sailed far above punter Max Duffy’s head. The Kentucky defense caught 6 interceptions, blowing their previous performances out of the water. This feat illustrates the talent and skill present in Kentucky’s defensive backs, which hadn’t been seen prior.

The next step for this Kentucky team is to get the offense and defense going at the same time. If the offense performs like it did against Ole Miss, and the defense performs like it did against Mississippi State, Kentucky would easily be one of the best in the country.