After suffering one of the most embarrassing losses in recent program history against Arkansas, the University of Kentucky Wildcats came back to Lexington and gave an inspired performance against an excellent University of Georgia football team.
Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to translate into a win for the Cats, who are now officially eliminated from qualifying for a bowl game this postseason following a 29-24 loss to the Bulldogs.
- The Wildcat running game was finally utilized, which is something that a certain snarky Bleacher Report writer has been suggesting for a few weeks now. Jonathan George had 12 carries for 87 yards and Raymond Sanders carried the ball 18 times for 72 yards. By the end of the game, Kentucky had racked up 206 yards on the ground, which is almost 100 yards more than teams were averaging against a very good Georgia defense.
- The Wildcats defense struggled against the pass, but were dominant against the run, holding the Bulldogs to only 77 yards yards on the ground. Considering that UGA averages around 200 yards rushing per game, that makes UK's defensive effort even more impressive.
- The Kentucky defensive line was able to get some good pressure on Aaron Murray, sacking him three times in the first half.
- Kentucky stayed away from costly penalties (except for one, which we'll get to in a moment), committing only three the entire game for a net total of 16 yards.
- When Morgan Newton had to come into the game for an injured Jalen Whitlow (or was inexplicably put in by Joker Phillips), he once again struggled to pass, but still got the job done with his legs. He ended up with five carries for 21 yards, and his sole completion was a four-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Boyd.
- When Jalen Whitlow was in the game, he did a great job against a defense many thought would eat him alive, going 9-of-13 for 86 yards and carrying the ball six times for 31 yards. (The fact that UGA had to guard against the run probably helped.) He even made a 33-yard reception on a trick play from Demarco Robinson on Kentucky's second scoring drive.
Does the improvement shown by Kentucky in this game give Joker Phillips a chance at retaining his position as head coach next season?
- After the Kentucky defense held and gave the Wildcat offense a chance to tie the game early in the fourth quarter, a terrible running-into-the-kicker call on Mike Douglas (who looked like he was pushed and the victim of a full-on soccer flop by Georgia punter Collin Barber) gave the ball back to the Bulldogs, who took advantage of the gift and turned it into a score.
- Aside from La'Rod King, who had only four receptions for 45 yards, the Wildcat receivers were all but shut out for the majority of the game. They ended up with a total of 11 catches for 123 yards, 33 of which were on a trick play to the quarterback.
- UGA quarterback Aaron Murray torched the Wildcat secondary, going 30-of-38 for 427 yards and four touchdowns. A few dropped passes were all that stood between him and a 500-yard game.
- True freshman corner Cody Quinn, who had been surprisingly effective leading up to the game, struggled greatly as he was burned for two scores.
- An onside kick near the end of the game almost went Kentucky's way as it slowly scooted across the 10-yard mark, but Georgia was able to dive on top of it and preserve the victory.
- Kentucky running back Raymond Sanders changed from his usual jersey No. 4 to No. 26 in honor of senior running back CoShik Williams, whose season (and career) ended with an injury in Week 2 (h/t to Mark Story of the Lexington-Herald Leader).
- Kentucky FINALLY broke their streak of 20 first quarters without a touchdown when Aaron Boyd caught a four-yard touchdown pass from Morgan Newton on the Wildcats' opening drive.
- Jalen Whitlow began suffering from a migraine which caused him to miss most of the second half. This injury officially makes playing quarterback for the University of Kentucky the most dangerous job in America, next to Alaskan crab fishing.
All stats obtained from ESPN.com or my own impressively vast knowledge base.
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