What We Learned From Kentucky’s Win Over Vanderbilt

What We Learned From Kentucky's Win Over Vanderbilt
Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen (41) is held by Vanderbilt offensive lineman Justin Skule (58) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018. Kentucky won, 14-7. (Photo courtesy Bryan Woolston, AP)

It wasn’t expected to be an easy game and it certainly wasn’t. The Wildcats had to fight through turnovers, the elements and a non-existent passing game. However at the end of the day Mark Stoops’ Cats pulled out a 14-7 victory and are now 6-1 and bowl eligible for a third straight season. There were some good things and bad so let’s take a look at what we learned from Kentucky’s win over Vanderbilt.

What We Learned From Kentucky’s Win Over Vanderbilt

The Defense Led The Way Again

Through the first five games in conference play Kentucky has only allowed 60 points or an average of 12 per game. Quite frankly, that is an amazing stat. For the game Matt House’s defense held the Commodores to only 284 yards and the lone score was on a 29 yard pass from Kyle Shurmur to C. J. Bolar.

The Kentucky defense came up huge twice in the fourth quarter. With the score tied, the Commodores had the ball fourth and one on the Wildcat 16 yard line. After going for it, Kash Daniel stripped Jamauri Wakefield and Quinton Bohanna recovered.

Even after the Cats took the lead, Vandy still had one more chance. However, Shurmur was sacked and stripped by Josh Allen. It was recovered by Mike Edwards and that was your game.

Allen had another huge night with eight tackles, two for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble. As a result he showed once again why he is the highest rated outside linebacker in the 2019 NFL Draft. Another Cat who had a huge night as Daniel who led the way with 11 tackles. He did so playing with a broken hand.

Benny Snell Was The Offense

Following a subpar 60 yard outing against Texas A&M, Snell rebounded in a big way against Vandy. After tweaking his knee late in the first half, the junior played sparingly early in the second half. However following the Bohanna fumble recovery he put the team on his back.

Rushing 10 times for 74 yards on the drive, Snell scored his ninth touchdown on the year to put the Cats up 14-7. For the game he finished with 169 yards on 32 carries. In addition Snell logged his 16th 100 yard game at Kentucky. He also added another record to his rapidly growing list.

Another player who had good success running the ball was quarterback Terry Wilson. Though he struggled throwing the ball he added 91 yards on the ground as the Wildcats finished with 280 yards rushing. As we continue with what we learned from Kentucky’s win over Vanderbilt now it’s time to look at a negative.

The Passing Game Struggled Again

Kentucky’s first four possessions of the game went as follows: fumble, fumble, and two punts. For the game Kentucky only completed three of nine passes for a total of 18 yards and a touchdown. All three of Wilson’s completions went to Lynn Bowden which means once again C. J. Conrad went without a catch.

The 18 yards are the lowest in a victory since the 2011 win over Tennessee. You may remember wide receiver Matt Roark started that game and the Cats finished with 15 passing yards.

With winds gusting up to 50 miles an hour at times the elements certainly played a factor in the ineptness of the passing game. Going up against a Missouri squad which hung 63 on Memphis Eddie Gran’s offense has to get it going throwing the ball.

Kentucky Is Going Bowling Again

Let’s finish what we learned from Kentucky’s win over Vanderbilt with a huge positive. For a third straight season the Wildcats are going bowling. That makes Stoops only the third coach in school history to go to three straight bowls. Bear Bryant led the Cats to three straight bowls from 1950-1952 and Rich Brooks went to four consecutive bowls from 2006-2009.

With bowl eligibility already secured the Cats can now work on their destination as each win gets them a better game. There were representatives from the Sugar and Peach Bowls in attendance. Currently most bowl projections have Kentucky playing in either the Outback or Citrus Bowls. First of course, the Cats head to Columbia next week for a date with the Tigers.

 

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Kevin lives in Lexington, Kentucky with his wife Dr. Rachel McGuffey and two kids Ryan and Mary Beth. He can be heard talking SEC Football On The Hill with Pat Jenkins and with Mark Rogers of Mark Rogers TV. He also is a contributor to the Hey Kentucky program that airs on WLEX-TV in Lexington. He is a fan of Kentucky football and basketball along with the Cincinnati Reds and Bengals, Green Bay Packers and Golden State Warriors. He can be reached via Twitter @KevinMcGuffey

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