Cats Defeat Central Michigan 35-20 But Not In The Manner Expected

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Cats Defeat Central Michigan 35-20 But Not In The Manner Expected

Appearances can be deceiving.  For example, when I awoke this morning, the gray clouds and heavy rain seemed destined to hang around all day and night.   But at least a half hour prior to the Cat Walk, the skies cleared, the rain stopped, and it was a typically muggy 1st weekend of September.

On paper, it appeared Kentucky should have been able to manhandle Central Michigan University with little problem.   For UK’s football team,  CMU turned out to be a big problem in the 1st half.

With 4 turnovers in the first half alone, Kentucky couldn’t seem to sustain a drive without shooting themselves in the foot.   Whether it was first game jitters or something else, Terry Wilson’s debut in the blue was not like he’d hoped nor as fans had expected.  He threw 11 passes, completing 6 of them for a total of 38 yards.  That might not have been so bad if not for 2 interceptions and a fumble that ended some promising Wildcat drives.

Wilson wasn’t the only Wildcat who dropped the ball, though.  A fumble by Lynn Bowden with the Cats deep in their own territory resulted in a touchdown for Central Michigan and they appeared to have the Cats on the ropes, leading 17-7 with 5:24 remaining in the first half.   But Benny Snell, Jr. wasn’t going to let his team fall any further behind and in the next series, promptly ran 52 yards down the field for the Cats’ 2nd touchdown of the day, cutting the Chippewas’ lead to 17-14.

It appeared the Cats were finally settled down, but Wilson threw his 2nd interception on the next series and CMU managed to add another 3 points with a field goal after UK’s defense prevented the Chippewas from getting into the end zone in spite of having started their drive on Kentucky’s 10-yard line.  And, if there weren’t enough adversity facing the Cats, Terry Wilson had an apparent issue with his shoulder that sent him to the locker room for the remainder of the first half.

Enter Gunnar Hoak, Wilson’s primary competition for the QB1 title during fall camp.   In less than one minute, Hoak went 3 for 5 passing, gaining 48 yards.  He capped off the 6-play drive with a 24-yard touchdown pass to David Bouvier.  In the blink of an eye, Kentucky flipped the script and instead of trailing by 10 points, went to the locker room leading by 1.

The 2nd half was much smoother for Stoops’ Troops as they eliminated the turnovers and the defense locked down on CMU, allowing them zero points.  For Kentucky, Snell and Rose each scored one more touchdown to round out their days and the Cats ended up winning by a final of 35-20.   Perhaps an uneven performance and certainly not one that would strike fear in the hearts of Gators fans, but there were some nice things that happened today.

Some of the positives I took away from this game:

  • A.J. Rose is a great addition to the backfield.  It wasn’t enough for him to score his first career rushing touchdown…he had to score two.  His performance was needed more than fans knew as we learned after the game that Benny Snell had a virus last night and needed IV fluids today.
  • Benny Snell, even when not feeling well, is a bad man.  He ended the game having recorded 20 rushes for 125 yards and two touchdowns.  Not too shabby for a running back that CMU’s Jonathan Ward called “nothing special” earlier this week.  (For comparison’s sake, Ward finished with 36 net yards on 11 carries).
  • Max Duffy is a very good punter.  One of the areas where the Cats had been rather vulnerable the past couple of seasons, Duffy had 4 punts for 200 yards (50.0 average).
  • David Bouvier is setting himself up to be the fan’s favorite player this year.  After having recently been granted a scholarship after being a walk-on for 3 seasons, Bouvier had a solid performance with 3 receptions for 48 yards to go along with 4 punt returns for 41 yards.  As Stoops said after the game, “He is (fearless on the run).  He really did a good job on offense, made a critical play and a critical catch.”
  • Gunnar Hoak was ready on a moment’s notice.  “It said an awful lot about Gunnar and his character and his ability, and I was really proud for him.  Terry was ready to play at the start of the 2nd half, and Gunnar deserved the opportunity to go back and play for what he did at the end of the first half there.”
  • Terry Wilson definitely settled down when he returned in the 2nd half and ended the game with 11 of 18 passing.
  • The defense is pretty darn solid.  Kash Daniel and Josh Allen combined for 21 tackles (Allen with 1 sack) with Jordan Jones and Darius West combining for another 15 (Jones with 1 sack).

No, it wasn’t the most beautiful game to watch, but there were far more positives than negatives.   As Stoops said after the game, “A lot of people say that you’re going to get the most improvement from week one to week two.  I hope that’s the case with us because I think we have a good football team.  So proud of the effort.  It’s a starting point.  That’s one.”

And 1-0 is infinitely better than 0-1, especially with a trip to The Swamp looming.  As for me, I’m ready to continue enjoying the ride!

Follow me on Twitter @ForeverBigBlue

 

Michele Brown
Michele Brown
Writer at CameronMillsRadio.com since Feb. 2015 Co-host of Big Blue Views podcast. Mom, Christian, sports junkie, golf addict and speed typist. I can cook your mama's food better than she can.

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