Mark Stoops did it. After two consecutive years of coming up just short, Kentucky will be playing in a bowl game this winter. The drought its over. Exhale. Light up a cigar or drink a stout drink; whatever you fancy. Just in time for Thanksgiving, Mark Stoops and Co. have given us plenty to be thankful for.
Saturday’s game was just a formality. BBN knew victory was certain with only a winless OVC team preventing the Cats from six wins. Though first 16 minutes were rocky, the Cats found their groove and cruised to an easy win on Senior Day.
Let’s review the X’s and O’s of the game that got us bowl eligible.
The Governors plan was to run the ball and pass sparingly, attempting to keep the score low and the clock ticking. UK’s was to do likewise; except they, you know, wanted to score a decent amount of points.
With a surprise start by Luke Wright at QB, the team sputtered its first two drives. A holding call on Senior Ryan Timmons prevented a long Boom Williams TD run on the second offensive snap and Wright threw a pick six on the first play of the 2Q.
Stephen Johnson truly was the “emergency QB” Saturday. It was an all hands on deck situation being down 13 points at home against such a lesser opponent. Though drops maligned his first series, the Cats’ run game got the offense going and they never looked back. Kentucky scored 49 unanswered.
Over the last few weeks, Gran has been calling more “drive” concepts. This play is my favorite concept of all time. This was the play on Jeff Badet’s drop on Johnson’s first throw. We used to call this “Bobcat”, but its also known as “Y Shallow”.
CJ Conrad’s over-the-shoulder TD in the 2Q was the first time I’ve been able to discern UK has used a post wheel loo. Here I go over how this deep concept can Cover 2 with the play Gran called.
During the 3Q, UK ran three plays and scored three TDs; pretty efficient. On all three plays, UK a guard pulled. The first two were Wildcat counters. The third was a Wildcat power. Here I diagram the difference and importance of the two plays.
UK pulled at least one offensive lineman on 20/36 runs (including penalty plays). Big plays and ample run plays made the game go by rather quickly. Saturday’s calls totaled the least amount of plays since the Alabama game.
Wildcat Counter (6), Wildcat Power (6), RPO H Bubble–UK’s most-run play all season–(4), 5 Zone Read (4), Wildcat Inside Zone (4), “Bobcat” (2), “Crush” (2), Wildcat Jet (2), Counter (2), Power 4 (2) composed the Ten-Play Share. These plays accounted for 64% of all calls. Gran wanted to stick to the script.
Most of UK’s best plays were runs. Despite the early drop on a deep post, Badet made up for it later…on a deep post no doubt. This is Gran go-to “shot” play. Meaning when he wants to throw a bomb, he more than not dials this play up. To refresh your memory, here it is. Though his passes die on fades and outside streaks, Johnson consistently throws great and very catchable deep post throws.
Benny Snell Jr. joined Boom in the Thousand Yard Back Club. UK2k, baby. UK will look to try and maximize its opportunities and work to keep Heisman favorite Lamar Jackson off the field this week. Johnson is back to being “full-go” this week in practice.
Though rivalry games are often unpredictable, I don’t have a whole lot of faith heading into this game. Louisville runs an inverted veer as well as anyone in recent history with Jackson at the helm. And if Austin Peay was able to work us horizontally and slash us, imagine what the guy who’s scored 47 TDs will do. Plus after a disastrous showing against Houston on national TV, Bobby Petrino will be looking to make the Cats his whipping boy. He will surely try to hang 100 on UK.
But, UK has weapons and teams have shown a gameplan to take down the Dirty Birds. Though ESPN’s Football Power Index gives the Cats a 3.9% chance to win Saturday, anything can happen on noon kickoffs.
But remember, win or lose: Kentucky is going bowling this season. Things look to finally be turning around.