Saturday, August 31, 2013
WKU Defeats Kentucky 35-26
The grass in Tennessee turned a shade blue as Kentuckians invaded the land of the Volunteers to see Kentucky take on Western Kentucky in Nashville. Western and Kentucky both had one thing in common in this match-up, it was their first game with new coaches. On Western's sidelines roamed Bobby Petrino and on Kentucky's was Mark Stoops.
The game started off slow for Kentucky as Western took advantage of the Cats lack of defense as the Hilltoppers raced out to a quick 7-0 lead. Missed tackles and their inability to stop the running game was something Western exploited early and often. Kentucky however had an answer on the offensive end as Jalen Whitlow got the start. With a little running game of their own, Kentucky scored their first touchdown on a 19 yard run form Whitlow to cut Western's lead to 10-7.
It was nip and tuck in the first half, but Western never lost the lead as they went into the half with a 21-17 lead leaving Kentucky fans with a feeling of hope, but that only lasted until the start of the second half.
What little momentum the Cats had gained from their gritty performance in the first half was gone by the time they took the field for the second. After forcing the Cats to a 3 and out on their first possession, WKU wasted no time extending their lead to 28-17 and from there things progressively got worse. The 'Toppers continued their running game and Kentucky continued to show they had no answer for it as the lead swelled to 35-20. But, after a review overturned a touchdown pass that was initially ruled out of bounds, Kentucky had cut the lead to 26-35 with a chance to make it a single possession game as long as they hit the field goal which they did not. Then Stoops called for an onside kick (which was the right call), but it was sailed directly out of bounds sinking any chance Kentucky had of making a comeback making the final score 35-26 as Bobby Petrino went 9-0 in opening games for his career and Western defeated the Cats for the second straight year.
Even though this looked pretty much like the team we saw last season, there was one bright spot at least in my opinion. I know Stoops started Whitlow for this game, but Maxwell Smith's performance in the second half was impressive. Sure he didn't put points on the board, but the kid showed off the cannon he has for an arm when he got some playing time in the second half when Jalen Whitlow injured his throwing arm. He is ALWAYS on target and if he's off it's not by much. If there is any chance of an "AIR RAID" offense this season, it will come from Maxwell Smith.
It will take time for Mark Stoops to turn this team around. He's already started to do that just by his recruiting for next seasons class, but the true test won't come until the 2015 season, that's the year you'll see an EXTREME improvement, but will Kentucky fans give him time?