Kentucky’s Stoops after heartbreaking loss to Florida. Scott Utterback/CJ
LEXINGTON, Ky. — A position-by-position look at the Kentucky football team’s performance in Saturday’s 28-27 loss to Florida:
Stephen Johnson looked like more than a game manager against Florida, completing 17 of 25 passes for 196 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. His first-half touchdown throws to Blake Bone and Garrett Johnson were placed in perfect spots for the wide receivers to do their part with excellent catches. Johnson was sacked four times and did make a couple of poor reads on handoffs to his running backs that went for losses. The last of those sacks came on second down on a three-and-out to set up Florida’s game-winning drive.
RUNNING BACKS: B
Running backs Benny Snell and Sihiem King combined to average 6.5 yards per carry. Backup King was particularly effective with five carries for 64 yards. Kentucky did most of its red-zone damage through the air for a change, but the running backs held their own when given an opportunity. If anything, once could argue offensive coordinator Eddie Gran should have called their number more as no running back touched the ball on a three-and out leading up to Florida’s game-winning drive.
UK RB Benny Snell talks after loss to Florida Jon Hale/The Courier-Journal
WIDE RECIVERS: A
Bone and Garrett Johnson both made stellar touchdown catches, and senior Charles Walker, a St. Xavier alum, posted one of the best performances of his career with four catches for 28 yards, including a pivotal fourth-down conversion to keep hope alive on the final drive. There were a couple of near misses on the final drive that could have gone for long gains.
TIGHT ENDS: B
There’s little doubt junior tight end C.J. Conrad is the offense’s go-to weapon in the passing game after he hauled in his third touchdown of the season in the third quarter. Conrad caught both passes thrown his way in the game and had another reception negated due to a penalty.
OFFENSIVE LINE: D
The line did its part in creating holes for the run game but deserves at least partial blame for the four sacks surrendered and yet another bad snap that killed a possible touchdown just before halftime. Fifth-year senior guard Nick Haynes was also flagged for a holding penalty on the final drive that negated a 10-yard gain from Snell that would have set up a possible game-winning field goal well within Austin MacGinnis’ comfortable range.
DEFENSIVE LINE: D
Senior nose guard Matt Elam showed up on a few plays and was credited with two tackles, but it was too quiet a night for a defensive line that appeared to tire in the fourth quarter. Florida rushed for a season-high 186 yards, and no UK lineman was credited with a sack or tackle for loss.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS: B
Starters Josh Allen and Denzil Ware combined for 15 tackles. Allen accounted for the defense’s only sack. The pass rush has yet to match its season-opening performance at Southern Miss, but Allen and Ware did their part against Florida.
INSIDE LINEBACKERS: C
Courtney Love totaled seven tackles, one tackle for loss and one pass breakup. Eli Brown added three tackles and one pass breakup. With Jordan Jones injured, depth is becoming an issue at this spot, and fatigue here may have contributed to the defense’s struggles down the stretch.
A forgettable night for this position thanks to the two receivers left uncovered on touchdowns. Derrick Baity’s first-half miscue was compounded by a head injury that caused him to miss the entire second half. Communication was to blame for the errors, but when two cornerbacks ran off the field before the game-winning score someone should have realized there was a glaring hole in the call.
Mike Edwards was Kentucky’s best player for much of the game with 11 tackles and one pass breakup but missed a key open-field tackle on Florida’s game-winning drive. Darius West tied for second on the team with eight tackles and recorded his first interception.
Punter Matt Panton – with an assist from walk-on wide receiver Charles Moushey – was again effective in pinning opponents deep with two punts downed inside the 20-yard line and a 40.6 yards-per-punt average on five kicks. Kicker Austin MacGinnis set the school’s career field goals record but would surely like to have a do-over on the 48-yarder that bounced off the upright just before halftime. Asking him to hit one from 57 yards as time expired was probably unfair.
For the first time this season, UK’s punt return unit was an actual weapon with Walker totaling 87 yards on three returns. He had one 52-yard return end at the Florida 10-yard line to set up Kentucky’s second touchdown. Kentucky did not record a kickoff return in the game.
Email Jon Hale at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JonHale_CJ.
Source : http://www.courier-journal.com/story/sports/college/kentucky/2017/09/24/kentucky-football-report-card-florida-31-game-losing-streak-analysis/692780001/