Cats bounce back, blow out Miami

Kentucky amassed 675 yards of total offense and held visiting Miami to only 122 en route to a 41-7 win Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium, giving Mark Stoops his first win as a head coach.

Kentucky's Mark Stoops came into Saturday's game against Miami (Ohio) hoping the old adage about teams making the most progress between the first and second week of the season was going to hold true for the Wildcats.

He got the response he was seeking and the first victory of his head coaching career.

The Wildcats posted 675 yards of total offense and held Miami to only 122 en route to a 41-7 romp in the home opener at Commonwealth Stadium.

"Feels good to get that first one," Stoops said. "Very proud of the team. I thought we prepared very well. I thought we had more poise about us early, at least the way we started the game. I felt like the approach this morning getting up, we were focused, we were excited in the locker room, but not hyper. So I thought we were in good shape.

"We're excited about doing some very good things offensively and defensively. There's some real good things to build on."

Kentucky (1-1) passed for 413 yards and rushed for 262 in the new version of the "Air Raid" offense. Max Smith, getting the starting nod at quarterback this week, went 15-of-23 for 310 yards and three touchdown passes.

The Cats also used last week's starter, Jalen Whitlow, throughout the game. He was 10-of-12 through the air for 103 yards and also rushed for 48 yards and a 9-yard touchdown run on UK's opening drive of the game after Smith had driven the offense into the red zone.

Stoops said the staff will likely continue to work both signal callers into each game.

"You know, just like I've said over and over, we'll do what we have to do to prepare our team to win. If that's with one guy, then we'll stay with it," he said. "But I think we have two good guys that are still feeling their way out through things. We have to be good around them. We do need some continuity and some leadership. We'll just see how that goes. Play it game to game."

Kentucky got huge contributions from some of the highly-touted players in Stoops' first recruiting class at UK, including a combined 298 yards receiving from Javess Blue, Ryan Timmons, Jeff Badet, Alex Montgomery and Steven Borden. Blue and Badet each caught their first career touchdown passes, scoring from 88 and 56 yards, respectively.

Timmons, Blue and running back JoJo Kemp also chipped in with 136 rushing yards, led by 78 from Kemp.

"A lot of big-play guys," Miami coach Don Treadwell said of the Wildcats. "... They presented a lot of trouble, as you saw early in the first half because they did a good job of mixing their quarterbacks so we couldn't really get a beat on one guy. I thought coach Stoops and them had a great gameplan and they kind of really just freely mixed those guys in and that presented some problems for us."

Perhaps even more impressive was the improvement made by the UK defense, which surrendered 487 yards last week in a 35-26 loss to Western Kentucky. The Cats held Miami (0-2) without an offensive score. The Redhawks' only points came via a muffed punt by UK inside its own 5-yard line that was scooped up for a touchdown.

The Kentucky defense held Miami to 1-for-16 on third-down conversions, the best performance in that category since holding Georgia to 0-for-10 in a 2005 game.

"We were better," Stoops said. "Again, I felt like you saw some (Miami) guys going backwards, you saw some guys being physical. That was good to see."

Just like their offensive cohorts, the newcomers on Kentucky's defense also shined. Junior college transfer Za'Darius Smith delivered six tackles and three of the Cats' five sacks on the day. It marked the most sacks by an individual UK defender since Deion Holts recorded three against Indiana in 2003. Freshman nickelback Blake McClain also had six tackles for the Cats.

Junior defensive end Alvin Dupree and junior linebacker TraVaughn Paschal each had seven tackles to lead UK. Dupree also had two tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a sack.

* Kentucky leads the all-time series vs. Miami 8-4-1, including a 6-3-1 mark in Lexington. UK has won three consecutive meetings in the series.

* UK is 28-7-1 all-time against teams that make up the current alignment of the Mid-American Conference.

* Kentucky's 675 total yards were the most since the Wildcats tallied 679 against Vanderbilt in 1998 and the third-highest figure in program history. UK posted 801 yards against Louisville in 1998.

* Blue's 88-yard touchdown reception from Smith in the first quarter was the fourth-longest scoring reception in UK history.

* The Wildcats return to action next Saturday in a noon ET kickoff against No. 8 Louisville in the Governor's Cup game. The Cardinals defeated Eastern Kentucky 44-7 today.

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