The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: UK vs. Miami

From a near record-setting offensive performance to an equally-impressive defensive showing and a less-than-stellar crowd for the home opener, this week's edition of "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly" breaks down Kentucky's 41-7 win over Miami (Ohio) from top to bottom.

From a near record-setting offensive performance to an equally-impressive defensive showing and a less-than-stellar crowd for the home opener, this week's edition of "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly" breaks down Kentucky's 41-7 win over Miami (Ohio) from top to bottom.


Back To The Future: With 675 total yards against Miami, the Wildcats produced the third-highest figure in program history and gave fans a taste of the "Air Raid" they had been longing for since the late 90s. Kentucky passed for 413 yards, including crowd-pleasing TD strikes of 88, 56 and 48 yards from Maxwell Smith as the sirens blared once again at Commonwealth Stadium. Newcomers Javess Blue, Ryan Timmons, Jeff Badet, Alex Montgomery and Steven Borden combined to catch 298 yards worth of passes, a sign of how bright UK's future could be. The Cats also had good balance with a 262-yard rushing day, a facet of the offense that wasn't always present in the old days under Hal Mumme. Offensive coordinator Neal Brown had a terrific gameplan that involved both Smith and Jalen Whitlow from the opening drive of the day, and both quarterbacks were highly productive. Kentucky finished No. 113 nationally (out of 120 teams) in total offense last season. Under Brown's direction, the Cats are currently No. 16.

D-on't Forget Us: Somewhat lost in the excitement surrounding UK's offensive fireworks was the bounce-back play of the defense, which was shredded in the previous game by Western Kentucky. Granted, Miami is a struggling football program right now, but how many times in the past have you seen the Wildcats completely shut down an opposing offense?. Hardly ever. Kentucky allowed only 122 yards in total offense, one of the best figures in program history. The only points of the day for Miami came via special teams, so it was essentially a shutout for the D. The Cats held the Redhawks to 1-for-16 on third down, recorded seven tackles for loss and tallied five sacks. Juco transfer Za'Darius Smith, who came to UK this winter hyped as one of the best defensive end prospects in the country, showed glimpses of his star potential with three sacks. He's the first Wildcat since Deion Holts in 2003 to record three sacks in a game. His four sacks on the season now rank No. 1 in the nation. When was the last time UK had a player leading the nation in sacks? 19-never? TraVaughn Paschal also looked good in his transition to the starter at weakside linebacker, recording seven tackles and one TFL.

Not Just Australian For Beer: The last person fans want to see on the field is the punter, but in times when UK has to boot the ball away and "flip the field," it appears to have one of the best in the SEC. Landon Foster punted five times against Miami for a 45.2 average and a long of 58. With three more punts, he'll qualify for UK's career records at his position.


Too Much Yellow: Kentucky committed 11 penalties on the day resulting in 117 yards of walk-offs. That makes 21 flags against the Cats in two weeks of action. They got away with it against a team like Miami, but did not against WKU (when they had 10 for 69 yards) and certainly won't have that margin for error against Louisville.

Down Time: As good as UK was offensively, the Cats still have some consistency issues to iron out as they continue to transition to the new system. They went 25 minutes and 55 seconds of game time without doing much between their 31st and 34th points of the day. That's got to be a scary thought for Miami. Kentucky put up 41 points and almost 700 yards in only slightly over half the game.

Not-So-Special: It was a rough day for UK's return units after losing Demarco Robinson to an ankle injury on the game's opening kickoff. The drop-off was most evident on punt returns as the Cats' backups fielded multiple balls inside their own 10-yard line and muffed one for Miami's only score of the day. The mistakes could have been costly against a better opponent. Look for it to be a major point of emphasis for special teams coach Bradley Dale Peveto this week in practice.


Miami Helmets: Yikes. Lots of programs are trying new looks and going with eye-catching uniform schemes these days. I liked WKU's chrome look last weekend in Nashville. But these monstrosities worn by the Redhawks were eye-catching for all the wrong reasons.

By The Numbers:

2.1 – The average number of yards gained by Miami per play on its 57 offensive snaps.

3 – Consecutive years Commonwealth Stadium has not been sold out for the home opener. Only 54,846 showed up for Stoops' first home game as head coach of the Wildcats, which was only slightly more than the attendance for the Blue-White spring game. With a picture-perfect weather day in Lexington and excitement surrounding the UK program since Stoops' arrival, seeing almost 15,000 empty seats was a major letdown.

23 – The Redhawks' net passing yardage for the day. It's hard to imagine, in this era of football, how a team could be held to that kind of figure.

Jeff Drummond has covered University of Kentucky sports for daily newspapers, magazines and online publications since 1988 and for FOX Sports since 2012. A Richmond, Ky., native, he currently resides in Lexington.

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