Just What The Doctor Ordered: This type of game is usually a no-win situation in the eyes of fans. If you win as expected, it's no big deal. Ho-hum, it was an FCS opponent. It's almost as if it doesn't even count, even though every program in the country plays a couple of these games on the schedule. But if you lose – or even win by just a narrow margin – it's a calamity. Fortunately, that wasn't the case for the Cats. This lop-sided, feel-good victory was just what the doctor ordered for a team that had lost five straight, but had kept their heads up against a brutal schedule. The players needed this one. The hope now is that UK can carry that momentum onto the practice field this week and into Saturday's matchup with an extremely-talented Missouri squad.
Takin' Care of Business (And The Ball): Kentucky had no turnovers for the fourth consecutive game, a feat that the Wildcats had never accomplished in records that date back to 1946. UK media relations officials believe it may have established a new school record. That's a remarkable streak regardless of the competition, but when you factor in the first three games came against opportunistic defenses like South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi State, it's even more impressive. That kind of ball security is a sign of a well-coached team, and it gave the Cats a chance to upset both the Gamecocks and Bulldogs on the road. If UK can keep it up, they may have a chance to break through against one of their last four SEC opponents.
Team Win: Fans have grown accustomed to Kentucky having a good showing in one aspect of the game, but seldom from all three phases on the same day. When the offense clicks, the defense struggles. When the defense rises up, the offense isn't in snyc. Or perhaps there are special teams breakdowns. On Saturday, UK got strong contributions from all three units. The offense put up 422 total yards (233 on the ground) and saw quarterback Jalen Whitlow become the first UK quarterback since Shane Boyd in 2004 to rush and pass for more than 100 yards. The defense held a potent Alabama State offense 23 points under its season scoring average and forced two turnovers. And on special teams, Joe Mansour kicked a pair of field goals, Josh Forrest blocked a punt, and Dyshawn Mobley was a hustling, tackling dynamo.
Missed Opportunities: As good as the offensive showing was, it could have been even better if the Cats had executed some routine plays. Once again, drops by the wide receivers were an issue. And Whitlow is still hit-and-miss with his accuracy, especially on the quick screens that are a major part of Neal Brown's offense. He also misfired on what appeared to be an easy touchdown pass to tight end Jordan Aumiller, throwing the ball on a line where lofting a touch pass would have been the better approach. All part of the learning process for a young quarterback, but if the Cats want to pull an upset or two down the stretch, Whitlow will have to show more command and the receivers have to hang on to the ball.
The Ongoing Instant Replay Mystery: Late in the game, UK's Daron Blaylock recovered a fumble just along the sideline in front of my area on the field. Upon first glance, the group of photographers in the area thought the Cats should be awarded possession of the ball. We were even more confident when the officiating crew stopped the game and went to instant replay. A freeze-frame clip on the stadium video board revealed just what we had suspected – Blaylock in bounds with one foot and possession of the ball – but the referee ruled that the Cats did not recover the ball legally. This wasn't the first time we've seen a ruling in SEC play completely contradictory of the video evidence.
Receiver Corps Takes A Beating: Kentucky lost three of its top receivers at one point or another on Saturday, including Javess Blue in pregame warm-ups when he was struck in an eye by the point of a ball. That freak injury knocked him out of the game and led to a frustrating night for Tommy Mainord's crew. Alex Montgomery went from joy to pain in the matter of seconds after catching a 6-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. In the process of celebrating his score with teammates, he suffered an apparent knee injury that UK head coach Mark Stoops fears may be serious. Fellow freshman wideout Ryan Timmons had to leave the game on multiple occasions with an assortment of bumps and bruises.
53,797: There were more than 13,000 empty seats for Homecoming at Commonwealth Stadium. Sure, Alabama State isn't the type of opponent to draw a sellout crowd, but one would have expected a better turnout for one of Kentucky's rare chances to notch a win this season. The spring game attendance was almost higher.