Good? Well… Umm… This is one of those weeks where we could have easily abandoned the “Good” category altogether, but that’s never been the spirit of this feature. We always try to come up with something good to say, no matter how bad the game went for the Cats. It’s a stretch because LSU finished with 303 rushing yards, but I thought UK’s front seven did a decent job at containing the Tigers’ power running game until the score got out of hand – 231 of those yards came after halftime as the UK offense struggled to stay on the field and the defense wore down. Going into the matchup, everyone talked about how tough the matchup was going to be with LSU’s freshman standout, Leonard Fournette, but the 6-foot-2, 230-pound man-child was kept in check for the most part. He had 15 carries for a net 40 yards (2.7 per attempt) after coming into the game averaging almost twice that figure. It was a much better performance against a power back than UK had against Florida’s Matt Jones or South Carolina’s Mike Davis. So maybe there’s something to build on there.
Kentucky O-Line: We cite the group collectively because the unit has to function as one entity, but the play from veteran offensive tackles Darrian Miller and Jordan Swindle seemed particularly suspect on this night. LSU constantly collapsed the edge on the Cats in the run game and harassed Towles in the pass game. Almost all of that pressure came off the edges against the guys UK entered the season feeling really good about. Even when they weren’t hitting Towles, the Tigers were pushing blockers into his face, deflecting passes, and generally wreaking havoc. The ground game produced only 2.6 yards per carry and the passing attack managed an embarrassingly-low 4.1 yards per attempt. I don’t think the film review on Monday is going to be too kind to those guys.
Not-So-Special Teams: A trainwreck from the game’s opening kickoff, which, for reasons that will be interesting to hear explained this coming week, UK attempted some sort of fake-onside alignment with a “pooch” kick. LSU returned it 49 yards, plus a 15-yard facemask against the Cats to start its first drive at the UK 29. That helped produce an early 7-0 lead for the Tigers. On UK’s next possession, the punt team allowed a return for 16 yards that set up an LSU field goal and a 10-0 deficit. And on the third possession of the game, the Tigers’ Tre’Davious White returned the punt 67 yards for a touchdown and a 17-0 hole that proved to be insurmountable. LSU had more return yards (153) than UK had total offense (130) in the first half. The horrific special teams night also featured a punt fielded inside the Cats’ own 10-yard line (about the third time we’ve seen that this season) by Demarco Robinson, who has done a great job overall with returns this season, but the judgment was poor with time winding down in the half. It allowed LSU to take possession at midfield with 1:29 left and tack on another TD. If that wasn’t bad enough, UK failed to field the ensuing kickoff, and the Tigers booted a field goal with :07 left in the half to take a 27-3 lead into the locker room. The game was essentially over at that point.
By The Numbers:
1 – When the opponent has one kickoff return all night, that's usually a really bad sign.
14.1 – Rushing average on nine attempts by LSU’s surprise star of the game, Terrence Magee.
29 – Net yardage for UK’s leading rusher, Mikel Horton.
31 - The deficit Kentucky faced when freshman Dorian Baker taunted an LSU player after a bone-jarring block. It was an outstanding hit, but a player has to have better awareness than that, especially in light of a teammate (J.D. Harmon) being suspended for a "selfish act" going into the game.
32 – UK plays for zero or minus yardage out of 63 offensive snaps. A thoroughly dominant gameplan by LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis and execution by the Tigers.
159-10 – The combined score of the Cats’ last four trips to Baton Rouge. Death Valley, indeed.