Cover Me... Unlike Kentucky's disappointing trip to Florida earlier this season, there were no delusions that the Wildcats had a realistic chance to win this game, so the fallout from a 28-point loss wasn't nearly as bad. UK actually showed early signs of real competitiveness against arguably the best team in the country. If not for two fumbles by quarterback Stephen Johnson in Alabama territory, it could have easily been a 10-6 game at the half. Given that scenario prior to kickoff, every member of Big Blue Nation would have been ecstatic. It's unfortunate that the Cats couldn't keep that going in the second half, but the expected mauling (37.5 spread at kickoff) did not quite materialize. Word from Vegas is that UK cost a lot of people a lot of cold, hard cash as approximately 90 percent of the wagers placed on that game were taking the Tide and giving the points. There are no moral victories in the grand scheme of things, but UK took a step forward with their effort against a ridiculously talented Bama squad and should be in a good frame of mind for a key matchup next weekend against Vanderbilt.
The Champs... Gotta tip your cap to Alabama. They are who we thought they were.
Grounded ... Kentucky could muster only 89 yards through the air, a figure that just won't allow you to compete in this era of college football. While Bama is loaded with star players at every level of its defense, the meager passing total was far lower than Ole Miss (421) or even Western Kentucky (216) managed against the Tide earlier this season. Whether it was due to a fierce pass rush or blanket coverage, UK quarterback Stephen Johnson was rarely able to get the ball down the field. The majority of his 13 completions were short routes. As a result, the Cats were unable to pose any kind of serious passing threat required to loosen up the defense, and the task of running the ball got even harder than it was already expected to be. In order to win next week against a solid Vanderbilt defense, the Cats must show the ability to throw the ball downfield. Their entire season may depend on it.
Secondary Slumping ... The Cats entered the season thinking they had one of the better secondaries in the SEC. Through five games, that has not materialized. It was underscored Saturday by an 11-catch, 174-yard, two-touchdown performance by Alabama wideout Calvin Ridley, who was running wide open through the defense for most of the night. It's sometimes difficult to know who was responsible when, as a casual observer, don't know what was called defensively, but these were the type of matchups for which we thought Chris Westry would thrive heading into the season. He has only two pass break-ups and has yet to record an interception this season. On the other corner, Derrick Baity owns a couple of picks, but has also been the victim of a handful of the 11 TD passes the Cats have allowed. Both of these guys are much more talented than they have displayed. Next week's opponent cannot throw the ball to save its life (No. 119 nationally), so it's imperative that they play to the preseason hype that Mark Stoops gave them.
Tackling... At times, Kentucky was as good as it has looked against a quality opponent in terms of getting off blocks and being in the right position to make plays. Unfortunately, that didn't always lead to Alabama players being stopped in their tracks. The Cats missed so many tackles that could have helped them get off the field and limit the scoring damage that the Tide eventually would inflict. After the game, Stoops was highly critical of several "older players" who were "flopping around" and not wrapping up the ballcarrier. It's unclear who, exactly, the UK boss was referring to, but it sounds like some additional depth chart movement could be in the works.
By The Numbers ...
0 - Wins in program history at Alabama.
0 - Targets for UK wide receiver Jeff Badet, who is averaging 30.6 yards per catch this season.
1 - Turnover forced by the UK defense in the last 130:06 of game time.
2.8 - Yards per play for the UK offense.
14 - Turnovers by the Cats on the season, almost three per game.
22 - Rushing yards for UK star Boom Williams.
64% - Third-down conversion rate for the Tide.
488 - Total yards for Bama.