Kentucky’s football team continues to chug along with a 31-0 shutout victory over Youngstown State. You know the drill by now. There were some winners and there were some losers.
WINNER: Wide Receiver Talent
Kentucky has historically been a run heavy, power offense that has produced little explosiveness in the passing game. A lot of that has had to do with the lack of overall depth and talent at the wide receiver position. However, in 2022, Kentucky finally has the receiver group to compete with the big boys. Dane Key and Barion Brown are two true freshman that have started all three games. Jordan Anthony, a track star from Mississippi, is starting to see action as a true freshman. Redshirt freshmen Dekel Crowdus and Chris Lewis are beginning to make plays. Sophomore Chauncey Magwood is emerging as a strong fourth receiver in this offense. At the end of the day, there are six first- or second-year receivers that are extremely young and extremely talented. Kentucky has never seen a receiving group this talented in a very long time.
Three games, three touchdowns for Dane Key 🔥 pic.twitter.com/iHA4ixfkZf
— Cats Coverage (@Cats_Coverage) September 17, 2022
LOSER: Offensive Line And The Rushing Offense
I don’t want to beat a dead horse. However, I will continue to list this as a loser until proven otherwise. Kentucky is one of the worst rushing offenses in the country, ranking 122nd out of 131 teams in yards per game on the ground. Will Levis was sacked four more times on Saturday, bringing the season total to 11. Of course, it isn’t only on the offensive line. Mark Stoops, in his Monday press conference, was extremely displeased with the blocking on the edges by receivers and tight ends as well. 2.9 yards per carry against an FCS opponent is unacceptable. It needs to get fixed and fixed fast if they want to reach their goals of making the SEC Championship Game.
WINNER: Entire Defense
How good is this Kentucky defense? They recorded the first shutout for Kentucky since 2009. The Penguins didn’t convert a single third down attempt. Youngstown State, as a team, only averaged 2.6 yards per carry. Veterans like Deandre Square, Jacquez Jones, Carrington Valentine, and Jordan Wright continue to lead by example. Youngsters such as Deone Walker, Jordan Lovett, and Alex Afari Jr. continue to impress. We will find out more in two weeks when the Wildcats travel to Oxford, Mississippi to take on the Ole Miss Rebels. For now, Kentucky appears to have a top 15 defense in the country.
Among freshmen nationally, Kentucky’s Dane Key is No. 2 in touchdown catches (3), third in receptions (13) and receiving yards (228).
Cats corner Carrington Valentine leads the nation in passes defended (7). That’ll do.
— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) September 18, 2022
LOSER: Red Zone Woes Continue
The offense has travelled into the red zone 16 times so far this season. They have only scored eight touchdowns. That simply isn’t good enough when two of your three opponents have been FCS teams. They’ve had to settle for far too many field goals, and the red zone turnovers must stop. Will Levis, for as good as he has been to start the season, has thrown two red zone interceptions already. They need to get better in this area. It is unacceptable to only have eight touchdowns in 16 red zone trips.
Overall, it is a great sign that Kentucky’s program is in a place that there is this much to fix and complain about in a 31-point, shutout victory. The Wildcats are a top 10 program right now, and they should be held to that standard.