LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDRB) Kentucky got a dose of confidence from a dominating performance against an overmatched Miami University team, beating the Redhawks 41-7 in Lexington Saturday. The Wildcats outgained Miami of Ohio 675-122. The offensive yardage is the third-highest total in UK history and provided a rather resounding first win as a collegiate head coach for Mark Stoops.
"It really does feel good. It feels great," said Stoops. "To be honest with you, I was so involved in the game, doing everything you have to do to win, prepare, making sure you're taking care of everything... Same thing with after the game, talking to the team. Then Avery (Williamson) gave me the game ball. It hit me. Like I told them, we're always going to value wins, no matter who they are, what they are. It's hard to get them. We appreciate winning today. We're going to go back to work tomorrow and prepare for the next week."
Max Smith got the start at quarterback for UK but rotated throughout the day with fellow Sophomore Jalen Whitlow. Offensive Coordinator Neal Brown said he went with his gut when determining when to switch them.
Smith was 15-of-23 passing for 310 yards and three touchdowns. The first went 48 yards to Jonathan George to make it 17-0 midway through the first quarter. An 88-yarder to a wide-open Javess Blue made it 24-7 after one quarter. And Smith's final TD toss went 56 yards to Freshman Jeff Badet to close the scoring early in the fourth quarter.
Whitlow was 10-of-12 through the air for 103 yards and he added 48 yards rushing on seven carries, including the first touchdown of the game. The Kentucky scoring also included a Raymond Sanders 5-yard touchdown run and a pair of short Joe Mansour field goals.
Miami's only scoring came when Chris Wade recovered Darryl Collin's fumbled punt return and returned it six yards for a touchdown to make it 17-7 late in the 1st quarter. Punt return issues and penalties were the only downers for the Wildcats on very uplifting day.
"It's always good when you can win a game and be not happy about a lot of situations," said Stoops. "So there's plenty to improve. Again, we're always going to appreciate wins. That's the bottom line. We're in a bottom‑line business:you need to win. So that was good. But there's plenty to learn from. I thought we were very sloppy. I don't like the penalties, the ball security. Again, on special teams, I thought we were out of whack. We weren't always on the same page with some substitutions that we need to get better at, things like that. So there's plenty to learn from. That's the great thing, is you can learn after a win."
Now it's back to work as the Wildcats face Louisville Saturday, then an off-week followed by Florida, Alabama and Georgia.