BOZICH | Orange crush: Eight takeaways from Kentucky's 52-21 los - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Orange crush: Eight takeaways from Kentucky's 52-21 loss to Tennessee

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Kentucky slid to 4-4 by losing to Tennessee Saturday night. Kentucky slid to 4-4 by losing to Tennessee Saturday night.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDRB) – The wise guys knew that Halloween heartburn was ahead for the University of Kentucky football team in UK’s 52-21 loss to Tennessee Saturday night in Commonwealth Stadium.

The smart money in Las Vegas flowed toward Tennessee, bumping the Volunteers from an 8 ½-point favorite to a 10 ½-point pick in the final 25 hours before kickoff.

The recruiting gurus also tried to warn the world. According to Scout.com, the Vols signed 32 four- or five-star prospects in their last two recruiting classes. Kentucky signed nine.

It was a terrible night for Kentucky coach Mark Stoops, his worst in 32 games as the Wildcats’ coach. Fans left early for Halloween parties. They were not expecting this, a game as one-sided as recruiting against John Calipari.

The gap in talent, especially speed, between the two programs appeared as large as ever. The game was so dreadful that somebody took the final score off the scoreboard less than five minutes after the game ended.

Halfback Boom Williams left in the second quarter with an injury to his right elbow. He did not return. Stoops said he was not certain of the seriousness of the injury but said that Williams "could be" out next week. Stoops’ team slipped to 4-4 while losing to Tennessee for the 30th time in the last 31 games.

The Wildcats have now been outscored 94-37 the last two Saturdays. They’ve also been outscored by Tennessee 102-37 the last two seasons.

I'll clean up the language for younger readers, but Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles said, "getting your rear end kicked stinks."

GOT THE JOB DONE: I’d have to look at the video to post a name here. Nobody appeared deserving in real time, not after the Vols dropped 28 straight points on Kentucky during the second and third quarters to ignite the rout.

Quarterback? No. Patrick Towles threw an awful interception on a screen pass.

Running game? Not really. Reserve halfback Mikel Horton ran for more than 100 yards, but most of UK’s yardage came after the game was out of reach.

Pass rush? Nah.

Special teams? It looked like nobody was in charge.

You get the picture.

DIDN’T GET THE JOB DONE: Flip a coin. You can argue for the Kentucky offense and win this category. Or you can argue for the Wildcats’ defense and win. You can even add the UK special teams. The Vols hung a 100-yard kickoff return on Kentucky – and backed it up with an 84-yard punt return.

Your call.

Kentucky’s offense gained only two yards on its first four offensive series, a signal of the Saturday night struggles. By the time Tennessee had rolled to a 38-14 lead five minutes in the third quarter, the Vols had outgained the Wildcats 407-117.

TURNING POINT: Kentucky pushed ahead 14-10 on touchdown run of one yard by quarterback Patrick Towles. There was 5 minutes and 39 seconds remaining in the second quarter. You wondered if these two teams would slug it out into the fourth quarter.

Make a note of the time. At 5:26 the Vols were back ahead – and ahead to stay. UT quarterback Joshua Dobbs is only a 58 percent passer. But on the Vols’ first play after the Kentucky touchdown, Dobbs threw a superb strike to Josh Malone, who was streaking down the right sideline.

Malone caught the ball, eluded the coverage and strolled into the end zone on a 75-yard touchdown. UK’s lead lasted just 13 seconds, and the Vols were rolling.

SURPRISE! SURPRISE! Kentucky’s inability to move the ball against Tennessee.

The Vols have not been a dominant defense club this season. In fact, Tennessee ranked 12th in the SEC in total defense (one spot behind Kentucky), surrendering more than 411 yards per game.

But take another look at the competition the Vols have played – Oklahoma, Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Nobody has beaten Tennessee by more than a touchdown, and their average margin of defeat has been 4.3 points.

Tennessee should be favored to win its next four and finish 8-4.

WDRB STAR OF THE GAME: Kentucky defensive tackle Cory Johnson. Hands, feet, determination, Johnson showed it all, at least on one play in the fourth quarter, against Tennessee.

Johnson crackled to the Wildcats’ first touchdown, scooping a fumble by Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs and rolling 77 yards midway through the first quarter. Johnson collected his prize in the center of the field, cut toward the Tennessee bench and used his blockers like a Heisman Trophy tailback. It was the first touchdown the Wildcats scored on defense this season.

STAT OF THE DAY: 296 – Tennessee showed big-play ability, rolling to 296 yard on four touchdown plays. There was a 75-yard pass, a 39-yard pass, a 100-yard kickoff return and the 84-yard punt return.

WHAT WE LEARNED: The Wildcats need to regroup. They’ve lost three straight for the first time this season and slipped to 4-4, 2-4 in the league. The first two SEC defeats were close. But the last two Saturdays have been an absolute struggle as well as a step backwards. After the game, Stoops was as angry as I've seen him all season.

Kentucky still needs to win two of its final four to become bowl eligible and avoid a repeat of its jarring slump at the end of last season.

UP NEXT: The Wildcats go on the road the next two Saturdays for their final two conference games at Georgia on Saturday and at Vanderbilt No. 14.

Georgia is a mess.

The Bulldogs fell to Florida Saturday, their third loss in the last four games. Unhappiness is percolating around head coach Mark Richt because Georgia was favored to win the SEC East, something that won’t happen for the Bulldogs with a 3-3 league record.

Some wonder if Richt will pursue the opening at Miami, his alma mater. Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote that the Bulldogs looked lost against the Gators. The smart money now expects a coaching change in Athens.

Copyright 2015 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.

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