Kentucky has had an outstanding start to the season, as they followed up their 45-10 win over Louisiana-Monroe with a huge SEC season opener win over the tough Missouri squad, 35-28. This was no cake-walk game for the Cats as Missouri came in with a fierce team that could be a sleeper in the SEC east. The game was close overall, but that was strictly due to the fact that Kentucky had simple mistakes throughout the game to keep Missouri in the game. Let’s dive into the highlights of the game.
The star for the Cats this weekend was their star running back, Chris Rodriguez Jr. Rodriguez blew up the Tigers defense for 206 rushing yards on 27 carries. To add to that, he had 3 rushing touchdowns (the third one was a fumble that was recovered by Eli Cox but was ultimately ruled a touchdown for Rodriguez Jr.). Rodriguez Jr. could have added a fourth rushing touchdown, but unfortunately fumbled on the goal line, where Missouri recovered. Besides the two fumbles, Rodriguez Jr. put the world on notice that he is one of the best backs in all of college football. Rodriguez Jr. is sitting in second in the nation in rushing with 331 yards in two games and he will look to stay in the top five throughout the season.
Levis did not get to throw the ball as much as the first game, but overall, he was very solid Saturday. He completed 10 of his 18 passes for 179 passing yards, along with one touchdown and one interception. Levis also added 25 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown to his game, showing people that his run game is polished. The leading receiver for the game was Wan’Dale Robinson as he continues to make a name for himself for Big Blue Nation. Robinson racked up 101 yards on five receptions. Josh Ali only had two receptions for 30 yards, but Ali and Robinson look to be the dynamic receiving duo that the fans have been craving for the past few years.
Defensively, the Cats did not look as strong in the first game but had times where the team looked stellar. The team gave up a total of 398 yards (294 passing and 104 rushing). The leading tacklers for the defense were Yusuf Corker and Tyrell Ajian, as both racked up 6. J.J. Weaver continued to make a name for himself as he was the only defender to get a sack in the game. Also, the Ole Miss linebacker transfer, Jacquez Jones, got the first interception of the season for the Cats with an athletic leaping grab across the middle. The defense will be fine as the season continues with the mix of great seniors and young talent.
The first interconference game was a success for Kentucky and they look to improve their record to 3-0 as they face Chattanooga this Saturday, September 18th. This will be the last easy game for the Cats before the meat of their schedule with their SEC schedule. The game will start at noon, so be sure to set your clocks to cheer on Kentucky, and never forget, GO CATS!
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Devin Hall is a columnist for MESPORTS digital. A University Louisville graduate who loves good music, good games and good times. He can be reached at DHall@maineventsports101.com. Follow him on Twitter @Mista_Hall25