The Kentucky Wildcats picked up a huge win Saturday night as they traveled to Gainesville, Fla., and knocked out the 12th-ranked Florida Gators. As always, there have been winners and there have been losers, but there may not be many losers this week!
WINNER: Jordan Wright
The senior linebacker returned from a one-game suspension and played the game of his life in Gainesville. Wright had six total tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss and one forced fumble. He also had the biggest play of the game when he intercepted quarterback Anthony Richardson with less than three minutes left in the first half. All the momentum was with Florida until this play. Kentucky capitalized by scoring a touchdown and never looked back.
LOSER: The offensive line in the first half
Frankly speaking, Kentucky’s offensive line didn’t play well at all in the first half of this game. There hasn’t been a single run that has gone over four yards and Will Levis has been sacked multiple times. It was just a struggle to get things done for the whole half.
WINNER: The offensive line in the second half
Whatever Mark Stoops said at halftime, it worked. It was a whole different story in the second half. They dominated the Gators for the last 30 minutes of the game. The line allowed Kavosiey Smoke to snatch big wins and was able to wear down Florida’s top seven on the way to victory.
LOSER: Special Teams
Special teams were a disaster for Kentucky on Saturday night. There was a mishandled snap on a point after a try, there was a snap that went over the punter’s head for a safety, and there was a missed field goal. It was a mess and cost Kentucky at least six points. They need to iron out the issues before getting down to business in October and beyond.
WINNER: Brad White
How is Brad White still in Kentucky? How come he doesn’t have a head coaching job somewhere? He really is an elite defensive coordinator and he hosted a masterclass on Saturday. Everyone’s darling of the past week, Anthony Richardson, was held to four rushing yards on six carries. Richardson was no better in the air, as he only completed 40% of his passes and was knocked out twice. It was a dominating performance from the Kentucky defense, and Brad White had a phenomenal game plan.
WINNER: Mark Stoops and Mitch Barnhart
With the victory over Florida, Mark Stoops earned his 61st victory and passed Paul “Bear” Bryant to become the winningest coach in Kentucky football history. This is a tremendous accomplishment for Stoops considering the state of the program when he took over in late 2012. I include Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart as he has shown tremendous patience with Stoops. Mark Stoops’ first season was in 2013. They didn’t have a winning record until 2016. They didn’t win a bowling game until 2018. Barnhart stayed with Stoops, gave Stoops everything he needed needed to succeed in a place like Kentucky, and it would have been very easy to move on. He didn’t, and now Kentucky is a consistent Top 25 program in the country. Congratulations, Coach Stoops and here are 61 more!
The Wildcats will continue their season next Saturday at Kroger Field when they take on Youngstown State at 12:00 p.m. EST.