Kentucky has now lost five straight games after a 4-1 start. Saturday’s 21-17 loss at Vanderbilt was perhaps the most demoralizing yet.

Here’s a breakdown of the team’s loss to the Commodores in Nashville:


Kentucky is still looking for a go-to short-yardage running back: Mikel Horton is the most bruising of the UK backs, but two goal-line stands by the Vanderbilt defense reaffirmed the hole the ‘Cats have in short-yardage situations. Stanley “Boom” Williams and Jojo Kemp are both valuable members of the offense, but they are speed guys.

The quarterback situation is still very much unresolved: Starter Patrick Towles had a dismal day, completing just 10 of 26 pass attempts for 67 yards, zero touchdowns and an interception. Drew Barker came in and also threw an interception but accounted for a touchdown through the air and almost matched Towles’ yardage count with 60 of his own on 18 fewer attempts (5-for-8).

Boom is Kentucky’s best home run threat: Though he had no touchdown runs, Williams did have a 66-yard scamper that reaffirmed why everyone in Lexington was so high on him at the beginning of the season. He finished the day with 115 yards on 13 carries.

The UK defense was actually decent: It was not the defense in this game that slowed the ‘Cats. The D allowed only 301 yards of total offense and two offensive scores (one touchdown came on a pick-six by Oren Burks). They forced 2 turnovers and were able to keep the time of possession at almost an equal level.

The Vanderbilt defense is more than decent: The Commodores’ defense has kept them in, and won them, games no one believed they had a chance in. Coach Derek Mason has preached the matter all year to his team, and they have seen the philosophy pay huge dividends. Two huge goal-line stands and a pick-six helped seal the deal for Vandy, while the offense did just enough to get by.


Offense: C- – The quarterback play was not good. The receivers had even more drops, bringing the season total to more than I can count. Boom did play well though, reeling off one of his signature shot-out-of-a-cannon long runs. For the game, the Wildcats ran for 225 yards with 352 yards of total offense. Still, 3 turnovers and going 4-for-16 on third downs won’t get it done.

Defense: B – Held Vanderbilt to just two offensive scores and a shade above 300 yards of total offense. Not great, but definitely an improvement for the program’s often-criticized defensive unit.

Special teams: C – Austin MacGinnis, one of the best players on the entire roster, uncharacteristically missed a 37-yard field goal attempt. Punter Landon Foster saw a good amount of action and played decently, averaging about 40 yards on each of his five punts.

Coaching: C-Only a few days after coach Mark Stoops got upset with local radio host Matt Jones about a question which hinted at disorganization between coaching staff and players, disorganization was once again on full display on multiple occasions.

Overall: C – There were certainly positives, just not enough of them to deserve to win this one.


Maybe playing two quarterbacks wasn’t the plan heading into the game, but the quarterback situation needs to be completely ironed out, one way or another, before the Louisville game. They can get by Charlotte even experimenting with two signal-callers in different situations, but the team needs stability at the position. It’s also about what Kentucky didn’t do. The Wildcats have to develop a package for Mikel Horton in goal-to-go and third-and-short situations. He is the most punishing runner of the UK backs and has played enough to earn more snaps in important situations.


Boom Williams: Boom provided a much-needed spark for the ‘Cats, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough. He looked like the Boom from the beginning of the season during his 66-yard run.

Kentucky Defense: It can be hard to pick positives from such a devastating defeat, but this might have been the defense’s best performance of the season.