Mark Stoops has been praised for his successes on the recruiting trail since taking over as Kentucky’s head coach in December of 2012.

Saturday, those recruiting successes translated to the field in the Wildcats’ 2014 opener, a convincing 59-14 home win over UT Martin in Commonwealth Stadium.

Here are five takeaways from the Cats slaughter of the Skyhawks:

  • Patrick Towles looked like a veteran at quarterback: Towles gained some collegiate experience as a true freshman in 2012, but after sitting out the 2013 season with a redshirt he showed no apparent rust in Saturday’s 2014 debut. Towles spread the ball all over the field, showing great touch on deep balls and impressive velocity on his throws when needed. Ten different Wildcats caught passes from Towles Saturday afternoon, and the Ft. Thomas, Kentucky native threw for the more yards (377) than any UK quarterback in his first start since the Tim Couch era. Towles did a great job of protecting the football, and did not commit a turnover on the afternoon. Perhaps most impressive was his 23-yard run for a touchdown in the third quarter, adding the threat of the run to his strong arm in the Air Raid offense.
  • The Cats are as deep at tailback as expected: Five different Kentucky running backs carried the ball multiple times against the Skyhawks, led by Braylon Heard’s two carries for 116 yards and two touchdowns. The Cats tailbacks ran 25 times for 204 yards and five of UK’s eight touchdowns on the afternoon, and Mikel Horton joined Heard as UK backs to run for multiple scores.
  • Kentucky’s freshmen wide receivers are for real: Four freshmen wide receivers earned their way onto Stoops’ depth chart this week, and all four caught passes against UT Martin. Blake Bone led the freshmen receivers with two catches for 65 yards and a 29-yard catch and run for a touchdown on a Towles screen pass. Combined the four wideouts caught 10 passes for 164 yards and the Bone touchdown, with all four receivers catching multiple passes for at least 25 yards. These rookie receivers give UK more depth at the receiver position than its had in years.
  • A.J. Stamps has reinvigorated the UK secondary: Stamps had eight tackles, including a tackle for loss, and a spectacular one-handed interception to lead the Wildcats secondary. His interception equaled the total number of interceptions recorded by the UK secondary last season (1), and it seemed to free up the rest of the defensive backs to play loose and shut down the Skyhawks’ passing game. Despite playing from behind for most of the afternoon, UT Martin managed just 215 yards through the air for the game.
  • The Kentucky D-line was not very impressive: It’s not that the defensive line played bad – no one on UK played poorly against UT Martin – it’s just that the line didn’t dominate as many thought it would. The one area where UTM experienced success was in the run game, accumulating 183 yards on the ground against the Cats while reaching the second-level of the defense on far too many runs. The D-line applied some moderate pressure on the Skyhawks’ quarterbacks in the passing game, but players like Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith did not have breakout superstar performances against a much smaller UT Martin offensive line. Still, Kentucky is 1-0 and has plenty of games left to establish its defensive line in 2014.