Five things you need to know from Kentucky football’s 28-23 win over Chattanooga at Kroger Field:
1. Chattanooga outcoached Kentucky. You have to give it to Rusty Wright and the Mocs’ coaching staff.
Chattanooga’s game plans on both sides of the ball gave the Wildcats fits.
On offense, the Mocs used a short passing game and two solid, veteran running backs to keep UK off balance and “shorten the game.”
Several times, Chattanooga was able to use formations to create open receivers.
Defensively, Chattanooga utilized two deep safeties to limit the quick-strike capability that Kentucky had used to great effect in its first two wins.
The Mocs’ veteran defensive line more than held its own against “The Big Blue Wall.”
Chattanooga’s veteran offensive line helped the Mocs actually outrush UK 171-102.
Chattanooga was a veteran team executing a smart game plan.
2. Kentucky played ‘flat.’ One would like to think the UK program is past the point of “playing to the level of competition.”
Alas, that was not the case against the FCS Mocs.
UK again struggled in the third quarter, outscored 3-0 by the Mocs.
But, at the end of the day, a win is a win.
Kentucky is now 3-0. Will Levis joins Terry Wilson (5-0 in 2018) and Mike Hartline (4-0 in 2008) as the only UK quarterbacks in the 21st century to win their first three starts.
3. Tyrell Ajian saved the day. The 95-yard interception return for a touchdown by Ajian, the senior safety from Mansfield, Ohio, put Kentucky ahead 28-16 and gave the Wildcats just enough cushion to avert disaster.
4. Another big day for Wan’Dale Robinson. The former Western Hills High School star caught eight passes for 111 yards.
In his first three games since transferring from Nebraska, Robinson has now gone above 100 yards in receptions three times.
Robinson’s biggest play, however, might have been drawing a pass interference penalty on Reuben Lowery that moved the to the Chattanooga 32-yard line on the fourth-period drive when UK erased a 16-14 deficit with a touchdown catch by Izayah Cummings.
5. A non-conference roll. There probably won’t be many celebrations in the commonwealth, but UK has now won its last 13 non-league games. The last non-SEC opponent to beat Kentucky was the Big Ten’s Northwestern, which edged UK 24-23 in the 2017 Music City Bowl.
Since that time, UK has gone 4-0 vs. the ACC, 1-0 vs. the Big Ten, 3-0 vs. the MAC, 2-0 against the OVC, and 1-0 vs. Conference USA, the Sun Belt and the Southern Conference, respectively.
Entering Saturday, only Minnesota (20 straight non-league wins) and Iowa (14) had longer non-conference win streaks than Kentucky.
The fashion police
For its third game of the 2021 season, Kentucky wore blue helmets, blue jerseys with white numbers and letters and white pants.
Since the start of the 2015 season, Kentucky is now 12-3 in blue, blue and white.