Story published: Sunday, September 18, 2005
BLOOMINGTON -- It was evident on the first play from scrimmage when Kentucky tried to spring Curtis Pulley loose on a double-reverse.
The freshman, who lined up at wide receiver, got slammed to the turf for an 8-yard loss.
We've all seen Kentucky get thrown around before, but hardly ever by Indiana. And last night the Hoosiers kissed the UK series good-bye by routing the Wildcats 38-14 in front of a spirited pro-IU crowd of 40,240 at Memorial Stadium.
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The win gave Indiana its first 3-0 start since 1994 and gave it the series lead (18-17-1) in the last meeting of the two teams in the foreseeable future.
The way Indiana manhandled the Cats, Indiana Coach Terry Hoeppner might want to renegotiate.
"Indiana outplayed us, they outcoached us, they kicked our fannies," Kentucky Coach Rich Brooks said. "It's a very difficult game to swallow."
An Indiana team that struggled with Central Michigan and Division I-AA Nicholls State barely broke a sweat against the Wildcats, and several UK players admitted they came into the game lethargic and fat-headed.
"We kind of came in here thinking, oh, we almost beat Louisville, and we beat Idaho State; we've got this in the bag," said sophomore quarterback Andre Woodson. "But you could tell we were flat. We had nothing for them. We had nothing right from the start. Every single drive seemed like it was three-and-out. We never got focused."
"They wanted it more," said sophomore running back Rafael Little.
In IU's first two games, running back Chris Taylor carried 28 times for 78 yards, a 2.8 yards-per-carry average. But last night, the UK defense made Taylor look like Walter Payton, running for 176 yards on 17 carries before leaving with an injury. Taylor gained 155 of his yards in the first half.
Indiana converted 8 of 16 third-down opportunities and three of four on fourth down. The Hoosiers ran 82 plays compared to 45 for UK and had the ball 23 minutes longer than the Wildcats.
And it wasn't like the Hoosiers did anything fancy. They gained 305 yards rushing with a good chunk coming on basic draw plays.
"I'm going to see the draw play in my dreams for the next three weeks," Brooks said. "Everybody in the stadium knew it was coming, and we still couldn't stop it."
"Everything they did, we practiced against," UK defensive coordinator Mike Archer said. "They just whipped us up front. When we had eight guys in the box, they blocked us. When we had nine guys in the box, they blocked us."
And when IU decided it wanted to complete a pass, it did just that, as quarterback Blake Powers completed 17 of his 22 pass attempts for 135 yards and four touchdowns.
"I felt like this game was our (the defense's) fault," said UK free safety Muhammad Abdullah said.
But the offense didn't do anything, either. Kentucky finished with 217 total yards and had 20 yards of offense before a last-minute drive before halftime.
By then, they already trailed 17-0 and then let a potential scoring opportunity go by the wayside with a couple of questionable play calls.
The Cats tried to dump a pass to Little in the flat on third-and-two fromcthe IU 9, but Little was stopped a yard short of the first down.
They tried to get Little outside on a sweep on fourth-and-one but he was dragged down for a 1-yard loss.
"That's my fault," Brooks said. "I thought they'd bunch things up in the middle and thought we could get something on the edge. That was my call."
UK forced IU to go three-and-out on its first possession of the third quarter and then marched for its first score on Little's 13-yard run with 9:38 in the third to trim the deficit to 17-7.
That momentum was curbed, however, when IU's Lance Bennett ran back the ensuing kickoff 86 yards to the UK 13. Powers then found Brandon Walker-Roby in the corner of the end zone for his third touchdown pass of the night to put Indiana back up 17 at the 8:01 mark. Powers added one more TD pass in the quarter, a 4-yarder to James Hardy, to pad the lead to 31-7 at 1:26.
UK took advantage of a blown coverage by Indiana to connect on a Woodson-to-Scott Mitchell 79-yard touchdown to close to within 31-14.
As was the case all night, the Kentucky defense couldn't get off the field after Mitchell's score. The Hoosiers plowed its way through a 16-play, 80-yard drive that ate 7:45 off the clock and resulted in a 1-yard Yamar Washington run for the final margin.
Now, a Kentucky team that was beat up physically coming in may have to deal with bruised psyches as well as it opens conference play at home against Florida next week.
"I thought we had a pretty good team when we played Louisville," Brooks said, "but injuries are something we have to deal with, and we're not dealing with it very well."
Pulley saw his first action as a Wildcat last night. He lined up at receiver for a handful of plays and took over at quarterback on UK's last possession. He didn't catch a pass but went 1-of-2 passing for 7 yards and ran three times for minus-4 yards.
Pulley said the coaching staff first approached him about playing receiver last Sunday.
"It was a little awkward, but I was happy to be out there," Pulley said.
UK offensive coordinator Joker Phillips said he and the staff will evaluate how Pulley will be used the rest of the season.
"We'd like to get him more reps at quarterback, but if he's a guy that can make plays outside, we've got to get him out there while getting him ready to play backup quarterback at the same time," he said.
More bumps and bruises
UK had more injury casualties last night. Defensive back Karl Booker suffered a knee injury, and safety Roger Williams was hobbled by a hamstring injury. Another safety, sophomore Dallas Greer, suffered a fractured fibula.
Defensive end B. Jay Parsons and receiver Glenn Holt tried to play through sprained ankles but were limited.