Date story was published: Sunday, October 1, 2000
There was a lot of finger-pointing around the Kentucky football camp following last week's 59-31 smashing at Florida, and most of it centered on the Wildcat defense.
And despite a new game plan inserted this week that featured a 5-2 alignment, the UK defense still wasn't very good last night against Mississippi.
But for the first time this season, the UK offense didn't show up, either, and the results were pretty ugly.
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Mississippi, which came into last night's game tied with UK for last in the Southeastern Conference in total defense, limited the Wildcats to a season-low 231 yards offense and cruised to a 35-17 win in front of 51,448 fans at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Kentucky was leading the nation in total offense through its first four games, but the Rebel defense was dominant from the start. UK's first two plays from scrimmage resulted in a pair of Derrick Burgess sacks of Jared Lorenzen, and the Cats didn't get into the end zone until Lorenzen's 4-yard run with 9:45 left in the game.
"They pretty much whipped us from the beginning of the game," Lorenzen said.
UK Coach Hal Mumme said last night's performance should be a lesson to his offensive unit.
"(The offense) got off all week pointing the finger at the other side of the ball, saying if we had stopped them at Florida we would have won," he said. "I told them tonight that there was enough fault to go around and there's enough glory to go around."
One play symbolized the kind of evening it was for the UK offense.
After Mississippi had taken a 7-0 lead on a 36-yard touchdown pass from Romaro Miller to Chris Collins, Lorenzen was faced with a third-and-8 from his own 8-yard line with 4:25 left in the first period. Lorenzen dropped back into the end zone and lofted a pass over the middle to Derek Smith, who took the ball and bulled his way 89 yards to the Rebel 3.
But right tackle Antonio Hall was whistled for a hold on Burgess in the end zone, resulting in a safety and a 9-0 Rebel lead.
The Rebels then took the free kick and drove 44 yards for a 1-yard Deuce McAllister touchdown run that put Kentucky in a 16-0 hole with 1:44 left in the first quarter.
"That kills you," Lorenzen said. "It just took the wind out of our sails."
In less than three minutes, the Wildcats went from three yards away from the tying touchdown to a 16-point deficit, reminiscent of last week when the Cats went from a potential tie with the Gators to a 21-point hole in a two-minute span before halftime.
"We're so young we just haven't learned how to come back from those kinds of things," Mumme said.
Things would get worse. By the time Kentucky went into the locker room, they were down 32-3.
"We just didn't come out ready to play, and that's my fault," Mumme said. "This team didn't know how to handle playing on the road two weeks in a row against great teams in the SEC. We've got to understand that you've got to have intensity from the beginning, and we just didn't do that."
The Cats' game plan, which featured five down linemen and a nose guard, keyed on McAllister, the Rebels' Heisman Trophy candidate running back. And for the most part they did a good job on McAllister, who finished with 75 yards on 19 carries.
But it was Romaro Miller, Mississippi's 6-1, 195-pound senior quarterback, who did in Kentucky during the Rebels' first-half romp.
He opened the scoring with a 36-yard touchdown pass to Collins, and his 23-yard strike to Grant Heard put the Rebels up 22-3 with 7:39 left in the second quarter.
Miller ended up completing 15 of 25 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns.
Lorenzen was going through his worst outing as a collegian, finishing just 17-for-42 for only 192 yards with three interceptions, ending his streak of four consecutive 300-yard passing games.
Lorenzen, who had been sacked four times through UK's first four games, was sacked five times last night. Burgess, a 6-3, 265-pound senior, was in on 2 1/2 of those.
"We came in knowing that, if we just let (Lorenzen) sit still in the pocket, he'd pick us apart," Burgess said. "We knew we had to put some heat on him, and we did that."
The Mississippi offense went to sleep for most of the second half and UK managed to make the score look a little more respectable late, as Lorenzen hooked up with Derek Abney for a 50-yard score with 6:51 remaining.
But it was a humbling experience for Mumme and his group, who came into the game with hopes of getting into a wide-open SEC race.
Instead, the Cats (2-3, 0-2 in the SEC) now must regroup and prepare for a visit from No. 23 South Carolina on Saturday.
Mumme said he's trying to get his team to focus on a winning season and a bowl game.
"I told the guys I pushed them to try and get something they couldn't attain," Mumme said. "I tried to get us in the conference race, and we're just not ready.
"We had two goals this season. One was to get in the conference race, which we haven't done, and the other was to have a winning season and go to a third straight bowl game, which we have a realistic shot at doing, even though a lot of people won't believe that after tonight's performance."