Eddie Gran: A one-two punch with Boom and Benny
Instant analysis from Kentucky’s 62-42 win over New Mexico State:
How the game was won
Stephen Johnson II replaced an injured Drew Barker at quarterback after Kentucky’s first offensive series and helped UK overcome another porous defensive effort by leading the Cats to 62 points and 692 yards of total offense.
Getting game balls
1. Stephen Johnson II. In relief of an injured Drew Barker, the UK junior-college quarterback was stellar (17-for-22 passing for 310 yards and three touchdowns). He used the tight ends in the passing game and brought an extra dimension to the Kentucky offense with his wheels (10 carries, 51 yards).
2. The Kentucky offense. Run the football and use a short-passing game to take pressure off the quarterback and offensive tackles. This was the attack (692 total yards worth) I expected from UK in 2016.
3. Boom Williams and Benny Snell. There will be far better defenses ahead than NMSU, of course, but Kentucky may have found a backfield combination of thunder (Snell with 136 yards rushing and four TDs) and lightning (Williams 181 yards and one TD).
4. Doug Martin. The former UK quarterback’s New Mexico State team gave a very good account of itself for its head coach in his old stomping grounds.
5. Charles Walker. For the first time since Randall Cobb, Kentucky finally returned another punt for a touchdown.
1. Kentucky’s defense. Somewhere, Mike Major, Larry New and the ghosts of criticized UK defensive coordinators of the past are saying, “See, our defenses weren’t that bad.”
2. Mark Stoops. Let’s just say that taking a more hands-on approach with the defense for the former Florida State defensive coordinator didn’t seem to yield immediate benefits for UK. Kentucky gave up 500 yards and 42 points to a Sun Belt Conference team playing without its best offensive player (running back Larry Rose III).
9.6. The Kentucky offense averaged a robust 9.6 yards a play.
For its third game of 2016, Kentucky wore blue helmets, blue jerseys and white pants.
Who is next
Kentucky (1-2, 0-1 SEC) will seek its third straight victory over South Carolina when the Gamecocks (2-1, 1-1 SEC) visit Commonwealth Stadium (Sept. 24) at 7:30 p.m. South Carolina defeated East Carolina (2-1) 20-15 on Saturday.
Know your foe
1. After South Carolina beat Kentucky 10 games in a row (2000-09), UK has now won two in a row and three of the past six against the Gamecocks.
2. UK has not beaten an SEC team other than Vanderbilt in three consecutive seasons since Blanton Collier’s Cats bested Tennessee three years in a row in 1957, ’58 and ’59.
3. New South Carolina coach Will Muschamp was defensive backs coach at Eastern Kentucky University in 1999 under iconic Colonels head coach Roy Kidd.