The game was a microcosm of Ryan Timmons’ last few weeks.
He would make a big play, then struggle to make a key play.
That happened to Kentucky’s sophomore wide receiver again in the fourth quarter when he caught a huge 55-yard pass, but struggled to reel in back-to-back passes that could have cut into Mississippi State’s lead.
Timmons, who finished with a career-best 114 yards on five receptions, took responsibility for the misses.
“I should have went up for it a lot more so I’d have time to get my eyes around on the ball,” he said. “On the fourth-down play, my fault again. I can take the blame for that. I could have put our team in a lot better position if I would have caught that and scored.
“It would’ve gave us more time for the onside kick and for us to score more. It’s nothing on them. That’s just something I need to do.”
When asked if the defender was able to get a hand on the ball on that key fourth-down miss, Timmons said no.
“It’s just bad placement, bad judgment from me,” he said of the play in which Kivon Coman was credited with a breakup. “The ball’s in the air and I was running a little fast out of my break, so I needed to adjust a lot faster. By the time I adjusted, the ball was already in my face, so I just need to adjust faster.”
Timmons spent the week being encouraged strongly by his teammates and coaches to become a playmaker, to make the big plays.
Garrett Johnson was moved into the starting lineup and Timmons came off the bench.
The star wide out from Franklin County was being too hard on himself after the game, offensive coordinator Neal Brown said.
“I’m proud of him. He had over 100 yards,” Brown said. “Obviously he left two plays out there. He’s a big-time player. We really count on him to be a big-time player.”Coaches will still have to watch game tape to see how Timmons played when the ball wasn’t in his hands, but Brown has no doubt that Timmons will continue to make plays for Kentucky.
“We’ve got to get him using is hands,” Brown said. “The last one in the end zone, that’s a difficult play. I’d love for him to make it, but that’s a difficult play.
“But I will not lose confidence in him. Hopefully, when I turn on that video I see him blocking, I see him playing the way we want to be played. Here’s what I tell him: the video tells your story. You are who you are on video. That goes out to everybody we play.”
Over the top
Against one of the worst pass defenses in the nation, Kentucky did what it could to move the ball down the field, including long pass plays to Demarco Robinson (67 yards), Javess Blue (58 yards) and Ryan Timmons (55 yards).
Robinson was happy to see Kentucky extend the field.
“As a receiver, we always like going deep, throwing the big shot,” he said. “We’re glad we had some success, but I still feel like we left a lot of plays out there, a lot of yards.”
As for his tip-toeing touchdown down the right sideline for 67 yards, Robinson said he had no idea that he was so close to going out of bounds.
“I didn’t even think about it,” he said of the touchdown that was reviewed for a few minutes before being called a score. “It’s something we practice all the time, catching the ball and getting straight up the field as quick as possible. So that’s all it was.”
Baker misses first half
Kentucky wide receiver Dorian Baker, whose block of a Louisiana State defender last week became a bit of discussion point between coaches and the Southeastern Conference, did not play in the first half for Kentucky.
The true freshman was in full pads on the sideline, but never had chrome helmet in hand. He rode the bike and did extra warmups before the team came out of the locker room to start the second half.
Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops declined to say if Baker was suspended by the league or if he was held out by UK as was J.D. Harmon for a potential targeting violation in the Louisiana-Monroe game.
“I really don’t want to go there too much,” Stoops said. “I mean, that’s a conversation between me and the league.”
Baker finished with three catches for 22 yards in the loss.