Mark Story

Blue Review: Instant analysis from UK’s football victory over Eastern Michigan

Instant analysis from Kentucky’s 24-20 victory over Eastern Michigan:

How the game was won

Kentucky’s defense sacked Brogan Roback five times, had seven tackles for loss and held EMU to 13 yards rushing as the Cats won a grinder against the visitors from the Mid-American Conference.

Game balls

1. Kentucky defense. More or less saved the Cats from what would have been an embarrassing loss.

2. Josh Allen. The edge-rushing Kentucky outside linebacker continues to be one of the most disruptive forces in the SEC with 1.5 sacks and seven tackles.

3. Kentucky special teams. UK had a 71-yard punt, recovered a fumbled punt and blocked a punt to set up the game-clinching touchdown.

4. Garrett Johnson. The Kentucky senior wideout caught eight passes for 61 yards and moved the chains for the Wildcats several times on a day when the Cats could not run the ball.

5. Jeremiah Harris. Eastern Michigan’s rush end terrorized UK for 3.5 tackles for loss, two quarterback sacks and a pass break up.

6. Nate Northington. Fifty years ago, the ex-Kentucky defensive back literally changed the complexion of Southeastern Conference football. In a classy move, UK had current athletes take a microphone at Kroger Field and thank Northington for shattering the color barrier in SEC football.

Running gassers

1. Kentucky offensive line. Pretty much dominated (five sacks and 10 tackles for loss allowed) by a (very good) Mid-American Conference defensive front.

2. Eastern Michigan offensive line. Neither team could block the other defensive front.

Key number(s)

5 and 3. Both teams have five quarterback sacks and three quarterback hurries.

Fashion police

For the fifth game of the 2017 season, Kentucky wore blue helmets, blue jerseys with white letters and numbers and white pants.

Next up

Kentucky (4-1, 1-1 SEC) will face Missouri (1-3, 0-2 SEC) Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Kroger Field in UK’s 2017 Homecoming Game. The contest will be televised by the SEC Network. Mizzou was off this week.

Know your foe

1. After Missouri won the first three games against Kentucky after it began playing in the SEC in 2012, UK has won the last two. The Wildcats lead the all-time series.

2. Second-year Missouri head coach Barry Odom is a former defensive coordinator, yet the Tigers have given up 43, 31, 35 and 51 points in their four games this season. After a 31-13 loss to South Carolina in the season’s second week, Odom fired defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross.

3. Through four games, Missouri junior quarterback Drew Lock has been less accurate a passer than a year ago. This season, Lock has completed 70-of-133 passes (52.6 percent) with 10 touchdown passes versus six interceptions. Last year, the 6-foot-4, 215 pounder completed 237-of-424 (54.6 percent) with 23 TDs vs. 10 picks.

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