Sidelines with John Clay

Kentucky football earns a rout and a one-week season

Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops , right congratulates running back Boom Williams after scoring a touchdown in the third quarter. Kentucky whipped Charlotte 58-10 on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015 at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington.
Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops , right congratulates running back Boom Williams after scoring a touchdown in the third quarter. Kentucky whipped Charlotte 58-10 on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015 at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington. Lexington Herald-Leader

In addition to my column, three more things about Kentucky football's 58-10 win over Charlotte on Saturday night.

1. A one-week season. That's what the UK players were saying after the 48-point rout. That means Louisville. That means next Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium. That means that Kentucky has to beat the arch-rival Cardinals to get that sixth victory required for bowl eligibility.

It's the same scenario as last season. UK took a 5-6 record into Papa John's Cardinal Stadium to face Bobby Petrino's team. Louisville was better in 2014 than in 2015. It had wide receiver Devante Parker, who was the difference in a 44-40 U of L victory.

This year, not sure it helps Kentucky that U of L lost 45-34 at Pittsburgh on Saturday. Louisville is now 6-5. Petrino won't be happy. He'll be on his Cards all week and Louisville would love nothing better to knock UK out of a bowl game for the second straight season. Only this time, it would be at Commonwealth Stadium.

“I hope it’s electric next Saturday,” UK coach Mark Stoops said. “I appreciate the fans that were there today. I know it was a dismal day playing again at 7:30 again in bad weather most of the day and cola and greatly appreciate the fans that were there. And next week we need everybody in those seats and we need it filled and to come root for this team because we’re going to put everything we’ve got into it.”

2. Kentucky's running game. The Cats rushed for 415 yards on Saturday the most since the 1974 team gained 441 yards against Virginia Tech. Jojo Kemp rushed for a career-high 165 yards on 11 carries. Boom Williams rushed for 140 yards on 16 carries. Kemp scored three rushing touchdowns. Boom scored two.

Sihiem King had a 62-yard touchdown run. Williams had a 53-yard touchdown run. Kemp had a 47-yard touchdown run. Those are the reasons the Cats enjoyed their most lopsided victory since beating UTEP 77-17 in 2002.

All of that had to be a confidence boost for the UK offensive line, which has taken some lumps in the five-game losing streak that preceded Saturday. There were some sizable holes for the UK running backs to exploit. And exploit them they did.

3. Drew Barker got it done. Making his first collegiate start, the redshirt freshman completed 16 of 29 passes for 129 yards without an interception or a touchdown. He wasn't asked to do a whole lot in the passing game, but he was efficient and effective.

Barker was especially good on third-down throws. He hit Boom Williams for a 22-yard gain on a third-and-14 in the first quarter. He found Garrett Johnson for 11 yards on a third-and-seven. He threw a 12-yard pass to Johnson on a third-and-four. He connected with Blake Bone for a nine-yard gain on third-and-six.

At this point, Barker's greatest attribute is that he gets the ball out quickly. He doesn't hold it long. If he makes good decisions on where to go with the ball, that's great. If he telegraphs the football, that's not so great. Offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said afterward that the more comfortable Barker gets with the offense, the throws should come out even quicker.

Notes from Kentucky’s 58-10 win over Charlotte

  • Kentucky gained a season-best 544 total yards
  • UK’s 415 rushing yards were most since 441 versus Virginia Tech in 1974
  • The 48-point winning margin was most since beating UTEP 77-17 in 2002
  • Kentucky is now 10-0 under Mark Stoops when leading after three quarters
  • Kentucky had a pair of 100-yard rushers for the first time since 2010
  • Jojo Kemp rushed for a career-high 165 yards on 11 carries
  • Boom Williams rushed for a career-high 140 yards on 16 carries
  • Kemp’s rushing yards were most by a UK player since Randall Cobb’s 170 yards vs. Vanderbilt in 2010
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