kentucky-blog

Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson (15) throws a pass against Alabama on Saturday. Johnson was 13 for 22 passing in the Wildcats' 34-6 loss but he threw just four times during a 16-play fourth-quarter drive to a field goal that pulled UK into a 28-point deficit.

Butch Dill, Associated Press

I love prowling around in college football box scores. You always find something interesting that played a key role in the game. A lot of times it’s turnovers or penalties. I also love the drive chart, which is brutally honest in showing how effective your offense really is.

For example, Oregon State went punt, interception, punt, punt, punt, end of the half on its six second-half drives last Saturday in the Beavers’ 47-6 loss at Colorado. Ouch.

That same day I found some amazing information in the Alabama-Kentucky box. Bama won 34-6, no surprise there. Then I noticed some scoring summary symmetry: Kentucky’s line was 3 0 0 3 and Bama’s was 3 14 14 3. Which means the Wildcats trailed 31-3 heading to the fourth period … and tacked on a field goal.

So, maybe, they kicked the field goal early in the period while still hoping for a late comeback. Not so. In fact, it was Bama that scored first in that final period, kicking a field goal with 14:51 left to give the Crimson Tide a 34-3 lead.

Then the fun began. Kentucky drove 63 yards on 16 plays in 9:42 of elapsed time– converting two third-downs and one fourth down – before facing a fourth-and-7 at the Bama 12 with 5:14 left. And then Wildcats coach Mark Stoops sent on Austin MacGinnis to kick a 30-yard field goal. For a 28-point deficit with barely five minutes left.

Wait! There’s more! Kentucky ran the ball on 11 of the 16 plays, including the first four. It used a wildcat formation in which Jo Jo Kemp took a direct snap and ran with the ball.

My questions? Why did Stoops do this? I couldn’t find any references to the strategy in any of the game coverage. Did he just want to pound it in and get out of Dodge? Why not go 4 or 5 wides and see if your QB can get you down the field quickly. Score once … try an onside kick. Compete!

Plus, how does a 34-3 deficit provide a test for your wildcat package? Bama is going to be playing deep expecting the pass.

Maybe Stoops wanted to give his field goal unit some work. Why? MacGinnis already nailed a 45-yarder for the Wildcats’ first three points. Weird.

And here is the kicker. After Kentucky kicked deep (why not an onside?) Alabama ran out the clock on an eight-play drive … that included five passes.

Maybe I just don’t understand this game.

Another stat: Bama outgained Kentucky 488-161, yet Kentucky led in time of possession ... which shows how meaningless that stat is.

Oh, and one other thing: Kentucky, which is 2-3, has not had a winning season since the final Rich Brooks team went 7-6 in 2009. The last nine-win season? 1984. The last 10-in season? 1977.

Nick Saban, meanwhile, has won at least 10 games for eight consecutive seasons at Alabama and is 5-0 this season. He's 103-12 with four national titles in that span. 

Can John Calipari coach football?

Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@gazettetimes.com or 541-758-9542. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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