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Bob Dixon

Agency Manager


Middlesboro, KY 40965


Go Big Blue!

Wildcats Overcome Eastern Kentucky 28-17

By Jamie H. Vaught

Some leftovers from UK's 28-17 victory over Eastern Kentucky at Kroger Field Saturday afternoon.

**Before we discuss Kentucky’s performance against the Colonels from Richmond, I would like to commend giant underdog EKU for playing hard and competitive football while keeping the contest pretty much in doubt until the very end.

**On the moral victory, EKU coach Walt Wells, who once served as an assistant coach at Tennessee (two years) and Kentucky (two years), had this to say during his postgame press conference. “Well, what I tell them there is a standard we have to play with every week. Every week we want to get into the fourth quarter, and we did. You know we didn’t last week, we weren’t in the first quarter last week but this week we got into the fourth quarter, and if you give yourself a chance in the fourth quarter that’s all you can ask for in this game. Then you have to go out and continue to do the right things to make plays to win the game and you won’t be nervous, you’ll be trained to win the game you have to play to that high standard.”

**I was glad to see both teams honored legendary EKU coach Roy Kidd by wearing helmet decals. A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Kidd is very ill and was scheduled to receive hospice care by now. By the way, Wells also served as an assistant under Roy Kidd from 1997-2002.

**For the Big Blue Nation, it was not a pretty win. And the Wildcats made some mental errors, getting whistled for 10 penalties for 70 yards. “Penalties are really hurting us,” said Kentucky coach Mark Stoops. “There is no excuse. I can’t make an excuse for them. You know, I can’t do it. Do I think our guys are a little amped up and all of that? Yeah. But bottom line, it is still not okay, and I have got to find a way to get it corrected and, you know, like on the last drive there we had a third and one and we flinched again. And early in the game when we had the third and one, there are things that go on in the line of scrimmage that are tough. I'm not being critical of the officials but there is a simulated, you know, our guys felt they were simulated. So got us to flinch but it happens, and we have to do better."

**With the game tied 7-7 at the intermission, what did Stoops say to the team? “To quit looking at the scoreboard and play the game, play one play at a time. And, you know, once again, it is not like we played terribly all the time on defense. They were moving the line. They are a good football team, they really are. And they have great pride within their program. They didn’t like the way they played last week, either (in a 66-13 loss to Cincinnati). And they were coming here and very familiar with us and that’s the way I expected them to play.”

**After Kentucky’s two “not-so-pretty” victories to kick off the season, Stoops commented, “I think we have a good football team. We need to improve, but I like their attitude and the way they are playing. We are 2-0. And there are plenty of teams around the country that have a lot to do. It is early in the season, and we have to worry about ourselves and improve. If our team continues to have the same attitude they had last week in practice and willing to commit and work and play together, then we will get better.”

**Kentucky punter Wilson Berry, a sophomore from Australia, had three punts for a career-best 51.7-yard average. All three punts were at least 50 years, including a career-long 55-yarder, and all three landed inside the 20-yard line.

**Like the Ball State game, UK senior QB Devin Leary, a transfer from N.C. State, once again had a slow start. But he bounced back in the second half to help the Cats to victory. Leary, who threw four TD passes, had 299 passing yards in 24 of 38 attempts with only one interception.

**UK wide receivers Tayvion Robinson and Barion Brown each made a team-high-tying six catches. Robinson had a team-high 136 yards, including two TDs, while Brown had 51 yards, including a TD. Brown also had two rushes for 34 yards, a whopping average of 17 yards per carry.

**Two former Wildcats – Maxwell Smith and C.J. Conrad – are on EKU’s coaching staff. Smith is serving as quarterbacks coach while Conrad is the tight ends coach.

**What grade should UK get this time? In my gradebook, I'd give the Wildcats a C.

**Kentucky plays Akron Saturday and the 7:30 p.m. (ET) game at Kroger Field will be seen on ESPNU.

Jamie H. Vaught, a longtime sports columnist in Kentucky, is the author of six books about UK basketball, including recently-published “Forever Crazy About The Cats: An Improbable Journey of a Kentucky Sportswriter Overcoming Adversity.” He is the editor and founder of Magazine, and a professor at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Middlesboro. You can follow him on X (formerly Twitter) @KySportsStyle or reach him via email at


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