With Kentucky trailing Mississippi State 28-22 with 8:09 left in the fourth quarter last night, the Cats needed to get the ball back to give the offense a chance to win the game. The defense finally came through but not after it failed to stop the host Bulldogs on three consecutive third downs.
Went back and looked at the video and here’s a breakdown of those plays.
No. 1: 3rd-and-6 at the Mississippi State 30
A false start penalty had moved the ball back from a 3rd-and-1 at the 35. Mississippi State’s Malcolm Johnson lined up in the slot to the right side, covered by UK true freshman safety Marcus McWilson. When Johnson came out of his break to the middle of field, McWilson got caught on his heels and stumbled backward leaving Johnson wide open.
State quarterback Dak Prescott threw a low ball but it was still a completion to a wide open Johnson for 11 yards and a first down at the 41.
No. 2: 3rd-and-8 at Mississippi State 43
Kentucky lined up in a three-man defensive line with Bud Dupree standing up at left end. State’s center and guards open up huge hole by moving tackles Michael Douglas and Donte Rumph out of the way. State’s heralded guard Gabe Jackson takes Rumph himself and opens the hole.
UK middle linebacker Avery Williamson took two or three steps to left and ends up out of position — State’s running back was lined up to that side and the quarterback Prescott makes a step in that direction. Williamson is then blocked by State’s Jamaal Clayborn and can’t make the tackle.
Safety Ashely Lowery came up to trip up Prescott but not until a 10-yard gain and first down.
No. 3: 3rd-and-11 at UK 48
State lines up empty backfield with two wide outs left and two wide outs right. Jameon Lewis is in the slot on right side and basically uncovered. Eric Dixon is playing safety way off the ball. Blake McClain the nickel back is on other side of field covering slot.
Lewis knows he’s open and goes six yards and starts calling for the ball. Dixon is in a backpedal. Lewis catches it right at the first-down marker as Dixon and then Fred Tiller miss tackles. Gain is for 14 yards and first down.
During the next timeout, head coach Mark Stoops and defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot are questioning Williamson, whose shoulders visibly sag. Turns out, Williamson was supposed to be covering underneath. Instead, the linebacker went into a deep drop leaving the middle of field wide open for Lewis’ catch and first down.
On a 3rd-and-9 from the UK 33, Kahlid Henderson knocks down Prescott pass. Then on fourth-and-nine, MSU coach Dan Mullen decides to keep his offense on the field.
Stoops and Eliot elect to bring seven on the blitz and drop four into coverage. Dupree got to the quarterback from left side while Dixon is a beat behind on safety blitz from right side. Dupree gets the sack for a nine-yard loss.
Kentucky gets the ball at its own 42 with 2:08 remaining.