One big thing from Mark Stoops’ MSU preview

Here’s one takeaway from Mark Stoops’ press conference today previewing Saturday’s game against No. 1-ranked Mississippi State:

The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs lead the SEC in total offense, averaging 529.7 yards per game. The Bulldogs are fourth in the league in pass offense, averaging 265.4 yards per game, and second in the league behind Georgia in rushing offense, averaging 264.3 yards per game.

State running back Josh Robinson is second only to Georgia’s Todd Gurley in rushing yards per game. Gurley, who has missed Georgia’s last two games, is averaging 154.6 yards per game. Robinson is averaging 114.8.

Here’s the thing: Misssissippi State quarterback Dak Prescott is fifth in the SEC in rushing, averaging 96 yards per game. Prescott is not only fourth in the league in pass efficiency, he’s also averaging 16 rushing attempts per game.

Meanwhile, Kentucky is coming off a game when the Cats allowed 303 rushing yards to LSU. That’s the most rushing yards given up by the Kentucky defense since Florida rushed for 405 yards on the Cats in 2011.

Yet, Mark Stoops insisted Monday that his team played the run better Saturday at Tiger Stadium than the numbers showed. That was especially true, he said, from a physical standpoint. In that area, the Cats were not as bad as the numbers might suggest.

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Indeed, as Stoops pointed out, LSU’s numbers were padded by some long runs late in the game. Throuogh the first two quarters, LSU produced two three runs of double-digit yards – Terrence Magee’s 12-yard run on a first-and-10 from the UK 22-yard line in the first quarter; Leonard Fournette’s 11-yard run on a second-and-seven from the LSU 28 in the first quarter; and an 11-yard scramble by quarterback Anthony Jennings on a first-and-10 from the UK 37-yard line just before the half.

Full transcript from Mark Stoops’ Monday presser

Judging from his play selection, LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron wanted to establish freshman running back Leonard Fournette early. After all, Fournette was coming off a 140-yard game at Florida. But Kentucky held the heralded rookie to just 40 yards on 15 carries.

Most of LSU’s big runs came in the second half. In the third quarter alone, Magee rushed for 107 yards on five carries. He had a 38-yard run, a 35-yard run and a 23-yard run for a touchdown. Kentucky made some technical errors on those runs, which Stoops considers correctable. The coach also said the staff needs to do a better job of getting some guys some rest.

“We were not as fast later in the game as we were early,” Stoops said Monday.

Final stats from UK-LSU

Mississippi State has rushed for at least 200 yards against every team it has played this year. Dan Mullen’s club gained 302 yards on an LSU defense – in Baton Rouge, no less – that allowed Kentucky just 71 yards on Saturday night.

Plus, Prescott’s dual threat capability helps MSU’s rushing attack. A year ago, Prescott completed 58.4 percent of his passes and averaged 7.27 yards per attempt. This year, the Haughton, Louisiana native is completing 61.5 percent of his passes and averaging 9.47 yards per attempt. Defenses have to account for that.

So if stopping LSU’s running game was a tough challenge for the Kentucky defense, stopping Mississippi State’s figures to be even tougher.

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UK takes a fall in most NCAA stats

As you might expect after a 41-3 loss, Kentucky has dipped in most of the NCAA statistical categories. An exception is pass-efficiency defense, where the Cats are now ranked in the top 10.

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Updated SEC football standings

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Related link: SEC football results 2014

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SEC full of rebounds, so why not Kentucky?

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If you missed it, my column for Monday morning:

It began with the first game on the first night, in Columbia, S.C. on Thursday, Aug. 28, when Kenny “Trill” Hill and his Texas A&M Aggies unexpectedly slammed the Steve Spurriers, 52-28.

Two weeks later, South Carolina rolled up its sleeves and atoned for its sins with a huge win over East rival Georgia.

We saw it again two weeks ago, when LSU was buried at Auburn, 41-7, dug itself out of its deep hole the next week and kicked a 50-yard field goal at the buzzer to snap the Gators’ spirit in The Swamp.

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Video: Mark Stoops after blowout loss at LSU

BATON ROUGE, La. — Kentucky coach Mark Stoops talks to the media after his team’s 41-3 loss to LSU.

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Video: Patrick Towles on being humbled at LSU

BATON ROUGE, La. — Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles says “you can get humbled super-quick in this league” after his team’s 38-point loss at LSU.

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Les Miles: “This was best overall game we have had”

BATON ROUGE, La. — Les Miles’ comments after LSU’s 41-3 win over Kentucky.

Opening statement

“First of all, I would like to commend Kentucky. I felt like they came in, and Coach Stoops had them prepared. I think they are a very quality football team. I thought they played hard. We ran into an opportunity to make a play on special teams. We got the short field on the first drive and we got seven. We are running the football and throwing the football more efficiently. The defense is playing the style of defense that LSU is used to playing.

“Special teams took a stride. We had Tre’Davious White return a punt for a touchdown, and his punt returns were instrumental in the positioning of the field. We are improving. We are in a position to play better, and I think this football team is looking forward to that. I think this was the best overall game we have had this year so far from start to finish. How wonderful was it to be in Tiger Stadium? That was a great venue tonight. Beautiful weather and bunch of Tigers fans.”

On performance of special teams

“I think Tre’Daviuos White is just coming of age as a returner. He is continuing to push the envelope there. He is incrementally improving and getting better. I think he is a very dangerous return man, and he showed that tonight.”

On the performance of Jamal Adams, son of former UK star George Adams

“Jamal Adams is playing so much on defense and special teams and is really an instrumental player and a contributor for us. It was nice to see number 33 playinig tonight.”

On the experience of the football team

“I think what is happening is this football team is coming together. I think there is a want for all three phases to complement one another and play like we played tonight against some of our best opponents. I think the timing is right for that.”

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Video: Neal Brown says “we got beat one-on-one”

BATON ROUGE, La. — Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown says his unit did little right in the 41-3 loss to LSU, which held the Cats without a touchdown and to a season-low 217 yards.

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Running some numbers on the Bayou blowout

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BATON ROUGE, La. — Running some numbers on Kentucky’s 41-3 loss at LSU.

* Kentucky allowed 303 rushing yards, most since Florida rushed for 405 in 2011.

* LSU’s 51 rushing attempts most by a UK opponent since Western Kentucky rushed 51 times in an overtime win over the Cats in 2012. In a regulation game, it was the most since Vanderbilt rushed 56 times (203 yards) in 2011.

* Kentucky rushed for a season-low 71 yards. Previous low was 81 at Florida.

* UK averaged 2.63 yards rushing Saturday compared to 2.45 against Florida.

* Kentucky gained just 217 total yards, fewest since 2011 in blowout 59-17 loss at Georgia last year.

* Kentucky passed for a season-low 146 yards. Previous low was 170 against Ohio University.

* UK did not score an offensive touchdown for the first time since the Florida game Sept. 28 of last season.

* LSU gained 163 yards on five kick returns — 114 on four punt returns and 49 on one kickoff return. LSU’s Tre’Davious White scored on a 67-yard punt return in the first quarter.

* LSU threw just 15 passes, fewest against UK since Miami of Ohio threw 14 last season. It was the fewest by an SEC opponent since Georgia threw 12 in 2010.

* Patrick Towles was 19-of-36 for 146 yards without a touchdown or an interception. That figures to a passer rating of 86.84, lowest of the season. His previous low was 111.55 against Ohio University.

* Kentucky did not commit a turnover, yet lost by 38 points.

* LSU running back Terrence McGee rushed for 127 yards on just nine carries. UK’s leading rusher was Mikel Horton.

* LSU has won its last 12 games in which it has a 100-yard rusher.

* Kentucky still hasn’t won three consecutive SEC games since 2006.

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Liveblog: Kentucky-LSU football

Live Blog Liveblog: Kentucky-LSU football
 

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