With the 19-10 loss to Georgia Saturday, the Kentucky football team will not be eligible for a bowl for the first time in six seasons, squarely placing Head Coach Joker Phillips on the hot seat. The Kentucky defense was certainly deserving of a win, but the offense was ineffective in the second half and never scored.
Kentucky actually led the game late in the first half as they took a 10-6 lead on a Maxwell Smith two-yard pass to Tyler Robinson. Georgia answered with two field goals before the half and they took a 12-10 lead into the locker room.
Smith did not have a good day. With the offensive responsibility placed squarely on his back, Smith struggled going 17-35 for 133 yards and a touchdown, including three turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble). His turnovers were costly and kept his offense from ever getting in rhythm. Meanwhile, the Kentucky running game struggled mightily as well. They continued to rotate the running backs in an attempt to keep them at full strength, however not Jonathan George, CoShik Williams, or Raymond Sanders could ever settle in and establish the ground attack. They failed to convert on two crucial third and ones and those drives stalled.
Kentucky had several opportunities to take control of the game, as the defense was impressive all day. But as usual, they were on the field way too long and it cost them. Danny Trevathan owned the field with 17 tackles and a sack. No one else had more than five. They forced four fumbles, recovered three of them, and Randall Burden came up with a huge interception in the end zone in the second half to give the Cats some late life. They managed just 7 points off of those four turnovers as the offense regressed to their earlier state.
Morgan Newton made a brief appearance in the fourth quarter as Smith went down with a side or hip injury. On the first play Newton ran, they attempted a half-back pass that ended in a loss of yards. The offensive game plan was questionable and the execution was non-existent. In a game that the Wildcats needed to have, the senior led defense showed up, but the freshman led offense was nowhere to be found.
With the loss, Kentucky will break their streak of five consecutive bowl appearances and Joker Phillips may very well be on the hot seat, needing a win at home against a disappointing Tennessee squad next Saturday.