By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky either nearly beat itself or did a remarkable job of overcoming its own mistakes to still beat Central Michigan 35-20 Saturday.
If you are a pessimist, you have to worry about the two interceptions and one lost fumble that starting quarterback Terry Wilson had and maybe the lack of big plays in the passing game.
If you are an optimist, you point to both Benny Snell and A.J. Rose rushing for over 100 yards and each having a touchdown run of more than 50 yards or the way backup quarterback Gunnar Hoak came on the final minute of the first half when Wilson was hurt and led UK on a go-ahead touchdown drive.
Or if you are Kentucky coach Mark Stoops, you are just glad you got the win, got to play so many players and didn’t have any serious injuries into the Southeastern Conference opener at Florida.
Kentucky had four turnovers the first half. Last year UK had 15 turnovers in 13 games. Yet at halftime UK still led 21-20 and the Cats dominated the second half.
“It’s a starting point. That’s one,” Stoops said after the game. “And we’re excited to get back to work. That’s the good thing about this team. They’re excited just about the opportunity in front of them and getting one in the books and getting ready to get back to work on Monday.”
Central Michigan coach John Bonamego said it wasn’t hard to tell why UK dominated the second half.
“(In the) second half, Kentucky did a better job of taking care of the football. In the second half, I think we really hurt ourselves with some critical penalties that eliminated some big plays and had a long kick-off return,” the coach said.
Kentucky limited Central Michigan to 255 total yards. Linebacker Josh Allen had eight tackles, including six solo stops along with three tackles for loss. He also had a quarterback sack — despite being held on the play — and one quarterback hurry.
“It was a great start. Could have had another sack, but I didn’t finish so I have work on that. I could’ve played better, but I feel like it was a good start,” Allen said.
Stoops didn’t realize how productive Allen had been until he was told after the game.
“I knew he had the sack and he was playing well. I didn’t realize his production was that high. So that’s good. I think he has a chance to have a real big year,” the UK coach said.
Stoops said winning despite four first-half turnovers and a minus four turnover margin — along with a targeting penalty that kept alive a Central Michigan touchdown drive — says a lot about his team.
“We gotta be aware of the situation, down, distance and what you’re getting into there. But yeah, other than that long drive on the defense with, again, could have been stopped on that penalty, I was proud of the way they played,” Stoops said.