It took only a few hours last Saturday for Kentucky’s early-season schedule to suddenly look a lot more difficult.
Not only did Kentucky lose 29- 13 at Auburn, but also new SEC coaches Lane Kiffin of Mississippi and Mike Leach of Mississippi State had offenses combine for 1,225 yards.
Kiffin’s Rebels lost 51-35 at Florida but amassed 613 yards. Sophomore quarterback Matt Corral completed 22 of 31 passes for 395 yards and three touchdowns with just one interception and also ran for 50 of the Rebels’ 170 yards. Elijah Moore had 10 catches for 227 yards, the second most in Ole Miss history.
How good was the offense? Florida has only given up more than 613 yards twice — 672 by Alabama in 2014 and 629 to Nebraska in the 1995 national championship game.
Kiffin, the former head coach at Tennessee, brings Ole Miss to Lexington this week.
Mississippi State’s offense was even ore productive as the Bulldogs gained 632 yards in a 44-34 win at LSU. Stanford transfer K.J. Costello was 36 of 60 passing for 623 yards and five touchdowns. Leach, a former UK offensive coordinator who had been coach at Washington State, convinced Costello playing for him at State would help get him to the NFL — and it might based on the first game.
The Bulldogs had just 16 rushing attempts, and five of those were sacks of Costello when he was trying to pass.
Three receivers — Kylin Hill, Osirus Mitchell and JaVonta Payton — all had over 100 yards. Hill, an all-SEC running back last year, rushed only seven times for 34 yards but had eight catches for 158 yards and a 75-yard touchdown. Mitchell had two touchdown catches and 183 yards on eight receptions. Payton had 122 yards.
Leach will make his return to Lexington on Oct. 10 and his team figures to be 2-0 since it hosts Arkansas this week. s
Quote of the Week: “It is no one’s fault we are in a pandemic. We cannot predict the future with this virus whether that’s this December or next December. My hope is they are not trying to end this series because it is important for this state that we play,” Kentucky coach John Calipari on Louisville not wanting to host UK this season.
Quote of the Week 2: “I would get his input on all the draft candidates every year. I always thought he was very insightful and he knew the players extremely well. So I thought when we had the opportunity to get him that just made a lot of sense on a lot of different levels,” New York Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau on hiring former UK assistant Kenny Payne in an interview with the New York Post.