Domination in all phases; offense and defense shine in UK’s 42-21 victory over LSU


Kentucky quarterback Will Levis (7) runs the ball during the No. 16 University of Kentucky vs. LSU game on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 42-21. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Hunter Shelton

Kentucky excelled on both sides of the football in their 42-21 win over LSU on Saturday.  

The Wildcats finished the game with 475 yards of offense, their highest total since their week two victory against Missouri.  

“Tonight, our players knew what we were trying to get accomplished, what we were going to hang our hat on,” offensive coordinator Liam Coen said. 

Kentucky quarterback Will Levis accumulated five touchdowns, three through the air and two on his feet. Levis finished with 220 total yards. 

“I think my decision making and my ball placement for the most part was pretty good when it needed to be,” Levis said. 

While the touchdowns started and finished with Levis, it was the running backs that carried the ‘Cats up and down the field.  

Chris Rodriguez Jr. once again led the way on the ground, finishing with 147 yards on 16 attempts, a 9.2 yard-per-carry average. Rodriguez rushed for a touchdown while hauling in a passing score as well.  

“We knew what we had to do, every game you know, the coaches are like ‘we’re this close’ and we still aren’t to our full potential,” Rodriguez said.  

The 147-yard performance propelled the running back past the 2,000-yard career mark, making him the tenth player in school history to achieve that mark.  

Kavosiey Smoke was right behind Rodriguez, rushing for a career-high 104 yards on 12 carries. Levis ran for 75 yards and two touchdowns on 11 attempts. Kentucky rushed for 330 yards as a team. 

Wan’Dale Robinson caught eight of Levis’ 14 completions on Saturday for a total of 60 yards and a touchdown. Through six games, Robinson has caught 37 passes for 527 yards and four touchdowns. 

Running back JuTahn McClain scored his first collegiate touchdown on a 25-yard reception. McClain was held out of the first four games of the season, as he and five other players faced charges of first-degree burglary, stemming from an incident that took place in March. Those charges were dismissed, and the six players returned to the team before the Florida game on Oct. 2. 

Offensively, [UK]looked really crisp, I thought, early and against a quality football team, but just overall, very proud of our whole group, the whole program, whole organization,” head coach Mark Stoops said. 

While the offense provided their best performance since the second week of the season, the defense also stepped up in a major way.  

Although LSU finished with 408 yards of offense, 218 of those yards came in the fourth quarter while the Tigers were down by at least two scores. 

“People are ready to pounce on you if you fall, these guys don’t worry about that, they just stay focused, live in the moment and let the chips fall where they may,” defensive coordinator Brad White said. 

Jacquez Jones led the ‘Cats in tackles with nine, while DeAndre Square and Carrington Valentine finished with eight a piece. 

A difference maker for UK on defense was the ability to put pressure on the quarterback. The ‘Cats sacked LSU QB Max Johnson four times on Saturday night. In UK’s previous four games, they recorded just one sack 

Kentucky was also able to win the turnover battle, producing a takeaway on LSU’s first drive of the game, as Square strip-sacked Johnson, allowing Josaih Hayes to recover the football. The ‘Cats did not commit a turnover on Saturday.  

The ‘Cats were able to get in the Tiger backfield as well, hauling in nine tackles-for-loss, accumulating 39 yards to the negative for LSU.  

Saturday saw Kentucky play their most complimentary football game of the season, en route to their 6-0 start to the 2021 season.  

UK will look to continue their momentum as they prepare for a goliath matchup on Saturday, Oct. 16, traveling to Athens to take on No. 1 Georgia.