Kentucky survives pesky northern Illinois

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Kentucky survives pesky northern Illinois

Posted 3:49 p.m. on Monday, September 26, 2022

KEITH TAYLOR

kentucky today

JCandidates for the prestigious Heisman Trophy have yet to be determined, but based on the first four games, Kentucky quarterback Will Levis should be included in the mix this season.

The senior flagger continued to show why he’s one of the best flaggers in the country, throwing for 303 yards and four touchdowns to lead the eighth-ranked Wildcats to a 31-23 win over Northern Illinois on Saturday. night at Kroger Field.

On a night when things were slow and in what coach Mark Stoops described as a ‘ho-hum’ performance, it was Levis who provided the consistencycy and precision in the pocket to lead Kentucky to a perfect 4-0 start for the third time in Stoops’ tenure as Wildcats coach.

“Levis played a really good game,” Stoops said. “They brought a lot of pressure and we made them pay with the pressure. We have to protect him and we hit the ball on the pitch and created an explosive games.”

Those explosive plays came in the form of quick strikes from the senior quarterback, the first of which – a 69-yard touchdown pass to Tayvion Robinson – broke a 7-7 first-quarter stalemate and put the hosts ahead for more. Well.

It was the longest career take for the transfer from Virginia Tech, which, like Levis, gives Kentucky’s offense stability while waiting for the return of standout receiver Chris Rodriguez.

“I’m having a lot of fun,” he said. “(The passing game) clicks, but I still have room to improve, but you can’t complain when you win football games. It was brilliant and I feel like we we are improving every week.

Robinson and Barion Brown were on the receiving end of all of Levis’ touchdown passes, with the receivers striking out two apiece. Robinson caught seven passes for 147 yards and Brown caught four for 102, including a 70-yard touchdown reception on third.

A marked improvement from last week after a 31-0 rout of Youngstown State, Kentucky’s offensive line is insanee is advancing, but gave up five sacks for a loss of 21 yards, including back-to-back sacks in the first half. Levis ignored the proverbial punches and remained calm and poised in the pocket.

“When they were putting all that pressure on, he did a great job hanging on, trusting his protection,” Stoops said. “He did a really good job to the point of hanging on and delivering the ball to the pitch.”

Levis, said “protection first and foremost” was key to his success under duress.

“I had time and I had time to move (in the pocket),” Levis said. “It was cool to see it all come together.”

Kentucky offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello liked how Levis withstood the heat from the defending Mid-American Conference champions.

“That’s what really good quarterbacks do,” he said. “I will never draft our rookie a quarterback who lacks grit, tenacity and an endurance mindset. … that’s why I love coaching him.

Thanks to Lévis, the Wildcats have a legitimate quarterback and a receiving corps with great playing ability.

“We’re all aiming for perfection, you know, and maybe we’re not there yet, but we wanted to be explosive and we’re definitely achieving that,” Stoops said. ” It’s a plus. In a way, you have to be who you are, and right now we have a very talented quarterback and we have explosionsfive wide receivers, so we’re making big plays.

The big plays certainly came in handy against the Huskies.

Gametracker: Kentucky at Mississippi, noon, Saturday, TV/Radio: ESPN, UK Radio Network.

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