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Kentucky quarterback Lynn Bowden and offensive coordinator Eddie Gran after losing to Tennessee.
Dominique Yates, Louisville Courier Journal

Lexington – That was not the way the story was to end.

Since a series of injuries forced female receiver Lynn Bowden to assume the quarterback role from Kentucky a month ago, the native of Youngstown, Ohio, seemed superhuman more often than not.

Only one of Georgia's top 10 teams, aided by heavy rain, was able to stop the heavy attack in the race with Bowden at the helm. As he prepared to take revenge on the last game of Kentucky Saturday, Bowden had accumulated 613 yards in the last four games.

So, when the Kentucky quarterback chose not to play a fourth-and-a-half option on the Tennessee 2-yard line, Bowden was expected to score.

Instead, he was arrested without gain, giving up possession of the ball at 1:17 of the end. The Kentucky defense has not been able to impose an extra stop in a 17-13 loss.

"I will never argue with Lynn, but the Kentucky coach," said Kentucky coach Mark Stoops. "He'll probably look at it and feel like he's throwing it, it would have been a run to the pylon and would probably have had a chance. But I'm not going to argue with this kid and how he has the opportunity to shoot the ball down and try to get him in to get the point. Credit them for a good stop. "

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While Bowden failed to score, the pawns and offensive coordinator Eddie Gran are faced with a much more difficult question.

Quarterback Sawyer Smith is apparently almost back in full health – he played two shots at goal against Tennessee – but the staff chose to keep Bowden at the helm of the offense while He had not raised more than 78 yards in four games. .

Two weeks ago, against Missouri, Bowden's offense worked perfectly with a 29-7 victory. In his bowling debut, Bowden allowed the Wildcats to catch up 13-0 for a 24-20 victory over Arkansas.

But his two other starts at quarterback have cast significant doubt that the offense is too one-dimensional to consistently win games.

Kentucky was cleared for the first time since 2012 against Georgia and scored only 13 points, all in the first quarter, against Tennessee.

"You have to see, you throw it over?" Said Gran. "What will give our football team the best chance of winning? This is what we will discuss tomorrow. Lynn Bowden gave us a chance to win tonight. It's a fact. "

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"I am a soldier, I can bear it. … things like this can make or break a team. I think it's going to do us, "said Kentucky's Lynn Bowden, Jr. after losing to Tennessee, where the Wildcats led most of the game, he was sacked twice and totaled 114 rushing yards. only 25 passing yards November 9, 2019 (Photo: Matt Stone / Courier Journal)

If Bowden had won the two-yard touchdown, Gran and Stoops' strategy would have been justified again.

More: What we learned from Kentucky's 17-13 loss to Tennessee

Kentucky rushed for 302 yards and possessed the ball for 41:37 of playing time.

Although Bowden has only completed 4 of 7 passes for 25 yards, Kentucky has had three opportunities inside the Tennessee 5-yard line to win the game.

"In the end, we are trying to win games," said Stoops. "You know it, it's all that interests me, it's trying to win games. … We played very well." When you play 71 games against 45 and that you run for 300 meters, you generally like your chances, entered a short yard. "

Smith has been testing for weeks and spent a full week before Tennessee so Kentucky coaches could find a way to incorporate it into the game plan as they thought it was a better one. option. It is unclear to what extent Smith suffered injuries or other deficiencies in the Mississippi State and South Carolina defeats.

But it would be hard to imagine Stoops and Gran leaving him on the sidelines if his recent training performances suggested that the results of these games would be much better now.

The Kentucky agenda predicts that even a one-sided attack could be enough to win the next two games at Vanderbilt, who will not play in a bowl after losing his seventh game of the season on Saturday, and against FCS UT Martin to achieve bowl eligibility. These two opponents are much closer to the Arkansas and Missouri side of Bowden's opponents spectrum, even recognizing the Razorbacks and Tigers lost by a combined score of 72-15 this week.

For the Bowden offensive to work, Kentucky needs contributions from all three facets of the game.

Read it: Offensive imbalance weighs on Kentucky and rests entirely on Lynn Bowden

The Wildcat defense has done more than just last month. US striker Max Duffy ensured that his position on the field remains a strength even when the offense is stopped.

A long fight of a season in the game of the kicks only complicates the situation. If striker Chance Poore had not had his second goal after a blocked attempt on Saturday, Stoops could have chosen to score a goal to tie the game and send it in overtime instead of forcing Bowden to try to convert the game to fourth. and in goal. A regular kicker might have changed the decision to attack twice the fourth goal on the 38-meter Tennessee line.

After Tennessee, Kentucky looks like a team whose defense is constantly improved and a dynamic attack that tries to convert the short sleeves, to threaten the teams in the air or to convert the kicks steadily.

It's a difficult equation to win games, but removing Bowden at the quarterback may only remove one of the benefits, without adequately addressing the deficiencies.

For better or worse, Kentucky should continue to ride Bowden as he did on the goal line on Saturday.

"You put everything on me," said Bowden. "I am a soldier, I can bear it. … things like this can make or break a team. I think that will give us back. "

Jon Hale: [email protected]; Twitter: @JonHale_CJ. Support local journalism by subscribing as of today: www.courier-journal.com/jonh.

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