LEXINGTON — The Kentucky Wildcats took one small step forward for Ryan Timmons and one giant leap for their offense as a whole Saturday in a 41-7 dismantling of Miami (Ohio) at Commonwealth Stadium.
The Wildcats rolled up 675 yards of total offense — third most in school history — in breezing to a win that evened their record at 1-1.
Timmons made his first college start in just his second college game and made the most of it, rolling up 92 yards on his own.
The freshman from Franklin County High caught five passes for 55 yards, including a long of 22 yards, and also had 37 yards rushing on four tries, with a long of 21 yards.
To see a photo gallery from the game, click here.
“I haven’t seen many statistics, but I saw Ryan Timmons making some big plays,” said UK coach Mark Stoops.
“I thought there were a couple times today that Ryan was going to break all those tackles and get into the end zone,” said UK quarterback Maxwell Smith.
“It was a great experience in my very first game at Commonwealth Stadium,” said Timmons, who lined up in the backfield and at wide receiver. “I think I did well today, but I think I could play better.”
UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown went to Timmons early and often.
“Coach Brown got me the ball early to give me a chance to get comfortable,” Timmons said. “I made some first downs, got some good runs, and when you do that, it just builds the confidence up in us to do better.”
Brown said there will be much more to come from Timmons.
“I think we’re just now scratching the surface,” Brown said of Timmons. “He did some really good things today. He’s a guy who’s really going to be heavily involved.
“You notice we played him at several different positions today, and we’re going to continue to do that.”
None of this is any surprise to Timmons’ teammates.
“Timmons is really quick,” said UK defensive end Bud Dupree, who tied linebacker TraVaughn Paschal in tackles for UK with seven. “They play him in a lot of roles in this offense, and hopefully they’ll keep expanding that because he’s a good player.
“He’s hard to contain. Our defensive backs have a hard time with him, too.”
This Kentucky offense was dramatically different, more aggressive and focused, than the tentative bunch that scored just 26 points last week in the season-opening loss to Western Kentucky.
Smith started at quarterback for the Wildcats against the RedHawks (0-2) Saturday and was less than his best, but he still completed 15 of 23 passes for 310 yards and three touchdowns.
“I feel like if I had played a little bit better, we could have had the most yards in school history, to be honest,” Smith said.
Jalen Whitlow also saw considerable time at QB and added 10 of 12 passing for 103 yards.
Ten different Wildcats caught at last one pass, led by juco transfer Javess Blue with six catches for 114 yards, including an 88-yard TD pass from Smith late in the first quarter that put the red-hot Cats up 24-7.
Kentucky led 31-7 at halftime and cruised from there.
UK’s other first-half scores came on a 9-yard run by Whitlow, a 22-yard field goal by Joe Mansour, a 48-yard pass and catch from Smith to Jonathan George, and a 5-yard run by Raymond Sanders.
UK added a 21-yard Mansour field goal in the third quarter and a 56-yard scoring pass from Smith to freshman Jeff Badet early in the fourth quarter.
Miami scored only on a muffed punt by UK return man Daryl Collins in the second quarter that Chris Wade ran in from 6 yards out.
The Wildcats also utilized a potent rushing attack to complement their passing prowess, rolling up 262 yards on the ground.
Freshman back Jojo Kemp led with 12 carries for 81 yards.
UK played most of the game without sophomore wide receiver Demarco Robinson, who hurt an ankle on the opening kickoff and did not return.
Kentucky’s defense also made significant improvement in this game, limiting the RedHawks to just 122 yards of total offense.
Senior linebacker Avery Williamson added six tackles for Kentucky and then surprised Stoops with the game ball after Stoops notched his first win as a college head coach.
More wins may not come too soon, however. No. 8-rated Louisville comes to Commonwealth Stadium Saturday at noon, followed by Florida Sept. 28.