It started so well. Kentucky stormed out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter, →
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©November 28th, 2015 @ 11:00pm
It started so well. Kentucky stormed out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter, looking like a well-oiled machine behind a strong running game, a solid passing attack by Drew Barker, and a scrappy defense that came up with two crucial picks. Receivers were catching passes! The offensive line was opening holes! It was happy times in Commonwealth Stadium again!
Then Boom Williams got hurt. A Louisville pass interference penalty gave Kentucky a free play at the end of the first quarter and Boom took the ball one yard before slipping and falling on the elbow he injured during the Tennessee game. With 37 yards and one touchdown, Boom went out of the game and wouldn’t return.
Neither would Kentucky’s offense. Behind backup quarterback Lamar Jackson, Louisville went on a 38-3 scoring run, Kentucky’s only points coming off a Miles Butler 20-yard field goal. In the second half, all of Kentucky’s woes came back to haunt them: drops, penalties, questionable coaching decisions, etc. Meanwhile, Louisville couldn’t be stopped. After Butler’s field goal, they scored 31 unanswered points and that was that.
The script of the season
Today’s game was pretty much the entire season in a sad, 60-minute nutshell: a promising start, a setback, and an epic collapse. I mean, really, what other team could squander a 21-point lead? That’s why any UK fan worth their weight in heartache knew what was coming when Lamar Jackson scrambled into the end zone for Louisville’s first touchdown of the game, his first of three today. As fans, it’s sad that even that early, we could sense the collapse; it’s even sadder that the players did too.
Some depressing and mind-numbing stats
- 4-1 start to season; 1-6 to finish
- 21-0 to start the game; 3-38 to finish
- Offensive yards in the 3rd quarter: Louisville 204, Kentucky 19
- 3rd quarter passing yards: Louisville 78, Kentucky -1
- 2nd half rushing yards: Louisville 247 Kentucky 13
- Kentucky penalties: 9 for 95 yards
Today in one, cruel loop:
They went back to Patrick Towles
Drew Barker started off well enough, putting up 129 passing yards, one rushing touchdown, and no interceptions in the first half, but the second half was a different story. Barker was rattled and didn’t get any help from his receivers, who repeatedly dropped balls. The freshman completed only one pass in the second half, and it was for negative yardage. With Louisville scoring at will, the staff eventually went back to Patrick Towles with four minutes in the game, but it was too little too late. After the game, Stoops admitted he should have gone back to Patrick sooner.
“We had a discussion at that point,” Stoops said when asked why they didn’t switch quarterbacks when the score was tied at 24. “I talked with Shannon (Dawson) at that point, and we felt like there were some plays that were there that he was making some good decisions. We felt like he was a fraction off. I think it was (Jeff) Badet had a drop, I think it was at that time. We had some plays and could have probably gone with Patrick (Towles) a couple of series earlier than that.”
Get ready for another quarterback battle this spring.
Another backup quarterback looked like a superstar
If we’ve learned anything about Kentucky football over the years, it’s that even in the best of times, the worst can happen and backup quarterbacks, especially those that are mobile, are our kryptonite. After Kyle Bolin threw two interceptions, Lamar Jackson came in and took over the game. Jackson finished with 130 yards passing, 186 rushing, and three touchdowns. As Stoops said, he made Kentucky look bad.
“He just flat out made some plays,” Stoops said. “He outran us and really made us look bad on the edge, on the perimeter on some plays.”
Bizarrely, Stoops said the staff was caught “off balance” by the quarterback change. Really? Louisville didn’t even name a starter coming into the game. Theoretically, that would mean UK would prepare to see both Bolin and Jackson, but instead, they were caught “off balance”?!
After the game, Jackson put it very cruelly when he said “We just couldn’t lose to those boys.” Even crueler? He’s only a freshman.
Will there be coaching changes?
Some things, like receivers dropping balls, can’t be helped; however, some things, like adjusting your defense to stop the read option, can. The difference in the game happened in the locker room at halftime. Bobby Petrino and his staff made adjustments to contain Kentucky’s wilting offense; Mark Stoops and his staff couldn’t come up with any answers on offense or methods to shut down Lamar Jackson.
After watching Kentucky fail to move the ball in the second half, the most obvious target is Shannon Dawson; however, Stoops voiced his support for his offensive coordinator after the game.
“Yes, I absolutely have confidence in Shannon Dawson. He’s a very good coach, very knowledgeable. It gets frustrating for him, believe me. It’s the same way, as a defensive play caller, when things aren’t going well. It gets difficult. Let me put it to you that way. It gets hard and it gets frustrating and guys need to step up and make plays.”
“Whether you’re an offensive coordinator or defensive coordinator, there’s only so many good play calls. At some point, you have to win some one-on-one battles. I have a lot of confidence in Shannon. He’ll get the ship corrected and straightened out and get the guys competing at a higher level and we need to play better across the board.”
In fact, Stoops refused to comment on any coaching changes, telling reporters he doesn’t want to make any emotional judgments.
“I’m not going to get into that right now. You know, I’m disappointed in this loss, as all you and our fans. And everybody that cares about Kentucky is disappointed and frustrated. Believe me, I am. And we’ll look at all aspects of our program to make it a program that everybody’s proud of.”
Where do we go from here?
“Five wins is not good enough. And I’m tired of the woulda, coulda, shoulda, just as the fans are,” Stoops said. “And this won’t hurt our momentum in recruiting and developing our team and our program, we’re going to continue to get better, believe me.”
I like Mark Stoops, but after yet another spectacular collapse, it’s getting harder and harder to keep the faith in this staff. For the second straight season, Kentucky is 5-7. Technically, there’s a chance they can still go to a bowl, but based on today’s performance, they don’t deserve it.
By Nick Roush on ©November 28th, 2015 @ 9:30pm
Never in my life have I been more disgusted with the Kentucky football team. I’ve seen awfulness from the program before, but that’s because I knew they were terrible and lacked talent. What makes this year’s season finale performance sickening (I thought I might puke in the press box in the 3rd quarter) is that this team has talent, but they lack execution, direction and development.
I’ve tried dressing this thing up throughout the year, but all I can do now to cope with the loss is make a long list of the disasters that made today’s Governor’s Cup a dumpster fire. It may not be cohesive or carry a common theme because I’m pissed off and frankly I don’t give a damn.
Getting Spotted 21 Points isn’t Enough
For the second year in a row, our rival has handed us 21 points to start the game. I’ll grant you, the first offensive drive was pretty good. I just can’t get over the fact that the script was similar to last year: go up 21, they put in their backup QB, Kentucky loses. At least last year’s team showed more fight down the stretch, displaying a mental toughness this team did not have.
What can the Offense do Without Boom?
There’s some things you can’t just can’t plan. UK had the upper hand in the running backs department, but they were all hurt at some point. Jojo for a big chunk of the first half, Mikel’s hand was crushed on the fumble (so much so the media relations staff asked us not to shake his hand after the game) and Boom Williams was lost for the game. With receivers dropping passes in the rain, there was virtually no shot at a big play of any kind without Boom.
I tried to hold on to my hope for a win, but that quickly vanished after halftime.
Kentucky’s 3rd Quarter of Offense
11 offensive plays will get you nowhere fast.
UK Will Never Learn How to Defend the Read Option
Defensive football is more complex now than it ever has been, but it’s astounding to see the lack of fundamentals displayed by Kentucky’s defense. In its most basic form, defense is about gap responsibility. Each hole is covered by a defender. Defensive ends are responsible for outside containment. Playing against option teams should be the most fun for defensive ends because you know what their job is? Hit the quarterback. Every single play. Is Lamar Jackson an elite athlete? Yes, but he’s not a good thrower. The ends didn’t force him to do anything out of the ordinary, they stayed at home and were too hesitant to lay a lick on him. I know that offense can create big plays with an elite athlete, but I don’t understand how high schools can figure out how to defend it but Kentucky can’t. Until proven otherwise, I’ve lost all hope that they ever will be able to defend the read option.
Bobby Petrino Did this After the Game
— Kent Spencer (@WHAS11Kent) November 28, 2015
Second Half Passing
In Drew Barker’s career as a starting quarterback, he’s had -1 passing yards in the second half of play. His second half stat line: 1-14 for -1 yards.
Two Stats You Can’t Rely on with this Kentucky Team
In the Governor’s Cup, you could rely on whoever won the battle in the rushing department to win the game. Last year that trend changed (it did not today though). You could also count on one team only winning four games in a row. No team had ever won five in a row, until today.
Tobias “Cash” Gilliam might reconsider
Stoops said this loss wouldn’t hurt offseason “momentum,” but one of their best defensive back commitments seemed to be wavering before the game was even over.
Life decisions coming up .
— Cash Gilliam7⃣ (@Tob7as_) November 28, 2015
Where Do We Go Now?
It’ a question that I don’t have an answer for, a question I don’t think anybody, including the coaching staff, has an answer for.
They tried to remedy the offensive woes by playing Drew Barker instead of Patrick Towles, but with an inept offensive line and receivers prone to dropping passes, the quarterback was only part of the problem, and getting a new one was not the solution. The same goes for Shannon Dawson. Getting a new offensive coordinator would give the offense three OC’s in three years – that makes things worse before it makes it better.
With a team heavily relying on young guys, we knew it was going to be struggle this year, but nothing THIS bad (10 TD passes and 16 INTs, I mean COME ON). Kentucky has recruited the talent, but the coaching staff must prove that they can develop players, and they must do it quickly. The players don’t have to transform into world beaters, they must consistently make the simple, routine plays.
Things must change in Year Four of the Mark Stoops Era. Until then, enjoy an annual Kentucky tradition: forget football by enjoying basketball season.
By Nick Roush on ©November 28th, 2015 @ 8:55pm
Pictured above is the scene from the Blue Lot after the game when UK fans got into a violent altercation.
Jennifer Palumbo of WKYT was there when the dispute turned bloody. Three men were involved in the fight, two leaving with head injuries after the alleged assailant pistol-whipped them in the scram. UK Police Chief Joe Monroe said that Joe Walters has been charged with second-degree assault and first degree wanton endangerment.
A sad way to end the day. Here’s to a full recovery from the victims, regardless of the source of the dispute.
By Nick Roush on ©November 28th, 2015 @ 8:00pm
There’s plenty of blame to be dished out, but immediately after the game all that was left was one feeling: hurt.
“It hurts. Everyone in the locker room was hurt and crying. It was emotional because we don’t like losing. We have to start executing the little things,” Mikel Horton said.
It’s a feeling that’s going to stick with the team for awhile. Instead of moving on to the next opponent, a long offseason lies ahead. “It is the worst feeling in the world, especially (against) Louisville,” Mikel Horton said. “We have got to come back harder and stronger in the offseason as a team. We have to move as one and that’s our goal.”
A.J. Stamps was disappointed in the way his team handled themselves when faced with adversity, “That’s not the way we expected it to go. We faced adversity and we didn’t come out on the right end of the stick.”
Stamps also took it one step further: today was the worst loss he’s ever experienced. “With a bowl game on the line and it being my last game here at Kentucky, (it’s the worst feeling I’ve been through here).” But A.J. doesn’t have any regrets during his time at UK. “It’s been a great place. I’ve had a great time the two years I was here and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”
Even though there isn’t room much room for optimism within the fan base, the departing Seniors are confident in the players returning.
“This is a great place and I am excited to see what Kentucky has in store for the years to come,” Farrington Huguenin said. “Kentucky is not in trouble and I don’t think Mark Stoops is going anywhere. We have some young guys that will start taking control.”
“I definitely expect the program to grow,” Josh Forrest said, but he challenged the young guys to take the next step. “A lot of young guys that have played will have to step up. We have a lot of freshmen that played that are older now and will not make the same mistakes as they did this year.”
The young guys must move forward, if not, Kentucky football will continue to hurt for years to come.
By Nick Roush on ©November 28th, 2015 @ 7:15pm
I don’t know what it is about Jordan-Hare, but they must practice the tip drill A LOT. A few years ago it was the Miracle at Jordan-Hare against Georgia, now THIS from the Iron Bowl.
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) November 28, 2015
So that’s what good (lucky) football looks like?
By Nick Roush on ©November 28th, 2015 @ 6:30pm
Kentucky’s offense began the game with a solid 10 play, 75-yard touchdown drive that gave many confidence. After a Kyle Bolin interception resulted in another touchdown, things were looking UK’s way.
Bolin had the Cards driving, and the anxiety began to settle in, until Josh Forrest had one of the greatest Pick 6’s since Bud Dupree’s game-winner against South Carolina.
He followed the interception with one hell of a celebration, by chucking the ball into the stands, all the way past the Recruiting Room.
That ball gone. pic.twitter.com/KCWDdWsi3K
— Drew Franklin (@DrewFranklinKSR) November 28, 2015
I thought it was awesome, and still think it was pretty cool, but many believe the ensuing 15-yard penalty began the team’s downfall. It didn’t directly lead to a score, but it didn’t get much better after this.
By Nick Roush on ©November 28th, 2015 @ 4:45pm
Mark Stoops’ voice cracked as he began his press conference. Stoops didn’t use the word “angry” because it was a different feeling. “Disbelief” might better describe his disappointment.
“There’s enough blame to go around,” Stoops said. “I know the fans aren’t happy, and I’m not happy.”
Things were looking up in the first quarter. Just when you thought things were starting to turn UK’s way, they completely collapsed. “It’s a setback. It’s disappointing,” Stoops said. “People have been patient through a tough third year. People want to see a change and nobody wants to see a change more than me.”
Instead of change, it was more of the same, even though Kentucky capitalized on some Louisville errors at the beginning of the game. They simply could not execute, something very basic that has haunted Kentucky all season. It was most obvious against Lamar Jackson in the read option. “We had some guys on the edge that were just getting outran and were not playing with proper technique, not understanding where their help was in the defense,” he said. They weren’t understanding, and I still don’t either.
Stoops is ready for a change, mostly in mentality. They weren’t tough enough. He wasn’t ready to say whether or not there will be any coaching changes to come, “I’m not gonna get into that right now.” He added, “We’ll look at all aspects of our program to make it a program everybody is proud of.”
Whatever changes he decides to make, it needs to start producing results.
“I’m obviously very frustrated with the result, and the result wasn’t good enough in my opinion,” Stoops said. “I’m tired of the woulda, coulda, shouldas, just as the fans are. We’ve got to make those plays. That’s when our program will grow, when we make those plays to win games.”
After today’s loss, we’re more than likely going to have to wait another year to see if it can happen.
By Nick Roush on ©November 28th, 2015 @ 4:25pm
Just when you thought things couldn’t get much worse, the disaster spewed over into the parking lot.
One Kentucky fan is in police custody after pulling out a gun and pistol-whipping another fan in the Blue Lot, according to Jennifer Palumbo. There’s no word on what started the fight or why there would be blue-on-blue violence.
Please don’t follow suit BBN. Today has been bad enough already.
By Trey Huntsman on ©November 28th, 2015 @ 4:00pm
Male advanced to the state championship with a 50-0 win over Central Hardin. The best defense in the state held Central Hardin to 98 total yards on 38 plays. Hayden Shelton was 15/18 for 200 yards and two touchdowns for the Bulldogs. Louisville commit Keion Wakefield returned a punt 65 yards for a touchdown as Male had a running clock midway through the second quarter. Male will take on Lafayette in the state title after the Generals beat Simon Kenton 42-28. Lafayette had to climb out of a hole on the road once again when they trailed 28-12. Mason Alstatt and Walker Wood led the Generals to their first state title since 1985. Walker Wood threw for 305 yards (194 to Quinton Brown) and ran for 105 yards. Alstatt had 136 yards on the ground as the Generals scored 30 consecutive points to advance to the title. Male and Lafayette will play next Saturday at 5 in Bowling Green.
Bowling Green pitched a shutout at home to win 21-0 over Fern Creek. Clark Payne threw three touchdowns, including two to Jamale Carothers. Tre Fant picked off his ninth pass of the season to set up the final 65-yard TD pass from Payne to Carothers. Bowling Green has been in four of the last five state title games. They have won the last three, including one over their opponent this year. Pulaski County needed 27 unanswered point to come back and beat Highlands 41-31. Nick Kendall ran for two first half touchdowns and Austin Hergott added two more as the Bluebirds jumped out to a 31-14 leads. But Pulaski County could not be stopped in the second half. George Gregory ran for three second half touchdowns and four total. Riley Hall threw for 348 yards and will lead his team to their third straight state title appearance. The Purples and Maroons will play next Saturday at 8.
Johnson Central and South Warren are both headed to the state title for the first time in each school’s history. JCHS had to stand tall and withstand a late comeback from Wayne County, but the Golden Eagles stood tall. Johnson Central allowed only 44 rushing yards while running for 144 yards and two scores themselves. Bryce Workman threw for 133 yards, including a 71-yard TD pass to Geordon Blanton in the first quarter. South Warren’s defense shut down yet another running attack in a 36-6 win over Shelby County. The Spartans led 28-0 at the half with two touchdowns in the final seconds of the half. Ryder Litten had five touchdowns to force a running clock in the second half. Michael Perry and Malik Manica were non-factors for Shelby County on the ground. This was the 12th time that South Warren had allowed fewer than 10 points in a game. The 4A title will be next Sunday at 7.
Lexington Catholic is on their way to their first state title since 2007 after beating Elizabethtown 35-14. Andy Thompson totaled 263 yards and Jaylen Jones ran for 139 to end the Panthers undefeated season. The Knights rebounded nicely after a 3-3 start and losing Legend Brumbaugh to injury. Lexington Catholic has won eight straight games and will take on Belfry next week. Belfry is now 13-1 after a 42-14 over Corbin. The Pirates were in control for the entirety of the game and advanced to their sixth straight title game. Xondre Willis ran for 151 yards and a touchdown and Andrew Fletcher added 92 yards. LexCatch and Belfry will play next Sunday at 4.
Both Mayfield and Newport Central Catholic survived scares in the semifinals to advance to the state championship. Mayfield beat DeSales 24-19 behind Trajon Bright’s 145 yards on 40(!) carries. The Colts picked off Landon Arnett three times, but Arnett bounced back late. Arnett found Kevin Caldwell for six to give Mayfield the final lead of the game. DeSales will not get a chance for a three-peat, but Mayfield will look for their fourth straight title against NCC. Newport Catholic struggled heading into the fourth quarter. Jacob Smith ran for two touchdowns in the final minutes to beat Danville 15-7. Danville out-gained NCC, but could not put up points late in the game. The Thoroughbreds will take on Mayfield next Sunday at 1.
Pikeville got their revenge on Paintsville after an early season loss. The Panthers won 42-23 over Paintsville in the battle in the mountains. Kash Daniel was out with an MCL sprain, and it was evident that the Tigers defense missed him. Kent Phelps helped to pace the Paintsville offense early with a TD pass and kickoff return. But the Pikeville offense proved to be too much in the second half. Wyatt Battaile threw three touchdowns and Daric Pugh ran for two scores. Pugh had 234 of the Panthers’ 388 rushing yards in the win. Pikeville will play traditional powerhouse Beechwood next week. Brett Slusher ran for three touchdowns in the win. Beechwood returns to the state title for the first time since 2008. Pikeville and Beechwood will play on Thursday night at 7.
We will have full coverage throughout the week leading up to the championship games.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©November 28th, 2015 @ 3:42pm
After a promising 21-0 start, Kentucky fell flat on its face vs. Louisville in Commonwealth Stadium, letting the Cards go on a 38-3 scoring run to win the game 38-24. Boom Williams reinjured his elbow at the end of the first quarter, essentially snuffing out Kentucky’s life on offense.
What is there to say? Backup quarterback Lamar Jackson had his way on the ground with UK’s defense, rushing for 186 yards and two touchdowns, and throwing for 130 yards and one more score. After looking so good early on, the offense was inept in the second half. Louisville clearly made some effective halftime adjustments and Kentucky did not. For the second straight year, the Cats are 5-7 and some serious questions need to be asked.
More all afternoon. Stick around.
By Drew Franklin on ©November 28th, 2015 @ 11:37am
We just learned Louisville will start Kyle Bolin at quarterback. Bobby Petrino somehow convinced Bolin to stop taking pictures of himself to handle the team’s starting quarterback duties for the day.
Here’s a collage of some of Bolin’s Instagram posts to celebrate him being named QB1.
That’s an unreal amount of selfies for anyone. Guy really loves himself.
By Nick Roush on ©November 28th, 2015 @ 11:30am
Even though many don’t think the Cats don’t stand a chance, when you look at the numbers there aren’t many differences in the two teams. UofL has one more important win, but the other numbers all look pretty similar. The one that makes me feel the best? The rushing yards number, especially in the middle of a soggy Saturday showdown.