The only thing worse than almost losing to Eastern Kentucky? Losing to Eastern Kentucky. Perspective →
By Freddie Maggard on ©October 04th, 2015 @ 11:00pm
First and foremost, credit the EKU Colonels for overcoming unimaginably tragic circumstances as it traveled twenty minutes north up I-75 with total intention of winning the football game. It did so, and in convincing fashion for 53 minutes. During that stretch of time, the Colonels out-hustled, executed, coached, and out-willed the preemptive favorites.
It could have been worse, much worse. Down 27-13, many fans had seen enough. Heck, at halftime, several headed to the house. With 7:39 remaining in regulation, UK woke up and decided it was time to play. That awakening doesn’t come just by simply turning on a mythical sideline switch. Finding a way to win in the face of adversity is a culmination of leadership, psychological assertiveness, and accountability development led by UK staffers that diligently work behind the scenes. Given the doldrums that preceded the Mark Stoops era, learning to win is a process.
— Kentucky’s rushing total for the night: 36 attempts, 55 yards. Given negated ground gains due to sacks, that’s totally unacceptable.
What happened: An undersized and undermanned EKU defensive front and linebackers gave the Kentucky offensive line fits. Linebacker Chris Kelly’s 11 tackles including a sack described Colonel defensive intent. That was, to take the fight to the Cats. For 53 minutes, Eastern was the hunter, UK was the hunted.
— EKU totaled 5 sacks for a loss of 33 yards. One QB sack was on Patrick Towles. A veteran quarterback should know better than to take a sack on first down and simply throw the football away. The other 4 are what worries.
What happened: EKU linebackers effectively blitzed as well as DEs Noah Spence and Marquise Piton were forceful off the edge. This comes a week after surrendering only 2 QB sacks against the SEC’s top defense. Colonel blitzes were not complicated by nature. Effort and determination to reach the UK QB topped scheme
— Eastern Kentucky dominated the line of scrimmage. On too many occasions, the Cats fell behind the chains on 1st down. Not a problem if it converted 3rd downs as it did against Missouri by going 9/14 (64%). On Saturday, the Cats were 7/16 (43.7%) with many of those coming in the game’s final seven minutes.
What happened: Great question, will take film evaluation to confirm. Have to chalk much of EKU’s front seven success to grit and determination. At many points in the game, it was obvious that EKU wanted to win the game more so than UK. That factor became the burr in the BBN saddle. I know it was mine.
— Eastern Kentucky’s rush total: 51 attempts for 180 yards. Colonels won first down. With a plethora of 2nd and 5’s, offensive coordinator Dane Damron had the upper hand for most of the evening.
What happened: EKU runners ran with more determination than their counterparts. Yards after initial contact were staggering and favored EKU. Kentucky’s linebackers did not tackle with the same tenacity and efficiency as it did against Florida and Missouri.
— Colonels ran 83 plays for 363 yards of total offense. It converted 8/18 3rd downs (44%), a percentage that dropped in the game’s final seven minutes.
What happened: An undersized EKU offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage. Only CJ Johnson seemed to gain consistent penetration which caused disruption. However, many of his 19 tackles were across the line of scrimmage. Johnson did have 3 tackles for loss and a QB sack, but got very little help from his defensive line mates.
— EKU’s Benny Coney completed 19/32 passes for 183 yards. By evading would be sackers, Coney found holes in the UK secondary for completions that moved the chains. The Colonels also completed opportune screen passes when DJ Eliot dialed up blitzes.
What happened: I counted 4 missed QB sack opportunities. Again, film will be telling to see if that number is low. Ryan Flannigan had 2 direct paths to Coney but whiffed. Steady Josh Forrest had a miss as well. As a whole, the Wildcat LB corps did not play with the same efficiency level as it did against either Florida or Missouri. Credit Coney for his evasiveness and the EKU offensive line for countering UK blitzes.
— Can’t leave out the third phase, there’s enough blame to throw around and it shouldn’t be left out. Landon Foster’s punting has to improve. Low, and short punts to the dangerous returner we’ve discussed all week, Stanley Absannon, hurt UK’s coverage team as Absannon’s 27 yard punt return shortened the field for an EKU touchdown drive.
— Kickoff coverage also struggled. Absannon’s 5 returns totaled 127 yards for an average of 25.4 yards
— The loss of Austin MacGinnis was more impactful than imaginable. Stanley Absannon’s 5 returns totaled 127 yards. Short kicks with little height put the coverage team in a precarious situation.
— Kentucky overcame a late 14-point deficit to score 21 unanswered to win the football game. Should it have been that close? Absolutely not, but EKU had something to say about that. Again, credit the Colonels.
— For all the “Same ole Kentucky Football” thinkers, give the Cats credit for finding the fortitude to refuse to lose. It could have been worse.
— In the first half, Patrick Towles’ 52.6% completion percentage and two interceptions worried. However, one of the picks was a 50/50 ball that EKU’s Stanley Absannon outdueled Dorian Baker for the INT. Football happens. His second INT was an ill-advised vertical route against a cover 2 with the safety easily breaking from the hash to make the play.
— However, in the final two drives of regulation and overtime period, Patrick Towles took control of the offense and game by finishing the night by going 29-42 for 329 yards with 3 TDs. When the Cats needed touchdowns, Patrick delivered. He finished the second half and overtime completing 82% passes.
— Dorian Baker is playing up to reputation. Baker was simply fantastic with 8 catches for 86 yards including 2 touchdowns worth of athletic freakishness.
— Blake Bone played his best game of the season. Bone’s 7 catches for 85 yards came the hard way. Several of his grabs were drive extenders as well as through diving catches. Bone has worked incredibly hard to solidify his status as the fellow outside threat along with Dorian Baker. With few passes targeted in his direction this season, Bone could have easily crawled in a hole and pouted. He did the exact opposite. His scramble movement and catch in the void of the EKU defense were demonstrations of his development and determination.
— Cory Johnson’s 19 tackles, 1 QB sack, and 3 tackles for loss was the most dominating defensive linemen performance in UK history. CJ’s last three games have been spectacular in nature and are certainly All-SEC worthy by statistics alone. CJ’s best traits are his motor and ability to split double teams. Going forward, offensive coordinators will have to scheme against the senior.
— Down 27-13, UK’s backs were against the proverbial wall. It fought back. Defensive stops and two, two-minute drive touchdowns tied the game. By doing so, Kentucky gave itself a chance to win the game in overtime. It did. It could have been worse.
— As we discussed on the podcast and posts leading up to Saturday, EKU was more talented than most expected. As I see it, this year’s EKU team is nearly the same in personnel as Mark Stoop’s first roster. In the game’s final seven minutes and overtime, Wildcat talent and player development prevailed.
— Kicker Miles Butler, have a night young man. After missing his first career PAT attempt, the backup nailed his next four with the final three being under extreme duress. Following Dorian Baker’s five-yard touchdown reception with: 57 remaining in the game, what was left of the crowd collectively exhaled as the reserve split the uprights to tie the game at 27. Then, in overtime, Cats scored on another Dorian Baker TD catch which was followed by another successful Butler PAT. As an unexpected visitor to the press conference, his post-game smile was priceless.
What does all this mean?
Kentucky is 4-1. Could easily be 0-5; however it’s not. All five games have been decided by eight points or less. Glass half-full says that the Cats are resilient and finally understand how to win close games. Question, how many tight games have you witnessed the Cats lose throughout the years? Glass half-empty thinking leads to the doom and gloom that a come-from-behind win over a 1AA team means either that the sky has fallen or that Armageddon is sure to take place within the next 10 days. I lean towards the glass half-full route.
Why optimism following a near loss against an OVC opponent? UK played Florida to a five-point loss that it easily could have won if it would have taken advantage of key plays in critical situations. The Cats beat South Carolina on the road and topped a Top 25 Missouri team. Is UK as good as it played against Missouri, Florida, and South Carolina or is it as bad as it played on Saturday verses EKU? Truth is somewhere in the middle, which is pretty darn good in my book. Florida rolled #3 Ole Miss and is now 5-0 and leading the SEC East. Mizzou bounced back following its Commonwealth Stadium loss and beat Carolina at home. This season should be celebrated to this point, not chastised due to a single flat performance coming off one of the biggest wins in the program’s recent history. It could have been worse.
Twelve games is a long season comprised of a dozen individual playoff contests. In basketball terms, or more specifically, March Madness, UK won and advanced. I understand concerns, heck above are lists of alarms. But game film from yet another close win will only assist in player teachable moments. UK will enter the Auburn game with an edge. Mark Stoops will peel Nutter Center paint of the walls throughout a couple days of corrections.
This Kentucky team’s margin of error is miniscule. Been saying that for over a month now. Throughout the remainder of the schedule, there will be more nail biters. Get used to it. That’s the nature of the game and a result of a program that is in year three of a total overhaul. Kentucky is not at a personnel level to weekly dominate opponents. Don’t work that way. Three recruiting cycles have been successful, but to get to the level of talent that is required to consistently win games by double digits takes time.
I had an uneasy feeling about this game all week. First cold weather game, coming off the Missouri win, Auburn on the horizon, and playing down a level were all worrisome. That gut feeling came to fruition. UK won, but it did so in an ugly fashion. Could that be the norm for 2015? I sure hope so, because winning ugly certainly beats the alternative. It could have been worse.
By Courtney Hessler on ©October 04th, 2015 @ 10:30pm
Did the Cats overlook Eastern Kentucky? No. I always found that statement to be a bad excuse. How can an entire team with a short 12 game schedule overlook an entire game, easy win or not? However, I believe there is also a difference between overlook and underestimate.
Did the Cats underestimate Eastern Kentucky? Completely. Eastern Kentucky sounds like a weak opponent based on name alone. That’s where the underestimation comes from. However, with transfers from UK, Ohio State, Kansas State, Cincinnati and more the talent really starts to stack up.
“We talked all week about handling success the right way. If you want me to be completely honest with you, I think we’re a really young team, and I think our immaturity kind of popped its head up tonight.” – Shannon Dawson to Vaught’s Views.
I would have to agree with Shannon Dawson on that front. Immaturity can explain a lot. Kentucky hasn’t been a successful team in years, so obviously no one on the team knows what it is like. The players got a taste for success last week after the Cats took down a ranked team and obviously did not know how to handle it properly. It went straight to their heads and that was obvious by all the winking Towles was doing on the field. For the record, I have always been 100% team Towles, but I think a lot of us were annoyed by that.
Looking back at the first five games, it’s obvious the Cats can play. They have the physical part of the game down, but not the mental. But maybe that will come with age.
The Cats also had no seniors starting on offense for the first time since 1993, according to UK. As an adult, it’s hard to be mad and tell 20 year old kids they need to be mature. I know I wasn’t at that age.
The good news is, there is NO WAY the Cats underestimate any other team this season. That includes the match up vs. Charlotte late this season. In a way maybe the Eastern game needed to go the way it did to put the Cats back into the right mindset to focus on what is important this year. A winning season.
By Courtney Hessler on ©October 04th, 2015 @ 10:00pm
Former UK Football linebacker Avery Williamson returned to his hometown this weekend where Milan High School retired the Titan’s high school jersey. Williamson was humbled and tweeted out:
I thank God 1st, my family, coaches, and everyone else who helped me along this journey. Honored to retire my high school jersey. Young and Bless!! #NeverSatisfied.
Looks like Williamson has a lot to be blessed for and now he has it all in print to remind him:
Congrats, Avery. Maybe next time it’ll be your Wildcat Jersey.
By Courtney Hessler on ©October 04th, 2015 @ 9:30pm
Let’s give football a rest and take a look at some videos from UK Basketball practice today. The Cats have been going strong this weekend with two-a-days and lots of time on the court. Kinda like a Camp Cal mini-camp.
Here are a couple videos the basketball account tweeted out earlier today:
Always one of our favorite drills. The loser has to head to the treadmill for some sprinting. pic.twitter.com/VqcrwbcYWs
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) October 4, 2015
Fifth practice in three days. The guys are still going strong. pic.twitter.com/kMhxJmQeeD
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) October 4, 2015
I know it’s still football season, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy these, right?
By Jonathan Miller on ©October 04th, 2015 @ 8:00pm
It’s been a tough week for Rick Pitino. And what a contrast with his arch-rival, John Calipari: While Cal got to pal around with the Pope, the University of Louisville basketball coach was forced to respond to the release of a new book that alleges a former assistant paid prostitutes to have sex with Cardinal players and recruits.
While Pitino and U of L athletic director Tom Jurich wisely jumped out in front of the story, holding a press conference in which they conveyed both their disappointment and determination to obtain the truth, this crisis appears far from resolved. The salacious nature of the accusations — combined with Pitino’s own personal history with sex scandal — is irresistible manna from the zeitgeist heavens for both the mainstream media and the blogosphere. And it’s widely expected that new revelations (texts, pictures, videos) will feed the talking head and tweeting beasts for weeks to come. Pitino’s current vow of silence about the Cardinal sins may not be sustainable.
Worse, these allegations could prove more than simply embarrassing to the ball coach. If there is any modicum of truth behind them, not only could U of L team eligibility be implicated, but criminal charges could also potentially be filed.
While I find myself, like much of KSR Nation, instinctively rooting against the Cards at every opportunity, I’ve moved past my hard feelings toward Rick personally, choosing instead to remember his role in restoring our Cats to greatness. In that spirit, I’ve gathered my team of recovering politicians: With crisis management skills forged as former targets of the piercing glare of the national media spotlight, we advise clients on managing and surviving public crises like this. Below, my colleagues share guidance from their own painful experiences, as well as a few of our twelve step mantras to counsel Coach Pitino:
Be First to Frame Your Narrative in Your Own Voice, with Facts and Sincerity
Michael Steele, the former Republican National Chairman, can sympathize with Pitino’s particular circumstances: Steele found himself embroiled in a high-profile national sex scandal when he discovered that an underling had used the Party’s credit card to pay for entertainment at a lesbian-bondage-themed strip club. Steele survived the crisis by stepping out early before the cameras with a candid explanation for the circumstances, and a sincere rebuke of the staffer who created the mess.
Steele suggests the same approach for Pitino: “Never sell short the power of getting in front of a narrative,” Steele advises. “The coach will likely find himself with a lot of lawyers telling him not to say anything, ‘Let us do the talking.’ But hunkering down behind legalese can be very harmful to your interests and your reputation.”
If indeed Pitino was not involved in the wrongdoing, Steele recommends that he is clear not only about his own innocence, but also his disapproval: “He needs to let the public know that he is as outraged and disgusted by this behavior as everyone else. He cannot look like he is protecting the wrongdoers or the institution.” Steele recommends that Pitino be strong and resolute: “He needs to let folks know his willingness to get to the bottom of things, that he wants to straighten this out more than anyone else. Most of all, that he recognizes the severity — that these athletes are teenagers, somebody’s sons — and the actions taken toward them are offensive.”
Own Your Own Mistakes, Take Responsibility and Sincerely Say “I’m Sorry”
Former Missouri House Speaker Rod Jetton found his political career derailed by a sex scandal that resembled Pitino’s 2009-10 imbroglio: He was accused of wrongdoing by a woman with whom he had engaged in a consensual sexual relationship. Ultimately, the charges were dropped, but Jetton’s path toward career rehabilitation was aided by the personal responsibility he assumed, and the sincere contrition he showed, for putting himself in the compromising position that led to the charges.
Jetton sees a similar path for the coach: “Pitino might not know of anything like this going on — I sure hope that’s the case,” Jetton states. “But even if he wasn’t directly involved, he was ultimately responsible for hiring and supervising the assistant who did this awful stuff.”
Jetton urges Pitino to sincerely apologize for his actions and inactions that ultimately resulted in the malfeasance: “Saying ‘I’m sorry’ — and saying it with true and honest conviction — is the first step to recovery,” Jetton argues. “Pitino has to admit where he was wrong, and own up to his mistakes. People can forgive a sinner. They can’t forgive someone who refuses to take responsibility for his program.”
Lean Into, and Learn from, Your Crisis
Former Kentucky Secretary of State John Y. Brown, III never experienced public scandal in politics, avoiding it perhaps because of the lessons learned from his youth. At 22, Brown was battling the bitter demons of alcoholism, but now three decades clean and sober, he uses what he learned in his lowest moments to help mentor and counsel others through struggles with addiction and other challenges.
Brown suggests that anyone coping with a public crisis must acknowledge clearly that he has learned from his own mistakes, as well as the mistakes of others in his charge: “If wrongdoing is uncovered, it must be acknowledged and addressed head on — in fact, embraced as a defining event; and immediate action must be taken to rectify damage done, and sweeping concrete steps taken, to ensure it cannot happen again.”
Brown also advises complete openness and honesty as a clear signal to the public that you understand the underlying message: “As a general rule, when serious allegations are made against a person or institution and any parts seem credible, a response is required of complete candor, transparency and full cooperation with an unwavering commitment to see where the facts lead. If this is done, the public will usually withold judgment until the facts bear out what actually happened and didn’t happen.”
Tell the Truth: Don’t Even Go Near the Line
Smith was involved in a minor wrongful campaign finance scheme that if discovered would have likely resulted in a small fine and an embarrassing news story. But when he signed a false affidavit about the incident — and was caught admitting it on a wire worn by his best friend — Smith was forced to serve a year and a day in federal prison.
Smith strongly urges Pitino to learn from his own example; and if the coach was aware of any element of the wrongdoing, even a small one, he can’t expect others to take full responsibility: “As I learned painfully, one way or another, the truth always comes out,” notes Smith. “That’s because if an organizational leader knew about something, at least one other person below him/her knows that he knew it. Probably more than one. And if the leader was involved in a decision in any way, the subordinates will likely feel compelled to talk, eventually. Whether for legal, moral, psychological, or reputational reasons, they may seek to minimize their own culpability by revealing or even exaggerating the leader’s. As tempting as it may be for a leader to hope that his case will be different, and his secret will remain hidden, the odds are not good.”
Smith concludes that the coach must clear the air immediately, forcefully and completely: “That’s not to say Pitino is guilty of anything, but if he knew anything about this, he should say so immediately. And even if he truly didn’t, he still should take responsibility as the head coach and organizational leader.”
By Courtney Hessler on ©October 04th, 2015 @ 7:30pm
Gunnar Hoak became the latest Kentucky commit to take the next step. Hoak tweeted today the signing of financial aid papers with Kentucky. The three-star 6-4 Quarterback from Dublin, Ohio committed to the Cats back in April.
Hoak also announced he would be with the Cats for Spring practice, joining Drake Jackson and Kash Daniel for extra the practices.
— Gunnar Hoak® (@GunnarHoak12) October 4, 2015
Sidenote: With all this talent coming in early this year, it comes that much more important to get to a bowl game for the Cats. Spring enrollees can practice with the team before a bowl game.
By Kindsey Bernhard on ©October 04th, 2015 @ 7:00pm
This season is all about breaking different losing streaks. The Cats did just that last night by ending two different streaks. Kentucky ended a six game in-state losing streak. The last time the Cats beat an in-state team was in 2011 against Western Kentucky. Kentucky defeated Western 14-3 at LP Field in Nashville.
Kentucky also had not won an overtime game since 2007 against LSU. The No. 17 ranked Wildcats defeated No. 1 ranked LSU in a historic three overtimes on Oct. 13.
By Kindsey Bernhard on ©October 04th, 2015 @ 6:00pm
Sorry everybody, you were right. I shouldn't have tweeted about not losing a fumble yet this year. It only took 3 plays #MyBad
— Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) October 3, 2015
Starting to get frustrated. I thought we would roll today. Offense needs to wake the hell up.
— jared lorenzen (@JaredLorenzen22) October 4, 2015
Lots of sexy punt action tonight
— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) October 4, 2015
Sneaking it in the side door right under our noses, Patty Ice got that play right out of the UofL playbook
— FakeBarneyKSR (@FakeBarneyKSR) October 4, 2015
Stoops is (probably) screaming the paint off of the locker room walls
— Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) October 4, 2015
I love you, Patrick Towles, but please stop winking. No winking if we’re not ahead.
— Tyler Thompson (@MrsTylerKSR) October 4, 2015
— Drew Franklin (@DrewFranklinKSR) October 4, 2015
By Kaan Solagan on ©October 04th, 2015 @ 3:00pm
For a long time the UK student faithful have complained about not getting priority care for attending more games and showing more passion for their team. At some other schools, ticket rewards programs are common for students regularly attending sporting events at their university, and such programs were absent at UK until this year. About a month ago, one of our writers, Kindsey Bernhard, wrote an article about why we deserve a system with priority and opportunities for better seats for students attending games, and now those dreams are becoming realities.
Now, students will have the chance to accumulate points to win awards such as entry in drawings to win free textbooks for the spring semester, participating in halftime contests at sporting events, and winning kentucky memorabilia. Students in a high enough point range will have priority for UK mens basketball tickets. The bigggest beneficiary of the priority points system is without a doubt the loyal student basketball fans who attend every game and don’t want to have to fight everyone who wants to only go to the big games. No more complaining about not getting tickets, justice has been served!
By Kaan Solagan on ©October 04th, 2015 @ 2:00pm
The story of the night on the defensive side of the ball was defensive line up and comer, Cory Johnson. He erupted for 19 tackles on the night and surely will be in contention for another player of the week award after his individual impressive performance against the Colonels. He was unstoppable again this week for the 3rd straight week in a row. He gave the EKU offensive line fits all night long and was one of the few bright spots on defense last night.
Johnson was a one-man wrecking ball in the final moments of the game, getting into the backfield on consecutive plays and coming up with the game-winning sack on the final play of the game. 19 tackles is a new career-high for the senior, coming just one week after his old career-high performance with 11 tackles against Mizzou. Cory Johnson has averaged 15 tackles in each of the last two games, and hopefully will continue his dominance past the bye week alongside the probable return of Regie Meant before Auburn.
By Nick Roush on ©October 04th, 2015 @ 1:00pm
The offense laid another egg last night. Noah Spence and Co. dominated the offensive line, the running game was non-existent (55 yards), and Patrick Towles was making mental mistakes aplenty in the first half. Down 14 with 4:59 to go, the Cats finally found a spark.
“When you get in those ruts, the only way to get out of them is do simple stuff,” Shannon Dawson said after the game. They had to keep it simple because there wasn’t a play that worked in the first half. “I don’t think we executed anything for three quarters, to be honest with you,” Dawson said. “There wasn’t a call on my sheet that was good. There just wasn’t.”
“I don’t know if there’s anything I can point to directly, but I feel like everybody as a unit, collectively, we came out sluggish. It wasn’t just one man, two man, it was all of us, “Dorian Baker said.
Towles, Baker and the rest of the offense still remained optimistic, and finally began executing. They got it out of Patrick’s hands quickly and began putting routine plays together.
“There was never any point tonight where I thought we were gonna lose the game. I honestly believe that. There were probably 20,000 other people who did, (but) that wasn’t me. That’s not our team,” Towles said.
Towles and Dawson knew who they needed to get it to – Dorian Baker. “I like the matchup with him with everything,” Dawson said. “We were trying to do that the whole game a lot of times and the ball just wasn’t finding him.” Dorian asked for the ball, and he received.
On the final score, it wasn’t originally supposed to be a fade to Baker. They had three receivers on the left side that were going to be primary targets, but Patrick told Dawson and Dorian on the sideline, “If he has 1-on-1, I’m going to him.” Dorian and Pat both made the right read, linking up on the perfectly executed play.
“He(the defender) actually made a good play on the ball, but I just had to go up over top of him and take it away from him.” Dorian said there wasn’t a chance he was going to let the defender beat him, “There’s no chance. I gotta make that play. 4th and 3. If I don’t, we lose.”
This sequence illustrates just how close it was to going the other. Luckily, Dorian doesn’t lose often.
Photos by Jason Ballard (@JBallardphoto)
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©October 04th, 2015 @ 12:00pm
The only thing worse than almost losing to Eastern Kentucky? Losing to Eastern Kentucky. Perspective can be hard to find after a near miss like last night, but that’s what the morning after is for. In that spirit, I spent the morning breaking down the biggest areas of concern in UK’s near-loss to Eastern (hard for me to call this a “win”) and, in an attempt to comfort myself, found a silver lining for almost every single one. It wasn’t easy.
Let’s start with the most offensive.
UK only had 55 yards rushing
…on 36 attempts. To be fair, 13 of those attempts were by Patrick Towles, but UK’s normally-robust rushing attack looked weak against Eastern, an FCS team. After getting the starting nod over Boom Williams, JoJo Kemp had 14 carries for 46 yards and one touchdown. Mikel Horton carried the ball 9 times for 13 yards. Freshman Sihiem King, who many figured would see the field, never did. With Boom out, UK’s rushing attack faltered, in part because Eastern’s defense manhandled UK’s offensive line.
Silver lining: Boom Williams will be back in the lineup for Auburn. Hopefully the offensive line, which has seen a lot of praise this season, will get their act together as well.
Patrick Towles’ first half was awful
Patrick better be happy he had the second half he did, because that first half? Woof. 10-19 for 121 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions. Florida Patrick was back. With each bad throw and sack, the calls for Drew Barker became deafening. His offensive line wasn’t doing him any favors, but Patrick dug a hole for himself in the first two quarters.
Silver lining: Patrick’s second-half and overtime performance may have saved him his job. 19-23 for 222 yards and three touchdowns. Missouri Patrick was back! Can we keep him?
Also, I love you, Patrick, but can we cool it with the hair shakes and winks? Or at least save them until the end of the game?
At times, the offense looked inept
…against an FCS defense. There’s a lot of blame to go around here, but it starts with the offensive line. EKU had four sacks for 33 yards, numerical proof they manhandled UK’s line. That poor performance led to ineptitude across the offense, especially the rushing attack.
Silver lining: They showed up when it mattered. I praised Patrick Towles’ second-half performance earlier, but the biggest praise has to go to Dorian Baker, whose heroics saved Kentucky from the ultimate embarrassment. Baker had 8 receptions for 86 yards and two touchdowns, a few of those catches so freakish and athletic that at times, you wonder if he’s human.
Shannon Dawson’s comments about Baker after the game said it all.
“He’s a special kid. He’s a competitor. And he’s one guy that, in my opinion, tonight, he really put this offense on his back. He said, ‘Gimme the ball.’ So we got him the ball, and probably some situations where it wasn’t a good look to get him the ball.”
Once you get over how terrible the offense looked for most of the game, you have to admit that their final few drives were pretty freaking impressive.
EKU ran for 180 yards; put up 363 yards total
Remember that defense everyone was raving about after the Missouri game? Me too. Where were they last night? EKU put up 363 yards of offense, 180 of those on the ground. Behind Ethan Thomas and Dy’Shaw Mobley, the Colonels averaged 3.5 yards per carry to UK’s 1.5.
Silver lining: I’m struggling to find one, so instead, I’m just going to praise Cory Johnson. Johnson built on a career game against Missouri with another one against EKU, tallying 19 tackles, including three for loss and one sack. There were a lot of negatives in last night’s near-loss, but Cory’s performance certainly wasn’t one of them.
Eastern wanted it more
The phrase that keeps running through my mind while writing this is “against Eastern!”. After a big win over Missouri and an enticing Thursday night showdown with Auburn on the horizon, it’s clear Kentucky overlooked Eastern and almost got burned for it. But you have to give the Colonels credit. With heavy hearts, they came to play and clearly wanted the game more. Quite frankly, they deserved to win.
Silver lining: Hard to find one here. After almost losing to a FCS team, overlooking opponents shouldn’t be an issue the rest of the season.
Kentucky almost lost
Silver lining: They didn’t.
By Kaan Solagan on ©October 04th, 2015 @ 12:00pm
SPIRE Men’s Basketball Academy 2018 recruits 6’8″ F Maurice Calloo and 6’0″ PG Kajon Gordon-Stephens dropped by UK this afternoon for a visit and tour of campus. Both young men are Canadian nationals playing for their new basketball academy located in Geneva, OH.
They were attendees at this weekend’s John Lucas Midwest camp this weekend in Louisville and figured they drop by UK while they were here. Calloo’s older brothers played on Mychal Mulder’s high school team in Canada if you were wondering where the connection came from, they were ranked in the top-10 in Canadian high school hoops in 2012.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) October 4, 2015