Kentucky Sports Radio

University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.
September 14th, 2014

Reflections on a Night that Hurt

BxdvQAJCQAAj2bq.jpg-large

That game on Saturday night is going to sting for a long while. I think Mark Stoops said it best when talking to Tom Leach after the game. He was reflecting on the play at the end of the first overtime, where the referees didn’t blow the play dead and then two Defensive Backs ran into each other, allowing the touchdown but his sentiment could have applied to the game as a whole as well. He said, “this game will haunt me for a long time Tom…I may get over it, but I will never forget it.” I feel the same way. There is something about that loss last night that just stings more than many of the other painful defeats we have taken over the years. Part of it of course is due to the fact that it is the 28th straight loss to Florida and that number is so gallingly high that it can’t help but hurt when one is so close to ending it. But I think part of it is also what that game last night represented. Often UK has lost heartbreaking games where it was clear that the other team was more talented or better, but Kentucky played its heart out and just came up short in the end…it stings to lose because it would have been fun to win, but the better team still came out victorious.

But not last night. Last night, Kentucky was the equal of Florida. We were as good as they were from start to finish and at times, even better. Ask yourself this after the game…if given the choice, would you rather have the UK roster and coaches or the Florida roster and coaches for the future. To be honest, I would choose our guys (in large part because Muschamp seems to be just brutally bad at his job). Kentucky was the equal of Florida on their field, at night, with the crowd at its loudest and in the first SEC game for the majority of our players. With their backs against the wall, they came out and not only fought, but they went toe to toe with the Gators as equals. After the game, nearly everyone associated with UK football said that there are no moral victories and downplayed the notion that this was something special. At first that seemed odd to me, but then it became clear. This UK team EXPECTED to win because they not only believe, they are as good as the Gator squad. That was hard for most fans (and me) to understand before the game, but now I get it. The #WhyNot factor is real. This team is talented and not only improving, they are pretty good now. So under those circumstances, a painful loss like Saturday night is not only an opportunity dropped, it is losing a game you genuinely deserve to win. That is why this hurts so much and will sting for some time to come.

With that, a few things that stick out after last night:

PATRICK TOWLES: If there was doubt before, it should have gone away now. Patrick Towles is the Kentucky quarterback and a legitimate SEC-caliber player. He is this team’s leader and can make the throws and plays needed to win in this league. Watching Patrick last night was a joy. He carried the team down the field, generally made the right decisions and had HUGE throws at key moments. The interceptions weren’t really his fault and a couple of his throws, especially in the 4th quarter, were of the highest quality. I loved his leadership, his moxy and his arm strength. When he gets the final steps of the QB position (learning to go through his progressions and not locking on receivers), he is going to be special. Last night proved it.

UK’s DEFENSE: Florida doesn’t have the best offense in the league, but they have talent. Yet UK’s defense not only kept them in the game, they played blow for blow with the Gators. The Defensive Line finally lived up to their preseason billing…Zadarius was a beast, Dupree got double teamed and allowed Linebackerst o make plays, the Defensive tackles were superb and Jason Hatcher showed why he will be a star here. The secondary had some bad moments and there is still room for improvement everywhere. But the makings of a special defense exists and you can see Mark Stoops/DJ Eliot’s fingerprints all over it.

GARRETT JOHNSON: You can actually say great things about a lot of UK’s receivers. Blake Bone made plays, Demarco Robinson had one of his best games ever as a Cat and Ryan Timmons had two big catches (unfortunately also two big drops), but Garrett Johnson is the story of the young season. His first 60 yard Touchdown broke the game open and allowed Kentucky fans to have a jubilation that we haven’t seen in years. He made big catches at big moments and scored against his home state school. The plethora of options that UK has at receiver for the future is truly astounding and one that was forgotten prior to the season stepped up on the biggest stage to remind us just how many riches are out there for the Cats.

BOOM’s RUN: We will see a lot of plays this year, but it is unlikely we will see one better than Boom’s scamper for the score in the first overtime. Had Kentucky stopped that fourth down play, that could be a signature run for all time. He ran 75 yards to go 25 and in the process showed a kind of athleticism we haven’t seen since the last guy to wear #18 for the Cats. After the game, Neal Brown said that he has finally earned the nickname “Boom”, and from my perspective that is most certainly true. A true Freshman with skills like that…whoa.

AUSTIN: I wrote earlier about McGinnis’s amazing 51 yarder at the end of regulation, but the entire game was testament to his leg strength and poise of the young Freshman. He hit three big field goals, each of which were required for UK to win and he did so in tough circumstances. While he missed the one in the third overtime (which most of us probably saw coming), UK isn’t in the game without his skill earlier. Having a solid kicking game is huge as at least 1-2 games every year come down to the kicker. The Cats look to have one of the best lined up for four straight years. That is a good feeling.

2ND OVERTIME: It is probably just me, but I wish the Cats had gone for the score on 4th and 2 in the second overtime. At that point, UK looked a bit gassed, a touchdown wins the game and you just need a couple of yards for one of the biggest wins in school history. I understand why they didn’t…the smart football play is to kick and the coaches genuinely believed they were as good as Florida and didn’t need a gimmick call to win. However considering a tired offense was already going to have to come out first in the third overtime (which they did with little success), I think they should have rolled the dice. But that is easy for me to say from up here

BAD LUCK: You can’t have a UK game discussion without a talk of bad luck. It follows us. Three plays will haunt me, each of which saw a curse in the process. The Fred Tiller interception-turned-touchdown, is one for the history books. He could have scored on a pick six and instead, one play later they are in the end zone. Thankfully, the Cats didn’t give up and still bounced back, something they wouldn’t have in past years. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t sting. The second was Ryan Timmons’ drop at the end of regulation. The pass was perfect and if he catches it, a game-winning field goal is on the brink. But it goes off his fingertips, an interception occurs and we sweat out a last minute field goal miss. I know Ryan wishes he had that back. Finally, there was the play clock. The officials missed the call, which didn’t cost us the game but it also didn’t help. They could have made the 4th and 12, but I would have liked our chances. Just tough luck, but the SEC should at least acknowledge they screwed up. Three tough breaks, all of which are tough to get over.

FRESHMEN: Finally, it is worth noting that EVERY point UK scored was by a Freshman. The first year players balled out, ranging from Boom to Garrett to Matt Elam to Blake Bone to AJ Stamps (a first Juco). When you consider that 80% of UK’s other major contributors are all Sophomores, the future is so bright it is unbelievable. And for all of them to do it on the road…that is so impressive.

All in all, one can’t help but be pleased about Saturday night. It was so exciting to watch and UK football mattered on a national scale like it hasn’t in seven years. But man…I wish we had won. Such victories do lie ahead however. We will discuss it all on radio tomorrow, but for now, I must watch my Bears be awful. See you then…I leave you with this, Demarcus Cousins celebrating his gold medal at the Basketball World Cup. Do your thing Boogie

BxhgzLkCMAAnnzY


A look at UK’s path to bowl eligibility

Rob Foldy/Getty Images

Rob Foldy/Getty Images

Kentucky looked fairly impressive last night night in their triple overtime loss at Florida. In a season that many people expected would only yield 4-5 wins, many are now wondering if UK can beat the odds and contend for bowl eligibility. Let’s have a  look at the rest of the schedule and see how UK is expected to fare. I’ve listed the projected spread for each game using Sagarin’s NCAAF ratings:

Likely wins

vs. Vanderbilt (-11)
vs. Louisiana-Monroe (-18)

Likely losses

at LSU (+22)
at Missouri (+14.5)
vs. Georgia (+16.5)

Best chances for an upset

vs. South Carolina (+10)
vs. Mississippi St. (+5.5)
at Tennessee (+10)
at Louisville (+12)

As you can see, Kentucky will have to take care of business in the two games they’re favored and pull off two upsets to become bowl eligible. The good news: UK is currently a double digit favorite in two of their remaining contests. The bad: they are at least a 10 point underdog in every other match except for the home game against Mississippi State. A bowl berth is certainly possible, but it will be an uphill battle. However, if the Cats can continue to play like they did last night – anything is possible.

 


The Kick That Defied Physics

7_3093028

I have never really seen anything like it on the football field. Outside of my old high school golf team member Brandon Terry, whose patented “Terry Hook” somehow found a way to curve up to four different directions in one shot, I don’t think I have ever seen a ball take the flight path that Austin McGinnis’s kick did last night. With just a few minutes left in the fourth quarter and needing a 51 yarder to tie it up, the McGinnis kick looked initially to be an unfortunate miss. After starting with a slight draw, the ball quickly spurted towards the right, causing all the Florida fans and the UK coaching staff to assume the worst. But then right at the last minute, it somehow hooked back just enough to nudge the goal post and go through. The astonishing kick caused watch parties all over the state to scream in jubilation and the UK sidelines lost their collective minds. But in hindsight, what is most amazing is that it even happened. Balls don’t fly like that. Watch it again:

At that moment, you almost had to assume the hand of God was with us. We were destined to win. Nobody makes kicks like that and then loses, right? Unfortunately not…but like the Patrick Sparks three versus Michigan State in 2005, I think this is a play in a losing effort that I will always remember. When Sparks’ shot bounced three times on the rim and softly fell in, it seemed an impossible result showcasing a team’s destiny to win. This looked to be a repeat. Neither ended up being correct, but McGinnis on Saturday night gave us one to put in the memory bank.


Happy Birthday, Marcus Lee!

Image via 247 Sports

Image via 247 Sports

Shot-blocking extraordinaire and key-returnee Marcus Lee is celebrating his 20th birthday today. Calipari shared his regards on Twitter this afternoon:

I’m not  one to ignore advice from Coach Cal. Happy Birthday Marcus!

Let’s celebrate by reliving Lee’s performances in the Elite Eight and Final Four, which were crucial to UK’s surprise run to the title game:

 

 


SEC Says Its Officials Did Not Screw Up Clock Play

image

Today, the SEC says that it has reviewed the end of the First Overtime play where the ball was snapped after the clock hit 0:00. In response, it basically says it did not screw up:

At the request of the University of Kentucky, consistent with SEC protocol, the conference office reviewed the fourth down play in the first overtime of the Kentucky-Florida game and has determined the officials applied the proper mechanics and guidelines that are in place to determine when a flag should be thrown for delay of game. The back judge is responsible for delay of game calls. The procedure for the back judge is for his eyes to stay on the clock when it nears zero. When the clock hits zero, he immediately looks from the clock to the ball. If the ball is moving, there is no delay of game. If the ball is stationary, a delay of game penalty is called.

Yeah, whatever


KSR Wants YOU (or Someone Like You) To Come and Write With Us

kentuckysportsradio2014

It is that time again…KSR is looking for NEW WRITERS to join our team. This used to be an annual ritual, but in recent years due to the size of our staff, we have not done it as often. But with what we expect to be a HUGE year in UK basketball and some growth of the site coming in 2015, it is time once again for us to reach out and add new faces. As in years past, we are looking to add some college students who want to get experience and write about UK sports, while seeing if a career in sports media is for them. But in addition, for the first time in a few years, we are also looking for non-college students who simply want to write about UK sports as a side hobby. This is how all of the full-time writers at KSR got their start and we want to give others the opportunity to get on board.

This year we are looking specifically for three types of writers:

COLLEGE STUDENTS

Over the years, we have had a strong group of college writers, many of whom have moved on to do great things. Since we started our college program, we have had a number of our people go on to full time jobs in sports media, receive internships with organizations such as ESPN, CBS Sports, GQ and the Nashville Predators and many more. It is time to add a new group here. If you are a college student and you are interested in covering UK sports, we would like you to apply. When applying, include which sports you would be most interested in covering and any particularized knowledge you might have on a subject (whether it is a sport, recruiting, inside information, etc). We will give slight priority to students who attend UK or a college very close by (such as Transy, EKU, Centre, etc), but if the writing is good enough, we will look at other schools as well (we have had writers from Vandy, Yale, Davidson, etc too). If you are interested, please just include in your application email (along with the other things listed below) the Subject heading “COLLEGE STUDENT”.

Non-College Student Writers

KSR was built by, first the group of my friends and I that started this site now nearly a decade ago, and then afterwards, people in other careers who did this as a hobby and made the transition into writing full time. Writers from me, to Thomas Beisner to Drew Franklin to Tyler Thompson to BTI, etc have started doing this as a side project for fun and have made it a career. In addition, writers ranging from Bomani Jones to Chris Tomlin to Andrew McCarthy, etc have made this a part of their writing career and now write in many other forums as well. For the past three years, we have not added any non-student additions, but it is now time once again. What we are looking for is simple…creative, smart, funny, good writers with KSR sensibilities who love UK sports. If that is you, then this is the place. A love for UK sports is crucial, but you also need to know how to navigate the internet looking for great content, how to write at a creative level AND HAVE THE TIME to devote to doing it well. What this site needs more than anything is 2-3 really good writers who can meet the standard of KSR at its best. This is what we are looking for now. If it is your thing and you excel, you might end up changing careers…or you might simply have a great time doing something you love on the side. Either way, we hope it is as enjoyable for you as it has been fo rus. If this is what you are looking for, then put in your subject line “KSR WRITER”

Pop-Culture/Funkhouser Writers

We launched the KSR pop-culture site “Funkhouser” last year and have seen tremendous growth over the last 12 months. We have six really strong writers and some of our most read content has come from them. Beginning in 2015, this site will be part of a potential major project we are undertaking and we would like to add another 3-4 writers to the equation. The standard for this is high…we want you to know the pop culture area you represent (whether its movies, music, tv, politics, the arts or whatever) backwards and forwards, while also being a really good writer. Our current staff is full of intelligent people who write very interesting things. We want to add to that list. If you are someone that this applies to, put “FUNKHOUSER” in the subject line of your email.

So there it is…the THREE types of KSR Writers we are looking for. The benefits of writing for us are (we believe) many…you get a chance to cover cool events, the college students have been a part of the John Calipari Fantasy Camp and are credentialed to UK sporting events. Our regular writers are often assigned projects (something that will be happening MUCH more) that allows them the ability to go and see exciting events and cover sports in ways they have never before. In short, it is fun and we hope you are interested. To apply, here is what you need to do. To the email address below, send these things:

1. A Statement with who you are, where you are from and why you want to write

2. A Resume of some form…just so we know your background

3. A Writing sample of your best work, preferably of the type you want to do for KSR

4. Your schedule so we know how much time you can devote

EMAIL to KSRAPPLICATIONS@Gmail.com

That is it. Our goal is to continue this as the best place to follow Kentucky athletics on the internet. This will only increase but we want to do what made us successful to begin with…get real UK fans doing what they love. WE are excited for the opportunity and look forward to reading your applications. The deadline is Tuesday, September 16. Good luck


You Do Not Want To Make Mark Stoops Angry

At one point last night, Special Teams Coach Naivar may have learned that…BTI has had similar experiences with Matt I am sure.


Team USA wins World Cup; Boogie shines in final

Image via ESPN

Team USA just routed Serbia in the final game of the FIBA World Cup, winning by a final score of 129-92.

Demarcus Cousins played one of his best games of the tournament, tallying 11 points, 2 blocks, and a team-leading 9 rebounds. It’s a sweet ending for Cousins, who had to deal with these comments from the president of USA Basketball, Jerry Colangelo, two years ago:

“He needs to mature as a person, as a player if he’s going to have an outstanding NBA career. So before there’s discussion about him being part of our program… he has a lot of growing up to do.”

Apparently he’s grown up.

Anthony Davis fell victim to foul trouble in the final game, finishing with 7 points and 4 rebounds. Although he didn’t make the all-Tournament team, Davis was Team USA’s best player in many of the team’s games and drew rave reviews from all who watched him. Well done.

Congrats to Team USA and the two former Cats!


Rex Chapman shared some more breaking news last night

Rex Chapman

Former UK-great Rex Chapman ruffled some feathers this April when he tweeted that John Calipari would be leaving Kentucky to coach the Los Angeles Lakers. Kentucky fans are used to dealing with these types of rumors. It’s the timing that made Chapman’s declaration so horrible; he tweeted it a couple of hours before Kentucky was to play in the National Championship. Rex was wrong, of course, but that didn’t stop him from making a similar statement last night during Kentucky’s nail-biting loss to Florida:

Joking aside, it’s good to see that Rex can make fun of himself. What do you think? Is it time to forgive and forget, or shall we be forever haunted by the momentary spoiling of UK’s title game?

 


Cal Had A “Great” Visit With Stephen Zimmerman

Coach Cal has been all over the nation visiting the top players in the class of 2015. Today he is on his way to visit Ivan Rabb in California. Yesterday, he dropped by Vegas to visit big man Stephen Zimmerman. Stephen is the 14th ranked player in the class according to 247′s composite rankings and UNLV, Arizona, and Kentucky are battling it out for his services. Zimmerman said the visit was “great” in the above tweet and we’ll be hearing from him again soon at Big Blue Madness.


Sunday Look-Ahead: Kentucky’s Next Five Games

Three games into the season a and we now know a bit about this Kentucky team. It’s a team with offensive weapons that can go out and make the big play. Its a team with a physical defense that is no longer a liability but a strength. Its a group of confident young men who aren’t afraid of any competitor. Kentucky is a new team this season and as such there is a new outlook for the rest of the year. Can they get to a bowl? If they are going to they need to make some noise over these next five games:

Vanderbilt Commodores (1-2)

It didn’t take long for Vandy to get back to being Vandy once James Franklin left for Penn State. Yesterday, the dores’ played their fourth quarter back of the season when they burned the redshirt of Wade Greebeck. He went 1-2 with an interception before he was benched in favor of season starter Patton Robinette. Vandy had to come from behind to beat a UMASS team that has won just 2 games in the past three seasons and missed a game tying field goal. Vandy is back to the bottom and the Cats should feast in a couple of weeks.

South Carolina Gamecocks (2-1)

South Carolina needed to beat Georgia to stay alive in the East and they did thanks to a questionable spot on South Carolina’s final push to run out the clock. Coming into the season South Carolina looked to be a sure-fire loss but after hanging with Florida and watching the Gamecocks struggle a bit there is a glimmer of hope. Next week Spurrier and Co. get Vandy but in three weeks the fight will be on in Commonwealth, I don’t know they have an answer for our passing ability. But will we be able to contain Mike Davis on the ground? Should be a good one in early October.

Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks (2-1)

The last two seasons Kentucky lost to one of the Sun Belt’s best teams. This year that will not happen again. ULM started off the season 2-0 with a win over Wake Forest (Never heard of em but Louisville fans always seem gloat about beating the Deacons) on their resume. Yesterday, they were demolished 31-0 by LSU. I’d expect this game to look a lot like Ohio U but with even more improvements in the offense. Patty Ice and the squad will be a machine by the sixth game of the year.

LSU Tigers (3-0)

LSU started off this season trailing Wisconsin 24-7 into the second half of their opener. Since then the Tigers haven’t given up a point as they came back to win 28-24 and then blanked Same Houston and the already mentioned UL-Monroe. This game still looks like the toughest one on the schedule and it’s hard to see leaving Death Valley with a W. The trip to Baton Rogue will certainly make for one awesome tailgate though.

Mississippi State (3-0)

The forecast for the Mississippi State game is still a bit murky. Are they a contender looking to make some noise in the West? Should Kentucky be confident hosting them at home? We will certainly know more about the Bulldogs after they travel to LSU next weekend. The Dawgs are averaging 43 points per game and  after they gave up over 500 yards to UAB the only thing we can really say is this: Commonwealth Stadium needs to be ready for a track meet.

 

How do you think the Cats will fare over their next 5 games following a bye week?

 


Tweet Beat: Harris and More Sound Off on Loss

Last night’s game was trending all through the evening as Kentucky and Florida put on the game of the night. Despite coming up short all of Big Blue Nation was proud of the grit and determination shown by the team. Here’s a bit of what recruits, commits, and more had to say:

That tweet led commit George Asafo-Adeji to tell Damien to join the cause:

Coach Cal was feeling for his fellow Coach

Let’s support them indeed! Dwayne Peevy wants to pack Commonwealth in two weeks.

The current and future players got fired up too.

Very dangerous,the Cats are going to break down the door of the SEC sooner rather than later.

Kentucky is being talked about in football for all the right reasons.


Helmet Stickers: Players That Shined Against UF

Last night may not have turned out the way we had hoped it would but there was a lot to be excited about for the future. Lots of guys made some primetime plays and as such they deserve a special shoutout today. Here are my choices for the guys deserving of a new helmet decal after week 3:

Patrick Towles

Image Via Chet White, UK Athletics

Patty Ice showed why he deserves his nickname as he made clutch throw after clutch throw late in the game. His 22 yard dart on 3 and 16 at the one yard line was a throw we haven’t seen in quite some time here at Kentucky. He was firing on all cylinders in crunch time as the team was marching to win the game. The next play he delivered an eight yard strike to Dorian Baker which had the knock out punch perfectly set up. On 2 and 3 Towles fired a rocket to an open Ryan Timmons cutting across the middle of the field. The ball was placed perfectly but Timmons wasn’t able to haul it in and Florida picked it of. The rest is history. Still, Towles played like the guy we were all expecting to be out of high school. The ball looks to be in good hands with Towles under center.

Boom Williams

Rob Foldy/Getty Images

Rob Foldy/Getty Images

The running backs were stifled for most of the game as Florida focused their efforts on stopping the run and bottled up the backs for just 66 yards.  It wasn’t until the first overtime that Boom Williams got to showcase just how explosive he can be. The first play in extra football saw Boom’s number got called for a quick route to the right side. Patrick delivered the ball to Boom but there was no room to run as the Gators had engulfed the right side of the field. Boom took off back to the left, made about 4 guys miss, and was a blue streak on the way to the endzone. It was a feat of athleticism that is usually being pulled on Kentucky, not the other way around. Boom earned the #18 jersey on this play and if Kentucky would’ve gotten the stop Boom’s run would have been a legendary play in Kentucky lore.

Garrett Johnson

Blake Bone. Dorian Baker. A lot was made about Kentucky’s freshman receivers coming into fall but not much had been mentioned about Garrett Johnson. Johnson was the 95th ranked receiver in last year’s ’14 class. Johnson picked Kentucky over Georgia Tech, Northwestern, Arizona and South Florida because of the fit and the chance of “playing early being a definite possibility.” After two touchdowns and 154 yards against Florida I’d say more playing time is definitely in this kid’s future. Johnson did a bit of everything last night, he made guys miss, he went up and made catches, he got open. Johnson could have been viewed as eighth or ninth on the depth chart coming into this week. I’d expect him to move ahead of Joey Herrick before the Vandy game.

Which players impressed you most against Florida?

 

 


Start To Recover With The Sunday Morning Links

http://cache1.asset-cache.net/gc/455399120-patrick-towles-of-the-kentucky-wildcats-gettyimages.jpg?v=1&c=IWSAsset&k=2&d=GkZZ8bf5zL1ZiijUmxa7QfR6zg%2FpBhx7bfvyy05LjKxJZamHGl3k%2FIH0jwcWtdFK

Image Via Rob Foley, Getty Images

Welcome to the morning after where if you’re anything like me, this loss still hurts. Kentucky gave it their all and battled the Gators to a standstill but came up short yet again. It was another heartbreaking loss to add to the handful that already exist in this series. But it’s a lot better to compete toe-to-toe on the road and lose than to never be in the game after the first quarter. Things are certainly on the rise in Lexington and as Cal would say, I like my team. On to the links:

- In case you fell asleep during that thriller somehow here is a recap of last night’s action from the USA Today.

-Tim Sullivan of the Courier-Journal acknowledges what we all saw last night, Kentucky football has turned a corner. From top to bottom the Gators are one of the most talented teams in the nation. For over 60 minutes the Cats gave them everything they wanted and if this would have been at home you have to feel confident about winning the game.

-John Clay was a busy man following last night’s game. First up is his highlights of reasons to be hopeful for the future. For me I was most encouraged by the fact Kentucky’s playmakers where freshman and sophomores while Florida was getting it done with seniors. Next up, John looks at some of the numbers from Kentucky-Florida.

-ESPN is breaking down the three plays that changed overtime with quotes from the Florida players involved. The Herald-Leader also gives thumbs-up of thumbs down reviews to the two halves and OT.

-Kentucky is off for the next week and then they get Vandy. The Dores’ picked up their first win of the season yesterday with a come behind win over a UMASS team that has won two games in three years. Kentucky is going to be hungry and ready in two weeks, time to avenge those James Franklin losses.


Losses are Never Good, but this was PAINFULLY Close to Great

There's a ton of people in Kentucky that absolutely HATE Matt Jones. (@Sportscenter)

There’s a ton of people in Kentucky that absolutely HATE Matt Jones. (@Sportscenter)

Let me start by saying that I don’t know if these words can sum up tonight’s game.  The emotional roller coaster can only be compared to an NCAA Tournament game.  The Cats had many “classic” UK plays, but they also made plays that you’ve never seen someone in a Kentucky uniform make (see: Boom Williams).  Here’s my best effort to summarize the closest thing to a moral victory you can get.

Nothing could phase Patrick Towles

Patrick Towles didn’t play like it was only his third start.  The offense didn’t move the ball well in the first half, but Pat kept chuckin’.  He had two passes intercepted off drops/tips, but he kept chuckin’.  He was harassed by the Florida blitz, but more often than not, they came up empty-handed.  After Vernon Hargreaves picked him off, he maintained faith in his wide receivers and kept throwing it Hargreaves’ way.

Needing a scoring drive to extend the game late in the 4th quarter, Pat was put in the worst situation ever.  3rd and 16, ball on the UK 1 yard line, in front of the student section.  He rifled a first down to Garrett Johnson on what would have been an impossible play a year ago.

Even though they nearly pulled off the impossible, it isn’t good enough for Towles.

“That’s old Kentucky, four or five years ago, that’s not now.  We expect to win every game we play.  We got off the plane expecting to win and ready to play,” Pat said.  “Losing sucks.  It’s awful.  I hate it.  It’s not something that will become a habit.”

Pat finished the game 24-45 for 369 yards, 3 TDs and 3 interceptions.  It isn’t the most glamorous stat line, but only Tim Couch and Jared Lorenzen have thrown for 300 yards in the Swamp. 

Rob Foldy/Getty Images

Rob Foldy/Getty Images

Austin MacGinnis might become the Aaron Harrison of the football team

The start to MacGinnis’ career had been a weird one, tying a UK record with a 53-yarder but failing to hit a few chip shots.  Today The Big Mac played larger than life.

His first three field goals tied the game.  He was constantly in a high pressure situation, but none was bigger than his 51-yarder to tie it with 3:52 in the 4th quarter.  He nailed a 46-yarder to tie it, but was forced to rekick it from 51 after the Cats failed to snap the ball in time.  No problem for MacGinnis.  The ball’s trajectory had everyone thinking it was a miss, but the wind blew the ball right off the inside of the upright.

Even though he missed a 41-yarder in the third OT, the BBN can rest easy knowing the redshirt freshmen has plenty more opportunities to win games for Kentucky in the future.

The defense was great

After watching Mark Stoops play a base ‘vanilla’ defense for two weeks, he brought out all of the tricks against Florida.  Trusting in his secondary, Stoops’ man blitz put the heat on Driskell all night.  The cornerback blitzes went untouched for most of the game, but they were always .0005 seconds away from making the sack.  They only managed to get 2 sacks and an interception, but Driskell will be feeling the pain tomorrow morning.

It’s hard to describe a defensive effort as ‘great’ when the opposing team has 532 yards of offense, but this D bent, and rarely broke.  Matt Jones (29 carries, 156 yards, 1 TD) was a brute that not many SEC teams will have an answer for.  When they needed an answer, they found it, forcing Florida to go 5-17 on 3rd down.  Exhausted late in the game, Florida could have put a fork in the Cats with a touchdown.  After a 3rd and 2 stop, the Gators missed the field goal with 9:02 left, giving Patrick Towles a chance for the win.

It’s going to be fun watching Vandy try to score on this defense.

The receivers were ALMOST perfect

As stated previously, Garrett Johnson had one of the best games by a freshmen wide receiver ever.  Johnson’s 154 yards were the most by a UK receiver since Randall Cobb in 2010.  Dorian Baker and Blake Bone were fearless against Vernon Hargreaves, arguably the best CB in the nation, combing for 72 yards on 6 catches.  The freshmen also got some help from Old Man ‘Marco.  Demarco Robinson had probably his game in blue, finishing with 5 catches for 63 yards.

You’ve probably heard that ALMOST only counts in horsehoes and hand grenades.  Ryan Timmons wishes he could go back to change that almost.  With less than a minute on the clock, Towles threw a beautiful pass down the middle of the field to Timmons that would have put the Cats in Gator territory.  Instead, Timmons tipped it, and Florida intercepted it.

A few different plays and it’s our game

The Timmons play is brutal to replay, but it got much worse on defense.

Up 10-6, a pass hit Fred Tiller right in the numbers.  Dropping an interception hurts, but it’s even worse when it bounces right into the receivers’ hands.  The play went for 30+ yards and the Gators scored two plays later.  Instead of 17-6 Kentucky, it was 10-13 Florida.

It only got worse from there.  The fateful 4th and 1 that will haunt Stoops’ dreams happened after two DBs bumped into one another.

Rob Foldy/Getty Images

Rob Foldy/Getty Images

Another play here, another play there, and Kentucky wins the game.  It’s a sad and sometimes redundant story, but tonight’s game has injected even more confidence into the program.

If there’s one thing we learned tonight: these Cats will not quit ‘Til the Battle is Won.