Anybody wanna tackle? Anybody?
When you play a team like Charleston Southern, there are rarely many positives you can take away from it, regardless of the outcome. When your defense plays the way it tends to do, it becomes even more difficult. So instead of your usual points of interest, I’m going to had out grades based on how the team should have performed against a team like Charleston Southern.
Running Game - Overall a pretty good performance from the running backs despite Locke continuing to sit out. Donald Russell finally got some carries and responded by scoring his first two touchdowns of the season. But aside from Russell, Williams had a great game too by running up 95 yards and three touch downs. The run game was probably the best part of the game for Cats fans, as it showed off a couple names we will get to know better next year when Locke is gone.
Receiving Corps - The receivers played a pretty good game overall too. The first half left a little to be desired (Cobb only had one catch,) but by the end of it they chalked up 274 yards on 16 catches. That’s pretty good. With a touchdown from Cobb and a touchdown from Matthews the receivers didn’t produce their normal numbers, but that’s because Russell and Williams kept TD stealing.
Quarterbacks - Hartline took about a quarter and a half to get into his game, missing some passes he usually hits early on. But he fell into form enough to total up 272 yards and let Morgan Newton get some reps in the fourth quarter. Newton came in and played pretty well too, if only completing one pass and rushing for eleven yards. Still, looked like he had improved since last year, so that’s good heading into an important spring for him.
Coaches – It’s clear now that Mama Russell needs a job setting up the depth chart for next years Cats. But aside from her input, the coaching seemed to be on the same level it has been every game so far this year. They made great half time adjustments, but it seems as if they didn’t look at any game tape prior to today. How the team can continue to come out so unprepared it beyond me, but the adjustments made worked wonders. Now if only they can get it together at the beginning of the games. Oh, and someone needs to tell Steve Brown that players are allowed to tackle each other. Seriously.
Defense – Aside from Danny Trevathan and Winston Guy (who get an A+) the defense was less than stellar today. Poor tackling, poor wrapping up, and a lack of effort in general in the first quarter. They did get better over the game as Kentucky has been doing (and part of that is probably Charleston Southern getting tired,) but there is no good excuses in letting every team score at will in the beginning of each game. And there is absolutely no excuse in letting an FCS team conduct multiple long drives. But – outside the touchdown in the beginning of the third quarter – the defense actually played a pretty good second half.
Overall – I don’t really know why we expected much to be different, but Kentucky came out sleepy (and I can’t really blame them – it’s Charleston Southern,) and turned it on when it needed to. It was a disappointing start, but a four touch down win is a four touch down win. The Cats took a bit to get going but they did what they needed to do, and the team is back winning again. The games will keep getting more important and the story continues – if the Cats can come out prepared, the season will be a success.
The bottom line is – we expected a better start than we got. But once the Cats got going, they actually played pretty well. Now if only we can figure out how to get going at the start of the game.