Joker Phillips called Saturday night’s battle with Louisville “a game of missed opportunities”. That seems a little too polite. What it actually was was a one-sided physical beating courtesy of his good friend Charlie Strong and the ending of a four-year winning streak over the filthy Cards. All in all, it sucked. That’s about all you can say.
A few notes…
– The offensive line was awful. Flat out freaking terrible. Morgan Newton had fat guys in his face all night and was brought down six times. The big guys up front failed to open any holes for the running game and the Cats never really found any sort of offensive rhythm for the third consecutive game. The unit that was supposed to be the group that Kentucky was able to rely on this season has fallen flat on its face so far. Sure, there have been guys injured and the lineup has been shaken around a bit, but their performance against the Cards was absolutley abysmal. Should make for a good exchange between Mike Summers and the C-J reporter this week.
– Along that same line, the running game completely crapped out against the Cards as UK registered only 35rushing yards on 32 carries. A big part of the problem was the offensive line and a big part was dull and predictable rushing plays. Did the Cats miss Raymond Sanders? Maybe. But I don’t really think he makes all that much of a difference. There’s a fundamental breakdown in the running game right now that was slightly masked by Sanders and Josh Clemons churning out fourth quarter yards against Central Michigan. While it’s a giant stretch to say that Kentucky should commit to the run to fix their problems on offense, it is 150 million percent correct that they need to establish some sort of running game if they expect to win football games. It was beyond bad on Saturday.
– If there was a bright spot offensively, it was the resolve Morgan Newton showed in hanging in and taking a beating and putting the Cats in a position to get a score at the end of the game. However, Newton was again painfully inconsistent. He missed some easy throws, most notably the final toss to LaRod King that wasn’t even close and spent the entire game again looking at only half the field. On that final play where he overthrew King, Newton had three receivers on the opposite side that were open past the first down marker. That’s been one of the stories of the first three games. Newton HAS to throw the ball to other receivers and Kentucky has to find guys that are reliable. Nik Melillo looked the part and EJ Fields caught a few balls, but they’ve got to get Newton looking at the entire field and connecting on the easy throws.
– We could go all day and night on this, but let’s just say the play calls were predictable and boring. The Cats don’t need to run reverses or halfback passes or anything crazy, but when the entire stadium knows what the next play is going to be, that’s a problem.
– On the defensive side of the ball, it wasn’t a completely awful effort, but the Cats certainly leave with a lot of questions. The secondary was shredded by Will Stein and Teddy Bridgewater and UK spent the entire first half getting penetration – on the wrong side of the field. It was almost like Louisville knew they could throw a formation out there and expect the Cats to attack one side. And then they went the other way. After the game, defensive coordinator Rick Minter, who is always good for a solid quote, said “We can’t wallow in self pity, but I like to see it hurt. … It should hurt when you fail.” At least someone feels good about it.
– The play that summed up the game was the second-to-last play that went to freshman Demarco Robinson. Robinson caught the ball, picked up the first down, then fumbled it and lost about seven yards, leaving the Cats with a fourth and six. It was just that kind of game.
– It’s been awhile since we’ve seen Kentucky get picked apart by a running quarterback, only because we haven’t seen one in a few games, but Dominique Brown came in and ran on the Cats in the first half. It was clear that he was in there to run the ball and the Cats still couldn’t figure it out and bring him down.
– The conversation will now probably focus less on Florida this weekend and more on what the loss means in terms of bigger picture ideas like the rest of this season and the future of the program/rivalry. Charlie Strong, who undersold his team all week, apparently already has very bold feelings about it. After Strong admitted that he told his team on Thursday that they were better than UK, Louisville defensive tackle William Savoy shared this little nugget after the game:
“Coach said once we win tonight they’ll never win again. The Governor’s Cup is staying with us.”
– Louisville’s Greg Scruggs Tweeted his thoughts after the game. Not cool.
Son of a bitch.
Poor Florida. They now have to play a Kentucky team that’s coming off of a loss and will be fighting mad. Time for another streak to end! Right? Right????