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Football Season Coverage

UK will not go to a bowl game

Breaking news: the NCAA just announced it will fill extra bowl games with teams with 5-7 records based on Academic Progress Rate (APR). This means Kentucky is out. The highest APRs of the 5-7 teams remaining are in, in order, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas State, Minnesota, San Jose State, Illinois, and Rice. Kentucky’s score, 945, falls well below the scores from those programs.

The extra practices would have been nice, but this is probably for the best. Time to take this season around the shed and put it to bed.

ESPN still projects Kentucky to the Independence Bowl

Earlier today, I outlined the possible scenario in which Kentucky could still go to a bowl despite their 5-7 record. The NCAA is expected to decide in the coming days how to pick which 5-7 teams get to go bowling, and if they decide to go by APR scores, the Cats are out; however, that’s not stopping ESPN’s Mark Schlabach from putting Kentucky in his latest bowl projections. Schlabach has Kentucky playing NC State in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana on December 26, the same day as the UK vs. Louisville basketball game.

If that does happen (a huge “if” right now), the two games won’t conflict. UK/Louisville is at noon, while the Independence Bowl kicks off at 5:45 p.m. ET on ESPN. Previously, we had heard the SEC wouldn’t allow UK to go to that bowl because of that conflict, but now, who knows. All I know is I’m ready for some resolution on the matter.


Maxwell Smith injured again on Saturday

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

If things weren’t bad enough around UK football right now, there’s some more unfortunate news to pass along. Former Kentucky quarterback Maxwell Smith injured his left knee in the first half of San Diego State’s win over Nevada on Saturday. The injury is thought to be a torn MCL and will keep him from playing in San Diego State’s showdown with Air Force in the Mountain West Championship next week.

Smith transferred to San Diego State in January after struggling to regain momentum after shoulder and ankle injuries at Kentucky. As a graduate transfer, he was able to play immediately and quickly earned the starting job. This season, he’s thrown for 1,529 yards, 13 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions, leading the Aztecs to a 9-3 record and an appearance in the Mountain West Championship. Although this was his last year of eligibility, he has filed an injury appeal with the NCAA in hopes of getting one more year.

Given all the injuries he’s gone through, the fact that Maxwell’s still staying positive is amazing. He posted this on Twitter last night:

Get well soon.

Will Kentucky be one of the 5-7 teams to go to a bowl?

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

With everything going on around the program, it’s hard to believe there’s still a chance this team could go to a bowl game. This year, there are 40 bowl games, so 80 teams are needed to fill those spots. Currently, only 75 teams are bowl eligible (a record of 6-6 or better). There are three teams with 5-6 records with one game left to play: Kansas State, South Alabama, and Georgia State. That means that right now, TWO 5-7 teams are going to a bowl game, possibly FIVE. There could be up to 17 5-7 teams. Does Kentucky have a chance?

In 2012, the NCAA came up with a plan to choose which 5-7 teams go to a bowl by ranking them by their APR (Academic Progress Rate). Kentucky football’s most recent 4-year APR composite is 945, which would put them well below other teams in contention, such as:

  • Nebraska (985)
  • Missouri (976)
  • Kansas State (976)
  • Minnesota (975)
  • San Jose State (975)
  • Illinois (973)
  • Rice (973)

However, ESPN is reporting that the NCAA Football Oversight Committee may decide to use a different criteria to select teams or do away with the APR requirement all together. They’re expected to figure all of that out in the coming days. Mark Stoops has already said if his team is offered a bowl game, they’ll take it. For now, we wait.


Patrick Towles’ Monday Morning Wakeup

Patrick Towles’ Monday Morning Wakeup

Photo: Mark Zerof

Yesterday’s news that Patrick Towles will transfer hit me like Kentucky’s loss to Louisville: sad, but expected. Patrick’s career at Kentucky had its highs — wins over South Carolina and Missouri — and its lows — 14 interceptions to only 9 touchdowns this season; however, if we learned one thing on Saturday, it’s that the junior from Fort Thomas was not to blame for the offense’s woes this year. Patrick’s inconsistency certainly didn’t help UK move the ball this season, but without Boom Williams, Drew Barker was faced with the same problems in the second half against Louisville. Few quarterbacks could overcome receiver drops, questionable play calling, and little protection from their line. Things got so bad late in the game that the staff went back to Patrick, but it was too little too late. His final play in Commonwealth Stadium — an interception on Louisville’s 4-yard line — felt like a cruel twist of the knife.

It’s not worth debating whether Patrick or Drew Barker deserved to be Kentucky’s starting quarterback next season. It’s the Drew Barker show from now on and Drew showed a lot of promise (albeit inexperience) in the past few games. The shift to Barker reflects the cold reality of sports; someone always gets left behind. And it really hurts that that someone is a kid who has done nothing but love Kentucky football his entire life.

Patrick committed to Kentucky back in April 2011 as a four-star recruit from Fort Thomas, a huge coup for Randy Sanders and Joker Phillips. At the time, the grandson of Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher and US Senator Jim Bunning was billed as Kentucky’s “quarterback of the future.” He planned to redshirt his freshman year but was forced into action due to injuries only to injure his own ankle after leading the Cats to a touchdown on his first possession. He redshirted the next season, after which many speculated he would transfer. Instead, he went to California to work with renowned quarterback coach George Whitfield Jr. and transformed his game. That fall, he won the starting quarterback spot and he won it again this season, only to lose it with two games left.

Some in the fan base are accusing Patrick of quitting. Those people need to shut up. For four years, Patrick has given his all to the Kentucky football program. With the staff headed in a different direction, it was time for Patrick to decide whether or not he really wanted to pursue playing football at the next level. Earlier this season, he was touted as an NFL prospect. He has the size, but if he stayed at Kentucky, he probably wouldn’t have the stage. With his degree in hand, Patrick can transfer to another program — Duke is being mentioned, but don’t rule out Hogwarts — as a fifth-year senior and play immediately. What happens from there is up to him, but at least he’s going for it. Personally, I’ll be rooting like hell for him to succeed.

In a time of uncertainty around the program, one thing is certain: Patrick Towles deserves a better ending. I really hope he gets it.

With that rant over, it’s time to go over the plan for a very busy day…

There’s a basketball game tonight

Amid all the negativity around the football program, has there been a more welcome time for a basketball game? The Cats take on Illinois State tonight at 7 p.m. on ESPN2 and the question on everyone’s mind is whether or not Tyler Ulis will play. Ulis hyperextended his elbow against South Florida on Friday and is listed as day-to-day. While we’re hearing the injury is not serious, I wouldn’t be surprised if Calipari held Tyler out tonight to ensure he’s ready to roll against UCLA on Thursday.

Kentucky opened as a 19-point favorite

Illinois State is 3-4 with one of those losses coming to #2 Maryland. The Redbirds actually led the Terrapins by two with under six minutes left before Maryland went on a 21-8 run to win the game 77-66. I’ll have more on Illinois State later today, but a quick glance tells me they’ve got a talented point guard in Paris Lee and an impressive scorer in DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell. I’m not expecting an upset or anything, but Kentucky will need to play with more energy than it has the past three games, especially if they’re without Ulis.

What will happen next with the football program?

Aside from Ulis, this is probably the other biggest question weighing on my mind. At 5-7, will Kentucky still go to a bowl? If so, when will they find out? Will there be any big staffing changes? KSR is hearing two could be on the way. Who will be the sacrificial lamb? Will there be any more transfers? What about recruiting??

Just thinking about it makes my head hurt.

I saw “Mockingjay, Part 2” and it sucked.

If watching UK football lose to Louisville wasn’t torture enough, my husband and I decided to go see “Mockingjay Part 2” yesterday when we got back to Nashville. I’ve read the entire Hunger Games series, enjoyed the movies thus far and was looking for a nice escape from reality. Unfortunately, the movie sucked. “Mockingjay” was by far my least favorite of the books, a brutal battle story with little levity, so I wasn’t surprised, but man. Not even Jennifer Lawrence could save it. Save yourself the pain and go see “Creed,” like I should have.

Kobe Bryant’s goodbye letter to basketball was amazing

I’ve never been a huge Kobe Bryant fan, but even I teared up a little bit when I read the poem he wrote announcing his retirement from basketball after this season. If you missed it, click on over to The Players Tribune to read it. Regardless of how you feel about Kobe, it’s a beautiful love letter to the game from one of its best:

You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream
And I’ll always love you for it.
But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.
This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.


Are you in Wichita, Kansas? Go see the guys at Pie Five Pizza

The KSR Road Trip Across America Sponsored By Sternberg Automotive and Pie Five Pizza rolls on, and after watching Chiefs/Bills in the rain at Arrowhead Stadium, the guys are in Wichita to hang out, eat some more pizza, and talk Cats. If you’re in the area (334 South Ridge Road), come on out and say hello. And tell Ryan to call his wife.

Governor’s Cup stayed true to trend: a second half disaster

Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America

Kentucky jumped out to a 21-point lead.

I didn’t think UK would win the football game.

The first half ended with the Wildcats leading 24-7.

I didn’t think UK would win the football game.

It’s been one of those seasons. After 30 minutes of score board dominance, where did the doubt come from? Guilt crept in by having little hope for a Kentucky win when all signs pointed to the Governor’s Cup taking up residence in the Nutter Center.

Following a 12-game body of work for observation, the following are engrained preconceptions that led to final score reservations:

— There was a complete lack of on-field leadership and team chemistry. For certain underclassmen, there was a comprehensive failure in followship. This imbalanced combination equaled a 5-7 record. Once Melvin Lewis was lost to an unfortunate injury, not a resemblance of on-field management existed. However, the offense is where the intolerable — and at times, unwatchable — leadership meltdown occurred.

In the second half and even before Louisville began to score at will, several offensive players showed the body language of an ailing patient moments prior to a root canal. There is a difference between the false bravado coming out of the tunnel and the gut-check realization when plays must be made. Unfortunately, this team was better exiting the locker room in a cloud of smoke than making a catch on 3rd and 7. It danced better before the game and between plays than it tackled opposing running quarterbacks.

— Immaturity. During critical game junctures, the Cats played and acted like adolescents in a man’s league. Hanging heads, not finishing plays, complaining about quarterbacks or playing time, catches/carries, and so forth. By the end of Saturday’s game, a disturbing internal question resonated: “Is this team likable?” I can’t honestly answer that inquiry. Not generalizing the entire 100-man roster, but a handful of counted-upon characters displayed appalling selfish actions.

— After starting 4-1 and somewhere on the schedule between EKU and Auburn, this team misplaced its fortitude. Courage to fight back and resiliency to counter adversity disappeared; in their absence surfaced erroneous and misguided self-importance. Again, mostly on offense.

— Other than the opening drive, Kentucky’s inept offense was manhandled by an above average defense that wasn’t as good as its performance indicated. Virginia scored 31 on it. Pitt ran up 42 in the first half for goodness sake. Following the disheartening loss of Boom Williams and JoJo Kemp, UK’s offensive compass lost its true North, South, East, and West. The identity-less unit wandered like a rudderless ship sailing along with dropped passes, errant throws, questionable play calls, missed blocks and penalties of the undisciplined nature.

Patrick Towles was not Kentucky’s offensive problem. Pat was merely the fall guy. Offensive woes ran much deeper than quarterback play. Up front, the offensive line was overwhelmed. An overabundance of holding calls prevented the second half from becoming a quarterback sack parade. The OL has been a point of concern from Louisiana to Louisville with brief flashes of positivity against South Carolina and Missouri. Its flaws were embarrassingly exposed in the 3rd and 4th quarter. In addition to the front five, UK’s receivers lacked. Its talent was evident in September, but it conspicuously lost its way somewhere on the road between EKU and Auburn.

Locker room divide: Older players vs. younger ones. Patrick Towles supporters against those that wanted Drew Barker. These unconfirmed rumors and leaked murmurings became nauseating and devastatingly tiresome. I’d argue that this team was divided into two categories: 1. Likable. 2. Unlikable. Typing those words hurts me to the core. While understanding ramifications, it had to be said. There were not enough battlers like Josh Forrest, Farrington Huguennin, Chris Westry, Jon Toth, Khalid Henderson and unnamed others that played their absolute guts out on every snap throughout the disappointing season regardless of score or situation.

The BBN doesn’t expect to win every game; however, it does demand indisputable high effort, passion, and a give-a-darn mentality from its participants. Instead of embracing the underdog role in the second half of the season, this team shrunk in moments against superiority.

— Halftime adjustments were made by Louisville. Kentucky grossly failed in this venture. Louisville’s true freshman quarterback Lamar Jackson can be used as an example. On a wet and soggy day, one would imagine that the opponent’s top rusher (Jackson) would be the offensive feature in the second half. The read option would be the prominent play call. Following intermission, he ran it and ran it well. The Cardinal quarterback finished the game with 17 rushing attempts for 190 yards and 2 touchdowns.

The closest Cardinal in rushing statistics was RB Brandon Radcliff with 66 yards on 14 carries. I’m not a coach nor do I pretend to understand the game on a professional level, but I would assume that Petrino made the decision to win or lose the game with Lamar Jackson running the football.

— After halftime, Kentucky’s offense exited the locker room lacking urgency and a plan. Inexplicably, defeated body language became commonplace after the first series of the third quarter. It didn’t improve, nor did production. The Cats lacked tempo, execution, or a strategy to answer the Cardinals’ 31-point onslaught. One scoring drive may have been enough of a deterrent to force Louisville into certain passing scenarios. On UK’s last offensive series, Patrick Towles finally led the Cats to the red zone with a little over two minutes left in the game. An interception followed. Game over. Cup travelled back west on I-64.

SEC football teams should be prepared for attrition, especially at an injury-prone position like running back. Understandably, losing both Boom Williams and JoJo Kemp lessened UK’s explosiveness; however, UK commenced a three-and-out procession that repeatedly and quickly gave the football back to Louisville and Lamar Jackson. It was a recipe for disaster. Catastrophe came in the form of 31 unanswered second half points.

What’s Next?

Mark Stoops must evaluate his football program in its entirety. From coordinators to assistant coaches, practice schedules to calisthenics, the Kentucky Football program is in need of an overhaul; what that looks like lies within the mind of Mark Stoops.

At no point in 40 years of fandom have I witnessed a team worsen more so than the 2015 Wildcats. From a 4-1 start to a 5-7 finish, week by week, Kentucky lessened its on-field prowess while facing the friendliest schedule in decades. College football is unforgiving. While the Cats are home for the holidays, its opponents will enjoy 15 additional days of bowl practice as well as an extra game. While UK is Christmas vacationing, future foes are strengthening. For returning players, that should sting. I’m not convinced that it does. I hope I’m wrong.

From now until National Signing Day, Stoops and staff will be in living rooms convincing teenager prospects that progress is being made. 2015 was stagnant at best.

In closing, thank you for reading. I honestly am honored and surprised you do so. I’ve tried to be as objective as possible, but disappointment and frustration led to hard truths and realities being discussed. This post was incredibly hard to write. Uncomfortable and disappointing would be more descriptive. Objectivity and fandom mix like oil and water. As a lifelong UK fan, nothing would please more than for Mark Stoops and this football program to succeed.

It’s been a blast, and we’ll continue through National Signing Day and beyond. I’d like to thank Matt Jones and the entire KSR organization for the privilege to write and talk about football.

Landon Foster pens moving goodbye letter to UK Football

Landon Foster pens moving goodbye letter to UK Football

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 8.34.49 PM

Saturday was Senior Day for several Cats, including punter Landon Foster, who posted this touching goodbye letter to the program on Instagram tonight. After a rough weekend, do yourself a favor and read it before you head to bed:

There are a few decisions in life that impact the direction your life will take, and committing to a college is one of those monumental decisions. Growing up bleeding orange and white, the first college football game I remember going to was a Tennessee vs. Kentucky game in Neyland Stadium. Never in a million years did I expect myself to take the field as a Kentucky Wildcat, until the hand was dealt. I am extremely blessed, thankful, and indebted to the University of Kentucky, Dr. Eli Capilouto, Mr. Barnhart, Coach Joker Phillips, and all of my special teams coaches for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime to fulfill a dream of mine playing football in the best conference in America. Also, I want to thank each and every one of the supporting staff whose work and dedication to us as student-athletes unfortunately go unnoticed.

As my collegiate football career came to a sudden end last night, I took a few minutes to think about the four years I’ve spent here. It was extremely emotional coming to the realization that the numerous amount of hours spent in the weight room, training room, locker room, on the practice field, watching film, and bonding with my brothers are all over…so suddenly. But I know one thing is true in life, that I was able to look at myself in the mirror after the game, even with tears running down my cheeks, that I gave my absolute all on the field, in the weight room, in the classroom, and in the community and have absolutely no regrets. As hard as it is to accept the way my collegiate football career ended, I can guarantee that no one worked harder than myself, was more thrilled to wear “KENTUCKY” across my chest, or wanted / still wants this University to succeed on and off of the field. I know I gave it all that I had, and that is the only way to have peace of mind when a chapter in your life closes.

As Coach Wooden’s definition of success states, “Success is peace of mind, attained only through self-satisfaction and knowing you made the effort to do the best that you are capable of.”

Landon was recently named one of three finalists for the 2015 Wuerffel Trophy, known as “College Football’s Premier Award for Community Service.” The winner will be announced on December 8.

Josh Forrest surprised by Lamar Jackson

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

Ending the season on a disappointing note, UK’s 38-24 loss to Louisville Saturday still hurts. As soon as Lamar Jackson came in to the game after Kyle Bolin threw two inceptions, the Wildcats scrambled to keep the mobile backup QB contained – and failed, miserably.

It seemed as if Mark Stoops and Co. were scratching their heads to come up with anything to shut down Jackson ,who finished the game with 130 yards passing, 196 rushing, and three touchdowns.

It led many to speculate on Twitter if Kentucky even prepared for the possibility of Jackson, and sadly, it seems they didn’t.

After the game, Josh Forrest told the media the team was surprised by Louisville’s switch to Jackson – something the team had, surprisingly, not planned for. Forrest said Jackson ran more than the team had anticipated and was faster than expected:

I don’t know what’s more troubling, the fact that UK was caught unawares by a quarterback change or the fact that no one has yet to figure out how to stop a running quarterback. After three years, you would think someone would at least have a plan…



Mark Richt steps down

Wesley Hitt / Getty Images

It’s open season on college football coaches right now as University of Georgia’s Head Football Coach Mark Richt becomes the most recent coach to receive a pink slip from his university.

After 15 years with the Bulldogs, Richt agreed to step down from his position following Georgia’s upcoming bowl game, which will be announced on Dec. 6. Richt will leave Georgia as the second-winningest coach in Bulldog’s history with a record of 145-51. UGA finished this season 9-3.

According to UGA athletic director Greg McGarity, who met with Richt earlier this morning, it was a mutual agreement that Richt should step down as the head coach.

The news of Richt’s leaving came shortly after Rutger’s released both the university’s athletic director Julie Hermann and head football coach Kyle Flood. This marks an abrupt end to Hermann’s short two-and-a-half year tenure that was riddled with controversy. Flood, who faced a three-game suspension in September for violating a university compliance policy, was ousted after a tumultuous season that included the arrests of seven of Flood’s football players on various charges.

The search for football coaches is about to get really hot, as college football staffs and athletic directors continue to reshuffle their decks in search for more wins. New football staffs  mean that December and January will be a recruiting Armageddon as newly-installed leadership look to fill their coffers with fresh recruits as many previous commitments will likely fall to the wayside.

Get ready for war, that’s all I’m saying.

On a lighter note, Les Miles appears to be safe and sound at LSU after a bizarre week of speculations that the head football coach would be receiving the boot in Baton Rouge. Even Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal got involved:

Putting the rumors to rest, LSU athletic director Joe Alleva made it clear the Tigers would be sticking with Miles:

“The season’s complete, and I want to make it very clear and positive that Les Miles is our football coach and he will continue to be our football coach. I’m looking forward to working with Coach Miles as he leads this team to a bowl game and another great recruiting class.”

I would hate to be a college football coach right now.


Towles bids farewell to UK

Darrell Bird |

Darrell Bird |

After a rocky season with the Wildcats, UK quarterback Patrick Towles just announced his plans to transfer from the university on his Instagram account.

The quarterback, who spent four years with the Wildcats and is a native of Fort Thomas, KY, wrote:

I would like to thank the University of Kentucky for giving me the opportunity to achieve my childhood dream of playing quarterback for the WildCats. The last four years have been ones that I will truly cherish for the rest of my life. Although I wish my time here in Lexington could have ended another way, I’m eternally grateful. I’ve decided to transfer to play my fifth year at another university. Thank you to Coach Stoops, Coach Dawson, Mitch Barnhart, my teammates, the Big Blue Nation and the entire Kentucky Athletics Department for allowing me to achieve my lifelong dream. I will truly bleed blue til the day I die.


While at UK, Towles joined Tim Couch, Dusty Bonner and Jared Lorenzen as the only players in school history to top the 3,000-yard mark in their first season as a starter. Due to red shirting in 2013 his sophomore year at UK, Towles will be eligible to play immediately for the university he transfers to. The quarterback was expected to redshirt in 2012 as a true freshman but was pressed into service when injuries struck the quarterback position.

Good bye Patty Ice, you have always represented the Wildcats with class and while this year has been a difficult one, I will miss seeing my favorite Harry Potter fan out on the field. Much success to you, and please, grow out those luscious golden locks again.

The feels, they are too much right now…

Future Cats take to Twitter after loss to UofL

Future Cats take to Twitter after loss to UofL


It’s natural to worry about the state of the upcoming recruiting class after yesterday’s disappointing loss to Louisville. It was very apparent yesterday that we will need some new blood in order to compete in next year’s tough schedule, so we need to keep the recruits that we already have. Lucky for us, some took to Twitter to ease the mind of the Big Blue Nation.

However, cornerback Tobias Gilliam’s tweet was less than reassuring.

© Mark Zerof

Another epic collapse defines Kentucky’s “woulda, coulda, shoulda” season

© Mark Zerof

© Mark Zerof

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.

Embrace the Suck: The Worst of the Worst from Today’s Game

Embrace the Suck: The Worst of the Worst from Today’s Game

Image from every UofL fan on Twitter.

Image from every UofL fan on Twitter.

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.

3rd quarter

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

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.


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.

UK Athletics

How the Players Handled the Loss

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

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.

The original Miracle at Jordan-Hare (Shanna Lockwood | USA Today)

Auburn has a Knack for Crazy Catches

The original Miracle at Jordan-Hare (Shanna Lockwood | USA Today)

The original Miracle at Jordan-Hare (Shanna Lockwood | USA Today)

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.

So that’s what good (lucky) football looks like?