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Football Season Coverage

‘Old school UK loss’ comes with déjà vu for Kentucky

I spent the morning gathering post-game quotes, trying to wade carefully through the “coach talk” and the players’ media training to find some actual insight as to what happened during Kentucky’s collapse against Florida Saturday night. The Cats’ turnovers, inconsistency and at least one questionable targeting call in the second half ultimately led to a blown 21-10 lead and a victory for the No. 9 Florida Gators inside Kroger Field.

One play that stands out, of course, is Chance Poore’s flubbed 35-yard field goal – I’m sure the Florida media had fun with that headline following the game. But why was the game coming down to a kick in the first place? I was looking for answers – what did the coaching staff say in response to the drive that ultimately resulted in a missed kick and zero points on the board for the Cats? Thanks to our friend the internet (specifically, videos that permanently live on Youtube), I found a video titled “Eddie Gran post Florida.”

You’d like to not kick field goals; you’d like to have touchdowns on every one. We’ll probably come back and look, and it was mistakes, play calling, whatever it may be,” Gran said in the video. “We had a chance to put them away. We had a bad snap; we had a penalty. Those things are excusable. But that’s on me.”

Gran went on to discuss the Cats’ struggles with getting points on the board late in the game. After a mostly-positive offensive outing during the first half, what led to the kick that ultimately decided the Cats’ fate? They simply couldn’t convert.

“Our efficiency on first downs in the first half, I thought was phenomenal,” Gran said. But the second half was a different story.

“You’ve got to convert. If we would have converted three more, maybe who knows. It could have changed the game. If you don’t have a penalty or something like that, maybe you don’t kick a field goal. Not on a team like this. We had the chance to put them away and we didn’t do it.”

Then the next question… was about Benny Snell. Wait a second. Did Gran’s response just reference Stephen Johnson? And… is that Alan Cutler in the background?

Turns out, the video I was watching was actually from 2017. It came from an entirely different year with the same outcome: a heartbreaking loss to the Gators inside Kentucky’s own stadium. Gran even looked exactly the same.

I’ve never felt a more intense instance of déjà vu. How is this still happening?

The progress the Kentucky football program has made since that video was posted two years ago is truly remarkable. Since then, the Cats have boasted two winning seasons, an impressive bowl game victory, a handful of NFL Draft picks and a win over Florida inside the Swamp. It can be done. Sure, the Cats’ starting quarterback just went down with a devastating injury last week, and many of last year’s key players have graduated from the program. Saturday’s absences due to injury or ejection didn’t help either. Still, what’s in the water when Florida comes to town? And why did it once again come down to a kick?

KSR’s Matt Jones ran through a few of the game’s qualities on Twitter. Combined, the team’s late-game falters lead to an “old school UK loss.”

I finally found a video from this year’s post-game press conference. Not surprisingly, it didn’t sound that different from the 2017 video.

“We’ll go back as a staff – it always starts with us. It always starts with our staff,” Gran said Saturday night. “We’ll go back and make sure we put them in the right position to win a game. Obviously we didn’t on short yardage, so we’ll go back to the drawing board and get that fixed for next week.”

If nothing else, may we all age as gracefully as Eddie Gran.


In Battle of the Backups, Florida came out victorious

In Battle of the Backups, Florida came out victorious

Feleipe Franks was the talk of the town leading into Saturday’s Kentucky vs. Florida matchup in Lexington. Is he elite? Is he overrated? How does he matchup with Kentucky’s defense? How will his numbers look against those of Sawyer Smith?

Through the first three quarters, Kentucky got their answers. Smith made some mistakes, but overall, he was outplaying Florida’s starting quarterback.

Smith completed his first nine passes of the game – his first incompletion came with less than two minutes remaining in the first half. Late in the third quarter, Kentucky held a 21-10 advantage over Florida. But on the final drive of that quarter, Franks went down with a leg injury after being tackled by UK defensive lineman Calvin Taylor. The Gators had failed on their fourth-down conversion, but a much larger problem was developing.

Kentucky players took a knee and fans offered applause while Franks was carted off the field. After the game, Florida Coach Dan Mullen told reporters Franks suffered a dislocated ankle and could miss the remainder of the season. It’s another heartbreaking injury inside Kroger Field, and one you never want to see happen to either sideline.

In many ways, that was the turning point of the game. After Franks was taken to the locker room, Kyle Trask came in to lead Florida’s offense. Stop me if you’ve heard this before: a team’s backup quarterback enters the game, following injury or an overall-poor performance by the starter, and quickly commands the game.

“We had a good feeling [of] what he was going to do,” Mark Stoops said of Trask after the game. “We knew he was going to throw it, and you know, he did a good job. Again, it’s a bad time for us to be short some of the secondary guys we were.”

Trask immediately led his team to a six-play, 62-yard touchdown drive following the starter’s injury. His first incompletion came on Florida’s failed two-point attempt. The Cats still led 21-16, but it was clear the momentum had started to shift. Trask’s passing looking impeccable, and Kentucky’s defense wasn’t keeping up with the backup. The Wildcats got rolling again on the next drive, and things were looking up with a big sack. That, of course, was called back when defensive end TJ Carter was ejected for targeting. The Cats were flustered and the crowd was angry. The Gators regained the lead three plays later, 22-21. You know the rest.

The “Battle of the Backups” is a tale as old as time, in Kentucky and otherwise. However, when you actually compare all of the QB numbers from Saturday night, they aren’t that different from one another.

Franks completed 12-of-17 passes (71 percent) for 174 yards; he had one touchdown and one interception. When Trask came in the game, he completed 9 of 13 passes (69 percent) for 126 yards. Combined, Florida’s quarterbacks went 21-30 (70 percent) for exactly 300 yards. Kentucky’s Smith finished the game 23 of 35 (66 percent) for 267 yards. Franks rushed eight times for a total of 27 yards; Smith held the ball nine times for 23 yards. Trask ran just once.

At the same time, what we’ve been hearing all week was proven true – at least for now. Smith can complete a pass, but he struggled with his decision making and reaction time. Florida scored their first touchdown off a Smith fumble; their next three points came from a field goal following an interception. The touchdown that sealed-the-deal came from a fourth-quarter pick.

It was Smith’s first career start for Kentucky, and it happened to align with the Cats’ game against No. 9 Florida. In the grand scheme of things, its probably best Kentucky faced the Gators this week, rather than an even more “must-win” game in the conference. A loss to Florida is a loss to Florida, but it’s hard to point the finger at Sawyer Smith. He certainly shouldn’t bear all of the blame.

Kentucky’s head coach was proud of the way his backup – is it time we stop referring to Smith as the backup? – matched up against tough competition.

“I thought he did some really good things. You know, there’s some plays that we could do over, and there’s some plays that the receivers can help him on, as well,” Mark Stoops said Saturday night. “It‘s just a matter of getting everybody on the same page. I think there’s a lot to build on there. I was proud of the way he went in and played and gave us an opportunity to win this game.”


LOOK: UK basketball team on the field at football game

LOOK: UK basketball team on the field at football game

It was a big night inside Kroger Field when the Gators came to town, and some important Wildcats joined the thousands of fans in attendance to cheer on the football team Saturday night.

This year’s basketball team was brought onto the field to be formerly introduced to the BBN, and KSR’s own Dr. Mike snapped some great pictures of the team (and their outfits).

via @BigBlueExpress

Whose shoe game is your favorite? And where can I get one of those jackets?

Some former Wildcats were also in attendance. Lee Howard of WKYT ran into Bam Adebayo, PJ Washington and Jarred Vanderbilt.

Our friends with the Big Blue Express spied a few more former Cats in the stands: Tyler Herro and Hamidou Diallo, along with their friend and former UK manager Randy Gregory.

Image

Another day, another interesting Tyler Herro fashion decision.

Horse racing legend Bob Baffert was also spotted inside Kroger Field.

It’s awesome to see so many players – past and present – come together to cheer on the Cats, despite their own sport’s schedules and obligations. If only they could have seen a better ending.


Kentucky receives zero votes in latest AP Top 25

Kentucky receives zero votes in latest AP Top 25

Another weekend of college football has come and gone, which means it’s time for an updated AP Poll of the nation’s top-25 teams. Once again, Kentucky did not make the cut.

That’s not too surprising, as the AP hadn’t included the Wildcats in their Top-25 list even before their gut-wrenching loss to Florida. However, it’s baffling Kentucky didn’t even receive a single vote. Saturday’s game against the No. 9 team in the nation came down to a “couple of inches,” as Coach Stoops likes to say. UK was winning for three quarters, and yet Florida remains in the top 10, while UK didn’t earn a single vote.

So far this season, Kentucky has only received two votes, and those came following week two.

Here’s a look at the entire list as we head into week four of the season:

  1. 1. Clemson
  2. 2. Alabama
  3. 3. Georgia
  4. 4. LSU
  5. 5. Oklahoma
  6. 6. Ohio State
  7. 7. Notre Dame
  8. 8. Auburn
  9. 9. Florida
  10. 10. Utah
  11. 11. Michigan
  12. 12. Texas
  13. 13. Penn State
  14. 13. Wisconsin
  15. 15. UCF
  16. 16. Oregon
  17. 17. Texas A&M
  18. 18. Iowa
  19. 19. Washington State
  20. 20. Boise State
  21. 21. Virginia
  22. 22. Washington
  23. 23. California
  24. 24. Arizona State
  25. 25. TCU

Kentucky’s next opponent, Mississippi State, did not make the cut but did receive 73 votes.

Now onto this week’s coaches poll, where Kentucky typically fares a bit better. That’s true again this week, as the Cats accumulated 14 votes from coaches across the country. 

Let’s hope the Cats use this as another piece of locker room motivation.


Eddie Gran explains why AJ Rose keeps getting the nod over Kavosiey Smoke

There are a lot of ‘why?’s’ following yet another heartbreaking loss to the Florida Gators Saturday night. Why go conservative, why were those two calls targeting, why does Kentucky insist on running a Wildcat on fourth & one? So on and so forth.

But the biggest ‘why’, at least for me, is why is AJ Rose still getting the bulk of the carries over Kavosiey Smoke?

Through three games, Smoke leads the Kentucky rushing attack with 251 yards; however, Rose still leads the team in carries by 13. Now, Smoke did get a bump in production this Saturday, nearly doubling his carries on the season which was aided by five carries on the next-to-last series. But it still seemed like Gran was forcing Rose into the mix with 14 carries on the night and giving the nod to Rose in key situations.

This post isn’t a slight to Rose. In fact, Rose brings great things to the table, including blocking, receiving out of the backfield and keeping the defense honest. But when it comes to SOLEY picking up yards on the ground, it just hasn’t worked for Rose so far this season.

This season, Rose is averaging 4.1 yards per carry compared to Smoke’s 7.4. So, it had to be asked: Why is A.J Rose still getting high volume carries out of the backfield?

Is it because of seniority and AJ deserves it? Is it because his versatility keeps the defense honest? Is it his blocking? The BBN wants answers. Here’s what Eddie Gran gave us:

“They’ve both been productive. Smoke gets the longer runs. Some of that’s been because you know we’ve worn them down. Sometimes it’s been there after three series, sometimes it’s been after four series. A lot of the time it happens like that, because of the way it works out. Sometimes there are holes when the other guy is in. We go and watch that every week.”

I, for one, am an Eddie Gran supporter, but I just can’t find a way to wrap my head around the  ‘a lot of the time it happens like that, because of the way it works out‘ as an explanation for Rose still getting nearly 16 carries a game compared to Smoke’s 11.

The proof is in the pudding, and Smoke has clearly been the leading back out of that backfield through a quarter of the season. It seemed like Kentucky trusted Smoke down the stretch last night, and maybe they will make that adjustment going forward this season.


WATCH: Postgame Reactions after the heartbreaking loss to the Gators

Here’s what a few of Kentucky’s players and coaches had to say after the Cats’ 29-21 loss to Florida Saturday night.

*Kash Daniel, Lynn Bowden, and Kavosiey Smoke we not made available.*


Sawyer Smith

Eddie Gran

A.J. Rose

Drake Jackson

Ahmad Wagner

Jordan Wright

Kordell Looney

Brad White

Calvin Taylor

Brandin Echols

For more, you can check out the KSR Digital Youtube page.


One Florida Player Didn’t Forget Kash Daniel’s Celebration in the Swamp

If you are a sad Kentucky football fan like I am this morning, viewer discretion is advised for this post.

After the Cats toppled the Gators a little over a year ago, Kash Daniel embraced his wrestling moniker with the famous Stone Cold Steve Austin bottle smash celebration.

“That’s the Bottom Line because Kash Money said so!”

 

The Kentuckian’s celebration went national, and it became a rallying cry for Cats fans across the BBN. We saw it everywhere.

The Florida players apparently also saw it everywhere, and this year, when the game’s outcome was different, one Gator made sure to remind Daniel of post-game celebration. Check out No. 66

Ugh. Losing sucks.


LIVE: Mark Stoops on Kentucky’s loss to Florida

Mark Stoops is about to address reporters following Kentucky’s 29-21 loss to Florida. Tune in below courtesy of KyWildcatsTV: