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Kentucky’s loss to Tennessee makes a bad week worse


© Randy Sartin | USATSI

What an awful week to be a Kentucky fan.

Eight days ago, the fervor in the Big Blue Nation reached a crescendo as the football Cats had a historic opportunity to win the SEC East and the basketball team was primed for a big season, starting with a top five showdown with Duke. My, what a difference a week makes. Kentucky’s loss to Georgia was humbling, but understandable; the Bulldogs were simply better. The loss to Duke was jarring; the Blue Devils didn’t just beat the Cats, they humiliated them in front of a national audience.

A lackluster win over Southern Illinois kept the train from going off the rails, but today was supposed to be the day Kentucky got its mojo back. A date with a bad Tennessee team that put up only 14 points and 20 rushing yards vs. Charlotte seemed like just the thing to right the ship. Instead, Kentucky lost 24-7, and it wasn’t even that close. The team that started the season off so well and had us all dreaming big couldn’t seem further away. Usually the aggressor, Mark Stoops’ squad looked meek, a refrain that’s been all too common in both sports this week.

Given the offense’s woes this season, we knew Kentucky couldn’t afford a slow start. Unfortunately, they had one, falling behind 3, 10, 17-0 in the first half, the Hail Mary by Jarrett Guarantano at the horn an especially cruel punch in the gut. In 15 plays in the second quarter, Kentucky got one yard. One! It was that bad, and although the Cats managed to score in the second half, the Vols easily kept the rally at bay.

What went wrong? A lot, but you have to start with the offensive line. One of Kentucky’s strengths earlier this season, the line didn’t give the offense much of a chance to do anything. The Cats rushed for only 77 yards, down 123 yards from their season average, to a Tennessee team that has been giving up 161 rushing yards per game. Benny Snell was held under 100 yards for the third straight game despite having 20 carries. Terry Wilson was 21-34 for 172 yards, a touchdown, and an interception, and that’s actually not bad given how little help his line and receivers were giving him. Gone is the “Big Blue Wall” that swapped SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week awards. On the flip side, a Tennessee team that was last in the SEC in rushing offense (127.7 rushing yards per game) ran for 215 yards this afternoon. Ouch.

The play calling deserves criticism, but ultimately, it comes down to execution; execution comes down to discipline, and it feels like the number of errors the Cats made tonight outweighed the positives. Drops by the wide receivers. A fumbled snap. Missed opportunities in the secondary. Benny not hitting the holes in the rare instances they were actually there. That bizarre unsportsmanlike conduct penalty called on every single player on the field. The missed field goal by Chance Poore sucked, but it was 51 yards and the least of Kentucky’s problems. The defense did its best to give the offense an opportunity to narrow the gap, but it felt like nothing worked.

Most people are calling this a Georgia hangover, but to me, the seeds of Kentucky’s regression go back to the bye week. Until that point, the Cats earned respect for winning the game in the trenches. If not for 169 yards from Benny Snell vs. Vandy and a miracle vs. Missouri, we would have come in to this game with a very different mindset. This year’s start was better than ever, but the pattern remains the same: regression. Mistakes. Disappointment.

That being said, Kentucky has two games left to finish the regular season 9-3, a mark most rolled their eyes at this summer; however, if the Cats keep playing like this, the path won’t be easy. Middle Tennessee State lost to Vandy (35-7) and Georgia (49-7) this season, but could easily pounce on a wounded animal. Louisville’s probably about to fire Bobby Petrino, but what’s saying the Cards won’t rally around an interim coach at home in the season finale? The Cats can still make this a season to remember with a sunny New Year’s Day bowl, but it has to start now.

As for tonight, with bowl eligibility in sight, Tennessee simply wanted it more, and for a Kentucky team that made its name on that same mentality earlier this year, that’s the biggest insult of all.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

36 responses to “Kentucky’s loss to Tennessee makes a bad week worse”

  1. Bigblue7982

    Fire gran.

    1. apocalypse

      Look, this offense can only go as far as the offense will take it. The QB play is the issue, and everyone knows it except Stoops and Gran. Get either Hoak or Clark ready for next week, they are our future. Terry Wilson has had all the chance’s he needs to prove he should be moved to WR. If you do not have a QB that can throw, you have a RB at QB and you will get smoked.

    2. CATandMONKEY

      Wilson may not be an SEC QB but Hoak is on year 3 and didn’t manage to win the position – Despite knowing the system.
      Wilson still >> Hoak – But he isn’t getting it done.

    3. Wade

      Danny spark!

  2. BigBluetotheBone

    The wheels have fell off and we’re probably gonna finish 8-4!!

  3. jpgfile

    History repeats itself: once again, Kentucky Football has some success & they conclude they’re George Patton going through the Germans. If we are ranked tomorrow, it will be a joke.

  4. jpgfile

    By the way, KSR, it’s real hard to add a comment when the page keeps loading more ads and taking the comment box off the screen.

    1. UKCatAttack

      Download Norton Adblocker it’s a free app and it eliminates every one of their ridiculous ads. I downloaded it specifically for this site but it helps with other sites as well.

  5. sportshawk

    DUH! He shoulders blame for loss. No kidding. Joke for a coach!

    1. bacnine

      Yes, he is a joke. When we have games like this Stoops has this deer in the headlights looks. Its time for Barnyard to give Stoops another contract extension and raise. The same thing happens every year. We start hot then we fad bad. Wonder what kind of crowd there will be next week Mid Tenn game.? I can’t believe he could not get the team up for Tenn. Then he waits to put in Gunnar after the game is out of sight. If I was Gunnar I would have said no thanks.

    2. Wade

      This yr has been great I don’t mind a loss but we’re getting blown out again and we have to stop that and make some passes downfield if we’re gonna recruit wr. Think Wandale stays commuted?

  6. dgtuk

    Gee..let’s give him a sticker for admitting he is an idiot.

  7. BigBlue4EverUK

    It was fun while it lasted

  8. CATastrophic

    This simply is not an SEC caliber offense (duh!). They very, VERY could easily be 5 and 5 but for the stellar defense displayed up until this point. I’ve been in the habit lately of, in close game situations, hoping that the offense goes 3 and out due to the fact that for the prior 4-5 games, the defense/special team seems much more likely to score than this offense. Terry take-a-sack Wilson just can’t seem to let go of the ball, whether it be because the receivers can’t get open or he simply cannot find them…only the tape will tell. Has C. J. Conrad left the program? I feel it’s becoming ever more obvious to the masses. Until a quarterback can complete some simple downfield completions, the formerly vaunted running game here will simply continue to be smothered up by run-focused defenses. Benny, you deserve better…

    1. zoupman

      Benny does deserve better. Our best team since Keenan Burton days and these coaches are too stubborn to realize they bet on the wrong horse going with tenative Terri.
      Since he finishes runs like a girl, I have decided to start spelling his name with an i at the end.

  9. angscot1

    I see 7-5, Mtsu is a better “Team” and loserville will beat them by 17.

    1. zoupman

      I really think we will win last two. It is disappointing this staff has not given another QB a real chance, when it’s obvious the one playing is not getting better.
      Not concerned about basketball team at all. Cal is a great coach and his teams always get better.

  10. UKfanman01

    I love how Hoak only gets into the game after the game is unreachable. Hes supposed to turn into Jesus and save the world after Terry Turnover implodes nose dives the team into the ground. The kid has had 1 solid game all year. His QBR hasnt landed over 20 more than 3 times all season.
    Hey Stoops FIRE EDDIE GRAN! I’ll take the job for 80k a year. You can save the school 770k a year. Hes the biggest waste of money, a side from Joker and Gillispie, I’ve ever seen. I can only guess what the first offensive play will be next Saturday…. Benny up the middle!
    Ready for Barnhart or Stoops to step up and make the move. The biggest 7 day stretch for BBN in the history of the schools existence has turned into a plane that’s on fire at 30,000 feet.
    We have a basketball coach that cant adjust during the game and an offensive coordinator that openly tells his opponents his every play call

    1. Wade

      Danny spark!

    2. cats646

      Hoak is not the man. In plain terms, he sucks. Way worse than drew barker. I would like to see Danny Clark some but I think Terry will come along.

  11. Wade

    Danny spark!

  12. Wade

    Danny spark!!!!!

  13. binarysolo

    Yeah, no way we go 9-3. We’ll barely get to 8-4 which numerically is an improvement from recent seasons, but if you consider we were 7-1 it’s that familiar ol’ end-of-year flameout we’re used to seeing.

    While I’m concerned about Louisville, I’m afraid of getting clobbered by like a mediocre B1G or Big 12 team in our bowl game.

    1. espn8122

      I swear the comments on here and message boards are nerve racking. I love UK but I can see why other fanbases hate our fans. Every reaction to a win or loss is irrational and over the top. It just amplifies the uninformed nature of most people.

    2. bigbluebanana

      Yep. It’s really sad.

    3. catsarerunnin

      I think this site helps keeping the “foaming at the mouth after a loss fans” foaming at the mouth after a loss or even a close win. UK hasn’t won in Knoxville in over 30 years and it’s somehow a shock they lost? The basketball Cats have a young team that looked lost in their first 2 games but somehow that’s a shock too? I personally don’t believe it’s just been a horrible horrible week for UK sports. Not the best but I’m not going out on the roof of my house in despair just because KSR thinks it’s been a horrible week. No disrespect intended to Mrs TT who I consider to be most level headed writer on the KSR staff.

  14. murphy60

    Bleacher report has us 24. Thanks Eddie

  15. BluKudzu

    Noffense.

  16. Clyons

    Being a UK football fan is like an emotional roller coaster ride…..EVERY.SINGLE.YEAR!

    1. Kat4Life

      Agreed. Thought this year was different, but down deep I knew better.

  17. michaelb

    That offsides penalty on Kentucky during the extra point try yesterday was intentional . Done on purpose to get a cheap shot that wouldn’t be penalized . He was mad from the skirmish on the play before

  18. Kat4Life

    This team is reverting to mediocrity …..and that is on the players as much as it is the coaching.

  19. makeitstop

    We won’t beat either team left w the QB we have bc we have half a playbook. But criticizing the line for lack of yardage is just wrong. There are more hats to block than blockers. Did they miss a few, yea, every line does and we do, too. But the yardage and score are a result of the defense – even a bad defense – knowing what’s coming and scheming to stop it. MTSU and UL will do the same. It’s not taking a couple “chunks” downfield it’s having the whole playbook available. I’m done. Not banging my head on this wall anymore. And I hate saying I told u so but I said this after TAMU and prayed I’d be wrong, but w this team in November we’ve come to expect it.

  20. sportsbird66

    It can get better. Can still finish 10-3 with a bowl win and we have almost the entire basketball season left. Trying to be optimistic.

  21. Rocket868

    This was a TERRIBLE loss; it shows we are not ready for the big time. I can forgive a loss to Georgia and A&M on the road but losing to a team we are supposed to beat? Unacceptable, but Stoops will still get another year extension. Jesus get us Les Miles.

  22. DaniTheGirl

    Kentucky effect was up fror discussion just couple weeks ago ..now it seems …what we r seeing is the ky effect ….such a bummer …i thought we would never get rid of ky effect but it was nice to pretend otherwise that one day