– After the game, both Joker and Rick Minter were very candid about how ugly the game was and how fortunate they felt to get out of Commonwealth Stadium with a win. Joker called it “another not-so-pretty win” and strangely said that he didn’t feel like the Cats started slow. However, the obvious feeling was one of relief and a slight bit of optimism regarding how the team played late in the game after they defecated all over the sheets for the vast majority of the first three quarters. Last week, we said that they might have figured it out in the fourth quarter and hoped it would carry into the Central Michigan game. Now we can do that again this week.
– They eyes of Commonwealth were focused on the wide receivers as we all hoped that someone – or a group of someones – would show up on Saturday and establish themselves as a reliable target. The results were mixed. No one really did much of anything, though Matt Roark seemed to again put himself as the leader in the clubhouse for bench time when he dropped a touchdown pass in the end zone. The staff clearly wanted to get Demarco Robinson involved, though they didn’t find much success in doing so. EJ Fields didn’t see the field, though Joker said afterward that he wants him to be involved next week. He said that his suspension means he’s been passed by Robinson and the man who finally got some time – Aaron Boyd. I focused in on Boyd to see what he did when he got the chance and after spending the first quarter jumping on the sideline waiting to go in, #27 got some serious playing time, catching a ball and getting a few good blocks in. He did an excellent job of creating separation and found himself open a number of times. In fact, a lot of guys did. But, there was a problem…
– Morgan Newton had eyes for LaRod King. And they weren’t just regular eyes. They were the big fluttering ones that get little cartoon hearts in front of them. This might have been the case last week too, but I wasn’t in the box so I didn’t see it, but Newton seeme to never go through his progressions, only looking King’s way and firing it at him. When the Cats watch film of Saturday’s game, they’re going to see a lot of receivers getting open and not being seen. You can’t blame Newton if he doesn’t exactly trust everyone to haul one in like King, but they’re going to have to get some sort of trust going between the other guys and the quarterback or else the passing game will go absolutley nowhere.
– Somewhat along that same note, you can tell that the Cats are committed to going deep when they can. Morgan Newton unleashed a handful of bombs Saturday, which created a number of big gains either from interference calls or King hauling them in. Of course, they also resulted in an interception and a handful of overthrows and underthrows. Regardless, the Cats appear to be committed to the deep ball and Joker wasn’t shy about it after the game. He said that Morgan Newton needs to get better in making the easy plays where he’s missing guys, but said that he throws a deep ball as well as anyone who’s played at UK. And with a group of receivers that are, if nothing else, tall, that seems to be where they think they can get things going.
– The offensive line, which was down two starters again Saturday against the Chippewas, looked infinitely better than they did against Western Kentucky. Joker said after the game that freshman Darrian Miller, who started at right tackle in the place of Billy Joe Murphy, did an outstanding job from what he could tell. Joker said he only remembere one glaring mistake, which resulted in a sack, and he didn’t think much about him otherwise, which he considers a compliment for a lineman. Kentucky’s head coach also seemed please with the play of the unit when he was asked about how good Morgan Newton looked while running the ball. He replied, “Everyone looks good when you have guys blocking for you like that.”
– After the run game stalled and sputtered in Nashville, it looked to be doing much of the same until Josh Clemons busted out for an 87-yard touchdown run. Clemons ran hard and, aside from hitting the wrong hole once or twice in the first half, seemed to position himself as the top running back on the roster. Then Raymond Sanders came in and did some chugging of his own. The sophomore back did not look like he was ready to step aside for the breakout freshman and marched the Cats down to the goal line with physical and shifty running. Sometimes the best thing for player development is a little competition. The Cats appear to have a pretty big one at the running back position. Joker said after the game that they’ve known that Josh Clemons has good speed, but now they know he has “game speed”.
– I think I’m heavily in the minority on this, but I loved Joker going for it on 4th and one late in the fourth quarter. Western Kentucky linebacker Andrew Jackson said it best last week when he pointed out, “They’re s’posed to be the SEC.” The Cats were one yard away from sealing the game by taking a chance and Joker Phillips sending his team a message that he believes in them. If they can’t get one simple yard and then suck so bad that they give up a 99-yard drive in four minutes to a MAC team, they have no business winning the game. I think Joker made the right call by flexing his muscles and showing his team he has a little faith. Now, having said that, I think that was an incredibly ballsy call to run that naked boot. If Tyler Robinson isn’t there to block, Morgan Newton is a dead man and we’re all furious.
– 1. 2. 3. 1. 2. 3. 1. 2. 3. 1. 2. 3……that’s essentially Central Michigan’s drives went. the Cats simply could not stop anyone on third down. Minter’s defense shut down first and second down, but couldn’t get a stop on third and long to save their life. Central Michigan found a way to expose the defense by throwing the ball in the flat or hitting a slant and Kentucky never seemed to adapt. The team that struggled to score on South Carolina State last week was executing like they hired Rick Perry to call the shots. Like the offense, they seemed to clamp down in the second half and they did benefit by creating three turnovers (counting the stop on fourth down). Rick Minter said after the game his team responded because they’re experienced and they never panicked.
– I spent a few minutes talking with Winston Guy and Danny Trevathan after the game and came away extremely impressed with both. I’ll probably write an entire post on that, but I did think it was interesting that Guy told me he and Trevathan, who he says are “like brothers”, have started calling themselves the “Dreadlock Duo” after a fan started Tweeting him and calling them that. He said they get each other fired up before games and that name has become a part of what they use to inspire themselves.
– The fans booed. It was greatly exaggerated. Next.
– During the postgame press conference, Joker Phillips said the game ball was going to Iraq to a group of soldiers that are stationed there. He said that earlier this week a woman stopped by his office with a UK flag that her husband sent from Iraq after “flying it in enemy territory”. Phillips liked the story and surprised the soldier by Skyping with him this week and wanted to send the game ball over there to him. Pretty cool.
– New video boards, new ribbon boards, new sound system, whatever. How about the band?!?!?! The band had an excellent debut to the football season and provided one of the favorite moments of my life when the Cats were struggling badly against CMU. At the bleakest point of the game, the band started playing “F— You” by Cee-Lo, which might have been an accident, and sang out the part of the song where he screeches, “Why? Why? I love you!”. It was as appropriate as any song that has been played at any point in the history of the world. And if it was an accident, it’s the greatest accident since my conception.
And then Dan Hawkins said this…