Well hello Big Blue Nation. I’m baaack. As some of you may know, I’ve spent the past month relocating to Bristol, CT to start a new job at ESPN. After taking some time off from KSR, moving 760 miles away from my Fort Mitchell, KY home, and settling in at ESPN, I started to get the urge to write for KSR again…especially during Louisville Hate Day. After getting the urge to post again, and being granted the permission from the powers above me at ESPN, I’m excited to say that I’m back. I’ll continue to stop by on Sundays and occasionally during the week when I can. Also, let me take this time to make a shameless plug for the ESPN College Football app, which I have been working on as a content editor. I promise you won’t be disappointed, and like KSR, it’s free.
Speaking of not being disappointed, the 48,356 fans that did show up at Commonwealth Stadium last night did not go home disappointed. The defense is still suspect, but the offense is really, really fun to watch. The Cats have a talented group of receivers and Max Smith is putting up numbers we haven’t seen since Andre Woodson. The running game has also been solid, and will only get better when Josh Clemons is in the mix. The Louisville game was kind of a disaster, but let’s face it, Louisville is very good this year. Would you rather give up 466 yards to Louisville, or 550 yards to Louisiana Monroe (ahem, Arkansas)? Yes, the defense isn’t great, but we’re not the only SEC team with problems after two weeks. Offensively, in two games, Max Smith has already completed 65 passes on the year. In 2011, Morgan Newton didn’t reach the 65 completion mark until October 1st, the fifth game of the season (h/t @KernalPorter). The point is, an exciting brand of football is back at Commonwealth Stadium.
Will the new-found offense translate into wins in the SEC? Will it get us to a bowl game? Will it put fans in the seats? I’m not sure, but I do know that the offense will put us in a much better position to win SEC games, and to possibly make a bowl. The bottom line is that this season is going to be more fun than it was a year ago. It’s nobody’s responsibility to go to a football game, but if you do, you’ll probably have a lot more fun than you did in 2011 when the team averaged 12 points a game in SEC play (unless maybe if you only went to the Tennessee game). I know Kent State is far from an SEC team, but Kentucky scored only 14 points in its 2011 opener against Western Kentucky and 27 points against Central Michigan in week two. 47 against Kent State is a significant improvement.
Kentucky is without a doubt, leaps and bounds, better offensively and more entertaining to watch as a whole than a year ago. It’s hard to say whether the improvement will translate into SEC wins or not, but you’d think it would translate into more fans coming out to watch them, right? Mitch Barnhart at least thinks and hopes so. Last week, Barnhart told the Herald Leader that “offense sells tickets”.
“When offense is struggling a little bit, people get disenchanted real quick,” said Barnhart.
Is Barnhart correct? Kentucky football has had a lot of high scoring teams in the past, with poor defenses. Many of these UK teams in the past didn’t win a whole lot of games, especially in the SEC, but they put fans in the seats because they were exciting to watch. Will Barnhart be proven correct? Now that the team has given us a little bit of excitement on the offensive side of the ball, will more fans start to show up, or will it take a big SEC win? Can the team do anything this year to get much of the fan base back, or will it take sustained success?