Thanks to KSR Reader Travis for sending this picture of Chuckbob the Cat celebrating the win
1) Locke-Cobb Combo Showed Up:You gotta love the fact that Charlie Strong is a defense-only guy, and his gameplan had to be to stop Derrick Locke and Randall Cobb, and he couldn’t do either. Those guys scored every touchdown UK had, and Locke was finding holes all day it seemed. And I am still amazed that even though you know that Cobb will run it out of the Wildcat formation 90% of the time, teams still can’t seem to stop him. Hint hint, why Kentucky should run it more often. I think it also proved that all the people talking about what a difference Strong would make continue to forget that players win games, coaches can only lose them. Strong didn’t lose this game, but his players, especially on defense were just not good enough.
2) Wide Receiver Depth: Yes, we knew UK had Cobb. We also knew that Chris Matthews was a threat on the outside. But Larod King was very impressive, and Jordan Aumiller showed some ability out of the tight end spot. I am not sure any of those guys stepped up enough to call them a certain #2 behind Cobb, but I like the athleticism from the WR position and the ability to go up and get balls and hang onto them, something UK receivers couldn’t do 2 seasons ago. Matthews and King both saved UK from interceptions in the 2nd half.
3) 1st half Offensive Play Calling: If there were any questions about Joker/Randy Sanders play calling, I thought the first half eased those concerns. There were a nice mix of runs and passes, throws down the field, Cobb in the Wildcat, and really nice 3rd down play calling. The 2nd half was less than spectacular (see below) but if the 1st half was any indication, I think UK is really attempting to utilize its weapons this season.
4) Mike Hartline:Obviously, Hartline’s play has split the fanbase in two. Personally, I would LOVE to have Tim Couch or Andre Woodson at quarterback again, but that isn’t going to happen. Mike Hartline is the quarterback and I, for one, was very happy with his play on Saturday. I thought his deep passes were better, although the WR helped him some on those with body adjustments. But, I thought he was very accurate otherwise, and I thought the best thing he did was escape the pocket when pressured and get the ball away. Zero sacks. And he got some pressure throughout the game, so it’s not like he just stood there in the pocket all game. After watching the game, I am in Camp Hartline for the time being.
1) Kicking, Kicking, Kicking:Wow, was it just me, or were people calling for an 8th year of eligibility for Lones Seiber? The first extra point was laughable. And then missing a 25-yard field goal in the middle of the 4th quarter was truly awful. I don’t know if Joe Mansour is just the most inaccurate kicker in the world, but I think after that performance on kicks, it’s already time to give him a run. Ryan Tydlacka was excellent with the punting game, kicking an average of 50 yards per punt, and that’s with one punt that was a short kick to the UL 6. But his kicking off the ground leaves me VERY worried about it costing UK a game in the future.
2) STUPID Penalties:I watched the game with a buddy of mine who played football in high school. And after Ridge Wilson’s ATTROCIOUS roughing the passing penalty late in the 4th quarter, I asked him how difficult it was to stop yourself from hitting a person like Wilson did. And he simply pointed at his head and said “It’s really easy, but you have to be smart enough not to do it”. Now he wasn’t talking about pure intelligence, but he was simply saying that you have to be more common sense smart to not hit a QB THAT late. UK also had a TERRIBLE false start penalty inside the Louisville 5-yard line which pushed them back, forced them to try a field, which they missed. I was incredibly disappointed in the discipline in the 4th quarter.
3) 2nd Half Aggressiveness:After a 1st half in which I was THRILLED with the play calling and overall play of the Cats, the 2nd half was almost the exact opposite. I thought Kentucky got super conservative on offense AND defense, which allowed UL to really dominate that half. You could go back and watch, but I didn’t see Kentucky blitz more than 2 or 3 times. Kentucky only mustered one sack in the 2nd half and did not seem to put the pressure on Adam Froman like they did in the 1st half. And obviously Bilal Powell had his way in the 2nd half as well. On offense, it seemed Kentucky decided to no longer throw the ball down the field, and the holes for Locke were just not there, until the last drive of the game when Kentucky needed it to ice the game. The only play call that I would call “aggressive” was the throw from Cobb out of the Wildcat. Don’t know why it changed at halftime, and maybe UL had something to do with it, but the drastic switch at half was disappointing to me.