It has often been said (at least in my mind), “nothing good happens in Mississippi after dark”, and after watching Kentucky fall to Mississippi State 24-17 last night, I wholeheartedly agree. When this season is completed, there are really only two storylines that will define the season. Either Kentucky will beat Tennessee in Knoxville, finish 7-5 and the year will be remembered for ending two very long and ridiculous losing streaks against SEC East opponents. Or, the Cats will falter in Big Orange Country and we will look back on two roadtrips in Mississippi and wonder what might have been. In both games, Kentucky likely had the better overall team and in both games, the Cats had many chances to win. However stupid mistakes and the inability to make big plays in crucial situations caused two losses that will keep this team from reaching its dream of a “better than Tennessee” Bowl game. Ten thoughts from the night:
1.: Kentucky could have definitely used Derrick Locke on Saturday night. While Raymond Sanders played well and has the potential to be very good, there were a number of gaps that had Locke been able to go, would have been hit and plays that could have been broken for big gains. Not to mention the fact that Locke is great catching passes coming out of the backfield and with the blitzing that State did, he would have had a number of opportunities for big games. One can always point to lost players and wonder what would happen if they played, but in Locke’s case, that will definitely stick.
2.: I cant help but be disappointed with Chris Matthews, and not entirely by what happened on the field. Yes, he ran the wrong route on the last play and lost a jump ball in the first half in the end zone. But more importantly, he had some discipline issue that caused him to miss the first quarter…in his place, a young WR dropped an open pass, got in the way of a long run and was charged with a crippling holding penalty. I dont blame the young WR, I blame Matthews for not showing the leadership necessary to be in the game at that time.
3.: I hate cowbells…not because the MSU fans use them, that just shows they are country, but because the announcers acted like it was an issue of national security as to how well the fans stayed true to the “rules” governing them. When the sideline reporter, aka “the female George Lopez”, spoke of how “impressed” she was with the fans not clanging them during plays, I wondered what else might impress her…potentially the way Dan Mullen could chew with his mouth closed or Herm Edwards could tie his own ties. This game made me hate the whole notion of cowbells, which after the Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken skit, I thought was impossible.
4.: Danny Trevathan is a beast. 16 tackles and arguably the only player on the defensive side of the ball that is a true SEC-caliber starter on a very good team (Randall Burden has a claim and Dequin Evans should be). Watch him sometimes on a given play..he reads plays unbelievably and has a great motor…he is probably my second favorite player on the team.
5.: I will remember the missed screen pass to Moncell Allen for some time. Moncell had a WIDE open field ahead, with three blockers in front of him. He could have walked to the end zone, yet Hartline missed him by just a bit and the drive ended up with two more incompletions. That is the kind of play that takes a good season and turns it into a great one…and UK just missed it, plain and simple.
6.: Herm Edwards is a really bad announcer. But if you watch a game with the Turkey Hunter and having Edwards in the booth leads to a screaming sound of “YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAMES!” every ten minutes, then having him call your game is worth it.
7.: I freely admit that I dont know who #42 is or why he was in the game to drop that pass in the second half. But when they panned the camera to Joker on the sideline yelling at him…well I had the exact same reaction at my house. How could he have dropped that ball? Seriously….
8.: I guess we might as well dissect Mike Hartline since everyone seems to enjoy doing that every week. He didnt play great and at times, made some really bad throws. The back to back INTs in the first half were brutal, and his miss of Moncell was a crushing blow. But he didnt play poorly and overall you would grade him as being decidedly average. UK has to be able to win games where he is just average, and the inability to make big plays and the huge drops (by #42, Larod King and Matthews) certainly didnt help.
9.: UK starts games worse than Chevy Chase starts talk shows. Just once I would like UK to begin a game and not create an impeding sense of doom before the end of the first quarter. I am not sure if it is poor game planning or the players not being ready to play, but it is a pattern that seems to have no end in sight.
10.: Regardless of anything else, I think we can all agree that there would be no worse school in the SEC to attend than Mississippi State. Worst location, academics, sporting programs, uniform colors..etc. At least Vandy students leave with a Vandy degree. MSU students leave with hearing loss from the cowbells. No thank you.
More all day as we go over the game, basketball and all things Halloween…send me your pictures for the UK tickets…[email protected]….they must be in by midnight to qualify.