The football season is like a skirt-chasing trip to the club. At first, you want to be a smooth operator. It’s all about the system, you know. Then the night wears on, and the some of the flaws in the system become apparent. Still, the clock ticks, and before you know it it’s last call and, thanks to some near misses, you’ve yet to find your way to the promised land. This is where Kentucky found themselves today, late in the year, with questions about the system, and still needing to secure something warm to curl up with. So, we did what anyone in our desperate situation would do. We did it the ugly way, and it worked like a charm. The Cats walked into Nashville, bought bowl eligibility a few strong whiskey drinks and convinced her to come home with us, knocking off Vandy 24-13. To the notes:
***There are not enough words to describe Randall Cobb. He is a machine. Even with the sprained thumb that was obviously causing him serious pain, he took the team on his back and led the ground attack that destroyed the Commodore defense. He simply cannot get the ball enough. It seemed that in the second half Joker finally heard Matt’s yelling from the liveblog and gave us a healthy dose of WildCobb to wear down Vandy’s injury-plagued defense and grind out the win. Cobb carried 14 times for 99 yards, leaving him but a Drew Franklin eyebrow short of the century mark.
*** Derrick Locke was spectacular, as well, although in more of an “I’m a really good running back” way as opposed to Cobb’s “I’m a different form of being” kind of way. Locke averaged nearly six yards a carry and seemed to gain chunks of yardage every time somebody handed him the ball. In fact, Locke was stopped for no gain only once and had zero runs for a loss. Even Matt Pilgrim thinks that’s beastly. The rushing game as a whole was strong from start to finish, with six different players registering a carry and the team totaling over 300 yards on the ground. The breakdown is as follows:
Locke – 25 for 144 yds
Cobb – 14 for 99
Newton – 4 for 18
Smith – 6 for 16
Allen – 7 for 28
Conner – 1 for 4
***As great as the Cats were running the ball, the passing game was equally bad. The revolving door at quarterback was less than impressive, as neither Mike Hartline nor Newton could develop any kind of rhythm. To illustrate how non existent our air attack was this afternoon, consider this: Derrick Locke completed a 41-yard pass to Morgan Newton in the first quarter, which would lead to Locke being our leading passer and Newton our leading receiver. For the whole game. Yikes. Our first completion of >10 yds by a QB came with 12 minutes left in the third quarter. The Cats attempted only three passes, all complete by Morgan Newton, in the second half.
***The defense played well, with Vandy’s only touchdown coming on a pass to John Cole (who, and I think I heard the announcers correctly on this one, may be from Kentucky) that Trevard Lindley tipped. It followed a Morgan Newton interception which set the ‘Dores up with great field position. Otherwise, the defense was solid, and they should have been. I mean, Vanderbilt’s quarterback has a girl’s name, after all. Sam Maxwell had an outstanding day, leading the team with nine tackles and recording one of Kentucky’s two sacks. DeQuin Evans had the other.
***A quick note about Louisville’s abysmal game with Syracuse. The Cards won, but to illustrate how miserable things are in Louisville, the announcers selected a punt return touchdown that was called back due to a penalty as the play of the game. That is the definition of sad, sad football.
It wasn’t pretty, but this late in the season with our backs against the wall, there’s no such thing as ugly. (Although we certainly tried to challenge that premise in the first half.) Still, the Cats persevered and find themselves eligible for a bowl game (fingers crossed for Music City!) for the fourth straight season, and there’s absolutely nothing ugly about that.
Go. Big. Blue.