The fine folks who write the SEC blog over at the ESPN website have been sending out report cards and UK looks like it stands to lose the car for a couple weeks. The Wildcats received poor marks in every category.
Offense – F
Kentucky scored 30-plus points just twice. Injuries along the offensive line and at running back didn’t help. The Wildcats seemed to have a budding star on their hands in freshman running back Josh Clemons, but he went down midway through the year with a season-ending knee injury.
Losing Josh Clemons certainly didn’t help, but ESPN correctly points out that this offense was pretty much doomed since the game against Western Kentucky. I don’t know if I’ve seen an offense more painful to watch than the Cats this season. UK ended up ranking in the bottom of the SEC in nearly every offensive category. That’s just unacceptable.
Defense – C
Kentucky’s defense played arguably its best at the end of the year. The Wildcats frustrated eventual SEC East champ Georgia, taking the ball away four times, before holding rival Tennessee to 276 yards and forced three turnovers in a 10-7 win that snapped a 26-year losing streak to the Vols.
I would have given the defense a higher grade than this solely based on how bad the offense was. These guys worked their tails off every game and rarely had opportunities for extended rest periods. True, we gave up a lot of points to Vanderbilt (Vanderbilt?!), LSU, Florida and South Carolina, but considering the offense could never get anything going in those games, I wouldn’t have been so harsh on Minter’s unit.
Special Teams – C
Punter Ryan Tydlacka was fourth in the league in punting, averaging 43.6 yards per punt. He also had 20 punts of 50-plus yards and had 19 of his punts downed inside opponents’ 20-yard line. On their own returns, Kentucky was last in the SEC in punt returns, getting just 35 yards on 19 returns. The Wildcats were also 11th in kickoff returns, averaging 20.3 yards per return.
I get this. I’d say we got an A in kicking and an F in returning. A C sounds about right. I’m still amazed at the lack of postseason love Ryan Tydlacka received. I really hope he can find a home in the NFL. A lot of special teams is just coaching. While we didn’t have a Randall Cobb or Derrick Locke back returning kicks and punts, our return averages were still pitiful. There needs to be a major improvement in those areas next season.
Coaching – D
Kentucky missed out on a sixth straight bowl appearance with its 5-7 record, but we saw some improvement at the end of the season. Considering the injuries this team endured, Kentucky didn’t quit. The Wildcats went 2-2 in November and ended things with a monumental win over Tennessee. The win ended the 26-year slide against the Vols and it also eliminated them from the postseason. It wasn’t a bowl win for Kentucky, but it was pretty close.
The post only focused on Joker, but the only way this group deserves a D is when Rick minter is factored in. Everyone else should get a super F. Those November numbers are deceiving. Other than the win over Tennessee, there’s the win over a terrible Ole Miss team and losses to Georgia and Vanderbilt, the latter being the worst and most embarrassing loss of the year. The only good games in November were the last two against Georgia and Tennessee and the MVP of both those games was the defense. I don’t think the offensive coaches deserve any accolades. A D is far too generous.