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Kentucky Lays a Defensive Egg to Start Season

When Kentucky’s seniors graduated, the toughness of the defense may have gone with them. Throughout today’s game, Rick Minter’s troops showed a lack of aggression and technique required to slow down a potent Cardinal offense. Led by an outstanding performance by QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville set the tone from their opening possession. A 99-yard drive, highlighted by a 23-yard pass from Bridgewater to WR Damian Copeland, began what would be a long day for the Wildcats.

Kentucky struggled at almost every level of their defense. At defensive line, the presumed strength of the group heading into the season, there was a constant struggle to slow down the Cardinal running game. The linebacking corps had trouble finishing tackles and putting pressure on Bridgewater — who had seemingly all day to complete passes; and defensive backs couldn’t cover opposing receivers, allowing Bridgewater to find a rhythm that didn’t leave him until he was replaced by backup QB Will Stein late in the third quarter. Kentucky literally had no answer for anything that was thrown at them, it was a complete disaster in every phase.

“Defensively, we can’t have four drives over 76 yards,” Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips said. “We’re better than that.”

Unfair or not, a microscope is on the transition of Martavius Neloms from safety to cornerback. Neloms, who switched from safety to cornerback just weeks before today’s game, was targeted early and often by the Cardinal offense. He didn’t respond well, either. Neloms looked out of place on a number of plays, and on others, he simply didn’t have the awareness to defend the passes thrown in his direction.

Louisville’s rushing attack was just as effective as the pass. The Cardinals had no problem running at the Kentucky defense, finishing with 216 yards on 46 carries. In the last 16 Kentucky-Louisville match-ups, the team with the most rushing yards has won the game. With Kentucky only posting 89 yards on the ground, today was no different.

“We let the offense down,” defensive team captain Collins Ukwu remarked.”They’re a lot better offense than last year.”

If there was a bright spot today, it was Kentucky’s offense. The group looked completely different from the last time they took the field against Louisville. Although there was less points (17 last year) on the scoreboard, the offense looked more potent and complete than it did all of last season. A lot of it had to do with QB Maxwell Smith’s play. Smith’s 35 of 50, 276 yards, and two touchdown performance may have been the best of his young career.

For the Wildcats to reach their goal of a bowl game, there has to be an improvement on the defensive side on the ball going forward. In the second year of a new scheme, the Wildcats expected to be more experienced with their responsibilities, allowing Minter to throw more looks at opposing offenses. The turnover from one year to the next was seems like it was understated the entire off season, leaving Kentucky longing for their senior leadership from last year’s defense. After such a tough start, Minter will have to fix the defensive problems on the fly if  the Wildcats plan to be competitive for the rest of season.

Article written by Rashawn Franklin

67 Comments for Kentucky Lays a Defensive Egg to Start Season

  1. CaptObvious
    8:34 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    The problem is talent. I noticed that there are only about 4-5 uk guys left in the NFL after final cut downs. Heck, Alabama had more guys than that drafted last year.

  2. Korean Tacos
    8:35 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    Didn’t the offense have the ball within the 5 yard line on 4 occasions and come away with no points?

  3. CATfish
    8:36 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    I wish Rick “Nuclear” Minter could have “exploded” on Louisville’s offense. Even though today wasn’t great, we can still go with the “RISE” motto.

  4. Jill Massey
    8:37 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    What a bunch of gutless

  5. Scott
    8:38 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    Joker still needs to be fired, he finished the first half with three time outs and didn’t have time for at least a token drive? Pathetic.

  6. Russ Kessler
    8:39 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    I think Joker’s job is officially in countdown mode. Looking at the schedule, this is going to be a painful season to watch UK football. I think we need to seriously consider Bobby Petrino as the new head football coach.

  7. UK4LIFE
    8:43 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    We suck 4real

  8. JR
    8:44 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    Nuclear Minter is apparently diffused…major pun intended.

  9. Mike
    8:44 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    Have you ever seen anyone who screws up more UK weekends or holidays than Choker??

  10. Ronkat
    8:46 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    #4 You are without class. As for the performance, #1 is absolutely correct, not much talent. I was impressed with our QB…He hung in there and several receivers did a nice job. But we can’s make the mistakes we did offensively as we simply don’t have the power to recover from them. As for the D, downright awful!! Going to be a long season.

  11. DaveT
    8:46 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    Mitch and his braintrust should be honest with the fans and say “we have no plans to put the resources into football that is necessary to field a winning team, our plans are to lower ticket prices to high school level and reap the financial benefits of being in the SEC”.

  12. JPhelps
    8:49 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    3. The only RISE I see is the rise of the boobirds!

  13. cherith cutestory
    8:50 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    Feels like UK football…hope for better expect the same

  14. James
    8:51 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    Card and Wildcat fans should all be honest that this game has proven both football programs are in the wrong leagues. Each would be much better off in any other league than either the SEC or the Big East. Both programs also share in the same end of the season question: Who will be their football coach next year?

  15. Dear UL and IU fans, We are national champions; you are not. The end.
    8:51 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    If we keep playing like this, we might start to get a reputation as a poor football program.

  16. Dave in Bangkok
    8:52 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    The bright spot today is the nail that this game put in the Choker P coffin.

    Just a few more to go.

  17. Richard P
    8:55 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    Hahahahahahaha! How you like us now Cat fans?!?!?!? Baseball, Soccer, and Football we completed the sweep! Let me drink your tears ladies!

  18. IhaveNOExpectations
    8:57 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    I said before the season we would approach the 0-10-1 season we had when I was a student at UK….Nothing today leads me to believe otherwise…The whole coach in waiting thing was a crock…I was willing to give Joker a chance only because he was a former UK player but I never thought it was a sound idea to hire a man to run an SEC program that had never been a head coach…This is on barni and the UKAA for deciding to go that direction for the sake of “continuity”….Well now we are seeing the results of that fateful decision….UK football is irrelevant and will continue to be until the AD and Head Coach are replaced and top flight football people can find a first rate high caliber coach with a proven track record….

  19. CatGrad7072
    8:58 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    15: Well, we are ‘Inept” now. If we improve over the next couple game, we can reclassify as ‘Poor’.

    Can you imagine Joker trying to get the team ready for the next couple of games? I guess Joker can bear up and take solace in his 1.7M.

    Practice on Monday should be a blast!

  20. CaptObvious
    9:01 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    UK should drop UL and add IU. We might actually be competitive with Indiana going forward. With a yearly UL matchup, I am not so optimistic.

  21. Smyrna_Cat
    9:06 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    It was a pitiful showing. And people wonder why there has been much enthusiasm for football.


  22. clinteastwood
    9:06 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    When someone isn’t doing the job, you gotta let em go…

  23. Dustin
    9:10 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink


  24. Hop
    9:14 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    Neither coach of this game will be at their school next ur. We need to get Gus Malzahn from Arky st

  25. matt jones
    9:14 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    i just summed up UK f-ball history in one succinct sentence:
    “it was a fun day until the game started.”

  26. Big J
    9:15 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    Can you believe that we pay this joker $1.7m? Mitch could have avoided this by making the change last year. I’m finished with UK football until we get a real coach. Very sad…..

  27. KyTom
    9:18 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    Let’s Minter was linebacker coach at Indiana State, and Joker sees an SEC defensive coordinator…… did the rest of college football miss out on him?

  28. ed
    9:18 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    no fire in the heart, looked totaly overmatched. could not even put a little heat on QB. joker please..

  29. wldctky
    9:19 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    Joker should have been fired on the spot when Towles didn’t start… he is the only QB on the roster with NFL potential.

    9:20 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    Hows that Bird Chit taste in your mouth Matt?????

  31. jill
    9:20 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    #14…Strong not going next year with what he has coming back……

  32. barn
    9:21 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    time to move forward: ” Hate Kent State ” week begins tomorrow

  33. Need to re-boot
    9:21 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    Not head coach material. Never has been. Seriously.

  34. Rixter
    9:21 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    The problem with firing Joker is this… who’s going to come here?? Our only shot is to grab some young up and comer, and get VERY lucky that he turns out to be up to the job

  35. Lariat X
    9:21 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    Hey #17…but we won the two that really matter didn’t we? Muwahhahahahahaa

  36. jc
    9:22 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    UK will not get the talent to compete at the top level, so they must find a calling card and stick to it.the programs that climb the ladder build a brand and work off it. Take Virginia tech. The school is in the middle of nowhere and they had to recruit against the sec and acc
    s, but the built a rep on being the absolute best at special teams and defensive scoring. The even branded it with beamerball and the lunch pail defense. They took 2 star guys and put in the NFL. It sounds corney but you know what they started expecting excellence in those areas and now they are 8 ten win seasons in a row. The facilities came there after some success, now they are on par with any program in the nation. You think Charlie strong is intense on sidelines, techs dc foster goes nuts for his guys and they would run through walls for him. Put the cash up to get a guy like that and get building.

  37. Rhonda
    9:23 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    Matt – Ignore all the nasty comments from the UofL fans because we Big Blue fans love ya!

  38. Williamsburg
    9:31 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    For all of you hollering for Petrino, don’t even think about it. We may be top 5 in 3 years but then we’ll be on probation for 4; worse than where we started. This guy has destroyed every place he’s been. Last year everyone was screaming for Leach and he got his ass handed to him at WSU in week 1. Get a top OC at a good program. UL made a good move with Strong.

  39. mwgocats
    9:32 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    Joker and company needs to go.

  40. Dave in Bangkok
    9:36 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    What school has Petrino landed on probation? I must have missed that.

    I could care less about Petrino’s personal life. As long as he keeps his professional ducks in a row from the time he is hired, I don’t care what he does.

    When one of you people show me how perfect you are, I’ll listen. Until then, you’re barking at the moon butt naked.

  41. MHFaulkner
    9:36 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    The real worry – what happens when we lose to Kent State next week?

  42. Bmac
    9:39 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    The sad truth for #17 is Louisville fans would have gladly traded all of those wins for a win over uk in the final four last year. At least we still have that.

  43. BPM
    9:40 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink


  44. Bill Pitt
    9:41 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    Pretty bad. Three things, all may be inconsequential, but here they are: 1. I have never seen an entire team have to look over at the “coach” to get every play to be run, or passed. When L-ville’s “D” shifted, or showed another look, everyone in “blue” looked over to the bench to see what to do. The quarterback should be savvy enough to call the plays, or at least be discrete enough to get them without turning and staring at the bench for every single play. 2. The “O” line lined up like a flock of geese, in “V” formation. Lining up like that makes you start out farther away from the line of scrimmage. Louisville lined up straight as an arrow. 3. The “fake” foot lift before every play didn’t work even one time during the game. K’s quarterback did it nearly every time and it looked downright foolish.

  45. OldSchool
    9:41 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    You don’t understand the defensive scheme. See, the idea was we expected their receivers to not catch the ball. That’s why Bridgewater had all day to throw to wide-open receivers. We expected them to drop the ball!!!! (Probably a result of practicing against our receivers last year.) On a more serious note, I don’t think we should be expecting Bridgewater in the Heisman race; Kentucky has a history of making even mediocre opposing quarterbacks look like Joe Montana.

  46. Catlogic15
    9:49 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    I was there. Minter is a joke. 3/4? Good luck. Joker makes his own bad luck . Very pitiful.

  47. Williamsburg
    9:49 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    40- No probation, you are correct. But he left UL after year 1 of a 10 year contract and then they turned to sH*t, left Atlanta in the middle of the season, and then left Arkansas amid a scandal… sounds like a troublesome record to me. There are probably better guys out there to represent the university AND be successful.

  48. Star
    9:52 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    Might as well go ahead and add the ‘S’ and the ‘C’ to the helmets: s-U-c-K!

  49. Lack of talent
    9:54 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    Only ONE Kentucky defensive starter–Bud Dupree–had an offer from an SEC school and he played Tight End in high school. Garbage recruiting leads to garbage performance.

  50. John Calipari
    10:11 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    Hey 47 isn’t that what they said about Cal? How we doing with that? I will take a winner with baggage over a good guy loser every time.

    10:12 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    Can’t spell sUcK without UK!!! Bobby just bought a farm in LESSINGTON!!

  52. Offense
    10:16 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    44 – You clearly don’t understand the purpose of those first 2 points. 1. Many teams use the look to the sidelines to get a play see oregon (very successful with it) 2. The footlift isn’t to get the defense to jump offsides. If it does it’s a bonus. The footlift is to signal the center that we are about ready to snap as well as get the defense to tip off their blitz which they did several times. It allows the QB to make a presnap read and know where to go with the ball.

    As for how they line up. That’s more of a pee wee football concern. Some coordinators prefer their tackles deeper off the ball for pass protection against linebackers and corners off of the edge.

  53. Williamsburg
    10:16 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    50- that is what they said about Cal, but UK Basketball is a marquee program. Petrino would leave after his first winning season for Fla, Fla St., etc.

  54. Offense
    10:22 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    53 – Marquee progams won’t touch petrino unless he proves he can not be a dbag for a long time. And besides if he can get us there someone else will actually want to coach at UK. Also, about your Mike Leach comment, he has played 1 game with none of his players in the system yet. I guarantee that Wash St will be very competitive in Pac 12 in 3 years

  55. BigBlew
    10:22 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    where are all the dumb UK fans that were calling in all week saying ” Well UK beat UT, and UT beat NC State, and NC State beat UL so UK beats UL…. ” its a whole different year, UK had a much better looking offense, but without Gut and Trevathan the D sux………….. UK in the Big East would be ranked 2nd to last better than only Syracuse……

  56. Bill Pitt
    10:31 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    54- I CLEARLY understand bush league football when I see it. You seem to have all the answers, another sign of bush league.

  57. Krammer
    10:35 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    Matt used to argue that UK’s football team will never be relevant on a national level because of our geographic location and the recruiting limitations that exist because of that. BUT- Loserville, UT, WVU and even Cincy have all had moderate(or more) success in NCAA football. Much more so than UK Sure other southern states are larger and have lots of talent, but if a school in the mountains of east TN that plays Rocky Top every time someone farts can be successful, we can too. The only reason we aren’t is because football is the dork step brother to the basketball program. I love UK b-ball, but hey, I’d like us to have a good football team too! If UL, WVU and UT can compete, why can’t we? Because the university doesn’t want to spend the dough to do it. What other excuse could there be? Someone on KSR had a post a year or two ago with all the SEC schools budgets and incomes for their football programs. UK was nowhere near close to the bottom. They make _a lot_ of money from the football program compared to what they spend. I guess that’s fine with them. Well, they can get their ticket money from someone besides me for a while.

  58. carnifex
    10:43 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    UK sucks because its head coach sucks. It really is that simple. Mushmouth never showed me much in his entire career at UK, so why Barney thought he was a good HC shows what a poor judge of coaching talent Barney is.

    And if Petrino goes somewhere else after we hire him it’s because he is desirable. Imagine that sunshine pumpers! A coach other peole want. I’ve only ever experienced that once, Guy Morris. And he wasn’t that great. Mushmouth is gonna’ leave here because even UK can’t stand him. He sure as hell won’t be hired away.

  59. carnifex
    10:51 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    Mushmouth has 2 recruiting advantages. 1) obviously, he can sell playing time. My 13 yo niece could start for this team. and 2) is he coaches(and this goes for all failed and future failures of coaches we’ll have) the northernmost team in the SEC. There are entire herds of players in states like ohh I don’t know Ohio, and saaaay Pennsylvania that would love to play in the SEC. But as long as our recruiting budget for football matches what UK spends just on Midnite Madness, then we’re just pissing in the wind.

  60. Louisville
    11:12 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    LMAO! PATHETIC! I’m ready for basketball lol we gonna beat that ass too! Boo who fire joker… Cry baby ass people

  61. Rae
    11:21 pm September 2, 2012 Permalink

    17. What defines a sweep? You seem to be forgetting a sport very important to both fanbases. I don’t think there was much trash talking about soccer, since not many people in the US care about the sport, so I’m not sure I would include it in a sweep.

    And Jill, the Big East is about to change, and it doesn’t look pretty. The conference might even lose its automatic bowl bid because many of the schools will be mid majors by nature. When that happens, and Strong gets a decent offer from some school in a more competitive conference, he will be gone. Your program is a stepping stone.

  62. uncle ron
    12:01 am September 3, 2012 Permalink

    What I would give to see a downfield pass……sheesh

  63. t time
    12:32 am September 3, 2012 Permalink

    if i see another screen pass i will shoot myslef

  64. BravoBigBlue
    7:45 am September 3, 2012 Permalink

    Kentucky football does not belong in the SEC. Totally embarassing. Laughing stock. Cannot hide from ineptness. Recruiting will only get harder. DO NOT BLAME THE FANS!

  65. big blue fan
    9:13 am September 3, 2012 Permalink

    Hey #29. I don’t know what game you watched but the QB position for U.K. was not the reason they lost. Unless you think Towles could play some defence and stop the run or play corner/safety. The U.K. defence could not stop or even slow down the U.L. offence. U.L. had 468 total yard of offence, rushed for 217 yards had could throw the ball for 10-15 yard completions at will.

  66. big blue fan
    9:17 am September 3, 2012 Permalink

    Still early havent had my coffee. Cant spell this morning. Offense with an s and defense with an s.

  67. JLivermore
    9:23 am September 3, 2012 Permalink

    The most disappointing line in this article is “For the Wildcats to reach their goal of a bowl game”. When your schedule includes the likes of Kent State, WKU and Samford, reaching a bowl should be a given, not a goal. This program is pathetic, and it is time for the fan base to quit hoping for better and to start demanding better. Barnhart needs to be called out for leading fans to believe that the program was headed in the right direction based on the illusion of bowl eligibility. A simple analysis shows that the 2007 team would have been the only bowl contender under the 11-game schedule that existed prior to 2006. The Rich Brooks era was a mirage. The Joker era is a joke. And Barnhart has fully supported both.