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Kentucky’s Crucial Stretch: 1st Three Weeks


This wasn’t what I was looking for when I googled “stretch”… but it is now.

Athlon sports, in preparation for the all-too-rapidly approaching football season, wanted to know the most important stretches for each team in the SEC, and Kentucky’s comes as no surprise.  With not many folks holding out hope that the Wildcats will be ultra-competitive in league play, Stoops’ most surmountable challenges are going to come in the non-conference slate.  Which of course means that Kentucky’s most important stretch of the season is the first three weeks.

That’s not exactly great news for a team still trying to find it’s identity under the leadership of a brand new coach.  A more established staff might have a better idea of what to expect, but there are so many variables with this team that it might have been better to have a conference game or two to start the season before the “easy” games to get the Cats in better form.  They’d probably be losses, but at least they’d give the team time to gel before the really important games.

As it is, though, Western Kentucky, Miami (OH), and Louisville are the three biggest weeks of the season, at least in terms of building confidence for the program.  And even those games might present a bigger challenge than we’d hoped.  As discussed below, Kentucky is already on Week 1 Upset Watch against Petrino’s Hilltoppers, and in their predictions, two of Athlon’s five experts go against the Wildcats.  That’s followed by a unanimous Kentucky pick in week 2, but zero of five have us beating Louisville.  Even in the discussion of the importance of that stretch, all anybody is asking is for Kentucky to “give Louisville a scare” in the third week to show that we’re a team that’s at least able to compete.  What does a “scare” look like?  Ten points?  Two touchdowns?  Striking distance at halftime?  I guess a football “scare” is kinda like porn: you just know it when you see it.  And if you combine the two you get a “football porn scare,” which I’m pretty sure involves Steve Spurrier.

For better or worse, Kentucky’s most crucial games come at the very beginning of Mark Stoops’ tenure.  He’s done a bang-up job so far, and gotten literally everything that we could ask of him.  Does a win in two of those three games mark the season as a success (with a presumed win against Alabama State)?  Unfortunately, it probably falls in the category of “wouldn’t make the season a success if you win, but would make it a disappointment if you lost.”  Those are the worst spots to be in, as a coach, but c’est la vie for Stoops.

We’ll have a substantially better feel for the season by late afternoon on September 14th.

Article written by Corey Nichols

8 Comments for Kentucky’s Crucial Stretch: 1st Three Weeks

  1. Artificial Plant
    6:14 pm August 15, 2013 Permalink

    To me a lot of things have to be considered within those first three weeks. However, team chemistry and toughness will be the determining factor to any success the program may have this season. A lot can be said for the different mind set that the coaching staff has brought to the program. If that “winning attitude” seems to triumph in the first couple of games, then look for a much more determined effort from the team throughout the season. I must say that I am well pleases with the coaching staffs accomplishments so far. The renewed energy among the fanbase is a telling sign. Not being one of those fans who think we can beat the world, but I do believe that if things go well the first three weeks (3-0, possibly 2-1) then this team is capable of winning 5 games, maybe 6 with a 3-0 start. However, if the team manages 4 wins that is still an improvement from the incompetent leaders of before. Positive thinking can go along ways in determining effort and success. Hopefully, this early stretch will breed a new found confidence in this team that has not been seen for quite some time.

  2. OOOooh Yeah
    6:26 pm August 15, 2013 Permalink

    Best post I’ve ever seen

  3. Bill
    6:41 pm August 15, 2013 Permalink

    It is a good post. We’ll likely need some breaks go our way to be 3-0. I’ve seen stranger things happen. Just watching some inspired play will make me feel better.

  4. frimpong
    7:07 pm August 15, 2013 Permalink

    Great post. The Spurrier line was classic. I do agree with, I think the momentum of having a winning or undefeated record going into conference play may spark a few upsets later in the year (Ms St, Vandy, Mizzou, Tenn). Perhaps if bowl eligibility is on the line at the end of the season I think we beat Tennessee at the end of the season. All that said, 4 wins would be great. That either means we either beat a top ten ranked team, or we at least got a conference win.

  5. jaws2
    7:11 pm August 15, 2013 Permalink

    As usual, injuries with our most difficult schedule will play a HUGE part in our success this year. If we can avoid major injuries to key players, I think this team may shock the world and win 6 games.

  6. Catlogic15
    7:41 pm August 15, 2013 Permalink

    We will be better than we are being credited. We’ll crush WKU. As #5 says, injuries will determine where we go thereafter.

    BTW, great Camel Toe..

  7. sgt Jimmy
    9:01 pm August 15, 2013 Permalink

    Determination and great effort will carry you only so far in college football. Its great to talk about those things when your trying to put fans in the seats but don’t do much in terms of wins. Only two wins seem possible with an upset over Mizzou a big maybe. WKU is likely to crush the Cats with the addition of several redshirts including a couple of 4 stars that were recruited by UK. Their coach will be trying to make a statement and may try to run up the score as a result. The coach at Louisville may be the most underrated in the nation and they have a wealth of talent. With all the talk about our recruiting class it seems no one is paying attention to the nations number 1 recruiting class in Knoxville. Its going to be a long season, lets get ready for it.

    9:38 am August 16, 2013 Permalink

    Really, I think the most important stretch could be the last 4 games of the season. We have Missouri, @Vandy, @UGA, and Tennessee. 4 SEC games, but I think UK has a decent chance of winning in 3 of them. Also, Kentucky usually seems to play really well against Georgia, so I think it’s important we stay competitive with them. I think Missouri, Vandy, and Tennessee are all very winnable games. And say by the outside chance (In all likelihood, this won’t happen, but theoretically speaking), the Cats win 3 of their last 4. You go into 2014 with a great recruiting class, an upperhand in recruiting over UT and Vandy, plus the 2014 class we already have. Even winning two out of the last four would be a success. Nonetheless, The first 3 games will set the tone for the season, but I think the last 4 games are just as important. It would be great to have positive momentum going into the offseason and into next season.