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Objects in Mirror…

rearview

 

What’s that approaching in your rear-view, Louisville?  Relax, it is not the police, though I can see why that would be your initial guess. It is instead the Kentucky football program. Yes, you passed the Cats a couple of years back as we were experiencing some mechanical issues.  However, we have now made some adjustments, and are clearly gaining.  Last Saturday’s contest, in which the Cats competed stoutly against Louisville’s allegedly top ten team, revealed what I believe are two irrefutable truths.  First, Louisville is presently ahead of Kentucky. Though I would dearly love to say otherwise, Louisville was the better overall team and fittingly won the game by two touchdowns. Secondly, the margin between the programs is narrowing.  Based on what we have seen to this point from Mark Stoops and staff, it is only a matter of time before Kentucky is ready to make the pass.

 

Though I truly deplore the thought of “moral victories” against Louisville,  last Saturday has to qualify to some degree.  Stoops’ ability to show progress defensively from the week one debacle against Western to the week three effort against Louisville was nothing short of phenomenal.  Time after time in the first half, the Cats’ defense stymied what was supposed to be an explosive Louisville attack led by a Heisman trophy candidate. Kentucky applied pressure to the quarterback, made plays on the ball in pass coverage and tackled.  In short, it was a defensive effort Kentucky fans have not seen against a quality opponent in what feels like decades.  And thought the defense clearly tired in the second half, they never stopped battling.  Offensively, the Cats shot themselves in the foot with dropped passes and untimely turnovers, but otherwise moved the ball, and certainly did not seem outmatched.

 

And who made the plays that kept the Cats in the game?  Aside from the efforts of a handful of veterans (Avery Williamson, Bud Dupree, etc.), the significant plays were made by newcomers brought in by the current staff in the last eight months.  Freshman Jojo Kemp exploded for 80 yards on just five carries.  Freshman Ryan Timmons continued his Percy Harvin impression by accumulating 85 yards on three catches and two rushes. Junior college transfer Javess Blue caught six passes for 58 yards, and was a star in the return game. Freshman Jeff Badet added three catches, and freshman Alex Montgomery caught the Cats’ lone touchdown. Defensively, freshman Jason Hatcher played approximately half of the snaps at outside linebacker after spending most of the fall at defensive end.  When Hatcher was out of the game, the Cats added freshman Blake McClain as the nickel.  In addition, junior college transfer Nate Willis continued to hold down a starting assignment at corner.  Za’Darius continued to be Za’Scariest.  These young players, who had never set foot on a major college football field just a few weeks ago, have been thrown into the fire, and are now thriving.

 

The success of the young Wildcats on the roster illustrates that the staff is achieving in bringing a different level of athlete to Lexington.  No longer is the game plan to bring in lightly regarded recruits and hope they can be built into football players over time. Instead, Stoops has infused the program with ready-made talent.  The recruiting acumen of Stoops’ staff further demonstrates why the Cats will soon overtake the Cards as the dominant team in the state.  In 2013, with just weeks to work the recruiting trail before signing day, and in the footsteps of a demoralizing 2-10 season, the Kentucky staff managed to piece together a class ranked by Rivals.com as the 29th best in the nation. Charlie Strong’s crew, fresh off a program-defining Sugar Bowl victory, place 52nd in the same ranking.  The disparity in the 2014 class is also striking.  Kentucky’s current crop of commitments ranks 7th nationally according to Rivals.  While Louisville’s 16th place ranking may not sound far behind, consider that the Cats presently have eight commitments ranked as 4 star players, while Louisville has only one.

 

So let’s take a moment out of this lazy bye week to daydream about next year’ match-up. The Cats will return 16 starters from Saturday’s game.  All of this season’s freshman contributors will have a full year of college experience under their belt, and as significantly, a year to develop in Kentucky’s strength and conditioning program.  In addition, the offense, which obviously struggled at times, will add two 4 star receivers, three 4 star running backs, a 4 star quarterback and a 4 star offensive lineman.  The defense will add a 4 star defensive tackle and a 4 star safety.  And if you noticed Commonwealth leaning slightly toward the visitor sideline on Saturday, that may have resulted from the presence of recruit Matt Elam, a defensive tackle and human tree trunk who will hopefully be added to that stellar recruiting class by the time signing day rolls around in February. The fact that the game will now take place on the last week of the season also favors the Cats, as the abundance of incoming talent will have an entire season to become acclimated to the college game before taking on the Cards.  And although the game will take place at Papa John’s Pizza Palace, the young Cats will likely not be intimidated, as they will, at that time, be veterans of road games in Gainesville, Baton Rouge and Knoxville.  Incidentally, Louisville will likely also  lose Teddy Bridgewater, the primary difference in the two teams on Saturday, to the NFL draft.

 

The potential of a quick turnaround for the Big Blue is bolstered by the rapid success of other similarly-situated programs. Specifically, perennial doormats Vanderbilt and Ole Miss have now reached levels of respectability with blueprints similar to the one possessed by Stoops.  Despite being an overbearing blowhard, James Franklin turned Vanderbilt into a competent football program by his second year at the helm.  Although certainly aided by a manageable schedule, last season’s Commodore squad won nine games for the first time at the school since 1915.  Similarly, Hugh Freeze’s Ole Miss Rebels, who just hammered Texas in Austin, are now in the top 25, and are considered a dark horse challenger in the tough SEC West in Freeze’s second season in Oxford.  It is apparent that with the right coach, even traditionally have-not programs can be transformed quickly when the right coach is hired.  By the end of next season, Kentucky may well be on a similar uptick.

 

Okay Louisville lurker.  I know that you are itching to get to the comments section to let us know about how Kentucky’s recruiting class will surely fall apart after what will likely be a losing record for the Cats in 2013. In response, I’ll just refer you to my co-worker here at KSR, Drew Barker, who in his recent post commented on the firm commitment that all of the 2014 class have for the program.  His exact words were “We’re all 100% committed to UK.”  I’ll take the word of Kentucky’s future quarterback and unofficial recruiting coordinator.  In fact, if anything, I believe that Kentucky’s likely poor record only bolsters the opportunity presented to the 2014 class.  They have all bought into the idea of being the class that transforms Kentucky’s football fortunes.  They signed on to be the heroes, and for many of them, that opportunity will begin the moment they arrive on campus.

 

The Louisville-Kentucky football series has been made up of streaks.  Kentucky won the first seven games.  Louisville has won the last three.  Prior to that, Kentucky won four in a row.  Based on what we have seen from Mark Stoops and company, I think a new streak begins on November 29, 2014.

 

 

 

 

Article written by Duncan Cavanah

34 Comments for Objects in Mirror…



  1. Fake Dale
    12:06 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    Matt I was watching the Conner vs Ryle game on Ihigh streaming, and the Ryle announcer said that there are rumors everywhere that Towles is considering transferring. Maybe that is what the hold up on him is?



  2. Jeremy
    12:11 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    Clearly Stoops is a better coach than Strong. Had the coaches flip flopped teams, UL wins by 4 TD’s.

    Granted we have a better coach, I say not only do we win next year but we beat them handily!

    Also, it’s worth noting that once we beat Florida in 2 weeks that they will be looking to hire Strong. Remember Strong’s statement last year? He said “Kentucky will never beat us again!” Well, he may skip town and not give us that oppurtunity but if he does go to Florida I bet we still get him!

    CATS



  3. NotSatire
    12:34 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    Expect Strong to bail for another job if he has a successful season.



  4. Go cats
    12:40 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    I agree we are definitly improving and will be a neat top 25 team next year. I can’t say though I think we will easily beat Louisville. If strong stays at Louisville it will be difficult to beat him at home. They lose teddy but still return the majority of their starters. Just reality



  5. Go cats
    12:41 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    Near*



  6. Go cats
    12:43 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    Louisville still has dyer and Dom b and great receivers next yr



  7. Brad
    12:45 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    Also not to mention that by moving the game to the end of the season it will effectively be two seasons before we play the cards again. A span of time, that assuming the CATS stay healthy, should benefit the young CATS talent more than the cards, particularly when considering the superior talent they will have been tested against versus the weak ACC the cards will face.



  8. Go cats
    12:47 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    Louisville plays Clemson who beat Georgia, Miami who beat Florida, FSU, and ND next yr how is that weak. How is that weak lets be real



  9. nudum pactum
    1:05 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    Leave it to this fan base to pound their chests over a two touchdown loss at home to their rivals. Leave it to this fan base to go 0 for 17 on third downs and talk about looking strong on O. Leave it to this fan base mock another for having line beards and listening to wrap when their own wildcat at their own football games has a line beard and, oh hey, that was wrap music playing in Commonwealth!



  10. Mr. Wrestling II
    1:16 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    This post is pathethic.I would rather read about another post about Nick Roush’s Bruce Springsteen-esque glory days at DeSalles than see more of this drivel.



  11. jpg
    1:20 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    8, the ACC got its 1st big win over the SEC in a long time with Clemson. Miami was the beneficiary of a ton of Florida turnovers and mistakes. Florida put up 200 more yards of offense (413-212) than Miami. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a rivalry game and all, but Florida is falling apart and will probably fire their coach by seasons end.

    Florida St is getting better, especially with the talent they have coming in. On the national stage, the ACC has not performed the best. That is just the truth. I just like the fact that UL will finally have to play good competition week-in-week-out.

    9. the funny thing, Nudum, is that with all of the problems UK faced last Saturday, they still had plenty of chances to put points on the board, yet they stabbed themselves in the foot. So criticize all you want, but UL is the team that is supposed to be #7 in the country.



  12. tom
    1:25 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    Dear Nudum pactum or Naked contract –

    Is wrap a local radio station? I think you mean RAP music. Somehow that spelling oversight destroys any credibility your post might have.

    agere sequitur credere



  13. tom
    1:30 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    of course I am being facetious.



  14. STEVE!
    1:57 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    Our expectations and goals have really plummeted over the past few years. Now we’re really excited about coming within 14 points of an AAC team we refer to as Little Brother\City College, and the possibility that we’ll be on their level in the near future. We should be thinking about comparing ourselves to Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, etc in the SEC. Who is responsible for this situation, and why does he still have a job?



  15. Ryan
    2:01 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    UK stabbing themselves in the foot or was it a good Louisville team making plays. Love how Louisville plays a poor first half and stills wins by two touchdowns on the road and UK fans are talking about beating Louisville next year. Are you serious… UK can’t even beat WKU who just lost to South Alabama. Kentucky will never be anything meaningful in football. The SEC is great I agree, but it is also why you will never see more than 6 wins. The past twenty years UK has had the advantage of the SEC and has failed to Louisville 12 out of 20. The majority of those years Louisville didnt even have the resources of a major conference. UK is a basement SEC team that is now officially hit rock bottom with not one but two in state losses in back to back seasons. Kentucky is looking up at both Louisville and WKU which is pretty pathetic since the SEC is supposed to be minor league football. UK is only getting better because they have reached an all time worse! Enjoy the rise to 6 wins cats while Louisville continues to go bowling every year in the ACC. I think the next 20 years may be 15 out of 20 for the cards with the help of the ACC.



  16. kadizkat
    2:01 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    Insightful, provocative, all the usual words of praise. Good job, Duncan.



  17. Don't get it
    2:13 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    #11 I don’t understand the 3rd paragraph in your post at all. You say UK had plenty of chances to score, yet kept shooting themselves in the foot. Is that supposed to be an excuse? Because if you ask me what you wrote is a definition of an inferior team that could not get it done. I agree with Duncan’s premise that Stoops is improving this team, but seriously going 0 for 17 on 3rd down, not scoring when you have the chance and shooting yourself in the foot just means you aren’t very good. Nothing more, nothing less.



  18. jpg
    2:25 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    15, hahahahaha. Oh brother, where to begin. UK stabbed themselves in the ‘foot’ because they missed a bunch of opportunities with dropped passes (is UL making plays on dropped passes?), and because they make mistakes like a fumble inside the UL 10 because of a bad QB-RB exchange (again, that had nothing to do with UL).

    Who has UL lost to under Charlie Strong? Wait…the mighty cards lost to FIU and Marshal in Strong’s 2nd year? UL lost to a bad UConn and got blown out by Syracuse last season? Did UL beat a Southern Miss team that did not win a single game last year, by 4?

    Has UL gone 11-2 during his first 3 seasons at the helm? No. (7-6), (7-6), and (11-2 with a bunch of close games)

    All I will say now is, Kragthorpe Era!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



  19. #7? HAHAHAHA
    2:33 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    Attention Cardinal trolls – The point here is that the “7th best team in the country” was supposed to run roughshod (that means trounced [that means they should have beaten us badly]) over a team that finished with an embellished (that means exaggerated [that means better than it really was]) 2-10 last year.

    The fact that your supposedly amazing team barely held on against a team that’s very much unfinished (that means… /sigh/ never mind) tells me all I need to know. We know we’re getting better, where will you be after Teddy Touchdown makes the jump to the 3rd round of the NFL draft and Charlie Strong goes back to his previous career lifting small buildings?



  20. jpg
    2:51 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    17, I do not see the problem with my statement. UK had the chances but kept stabbing themselves in the foot when given. That is not an EXCUSE, as much as it is an observation. UK was in its 3rd game of a new staff with new systems on both sides of the ball. UL on the other hand is in its 4th year under Strong, and has a Heisman Trophy candidate under center.

    Is UK inferior to UL this season? I would think so…..Is UL not ranked 7th in the nation? That is why it is interesting. UK was in the game, and given a bunch of mistakes should have gotten blowout by 40. I am looking at the future with promise as most of these mistakes are fixable. It is not about being good or bad right now, for it is about progress.

    “not scoring when you have the chance and shooting yourself in the foot just means you aren’t very good. Nothing more, nothing less.”———–Actually, it means you are in position to make a play. It would be different if UL just dominated UK, but that was not the case. This is why your “Nothing more, nothing less” comment makes little sense. Nothing is cut and dry.



  21. Ryan
    2:53 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    18, hahah that bothered you didn’t it. Drop passes and fumbles sounds like UK football to me brother. Kragthoroe era…. How bout every uk coach s era seriously think about it. Fiu lost was really bad but rather lose to them than wku uh twice??? U agree bro?. The win at uk the following week made me forget about it quick honestly. And you really shouldn’t dog marshal atleast they have a movie that’s more than uk can say in football



  22. BluKudzu
    3:03 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    We are doing only one thing; improving. Whether that puts us closer in sight of the competition’s rear view mirror is not the important issue. We will get there, I like where we are heading. The issue is coaching what we have now to be better the next time on the field. Truth be told, if U of L had a mediocre QB playing against us, we would have still had problems bringing home a win with the mistakes we made.
    Minimize the errors, make some plays and we may have been competitive. Losing by two touchdowns is not a sign of good things to come, they are challenges to overcome. We are a season or two away, when and if we get there, remains to be seen.
    We just can’t accept those in our rear view mirror to ever catch up with us again.
    Go Cats!



  23. jpg
    3:05 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    21, I am not the one on a rivals site….Am I? How many great Eras has UL had, especially considering all of their weak schedules? Who did UL lose to in Kragthorpes last year? That question is significant because you act like WKU losses are soooo bad.

    You validate Marshal because it had a movie made about it. Do you understand that the movie was made because of the story and not their success on the field. They actually were bad for a long time.

    It seems like UL fans do not enjoy looking at reality. Enjoy getting to BCS bowl because of tie-ins. I can not wait to here Herbstreit talk about it.



  24. BigBrother
    3:11 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    Oh how little brother forgets the past so quickly. Louisville fans ride high with Strong at the helm, but they forget that not too long ago they were getting smacked around by the Cats and barely keep their head above water in the “highly-competitive” Conference USA. It doesn’t bother me so much that Louisville has a good team. What bothers me is that they act like a perennial power. Like they always have been, are and always will be a BCS contender. They talk about past Kentucky coaches, but forget about their past.



  25. Ryan
    3:21 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    23, I have seen the movie so yes I understand the marshal situation. Lol
    Howard S= success beat bama and much state in bowls
    Cooper=sucked but beat uk twice
    John L= success beat top 5 FSU
    Bobby P= success beat top ten wvu never lose to uk orange bowl
    Fagthorpe=sucked
    Charlie= the shit

    4 out of 6 had good tenures if not great. If UL is so overrated and has no tradition why have we had so much success against kentucky or atleast a winning record in the MODERN series



  26. jpg
    3:39 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    If beating 1 single team is equivalent to having a good to great tenure (as you assert), then Brooks for UK is definitely in there. UK beat #1 and eventual national champion LSU. Is it hard to have a good tenure when you rarely play anyone? How hard is it to actually get to bowl games?

    I am sorry, but Ron Cooper SUCKED!! He just happened to suck less than UK’s coach at the time.

    What you see there, is the reality that UL does not have to play anyone except WVU to get to BCS bowls (not last season). UL leads the series 12-8…That is not SO much more success. Have you been under a rock, or have you noticed that UL gained 3 of those wins the last 3 years, when the previous staff were in charge and did their best wrecking ball job. Even Charlie Strong lost his first game to UK. Have you seen UK’s record to some teams in the SEC. UL does not even compare!



  27. Ryan
    4:07 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    I clearly haven’t been under a rock? That’s was stupid.
    Okay, here s the reality the last 20 games you ve had the advantage of being SEC, larger fan base, and state school. You have mentioned many times our weak schedule and poor conference affiliation. Our weak schedule and poor conferences has only hurt us! We know that but we still are beating you guys! That’s is what makes 12-8 an impressive statistic. You should have better players. If Louisville was SEC it would most likely make our record even better against you because we would no longer be at a recruiting disadvantage. Finally, the move to the ACC is going to be a great upgrade and close the conference disadvantage gap with uk closer. Equals not good for your chances of beating us. The reason we have received the opportunity to go ACC is because we ve been impressive in both football and basketball. Beating u all regularly helped us get in. Thanks



  28. SillyTard
    4:18 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    lol at the Tard who has nothing better to do than come here and argue with people from a different fan base. You pound your chest for beating us while claiming we suck. If we suck, why should anyone be impressed that you all beat us? No one on the national level is impressed with you. No one even really knows anything about UofL except that Kevin Ware broke his leg last year during the basketball tournament. Those people probably don’t even know you all went on to win the championship, bc no one gives a crap about UofL. Yes, right now you are better than us in football. But you are still highly irrelevant and it bugs the hell out of you, otherwise you wouldn’t be here trying to get attention. Mission accomplished, lil bro, you got our attention. now its time to go take your afternoon nap.



  29. Back to the Future
    4:32 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    The article is about looking ahead to the future (albeit with blue colored glasses). Then why are so many chest bumping about the past? UL has had nice success in the past 20 years except for the Kragthorpe years. UK has not had much success except for a few Rich Brooks years and more Music City bowls than anyone could care about. Maybe the past predicts the future, but I like to think the future has yet to be defined.



  30. Blade the Pizza eater
    5:50 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    Glad to see the Duncan man out of retirement and back to work. Eat some Pizza brother and enjoy the ride. Blade!



  31. KadizKat
    8:45 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    I too amused that the ‘lil brother fans come on this site to “rag us” about our poor team. Do they really not have anything else to do? Are they so insecure that they have to talk shi* to make themselves feel better? Maybe Duncan, in his next post, will explain it all!!!



  32. kelleydog
    9:24 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    Moral victory = loser’s mentality, your comment that this was a moral victory falls in line with the constant theme of our confernce is better than yours and we’re going to turn this thing around.

    Louisville came to town to establish their run game. Kentucky came to stop the run game. In the end, L’ville had good running stats. That’s not a moral victory.

    If L’ville had brought the pass from the start, it would have been a slaughter.

    Keep drinking the KSR kool-aide because you’re going to need it up to the point when you play your next OOC game.

    I can hear it now, we may have lost to Bama, we may have lost to SC, we may have lost to XYZ but it wasn’t as bad as people expected – Man- we’re turning this thing around……



  33. Some Guy in Kentucky
    10:36 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    UL would not have been a .500 team the last 2 1/2 years without Bridgewater and Parker. They will both be gone next year. We will see if they have anyone to replace them.



  34. come on
    10:41 pm September 19, 2013 Permalink

    Its not about UK, our problems start with having to compete on the field and in recruiting against the best football programs in the Nation. U of L coaches and former coaches are quoted in the press as saying “I don’t want UKs schedule ” and .their fans are the most faithful ” Charlie Strong in the Courier Journal. Bobby Petrino after his first season at Arkansas ” in the SEC you get beat up every week .” The prentention of sustained accomplishment is the stink that is the emetic.
    U of L is two years away from a loss in the belk bowl. Three years from loosing four in a row to us. National media, when they do mention U of L, cannot not snicker when mentioning U of Ls schedule. After multiple years of top ten seasons and victories over the currently best opponents. Then start crowing. As it is, the bravado doesn’t mean a thing.