My original plan after seeing a movie today was to write about that movie in the night post. Who doesn’t love a movie review? Instead, I left the movie yearning to talk about something much more important– something that occupied more of my attention during the movie than the movie itself: Proper Movie Etiquette. Actually, in this case, it was improper movie etiquette, which over the years I have found to be much more the norm than anything else. Brace yourself for a bit of a rant…
When did people stop acting like civilized human beings at movie theaters? The past 4 to 5 movies that I’ve been to, I’ve lost out on big chunks of the movie due to my disbelief at people’s unbelievable ability to captivate me with their popcorn eating habits. When people eat in a restaurant, or even in the comfort of their own homes– they chew with their mouths closed, right? Isn’t that how you’re supposed to eat food? Why then in the darkness of a movie theatre, does that social norm get thrown out of the room completely? Popcorn is a noisy food by nature, much like chips and pretzels and other food of that nature. I’ve watched people essentially shovel popcorn at a rapid pace into their mouths during movies lately, chomping so loudly that I can hardly hear the movie. The chompers are bad. Yes, they are very bad. But what’s even worse is the “movie talker.” I don’t love when people talk during previews (my favorite part of the movie going experience), but I can grant them the fact that the movie hasn’t started yet. But why, oh why, do people go to the movies with their friends and proceed to discuss what’s happening (not just in the movie, but in life in general)? That’s what O’Charleys and Pubs are for– talking. The funny thing is, I’m not even talking about teenagers. I’ve been very surprised to find that the worst “movie talkers” are actually 40+ years of age. I’m always shocked to hear the chatter, only to look back and see someone my Mom’s age having a full on conversation during a pivotal moment in the movie. I’ll let the rant subside for now, but let me leave you with these 3 thoughts on proper movie etiquette:
1. Chew with your mouth closed (not a bad lesson for eating in general)
2. If you want to talk while you watch a movie, there’s this wonderous thing called Netflix. While you’re at it, I suggest “House of Cards” and “Friday Night Lights.” You’re welcome.
3. There’s never a good reason to eat a 1/2 pound sucker during a movie. Never. And yes, this happened in real life. A person I did not know sitting next to me whipped out a 1/2 pound sucker and began consuming it in a very loud manner (suckers and cereal are the 2 most annoying things to listen to people eat anyway…). After about 5 minutes, I literally turned to the man and said, “I will pay you $5 to stop eating that in here.” He stopped. And then he asked me for $5. Deal.
Let’s move on to some closing thoughts from the opening weekend of the Kentucky football season…
1) There’s only so many ways you can say it, but that was disappointing.
I think at this point just about every person with a voice, Twitter account, blog, etc. has said it in one way or another: Saturday was disappointing. No matter how you slice it, losing to Western Kentucky doesn’t sit well. Not only did WKU win by a fairly comfortable margin, but the Toppers essentially dominated the game in just about every facet one could analyze. Even the few areas in which Kentucky was expected to almost certainly have the better of the play (D-Line in particular), Western prevailed.
Even in a down year, losing to a team from the Sun Belt is a tough pill to swallow. An unnamed WKU player (you probably don’t have to work too hard to guess/figure out which one) spouted off the following statement as he entered the tunnel following the game,”This aint no (word I can’t in good conscience blog knowing that my Mom reads KSR) SEC team.”
2) Mark Stoops faced his first momentum killer since the day he was hired. That in and of itself is quite impressive.
Mark Stoops and his coaching staff have literally done everything right, building an incredible buzz and level of excitement around the program since the moment the coaching hire was announced. The recruiting, the marketing, the fan support, the assistant coaching hires, etc. have all been impressive. Everything has gone right from Day 1. Last night against WKU was the first momentum killer since the day Mark Stoops was hired. The loss doesn’t take anything away from the incredible start Stoops and his staff built, but it was the first non-positive. The fact that it has taken this long for anything to go something other than “great” is pretty impressive.
3) Recruiting buzz perhaps led to false expectations.
Maybe “expectations” is the wrong word to use. I think many Kentucky fans were realistic about the fact that the rebuilding effort was going to be a long process. I don’t think anyone has lost sight of that entirely by any means. With that said, the excitement and buzz around the program has been at such a high level because of the loaded recruiting classes Stoops and his staff are currently putting together for 2014 and beyond. The wave of excitement might have momentarily masked, or at least slightly pushed to the back burner the fact that the current Kentucky roster has lots of holes and was left with very little depth. The talent level left behind by the Joker Phillips staff wasn’t great, and as good as the recruiting for the future looks… this year we still have what we have. And all of that came to the forefront last night.
4) Reality check: Western Kentucky was good. Bobby Petrino was good. The SEC will be better.
Give credit where credit is due. Western Kentucky is a good football team. WKU will probably have a nice season in the Sun Belt, and they might even make a 2nd consecutive bowl game. Some teams from non-BCS conferences are complete pushovers. WKU is not that team. Bobby Petrino is not that coach either. WKU outkicked their coverage with the Petrino hire and he deserves a lot of credit for a well-executed game plan on Saturday night against Kentucky. Petrino showed why his offensive play-calling chops have been successful at a number of schools.
Western Kentucky is a good team. Western Kentucky is not a good SEC team. The SEC will be much, much better. The worst team in the SEC will still have more talent across the board than WKU. The road only gets tougher from here…
5) But Kentucky will catch a break next week and should have some success.
Kentucky has opened up as a 13.5 point favorite over Miami (Ohio) next weekend. Miami (OH) should not be nearly as tough as WKU. Kentucky will catch a much-needed break and a chance for some success on Saturday. Miami finished 9th in the MAC last season and opened this weekend with a 52-14 loss to Marshall. This should be a win Kentucky can count on and the talent gap should be much greater on Saturday.
The young players on Kentucky’s roster showed well for themselves on Saturday. The future looks bright, and Saturday’s game should be a good opportunity for some of those younger players to gain even more momentum and confidence before a tough slate of games over the next few months.
6) Kentucky will have to wait though to really gain the momentum back completely. And PS, Louisville is really good.
Like we mentioned previously in #5, Kentucky will have a chance to come out and see some success on Saturday against Miami. BUT that also means that Kentucky will likely have to wait for a while to really grab the momentum back after a disappointing loss to WKU. After a loss such as that, the best thing the team could hope for is a big bounce back and morale booster. Although the Cats might pick up the win this coming weekend, not as much can be taken away from a game in which they are so heavily favored. With a tough stretch coming after Miami, including Louisville, Florida, South Carolina and Alabama… Kentucky will have its work cut out to try to really regain the momentum. The best thing for Kentucky at this point will be to see vast improvements from week to week, regardless of the results and scores.
P.S… Louisville is really good. I know, I know. Louisville plays a clunker schedule and Ohio University isn’t the best test for a season opener. You can play that card if you want, but Louisville looked very solid in all respects today in a trouncing (49-7) of the Bobcats. Teddy Bridgewater is on his Heisman campaign trail (5 TDs) and will be a load when he comes into Commonwealth in 2 weeks.
7) How will the crowd respond to the first home game after that loss?
The loss to WKU was tough and the noon kickoff for Miami on Saturday isn’t necessarily ideal. How will the crowd/Kentucky fans respond to the first home game in the Stoops era after Saturday’s loss? I predict that the fans will still show up in mass numbers and the buzz kill from Saturday’s loss will be a distant memory. Even in the worst years of the Joker era, there’s just something exciting about the start of college football season and tailgating season. We’ve all been anxiously awaiting this moment. I suspect that Kentucky fans will rise to the occasion and show a massive amount of support for the team and Stoops in the first home game.
8) Quarterback questions remain…
The quarterback race had seemingly finally been settled over the course of the past week or two as Jalen Whitlow locked up the starting spot. Whitlow got the start against WKU and along with that start came some good, some bad, and flashes of great. Matt said it in his post earlier, and I would have to agree— the quarterback position is not the problem. In fact, the QB position might be the least of Kentucky’s worries moving forward. After Saturday’s game, Kentucky has 2 viable options, each possessing strengths (and each with weaknesses). The old saying goes, “If you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterback.” And while there may be some truth to that, Kentucky has two options that I think can create success for the team at the position. Whitlow is still a dangerous threat because of his ability to make something out of broken plays on his feet. Whitlow gives the defense an x-factor that they have to worry about with his ability to move outside of the pocket.
Max Smith came into the game in the 2nd half though and did some nice things as well. Smith has always had the bigger arm of the two, and Smith was able to open up some longer passing options for Kentucky. Smith’s production might have been enough to earn him the nod against Miami. At this point, his play was certainly enough to open the conversation back up. Mark Stoops said as much in the post-game press conference. The coaching staff said they will have to re-evaluate the situation.
If I had a dollar for every time I thought to myself, “If we could just combine Jalen Whitlow and Max Smith, we’d have one hell of a quarterback,” I’d be writing this blog from a much fancier rocking chair.
9) I had hoped it would “look” and “feel” more different than it did…
The result was a little surprising, but honestly wasn’t out of the realm of possibilities. I knew that we could lose to WKU. I have even come to terms with the fact that we might not win very many games at all this season. It’s hard to predict with the schedule we have just how much success Kentucky will experience. With that said, my biggest hope was that Kentucky would pass the “eye test” of looking and feeling much, much different than during the Joker Phillips era. In the 2nd half, when Max Smith went in the game, the offense opened things up a bit. But until then, I was hoping to see and feel a totally different brand of Kentucky football. I thought the play calling would be more exciting, with much higher risks– hopefully leading to higher rewards. As great as Stoops’ defensive coaching is and will be in the future, with defense– you kind of have what you have. The players can only do what they can do. It’s hard to find creative ways to mask lack of speed, size and talent at certain positions. I expected Kentucky’s defense to be underwhelming. I expected a little more from the offense though. Kentucky may not have the talent it will have in the next few years, but Kentucky might have enough in place now at certain skill positions to at least be exciting and put up some points. The play-calling felt very conservative and maybe the expectations for the “Air Raid” were overdone a bit and led to false hope.
One BIG factor though in how the offense looked all night on Saturday was the penalties accrued and the inability to gain positive yardage on first down plays. The rhythm and pace that Neal Brown wants to implement hinges on 4-5 yard gains on first downs. Kentucky failed to put themselves in short yardage situations over and over. Even worse, Kentucky found itself in long yardage situations on 3rd down conversions all night as well. The combination of not gaining positive yards on first downs, and facing long 3rd down situations is a recipe for a loss, no matter the opponent.
I hope that in the next few weeks, we continue to see the offensive playbook open up a little bit more. UK’s 203 passing yards were the fewest by a Neal Brown offense in 15 games (h/t Kyle Tucker). I expect to see that change, and Max Smith might be part of the reason why.
10) “This isn’t who we are. And we still have time to be somebody else.”
That was Mark Stoops’ message to the team following the game on Saturday. I love the message and I think it’s a good one for everyone to let soak in for a minute. The season is only 1 game old and there will still be plenty of opportunities for growth and improvement.