Last night was an odd night. At times UK’s offense looked like it could walk right down the field and score at will. At times it looked like Bill Curry was calling the plays. At times the UK defense was like a brick wall, putting hits on the La-Monroe QB that even made the folks in the stands cringe. At times they looked like the ghost of Mike Archer, as third down plays were converted with the frequency of a tent revival. The entire game was just weird…whatever could happen, happened….missed extra points, blocked field goals, punts returned for touchdowns, strange penalties, time running out at the end of a half before a team could score. It was as if Halloween and a full moon struck a week early and both teams were just a bit out of sorts.
But as odd as the game might have been, most importantly Kentucky won. Make no mistake, the game could have gone in a much closer manner. With a missed TD drive late, two missed FGs and one missed extra point, Kentucky’s 28-13 lead late, could have easily been 28-26, with the crowd quite nervous. But it wasnt, and Kentucky found a way to win with a convincing 36-13 score. Some thoughts:
— It isnt strange now to think that in his Senior year, Randall Cobb could be a Heisman contender. What player does more for his team? He returns punts, holds on kicks, takes the Wildcat and can throw for long receptions. He is a do-it-all player on a team that needs him to do every bit. Last night was spectactular. He is the one player that gives me total confidence when he has the ball. 4th and 1 that they must convert…give it to Cobb. Drive that needs to lead to a touchdown…Wildcat for Cobb. His talent is unbelievable and when I grow up, I want to be Randall Cobb.
— A mixed game for the QBs. You continue to see flashes of brilliance for Morgan Newton, but his first half INT kept La-Monroe in the game, when they were ripe to be blown out. Still, he is getting great game experience and you can see the talent that will carry him in later years. As for Will Fidler, generally a solid performance, absent his INT. I was amazed at how well he ran the QB draws and he even took a “Wildcat” play at one point. It is clear that when the staff feels it is a big drive, they hand it to Fidler. I imagine that will continue to be the case.
— Great play today by the offensive and defensive lines. The biggest difference in this team this year is that we finally have something resembling SEC size at the OL positions. They had another good game today. While getting pressure on the QB hasnt necessarily been a strength all year, the DL had a big game and made La-Monroe QB Cody Wells suffer all game. With no blitzes really called, they got constant pressure and generally controlled the running game. A good performance.
— The Cats HAVE to do better on 3rd down. They were atrocious last night, allowing 12 third down conversions, eight of which were for 7 yards or more. The pattern of allowing third and long and then giving up a long pass is frustrating for the fans and kills your defense over time. I imagine this is the one facet of the game that Rich Brooks will be very vocal about this week.
— Sometimes just a couple of things can change a game. La-Monroe not scoring at the end of the first half was brutal, and was really poor clock management by the QB and coaching staff. Get 7 or 3 there and it is a different scenario going forward. Similarly, the Cats converted two 4th and 1s late that were DEEP in La-Monroe territory. Miss those and it is a different game. Sometimes it is the little things.
— Finally, it was great to see the military presence at the game. Throughout the game, the military set in the end zone corner and were loud and vocal, making quite a showing for the Cats. I always enjoy the game in which they attend and look forward to the scene afterward when the UK players walk off and shake the servicemen’s hands. A great scene once again.
A big win for the Cats and while it wasnt always crisp, they beat a good team that will likely win their league. The biggest game of the season is next week. Get those Halloween costumes and be ready.