It was one of those days in Commonwealth. Beautiful weather, blue clear sky and a slight breeze to make sure it wasnt sweltering. But beneath all of the perfect weather was an undertone of difficulty. Why? Because the Cats just cant beat Steve Spurrier. I spent most of the day walking on both sides of the Old Ball Coach’s sideline. And throughout, I was mesmerized by him, in a way similar to looking at an evil genius. You just knew that no matter what UK did, no matter how it played, Spurrier would find a way to win. Kentucky by no means played perfect, and you can make the argument that they didnt even play well, but in the end it was Spurrier and the Cats just dont beat Spurrier. Four turnovers, four missed field goals…..doesnt matter. When Spurrier plays the Cats, he gets it done. Some notes from the game.
— The first half was one of the oddest halves of football that I have ever seen. At one point South Carolina had four turnovers in 20 minutes, and a seven point lead. The Cats played very well on defense, and essentially all of the Cocks’ points came from two mistakes on Special Teams. However the Cats couldnt capitalize on the gifts, getting one field goal blocked and losing field position on a number of occasions. Still yet, the Cats were up three at halftime and set up to win the game. Until….
— The second half was a disaster on many levels. Most importantly, on offense the Cats were inept in the second half. Whether it was Hartline throwing the ball high, receivers dropping catches off their fingers or the running game moving the ball one yard at a time, offensively there was no moment in the second half when the Cats looked capable of putting a drive together.
— When asked after the game about the problems in the second half, Rich Brooks put it succintly: The Cats inability to stop South Carolina on third down and long was the difference in the game, although Brooks didnt think that was all Kentucky’s fault, noting that they made “some great throws and catches.” Four times however, the Cocks had 3rd and 12 or longer…..and four times they converted. 8-17 on third down….You cant win with those statistics…..
— The fans clearly found the play of Michael Hartline disappointing, but Brooks didnt speak so harshly. He mentioned some “inaccurate throws” but otherwise was much more critical of the running game, which put UK in a position of having to throw on second and third down. He mentioned that “fans wanted Derrick Locke and they got him,” but noted that he didnt produce yardage much better than Dixon.
— The biggest issue at this time to me is that the Wide Receivers are simply not at the SEC level. Dicky Lyons was of course injured, Ford didnt play, Lanxter got hurt during the game and EJ Adams has hands made of brittle glass. As for the Freshmen, it is a tough go of it. Roark cant make the big plays, Boyd still doesnt know the routes, Adeyemi is a bit short….only Cobb really looks ready at this time. And it may only get worse.
— As for Dicky Lyons, he has a torn MCL. If that is his only injury, he will be out 3-4 weeks….we will know on Monday if it is anything else. Lyons is optimistic and told me “I have to get to play again…..I just have to.”
— Micah Johnson led the team in tackles, essentially playing on one leg. Watching him between plays, it was obvious that he was in a great deal of pain and limping into the huddle. A manly performance to say the least.
— Brooks was disappointed in the secondary although he did believe that some of the breakdowns were due to a difference in height and not coverage breakdowns. Either way, outside of Trevard Lindley, the defensive secondary had a tough day.
— As for special teams….eh, a bad day. I cant write about it now as it makes me sad.
We will have more later. But for now, count me thoroughly depressed.