The game on Saturday was what it was. Kentucky played poorly throughout the first 40 minutes, picked up significantly in the final 20 and left us with some takeaways going forward (see below). So while the action on the field may have been forgettable in the long run, what took place afterwards will not be. A bonafide movement began Saturday as we saw the creation of #TeamJennifer. During our post game radio show, Jennifer (pictured in the cold group above) called in and suggested that she was tired of dealing with a phenomenon that was prevalent throughout Commonwealth Stadium. She said that during a key third down on defense, she stood up to make noise, only to be told by an older gentlemen behind her to sit down. She said that she wanted to cheer because her team needed the support, only to have the man say that he could not see and he had “paid for this seat.” The call began a movement as those who support fans having a right to stand and cheer took the cause of #TeamJennifer, while those who think fans should settle down and let those behind them see were given the moniker #TeamSitDown. I am firmly in the #TeamJennifer camp. Football games are supposed to be fun and if that means standing and yelling support, then that is what we do. But the battle lines have now been drawn and we as a fanbase need to decide what we are. So via the poll on the right, the hashtags on Twitter and Facebook, let us know what you are…is it #TeamJennifer or #TeamSitDown. You decide and an age-old battle can hopefully lead to a consensus as to proper etiquette going forward.
To the news and/or views:
— THREE FOOTBALL TAKEAWAYS: The game has been dissected by everyone and most of you saw it yourselves, so there is little else to discuss. For me however, there are three takeaways going forward from the Central Michigan game:
1. Morgan Newton’s Toughness
The jury is still out for me on Newton’s overall abilities as a quarterback. I still think he throws a great deep ball and has more pocket presence than most are giving him credit for. However a few poor decisions were made on his part and there were some huge throws that he simply missed, most notably the one to LaRod King in the end zone. But on Saturday, we saw a trait from Newton that was very promising and could pay huge dividends in the future. On the game-cllnching drive, Newton showed an ability to break tackles and make TOUGH runs for big first downs. He is not a Wildcat quarterback (no matter how much some fans hope to make him one) but his ability to take hits and keep running could give him the ability to successfully run planned QB draws for big first downs.
The general reaction to the Pam Ward ESPNU experience was not very positive and threatened to make #TeamShannontheDude a potential trending topic on Twitter. But she did create a phrase that may last, after noting that hard hits from LB Danny Trevathan cause ball carriers to feel as if they have been “Trevathan’d.” Just as we now appreciate Randall Cobb even more after we realize what he has done since leaving, I think the same will happen with Danny next season. He now leads the SEC in tackles with 26 (Winston Guy by the way is second with 23), and the UK defense is as dependent on him as any team is with one player in America. His decision to return to UK has made UK’s defense competitive and he continues to produce All-American level performances week after week.
3. The Call to Remember
I will freely admit that I did not like the call to go for the touchdown on the 1 yard line up seven late. I thought a field goal put the game away and it seemed to me that Joker was unduly influenced by outside factors (like the crowd’s chants) in making the rather odd decision. But, regardless of whether I would have made it, the decision worked and UK won the game by 14. While a negative ramification of that call had Newton been tackled would have been universal scrutiny, a positive ramification is the confidence it engendered amongst his team. Joker showed his offense that he believed in them in a key spot and trusted them to get a big yard when it mattered most. The players praised him afterwards for it and that confidence will be positive moving forward.
— LOUISVILLE GAME: And now we move to the next one, as the Louisville week is finally here. This game may have lost some luster to fans since the beginning of the season, as neither team has looked good and Louisville found a way to lay a complete egg against Florida International (hey at least it is an “International” school). But it is still a huge rivalry and beating the Cards never gets old. A win gets Kentucky its fifth straight in the series and puts the Cats still on target to make a sixth straight bowl game. A loss makes the season much more difficult and gets the fanbase likely up in arms. It is thus a HUGE week for Joker and the Cats. UL has shown little ability to move the ball on offense and their defense has been their (relative) strength. From what I have seen, UK has a better overall defense and a slightly worse overall offense…although if Kentucky can play as it did in the 4th quarter, I would say UK’s offense would be slightly better. The Cats are at home and a 7.5 point favorite, meaning a win is expected. The Cats really need it and with a three-game stretch coming up in which wins will be nearly impossible (Florida, at LSU, at South Carolina), smacking the dirty Cards down one more time is imperative.
— BASKETBALL RECRUITING: Basketball has taken a slight back seat in the past two weeks, as football has gotten going and Calipari has been in the Dominican Republic. However the contact period has begun for recruiting, leading Kenny Payne to travel around America doing “in-home” visits and Calipari to participate from overseas (likely via Skype or some other form of technology). When Calipari returns this week, he is scheduled to three more, including a trip to see Perry Ellis on the 16th. Most still expect no early commitments, although that could change after the mega-Midnigh Madness edition in a few weeks. Expect a great deal of UK recruiting interviews/tidbits over the next 2 weeks as Cal shifts from Dominican mode to “getting a Top 5 class in 2012” mode.
— CALIPARI GETS HIS DOMINICAN REPUBLIC ON: In case you weren’t following the action in Argentina, Calipari guided the Dominican Republic to a 3rd place finish in the FIBA Americas Tournament, the best ever for the island nation. The Dominican had never finished higher than 6th and his accomplishment has drawn high praise from international basketball folks across the world. Unfortunately the tournament only qualified the top 2 for the Olympics, but by coming in 3rd, Calipari qualified the Dominican for the “Last Chance” qualifier next year, right before the London Olympics. It was a showcase of how good Calipari is at the actual Xs and Os of basketball (contrary to his critics…you know who you are) and was a tremendous outreach for UK basketball across South America. Congrats to Calipari and the Dominican team for doing what one would have never thought possible…making UK fans root for, and genuinely like, two Cards and a Gator.
Tomorrow we get back to the radio show by talking about the Central Michigan game, Pam Ward and #TeamJennifer. If you have not yet, make sure and SUBSCRIBE TO THE KSR RADIO SHOW PODCAST, so you can get the show downloaded directly to you every day. Beginning next week, the Post Game show will also be part of that feed as well. It is the #1 college sports podcast in America and is one of the top ten most downloaded daily sports radio shows on iTunes. If you aren’t listening, I hope you will start. More later today….