As we continue this widely successful mid-season evaluation, here is Rob Gidel’s take on the head coach, special teams, and recruiting classes. If you disagree, then you’re likely wrong, as Rob has (for reasons I don’t know) seen more of this team than you have.
Coach Richard Brooks: Now in his third and a half season, Coach Brooks has done what he was supposed too this year: get Kentucky in bowl position. He’s won all of the games he should and nearly stole a game at home against Steve Spurrier. Unfortunately, his flare for “keeping it close,” mirrors Mike Tyson in a ladies room. Against ranked opponents this year, Brooks and company have lost by an average of 33 points. Worst yet, he’s alienated the Kentucky fanbase by making constant references to a 6-win unbreakable platform and continued support of Defensive coordinator Mike Archer. Five games will determine his fate as football coach at the University of Kentucky, with three being played in the friendly confines of Commonwealth. Can he save his job? If this season’s start mirrors its end, Brooks will have many help him move back to the Northwest. GRADE: C –
Special Teams: Outside of the success of the dance team, this has probably been the most underrated squad on the football team. Punter Tim Masthay has found some consistency; sparing the Kentucky faithful with only one poor performance this season. To date, Masthay has averaged nearly 40 yards a punt and best yet, has only had one punt blocked all season. Most impressive, nearly 33% of his punts have been downed inside the 20. Kickoffs have seen him have much of the same success, as Masthay has around 20% of his kicks be deemed unreturnable. If he continues this vast improvement, the naysayers will be far and few between for 2007. Field goal kicking has been horrendous, as UK has only converted 50% of its field goals this year. After substituting Freshmen Lones Seiber for J.J. Housley, UK has experienced better success in the kicking game, but a key missed field goal against South Carolina shifted momentum and arguably lost the Wildcats a crucial SEC game at home. A scholarship kicker, Seiber was to be counted on from further distances, but outside of a 41 yarder against hasn’t been called upon enough. UK should be able to offer him some additional opportunities down the stretch. GRADE: C
Recruiting Class of 2006: In the words of a Cleveland Indian fan in the movie Major League; “These guys aint too *&%[email protected] bad.” The freshmen class was deemed to be one of the more talented the program has welcomed in years and after three months of play, you can’t help but be a believer, as 15 newcomers and 13 true freshmen have seen significant game action to date. Linebacker Micah Johnson leads all the freshmen, statistically, with 23 tackles and he is followed by the only other freshmen with double-digit tackle numbers in cornerback Paul Warford. Offensively, fullback Maurice Grinter has been a lone bright spot, scoring two touchdowns despite only touching the ball 4 times to date (3 catches, 1 rush). Biggest disappointment may be the inability to get wide receiver Michael Strickland the ball. The Georgia native has only caught one ball after being the lone freshmen receiver to not redshirt. GRADE: B
Recruiting Class of 2005: Story of the year has been how ineffective the redshirt seasons of a year ago have been. Redshirt TE’s Bogue and Duncan have already been jumped over by true freshmen TC Drake in the pecking order and have been none factors. Redshirted O-Lineman Gonzalez, Hennis and Blaylock have seen a combined 3 games of action. Redshirt Linebacker Ben Bates has done comparably poor and cornerback Jordan Nevels hasn’t even seen the field. Only redshirted cornerback Trevard Lindlay, defensive end Jeremy Jarmon, safety Mike Schwindel and running back Alfonso Smith have contributed in any fashion to this year’s team. That’s extremely poor. The class of ’05 continues to anchor the offensive line with super true sophomore offensive lineman James Alexander, Garry Williams and Christian Johnson, all gaining valuable playing time for the future. Wide receivers Demoreo Ford, Curtis Pulley and David Jones have performed well at times, but need to gain more consistency. Pride of the class is on the defensive line where Ventrell Jenkins and Myron Pryor have outplayed former class studs Braxton Kelley and Johnny Williams at linebacker. GRADE: C
Recruiting: UK’s class of 2007 recruiting efforts have been about as exciting as a TBS prime-time slot. Outside of last year’s star power of Demetrius Goode, Chris Drayton and Moncell Allen re-upping for the fall, the ‘Cats landed just one major verbal commitment in the past seven months. That being Georgia wide receiver John Keye (6’6 190). In fact, arguably UK’s best addition thus far might have already left the boat in Indiana defensive tackle Jeff Boyd (6’5 255). With limited scholarships, the thought was that the Wildcats would really make an impact in the recruiting game with more than an ample advantage over its counterparts. That, strangely enough, has not happened. Covington’s Duran Jefferson, Monroe Co.’s Billy Joe Murphy and Trinity’s Ryan Tydlacka won’t scare anyone; and Hartwell (Ga.)’s Shane McCord continues to recover from injury. All in all, this year’s class won’t be raising any eyebrows, but still alot of time to go. GRADE: D