Well, this past week has really stunk. Just eight days ago, Kentucky football was preparing to take on Georgia for a chance to play for the SEC Championship and we were three days away from one of the most hyped seasons of Kentucky Basketball tipping off against Duke.
Now, where are we? Football lost to Georgia in a game where no one was necessarily upset with how they played, Georgia was just the better team, and was embarrassed yesterday by Tennessee. Basketball got run off the floor by Duke and barely survived against Southern Illinois Friday night.
We must now move on. Sure, Kentucky winning 10 games in the regular season in football would have been amazing. At this point though, the Cats have to stop worrying about what the final win total could be and instead worry about the next team on the schedule.
Middle Tennessee State comes into town on Saturday. On paper, Kentucky is hands down better than the Blue Raiders. My big worry is that we will see what always seemingly happens with Mark Stoops teams and they will play down to their opponent. My worry is that if they do that, they could be possibly on their way to a third straight loss.
The Blue Raiders will enter Saturday’s game with a 7-3 record. They were blown out on the road against Vanderbilt and Georgia and lost a close game to Florida International. If you look squarely at that, you have to feel confident about your chances if you’re Kentucky.
Since that loss to FIU, Middle has won 4 straight games rather easily. The key in most of those games? Senior quarterback Brent Stockstill. He has passed for just under 2,300 yards and 21 touchdowns on the year. The son of the head coach, Stockstill is a polished passer who has been a four-year starter. With a guy who has seen that much football, he is not one you want to let stay in the game because he can beat you with his arm.
This is a game Kentucky should win and should win easily, but we could easily have said the same about the game against Tennessee. Benny Snell and the defense have carried this team all year long and I think it is starting to just wear them down.
This is where Eddie Gran is going to have to get creative. We seemingly always have said all year long that the offense needs to run through the hands of #26. Gran seemed to take that literally in the first half of yesterday’s game especially. It seemed that if Snell wasn’t touching the ball; it was Terry Wilson finding a way to get it in the hands of Lynn Bowden. Don’t get me wrong, getting the ball in the hands of your playmakers is a great plan for success, for a team to be successful, they must have a multi-dimensional offense, especially in the SEC. It is no secret that this isn’t happening right now. It must be more than Snell/Bowden.
How do they fix it against Middle? Well, MTSU is giving up 242 yards/game on the ground, but Tennessee was giving up a similar number. It is no secret that Snell is going to get the ball, but I really want to see more play action calls. A fake run by #26 should open up the field for a player like CJ Conrad to make catches in space. Get other people the ball if you want to be successful.
Overall, this team still should go 9-3 and that is incredible. There is no way I would have believed that would have actually happened at the beginning of the season, but here we are. The worst part about all of this, no matter how the Cats finish, part of me will still feel disappointed even with a 9-win regular season. How crazy is that?