(h/t Regina Rickert)
The attendance for Saturday’s game was unofficially officially 65,445, the smallest for a Louisville game since Commonwealth expanded in 1998. Commonwealth Stadium’s capacity is 67,606, with our largest crowd ever coming against Florida in 2007 on College GameDay. The game on Saturday, however, still had a great crowd atmosphere like any other big game or rivalry because our defense actually showed up to play.
(h/t Regina Rickert)
Many fans went into the game thinking we didn’t really have a shot versus the high powered Louisville offense and Teddy Bridgewater. They were just holding out hope that Stoops and the staff would get the wheels turning. If someone would have said before the game that the UK defense would force four punts, a fumble, and only allow Louisville to score 10 points on offense in the first half, they probably would have gotten a couple awkward glances. If anything, most would have thought an offensive shootout would have been our best chance to win given the way our defense looked versus a team with any offensive prowess in WKU. The game, however, did not end up how most thought it would and the Cat’s defense brought the crowd alive.
In the first quarter, the UK defense forced UL to go three-and-out on their first three drives of the game and only allowed two first downs. The Cat’s persistent defensive attack in the first half gave the fans a reason to cheer as the defense only gave up six first downs the entire half. Three of those first downs came on the UL drive where they scored a touchdown before halftime. The crowd had the players hyped up after big plays. The players fought hard to show the fans they weren’t just going to be rolled over, they wanted to win. The loudest point of the game came during the Za’Darius sack which took UL out of scoring position and forced a punt. UK fans were loud throughout the half and on their feet for big third downs versus the #7 team in the nation as we had the UL offense looking confused.
(h/t UK Athletics)
The defense gave the fans something to be optimistic about, something we haven’t recently been accustomed to under Rick Minter and Steve Brown’s defensive schemes. I’m not saying we played the best defensive game UK has ever played, but the defense looked significantly better than they did from the first week. The crowd was very effective in the first half even when UK went down 20-3 early in the second half. The crowd was still loud and cheering as the offense began to pick up and Jojo broke off a 47 yard run. Unfortunately, Kentucky’s offense could not convert a touchdown on multiple important drives throughout the game, continuing to shoot themselves in the foot with three turnovers (2 in scoring position). The game could have been much more exciting had the offense executed more and been able to keep the UL offense off the field in the second half, but it was a great environment nonetheless.
(h/t Regina Rickert)
The vast majority of the stadium was filled up for Saturday’s performance against Louisville, except for the top corners and last few rows of the upper level. Coming off a 2-10 season where we lost to Vandy by 40 with only 18,885 in attendance, I’d say Stoops has done his job. Expect for a similar attendance outcome against Florida in two weeks given the Cat’s defensive effort from last week, the ability of UK’s young players to make big plays, and Florida’s struggling offense. As of now, Florida is only 100th in the nation in PPG with 20.0 and 71st in passing behind QB Jeff Driskel who averages 222.0 yards a game and has two TD’s and two INT’s on the season. If the UK offense decides to actually show up at Commonwealth Stadium and the defense continues its effort from the Louisville game, then this game could be interesting. We’ll have to wait and see if Florida continues to struggle at home this weekend when they play Tennessee, in order to understand what kind of shot we have at ending the 28-year streak. Although, UT is coming off a 45-point loss to Oregon in Eugene. Who knows what will happen in two weeks. The UK-Florida game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. ET start on ESPNU or ESPN2.