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Help me understand.

Help me understand Saturday’s game.

It has been almost two whole days since my football-loving heart was ripped from my chest and curb stomped outside Kroger Field. I woke up Saturday morning knowing it was the day the streak would end, and with one quarter left to play in the game, I could already taste the champagne that has been sitting on ice for 31 years.

You know what happened from there, and I need help understanding it all. But before we go on, a disclaimer on where I stand:

I am a big fan of Coach Stoops and his staff. I think he’s the man for the job and I still believe this will be a great season for the Wildcats. Kentucky has one of the best defenses I’ve seen since I’ve been a fan and recruiting is lightyears better than it’s ever been before. The program is in a great spot right now and the future is bright. I love the current state of UK football through four weeks of Stoops’ fifth season. Also, Stephen Johnson is the man.

With that said, I need some explanation of what went wrong because I am completely lost.


Help me understand why the offense was taken out of Stephen Johnson’s hands in the second half.

This may be the most common complaint among fans following Saturday’s loss. Once Kentucky got out to a lead, it completely changed its offensive game plan and mentality as offensive coordinator Eddie Gran switched to a conservative offense to run out the clock. The problem with that was, the ball was taken out of Johnson’s hands after Johnson picked the Gators’ defense apart to give Kentucky the lead in the first place. Johnson was 13-of-17 for 165 yards and three touchdowns when Gran decided to ground-and-pound, which ultimately cost Kentucky the game in the end.

Nick Roush did a nice write-up of this after the game, including some quotes from Gran that I didn’t love. Read more on that here.

Help me understand why CJ Conrad isn’t getting more looks.

It seems like every time Kentucky throws to CJ Conrad, something awesome happens. Conrad has only nine catches this season, but three of those were for touchdowns. (And if my memory serves me correctly, he was a yard or two shy of a fourth touchdown on one of the five catches that didn’t go for a score.) Plus he is averaging 21.7 yards per catch and it takes half of the opposing secondary to tackle him each time he has the ball.

So it’s pretty fair to say Conrad should be a go-to weapon with up to eight or nine looks per game. I can’t tell you how many times he has been targeted this year, but I’m certain it is nowhere near that number.

Here’s what’s going to happen in a couple years: Conrad is going to be living in the end zone in the NFL, and we’re going to be wondering why the hell he wasn’t used more when we had him in Lexington. Write it down.

Help me understand the high snaps.

Are they practicing with the basketball team?

Help me understand how this turned into a first down.

Help me understand how you get called for holding on that last play.

There’s a big debate about the holding call that knocked the Cats’ out of field goal range on the final drive of the game. Some say it was a hold; others say it was not. I say that, whether it was or wasn’t, you should never give the official a reason to even think about throwing a flag there. You’re already in field goal range and the only thing that can knock you back is a penalty. You have to keep from grabbing at all costs.

But in defense of Nick Haynes, who must feel awful, it was very, very close after he made a good block but held on a second too long. I don’t think that gets called in any other game but this one.

Help me understand how NO ONE SAW THE WIDE OPEN RECEIVER.

Florida’s Tyrie Cleveland was directly in front of the UK coaching staff for exactly eight seconds (count ’em) and no one noticed him. Nobody in the booth, nobody along the sideline he stood 15 yards from. For the life of me, I cannot understand how he went unnoticed and how a timeout wasn’t called to prevent the free touchdown on fourth down.

Help me understand how IT HAPPENED TWICE.

I need a drink.

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

52 Comments for Help me understand.

  1. BBNDan7
    4:48 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

    Help me understand why Lynn Bowden isn’t playing more too

  2. secrick
    4:50 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

    Heck Drew i Can’t figure it out myself.

  3. Duff86
    4:53 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

    Not worth the thinking power it will take. Just let it go. We’ll never understand.

  4. classof68
    4:54 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

    It’s simple Drew. Stoops, Stoops, Stoops, Stoops, Stoops, Stoops, and last but not least Stoops. But I have a feeling you already knew that.

    • Angelo
      6:30 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

      Too many concussions!! Stoops needs a brain MRI…

    • bluebew
      10:13 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

      Ding ding ding ding ding ding ding! We have a winner.

  5. runningunnin.454
    4:55 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

    Is this a test? Easy,
    Holding…could be called on every play of every game; it happens.
    High snaps…inexperience.
    Two receivers left open…the DC up in the booth fell asleep.
    C.J. Conrad…he goes home after the 3rd Q because it’s past his bedtime.
    The rest…coaching blunders.

  6. Gus Chiggins
    5:02 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

    But Drew it’s fine… he admitted his mistakes and all is forgiven!

  7. kentuckyrld
    5:12 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

    Help me understand why UK doesn’t have a real head football coach.

  8. MakersMike
    5:20 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

    Help me understand when asked at his presser about going to a conventional play call 13 minutes too early, Mark Stoops said he would do it again.


  9. fairweather
    5:32 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

    Remember when Jo Jo Kemp beat South Carolina out of the Wildcat formation three years back? That is what we were trying to do Saturday; secure the ball, grind it out and burn clock. Very simply, Florida’s execution was better than ours down the stretch.

    There was no excuse for the two horrible 4th down plays that Florida converted. Stoops owned up to it, move on.

    Conrad has been used very effectively. Look at his stats. Night and day from last year.

    High Snaps – Toth graduated, other are struggling. Who knew?

    Lynn Bowden is a freshman. He’s getting more touches every game.

    Again, coaches didn’t go from brilliant to stupid in one game.

    • MadHatter
      6:42 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

      We’re getting about 30% of Conrad’s potential. Kid needs way more looks.

    • TBW3011
      7:05 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

      Who ever said they were brilliant? Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t stupid either, but I’ve never once heard brilliant used describing our coaching, and in particular, game management.

    • TheNewOriginal
      7:44 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

      Absolutely no comparison. In that game, Jo Jo was getting 5-6 yards every single play. Even though South Carolina knew it was coming, they couldn’t stop it. A perfect way to grind it when it works. Saturday, it was not working, so why force it when you could revert to a plan that has been successful for three quarters?

  10. catfanjd
    6:06 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

    Jeez Drew. 1. It’s not about your pride. 2. Florida still has very strong talent and depth. 3. These are kids and they do make mistakes. 4. Count the number of players on the field. There were 11 but someone forgot their primary responsibility and yes Stoops tried to get a timeout. 5. We gave up 196 yards rushing to a solid OLine without our All SEC linebacker. 6. We played a highly touted corner in place of one of the league’s best who was injured. He made mistakes. Despite all of that we were in a position to win the game. That is evidence the talent gap is closing and evidence of depth. Our OLine played well enough to win but certainly didn’t get the job done. We closed many a game running the football last year. Our defense was tired as they are still trying to play veterans in a big game like that. Our fans are focusing on the negative, there were a lot of positives to that game. But players ultimately have to make plays on both sides of the ball in order to beat a perennial power. We just came up short.

    • Thatcher
      6:56 am September 26, 2017 Permalink

      Enough with the “kids” already. Most are 18 years old and older. Even the 17 year olds would be tried as adults. They’ve been playing since highschool if not middle school. But I don’t blame the players. This is all on the coaching staff who are too stubborn and too cocky to do any different. Stoops should have thrown the challenge flag if he couldn’t get a ref’s attention for the timeout. Or let Baity be in charge to call timeouts. And grinding it out against South Carolina is different then grinding against Florida. We should never have stopped running the Run Pass Option when their defenders were so aggressive.

  11. Kernel Sanders
    6:20 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

    JoJo graduated. Even Gran said about 2 weeks ago that some years the Wildcat just won’t work depending on personnel (paraphrased). Anyways, grinding it out in the 3rd quarter vs. a team that’s beat you 30 straight times is absurd! Maybe with 5 minutes to go in the 4th q. The lead was way too small at that point and we got that lead by NOT grinding it.

    It is irrelevant to compare Conrad’s stats from this year to last year. Your point would only be valid if you are saying CJ was way, way, way totally underutilized last year, but hey he’s only way underutilized this year. Wonderful. He should be thrown to 8-10 times a game. What did he see, 3 passes Saturday? 3 completions and a TD, then we quit going to him.

    You are right, they didn’t go from brilliant to stupid in one game. But this staff continues to make errors that should have been corrected. 2 wide open receivers in one game? After it happened at Vandy for a TD last year, it should NEVER have happened again.

    I am still behind Stoops too, but quit making excuses.

    • Kernel Sanders
      6:22 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

      Oops, meant to reply to Fairweather ^

    • fairweather
      6:40 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

      I consider Benny Snell Jr. superior to Jo Jo especially between the tackles. Florida scored 14 points on defense off of interceptions to a pretty decent Michigan team. We did an outstanding job of ball security. If we threw an interception with a 13 point lead the fan base would be even more livid than they are now.

      Everyone says Florida is awful. They are very talented on Defense. Florida was a 1.5 favorite and that is how it played out.

      To say that a receiver should be thrown to 8 to 10 times a game is foolish. should Malik Monk shoot 20 shots every game if he is doubled-teamed?

      No excuses for wide open receivers.

    • Kernel Sanders
      8:07 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

      Lol, Malik Monk always got his shots. And guess what, when he scored 47 against Carolina, thank God Cal didn’t quit feeding the ball to him when he got to 30 points, which is kinda the point here.

      Conrad, a TE mind you, is averaging almost 22 yards per catch. He scores a TD on 33% of his receptions. That’s right, averages 22 yards per catch, has 3 TD’s on the year, has started and played in 4 games.

      And has caught a whopping total of 9 passes caught FOR THE YEAR. He is a mismatch nightmare and is WAY underutilized. Stupidly and apparently stubbornly so.

  12. catfanjd
    6:38 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

    Conrad took some hard licks and he is banged up pretty good this week. As a fan continue to play the what if….but I see so many positives with this team I am excited about our future. Sure I wish we had won but we lost 12 months ago 45-7

  13. Kat4Life
    6:53 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

    I think this one hurt more than about any football loss in my 45+ years as a fan……..we had to work our asses off to give this one away, but in UK football tradition, we were up to the task. I LOVE this team, but damn boys…… gotta close these out…….

  14. CoolStoryBro
    7:09 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

    Coach Brooks vs Florida:
    2003: L 21-24
    2004: L 3-20
    2005: L 28-49
    2006: L 7-26 (BOWL)
    2007: L 37-45 (BOWL)
    2008: L 5-63 (BOWL)
    2009: L 7-41 (BOWL)

    3 of our last 4 losses to Florida have been within a score and even had we won Saturday night, it would have just been a prelude of things to come not a conclusion. We weren’t going to immediately begin another 30-game losing streak. It’ll be nice to end the streak but what is nicer is being competitive and on-parity with them as a program which will lead to victories. Not sure when but we’re close.

    Also, lets not throw the baby out with the bathwater. We can still have a good/great season and I think we’ll be better as a result of some of the things that happened Saturday night.

    • Chuck Norris
      7:38 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

      Wow, it’s nice to see someone in the comments section with actual perspective and common sense. Good on ya!

    • CoolStoryBro
      12:01 am September 26, 2017 Permalink

      thank you I think some of these folks are out of touch or have forgotten where we were at after Brooks left.

    • Rabbi Li
      7:54 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

      CoolStoryBro – Here’s where your logic falls apart.

      Florida of the past 3 season has been a shadow of the Florida we know from the past 4 decades.

      So even though Stoops teams are playing them closer it can’t be directly reflective of ‘him’ and ‘his effect.’

      Also, we beat 1 team with a winning record last year. That makes 7-6 really a bad results.

    • CoolStoryBro
      11:59 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

      Florida was down through the back half of Brooks tenure as well. Not sure what the point there is. Even if Florida is down, as a program, they are miles ahead of where we were at when Stoops took over. Look over the record Brooks had vs Florida. Most of those games were not competitive and yet I’d doubt you judge the legacy of Brooks as one of failure.

      7-6 is a great result considering our starting qb went down with a season ending injury and we’re coming off of 5 years without a bowl game.

      You can either be negative or positive in this situation. The progress of the program is evident and the AD agrees. The staff we have are great and will get us to where we want to go. It’s up to you to buy in our not because the results are already there.

    • Chuck Norris
      8:15 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

      ….and here comes Mr Debbie Downer, ugh.

    • Sentient Third Eye
      8:15 am September 26, 2017 Permalink

      Excellent point!. To be honest, I think most of the negative reaction is really fueled by the fact that almost every game against Florida is so close now and we still lose. It’s like we’re rolling dice and always coming up snake eyes every single time. It’s a statistical aberration.

  15. UKPROF
    7:53 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

    I hope Coach Stoops and every coach on his staff reads this article. Then, I would love it even more if they would respond DIRECTLY to each (and every) question you have asked. THAT would be an interesting read for sure. I travel, and I get to listen to sports talk radio in a number of different states. The over whelming consensus seems to be that the UK COACHES had a number of ‘major’ coaching mistakes. Yes, had that poor holding call at the end not have happened, all those coaching mistakes would have been swept under the rug…to the majority of fans. But when you lose and you should have won…out comes the microscope A few coaches continue to make major and costly mistakes.

  16. luke_emberton
    9:17 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

    help me understand why Sihiem King doesn’t get more touches when he’s averaging fricking 12 yards a carry

    • bigbluedan9
      10:15 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

      No one has really mentioned this. We should have been feeding our 2 most productive players in that time with King/Conrad. King’s speed was killer in the game.

    9:25 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

    Stoops is a defensive coach, not used to clock management. He is poor at clock management. Not just Florida game, many clock management issues. Just be smart enough to delegate to someone who is good at clock management. Oh , and in game situations, poor at pressure in game decisions. Still learning to be a head coach.

    • bluebew
      10:30 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

      Totally agree with most of this INCAL…he stinks at clock management and at in-game pressure decisions. Here is where I diverge – he’s in YEAR FIVE…..if you don’t get this by year five after spending your entire professional life as a coach, well…yeah, I’m just not too sure about that. And, lastly, as you pointed out to start, he’s a defensive coach – the LAST thing he should be allowing to occur are unimaginable defensive lapses of the magnitude that occurred Saturday. I believe in second, third, fourth…..chances. But, I’m starting to think he may be beyond recovery.

    • Angelo
      12:39 am September 26, 2017 Permalink

      His slow reaction time suggests a more serious underlying issue… with his brain. He may have suffered a few too many concussions.

    • Paw
      8:03 pm September 27, 2017 Permalink

      The bottom line is CJ Conrad is a playmaker Time to put The Big Cat to work full time! If you pay attention the use him for 3 downs and then when they are in the crunch on 4th and go they pull him out instead of using a very effective tool.

  18. jaws2
    9:54 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

    I believe Conrad had 3 balls thrown his way in the first half. Each time with excellent results. How is it possible he disappears in the second half? There’s no way FL coverage was that much more effective. I watched every alignment the FL defense had and there was never any major adjustments in the second half. Gran or Stoops, or both just blew this attack in the second half. It’s a shame.

  19. fairweather
    10:22 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

    You could make the same case for King. He was our most successful running back. Defenses adjust. It looks easy in hindsight. I didn’t see many dropped balls by receivers. If they managed to get open, which was not easy against a really good secondary, Johnson threw them the ball.

  20. EastKYCAT
    10:45 pm September 25, 2017 Permalink

    Drew, I can tell you why that play turned into a first down. LACK OF TACKLING TECHNIQUE. Now-a-days individuals try to make a tackle by throwing their body into an opponent,WHILE LEAVING THEIR FEET. This looks good when hitting someone, it is also poor way to demonstrate how to hit someone. I saw two good efficient tackles in Saturdays game. Kash Daniel on a special teams play where he comes up and makes contact, wraps up, keeps his feet moving and drives the opponent to the ground. Baity did the exact same technique and it looked and good on T.V. as well cause you never see those kind of hits any more.
    The reason he got the first down is because, Michael Edwards (#7) left his feet and did not run through the carrier nor kept his head up, with the ending result of bouncing of the ball carrier and then watching him tip toe to the first down marker. WRAP UP AND KEEP YOUR FEET MOVING PLEASE!

  21. Luether
    12:13 am September 26, 2017 Permalink

    If the Queen had balls, she’d be the King…

    • Booby Petrino
      8:16 am September 26, 2017 Permalink

      Not in today’s world. He can be a she if he/she/it wants.

  22. bailey000
    6:19 am September 26, 2017 Permalink

    It’s so easy to look at a loss and see a million things that could have been done differently. It’s actually easy in a win also. Everyone gets pissed after an upsetting defeat, and everybody becomes high profile coaches after the fact. Obviously there were a lot of HUGE mistakes, but remember we a program that did not belong in SEC football a few years ago. Mark Stoops has made a lot of mistakes, but where he has taken this program is awesome. I believe he will get better as a coach while bring in better and better recruits. Everyone settle down a bit and realize this thing could still be special.

  23. bailey000
    6:26 am September 26, 2017 Permalink

    How many footballs are on the field because Benny has to get touches, Sci-fi has to get touches, Juice has to get touches, Conrad has to get touches, Bowden has to get touches, Bone needs to get involved, Stephen has to make plays with his feet, it’s nice seeing Walker making catches. I mean does everyone want us to run tempo? Not so sure our defense could handle that?

    • Sentient Third Eye
      8:30 am September 26, 2017 Permalink

      I think for this team tempo is best used in strategic instances only. I don’t we are built to be a full-time tempo team on either side of the ball.

  24. USMC5150
    7:06 am September 26, 2017 Permalink

    It’s a game yes it sucks we lost but it’s a game. Don’t be so dramatic it’s not comparable to some you know dying in front of you ect. It’s entertainment that you can be passionate about but the reality is it’s only a game.

  25. BTownUKFan
    8:38 am September 26, 2017 Permalink

    Live through 40+ seasons of Kentucky football and you’ll understand. I’d love to end the streak just so it would stop being a topic of conversation but I recognize that Stoop’s has raised our talent level and we can compete with most teams in our league. No one is talking about Vandy getting drilled 59-0 by Alabama. I don’t see that happening to Kentucky.

  26. 3 fan
    8:39 am September 26, 2017 Permalink

    Cause Stoops SUCKS as an in-game coach?

  27. Rembrandt
    8:40 am September 26, 2017 Permalink

    Drew. The game is over, and the outcome will not change. Time to stop crying. How about some coverage of UK’s next game?

  28. PillsburyThrowboy
    8:42 am September 26, 2017 Permalink

    Drew, the short simple answer is that it is Kentucky Football.

    This team is miles ahead of where it was in Jokers last season, yet I never saw you being this big of a baby when discussing any of those games. Let’s move on to the next game and worry about going to a bowl game.

    • That’s because he/we knew we were horrible. Being oh so close is harder for me than getting spanked when you know you’re horrible. When you’re getting crushed by Vandy on your own home field like we were, it’s hard to do anything but chuckle at that point.