I spent the morning gathering post-game quotes, trying to wade carefully through the “coach talk” and the players’ media training to find some actual insight as to what happened during Kentucky’s collapse against Florida Saturday night. The Cats’ turnovers, inconsistency and at least one questionable targeting call in the second half ultimately led to a blown 21-10 lead and a victory for the No. 9 Florida Gators inside Kroger Field.
One play that stands out, of course, is Chance Poore’s flubbed 35-yard field goal – I’m sure the Florida media had fun with that headline following the game. But why was the game coming down to a kick in the first place? I was looking for answers – what did the coaching staff say in response to the drive that ultimately resulted in a missed kick and zero points on the board for the Cats? Thanks to our friend the internet (specifically, videos that permanently live on Youtube), I found a video titled “Eddie Gran post Florida.”
“You’d like to not kick field goals; you’d like to have touchdowns on every one. We’ll probably come back and look, and it was mistakes, play calling, whatever it may be,” Gran said in the video. “We had a chance to put them away. We had a bad snap; we had a penalty. Those things are excusable. But that’s on me.”
Gran went on to discuss the Cats’ struggles with getting points on the board late in the game. After a mostly-positive offensive outing during the first half, what led to the kick that ultimately decided the Cats’ fate? They simply couldn’t convert.
“Our efficiency on first downs in the first half, I thought was phenomenal,” Gran said. But the second half was a different story.
“You’ve got to convert. If we would have converted three more, maybe who knows. It could have changed the game. If you don’t have a penalty or something like that, maybe you don’t kick a field goal. Not on a team like this. We had the chance to put them away and we didn’t do it.”
Then the next question… was about Benny Snell. Wait a second. Did Gran’s response just reference Stephen Johnson? And… is that Alan Cutler in the background?
Turns out, the video I was watching was actually from 2017. It came from an entirely different year with the same outcome: a heartbreaking loss to the Gators inside Kentucky’s own stadium. Gran even looked exactly the same.
I’ve never felt a more intense instance of déjà vu. How is this still happening?
The progress the Kentucky football program has made since that video was posted two years ago is truly remarkable. Since then, the Cats have boasted two winning seasons, an impressive bowl game victory, a handful of NFL Draft picks and a win over Florida inside the Swamp. It can be done. Sure, the Cats’ starting quarterback just went down with a devastating injury last week, and many of last year’s key players have graduated from the program. Saturday’s absences due to injury or ejection didn’t help either. Still, what’s in the water when Florida comes to town? And why did it once again come down to a kick?
KSR’s Matt Jones ran through a few of the game’s qualities on Twitter. Combined, the team’s late-game falters lead to an “old school UK loss.”
– Kentucky outplays the opponent
– Blows a big lead
– Backup QB leads comeback
– Poor coaching decisions
– Odd plays
– Questionable calls
– Mental errors
– Missed gimme Field Goal late
This was an old school UK loss
— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) September 15, 2019
I finally found a video from this year’s post-game press conference. Not surprisingly, it didn’t sound that different from the 2017 video.
“We’ll go back as a staff – it always starts with us. It always starts with our staff,” Gran said Saturday night. “We’ll go back and make sure we put them in the right position to win a game. Obviously we didn’t on short yardage, so we’ll go back to the drawing board and get that fixed for next week.”
If nothing else, may we all age as gracefully as Eddie Gran.