Kentucky traveled to Nashville with an opportunity to win its fifth game of the season a year ago. It didn’t. The manner in which it lost the game still provides an exasperating burr in several BBN saddles.
We sat in the top row of that concrete structure of a stadium on a day that my knee was aching to the point of sober hallucination. What ensued was four hours of misery and an experience that left me vowing to never make a return trip to the Music City. I’ve not been back by the way.
Let’s take a look:
— QB Patrick Towles registered a 3.9 QBR by going 10-26, 67 yards, and 1 INT. Drew Barker relieved the beleaguered starter and provided a brief spark: 5-8, 60 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT.
— Boom Williams rushed for 115 yards off 13 carries including a 67-yard jaunt that finished just short of the goal line.
— JoJo Kemp ran 8 times for 53 yards and scored 1 touchdown.
— WR Dorian Baker caught 7 passes for 42 yards. Baker was the target of several disastrous goal-line fade routes that led to 2 botched 1st and goal situations for the Cats.
— 4/16 on 3rd down.
— Totaled 352 yards: 225 rushing (6.1 ypc), 127 passing.
— 3 turnovers confounded any chance for win: 2 INT’s (1 Pick-6), and 1 fumble.
— RB Ralph Webb carried the Commodores on his back: 33 rushes: 113 yards.
— QB Kyle Shurmur outdueled Towles/Barker: 13-26, 166 yards, 2 TD’s.
— LB Oren Banks intercepted 2 passes; returned 1 of them for a backbreaking touchdown.
— LB Zach Cunningham had 10 tackles.
— 6/17 on 3rd down.
— 301 total yards: 135 rushing, 166 passing.
— 2 turnovers.
— Scored a touchdown on a 37-yard “Sneaky Pete” trick play. QB Kyle Shurmur passed to an uncovered and hidden Caleb Scott on the sideline to give Vanderbilt a 21-10 lead with 37 seconds remaining in the 1st half. I missed this play by the way. A round trip to the latrine with a bad knee took approximately 41 minutes.
Ugly was not a strong enough word to describe last year’s Kentucky’s performance against Vanderbilt. Deplorable is in the ball park only if unacceptable could be grammatically hyphenated into the sentence structure. The Cats entered the game 4-5 with winnable home games with Charlotte and Louisville finish out the schedule. Opportunity wasted to say the least.
Mark Stoops, “It was a very difficult loss — heartbreaking for our team. We thought our team played with a lot of energy, a lot of passion, a lot of heart. The game comes down to a lot of critical plays — a few decisions with myself that could sometimes turn the outcome one way or the other.”
Fast forward to present day and Kentucky has a chance to even its record at 3-3 with winnable games on the horizon. Both Mark Stoops and Derek Mason are hard-pressed to produce wins. Saturday will offer a similar scenario that was presented to the 2015 Cats and Dores. I can only hope that the Wildcats that endured that ghastly day will be motivated enough to repay the thousands of the BBN that suffered through that God-awful experience a year ago. Revenge is a dangerous word. But perilous terms are applicable in uneasy times.