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The Cats Come Close, But Cannot Finish

Bud’s forced fumble resulted in a touchdown, but it still wasn’t enough. (@MattStonephotog)

Bud's forced fumble resulted in a touchdown, but it still wasn't enough. (@MattStonephotog)

Bud’s forced fumble resulted in a touchdown, but it still wasn’t enough. (@MattStonephotog)

After 15 minutes of pacing and cursing, I can finally accept a season-ending loss to Louisville, 44-40.  The heart was there, the execution was not.

After getting drummed for five weeks straight, we didn’t know what to expect from the Cats.  Most had already conceded the Cards would get the W, including myself, but Kentucky started the game with a fire we have not seen from these Cats.  

Three pre-game scuffles translated into defensive aggressiveness, playing with a tenacity you saw from Mark Stoops’ defense early in the season.  Not only did they stop the run game from the get-go, they hit them in the mouth, HARD.  Za’Darius Smith’s sack on the first possession forced a three and out.  When the Cats couldn’t respond, Mike Douglas’ hit on Reggie Bonnafon caused the ball to fly aimlessly into AJ Stamps hands.

The Cats had the early momentum, but could only muster a field goal.  After another quick 3 and out, UK once again had great field position, but could only get a field goal.  Just like when Louisville lost to Florida State, they had the chance to go up big early, but settling for field goals would come back to bite them in the rear down the road.

Patrick Towles looked uncomfortable the entire game.  And by uncomfortable I mean he looked like someone stole his puppy.  Granted, Louisville was getting to Patrick easily when only rushing three, but even the screen passes were thrown into the dirt.  Towles’ longest completion in the first half was for 9 yards.

Even though they couldn’t get it in the end zone, Kentucky’s defense AND special teams (yes, the speical teams) were there to pick them up, blocking a punt to setup a Boom Williams’ touchdown.  Up 13-0, the Cats stepped on the accelerator.  Forcing a 3rd and long, Reggie Bonnafon left the game with an injury, forcing third-strong and Lexington Catholic alum, Kyle Bolin, into the game.  A first down completion, than a fallen cornerback left Devante Parker wide open for a score, and the back-and-forth began.

A Michael Dyer touchdown gave Louisville the lead.  After UK quickly gave the ball back to the Cards, Fred Tiller took an interception to the house, closely resembling his dropped pick 6 against Florida that fell into Damarcus Robinson’s hands.  It looked as if the Cats’ had shaken off their demons.

Down 21-20, Kentucky had the chance to score first in the second half but could only manage one first down.  The defense followed it up with a 3 and out, until Mike Douglas hit Bolin out of bounds.  It kept the drive alive for another play, letting Bolin hit Devante Parker for another big touchdown.  Even though they let the bad happen, the Cats didn’t give up, especially the Senior, Douglas.

Za’Darius Smith forced a fumble to put the Cats within striking range, but once again had to settle for a field goal.  Shortly after, another promising drive ended with just a field goal.  It was discouraging, until the defense was ready for YET ANOTHER big play.  Against South Carolina, Mike Douglas tipped a pass to Bud Dupree for the game-winning score.  This time, Bud stripped Bolin and Douglas took it to the house.  The amazing play appeared to be exactly what they needed to get the W, but like all good things, it had to come to an end eventually.

The Cats had Louisville backed up on their own 4, 3rd and 10.  Four plays later, the Cards had gone 96 yards for a touchdown to take a 34-33 lead.  It was the disheartening beginning to the end for the Cats.  Towles threw an interception the following drive, but the defense kept it within reach by forcing them to a field goal.  Demarco Robinson provided a spark to get the Cats within striking distance, finsihing the drive with a powerful touchdown score by Boom Williams.  Just when you thought the Cats were out of it, they had a 40-37 lead.

The Cats had a chance to close it out, but Marcus McWilson let an interception slide right through his fingertips.  The Louisville offense got rolling soon after, with Parker getting them inside the 15, setting up a Brandon Radcliffe touchdown.  Down 4 with 2:47 to go, the Cats had 75 yards to go for the victory.  They got a few first downs, but the QB draws seemed out of place and Towles never looked confident until he threw Gerod Holliman his 14th-interception of the year, tying an NCAA-record.

Just like that, the Cats’ season was over.

Kyle Freaking Bolin

Bolin has always been a lightning rod for criticism.  Since his days at Lex Cath he’s been despised by many.  He has a hyper-QB personality, but his arrogance was never validated by accomplishment.  Today he shut the haters up with 381 yards and 3 touchdowns.  You must give credit where credit is due, but I’m still perplexed as to why Parker wasn’t being double-teamed the entire game.  Parker finished with 6 catches for 180 yards and all three touchdown receptions.

On the other hand, Patrick Towles

Entering this game, Patrick was poised to be the player that took Kentucky to the promised land.  His hate for Louisville had him in a zone that could take down the Cards.  But it didn’t go that way.

Entering the game, Stoops said the gameplan was to run timing routes to the outside 6-8 yards downfield.  That was quickly abandoned when Towles seemed too “erratic” in the pocket.  He never looked comfortable, often scrambling as soon as the ball was snapped.  Yes, he was pressured, but Pat made those throws under pressure at Florida (as well as many other times).  What was wrong, I don’t think anybody knows, but hopefully the BBN will not forget what Pat did earlier in the season because of how he finished.

That Bye Week REALLY Helped

The Cats had been flat on defense for seemingly forever, but their energy nearly carried them to victory.  They played pissed off, making not only sound tackles, but packing a punch behind each one.  Not many Kentucky teams would respond the way the Cats did today.

The Cats punished the Cards with every hit.

The Cats punished the Cards with every hit.

For the first time since ’95, rushing yards didn’t get the W

If the team won the rushing battle, they won the Governor’s Cup.  Today the Cats had 151 compared to Louisville’s 83, 63 more yards than the third-ranked rushing defense in the nation allows on average.  Boom Williams’ finished with a career day; 126 yards and two touchdowns.

Bud and Z Deserved It

They were the difference-makers that almost willed Kentucky to a win.  Bud disrupted everything, forcing two fumbles while getting a sack and a tackle for loss.  Za’Darius frequently flushed Bolin out of the pocket.  They both had their fair share of big hits, combining for 12 tackles.  They will be tough to replace.

If they keep doing this, we’re all going to go insane

The move to the end of the season will change the rivalry game forever.  The drama from today’s wild and crazy game is just the start of what Stoops hopes to build.  From Monday’s press conference:

“We’re trying to create a bigger and better rivalry,” Stoops said.  “I think that comes from us having to play better football and winning more games and putting ourselves in a position where we can get this game on a more national scale.  But it’s important.  It’s important to the people in this state.  It’s important to our fans and our players and coaches.”

Today was the first step.  Now it all comes down to finishing: if the Cats had turned just two of their field goals into touchdowns, we’re popping champagne like we won the championship game.

Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

19 Comments for The Cats Come Close, But Cannot Finish

  1. RZ67
    6:17 pm November 29, 2014 Permalink

    I’m a 6’0″, out of shape, 30-something white guy, and I’m pretty sure even I could throw at least one touchdown per game if DeVante Parker was on my team. He reminds me a lot of AJ Green. There was no excuse for having single coverage on him most of the game.

  2. WillySpankit
    6:24 pm November 29, 2014 Permalink

    I’m glad we picked the coach that we did. Petrino is dragging them down while Stoops is lifting us up. We will be better than them sooner than later.

    • cats paw
      10:26 pm November 29, 2014 Permalink

      Yea, dragging them down to the orange bowl and an eleven win season while Stoops lifted us over Vanderbilt! How did the ACC do against the SEC today? I mean Louisville only wins because of their easy conference, right?

    • RealCatsFan
      11:13 pm November 29, 2014 Permalink

      Wow, you bird fans really get testy, even after eking out a win against a team you were supposed to dominate.

    • RZ67
      12:22 am November 30, 2014 Permalink

      Louisville has no chance of the Orange Bowl since both Clemson and GA Tech won. One or both of them had to lose for that scenario to work out. Glad you’re showing your knowledge of college football.

      The ACC also beat bad SEC East teams today. FSU, the best team in the ACC, barely beat Florida, who stole a win from the UK team you’re here to troll. It took OT for GA Tech, the second best team in the ACC, to beat Georgia, who is probably the 5th or 6th best team in the overall SEC. Clemson beat a South Carolina team that crappy old UK beat.

      Why are you gloating?

    • RZ67
      12:31 am November 30, 2014 Permalink

      Also, Petrino escaped a losing record this season SOLELY because of DeVante Parker’s return. Let’s not kid ourselves that UL’s offense, even with Dyer and Radcliff, was utterly terrible until Parker came back from the injury. A 6’3″ receive who can catch any damn ball you throw in his general direction and a good defense, even if it is over-rated due to mediocre to bad competition, are enough to win plenty of games.

      Next season is going to be very telling for UL as they’re going to lose a lot of talent that Strong brought in and that Petrino will struggle to replace.

    • RZ67
      12:51 am November 30, 2014 Permalink

      AND, just because I looked back at your stupid comment — 11 wins? Really? UL has 9 wins. If you win The Russel Athletic or whatever bowl, it’ll be 10… there is literally no possible way for UL to have 11 wins.

      Do you even follow the team you troll so hard for?

  3. pspare
    7:01 pm November 29, 2014 Permalink

    Do you realize how hard it is to read a pre “live blog” blog with it constantly loading more posts. Does that make sense? Maybe cause I’m on the mobile site??? Who knows….

  4. sonnyg333
    7:03 pm November 29, 2014 Permalink

    Boom Williams was the star for UK, with no equal…

  5. blubo
    7:04 pm November 29, 2014 Permalink

    has neil brown left yet?

  6. rainman
    7:09 pm November 29, 2014 Permalink

    Why haven’t we seen this kind of fire from the CAYTS all year?

    • Time Expired
      7:16 pm November 29, 2014 Permalink

      Maybe because of dumb asses like you who cannot spell CATS.

    • rainman
      7:20 pm November 29, 2014 Permalink

      Maybe dumbasses like you should know what their talking about!

    • Time Expired
      9:05 pm November 29, 2014 Permalink

      You are like so many so called UK fans if someone outs you as an ldiot you cry and I mean cry TROLL without even knowing what your saying. Another mental midget makes himself known.

    • ukjaybrat
      11:38 am November 30, 2014 Permalink

      CAYTS is not a misspelling… it’s just a different/funny way of saying cats…
      You and cats paws are quite literally either the two biggest trolls on ksr, OR something. you two NEVER have anything positive to say about this site or the wildcats. so please do us all a favor and just stfu…

  7. cracka
    7:51 pm November 29, 2014 Permalink

    We had some clunkers this year but Google 2014 SEC predictions and see what people thought coming into this year 1 minor thing different against Florida and Louisville and we could be going bowling with a 7-5 record. Progress. Let’s finish up this 2015 recruiting class. I believe we’ll be going bowling for a while starting next year. Not sure who our QB will be, though … or our OC for that matter.

    • Leuther
      3:29 am November 30, 2014 Permalink

      Agree, craka! Wait till next year…

  8. real True Blue Cat
    9:06 pm November 29, 2014 Permalink

    I hope Cal was watching the end when with the game over Petrino was still trying to run it in to make the score look better.

    • ukjaybrat
      11:39 am November 30, 2014 Permalink

      meh, he could have scored if he wanted. there was a good 30 seconds and a timeout. i don’t think he was trying to run up the score