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The Day the Music Died

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

In Music City, Kentucky failed to accept the gold-and-black bow-tied gift also known as an SEC road win. No matter how hospitable Coach Mason’s team was, the visitors just failed open the package. More on that gift later.

One team had a simple offensive game plan and stuck to it through four quarters. The other team was UK. Offensively, Vanderbilt’s intent was to run the football, manage the clock, and take play action passing shots when available. The Wildcats…who knows?

Given the Commodore’s defensive status, ease was not expected. However, the Cats had more success than you might think. Vandy was giving up 113 rush yards per game. UK ran for 225. VU was allowing 316 yards per game, the Cats managed 352. Nice digits, but with one major problem. There was no rhyme or reason in the UK offensive game plan that did produced positive yet sporadic yards. That is, unless turnovers were an aspiration. VU scored 14 points off turnovers. You’re welcome.

When the Cats had the football, on too many occasions 2nd and 10+ was flashing on the scoreboard. Against a team with a 25% third down conversion ratio, one would think that positive first down yardage of any nature would have been the rational choice. Not so on Saturday. Most drives started with a fade route or ill-attempted downfield shot followed by a draw. Third and forever and punts ensued. But Kentucky had its opportunities.

Kentucky’s opening drive should have been an indication of the inevitable. Not one, but two dropped touchdown passes forced the Cats to settle for a field goal. On two occasions, UK had the ball first and goal on the precipice of breaking the game wide open. Its first futile attempt can be best described as chaotic. What was the hurry? The huddle appeared haggard and stressed. Four plays including a pass to nobody equaled zero points and Uncle Mo dawning a Commodore hat.

The second trip inside the ten-yard line was equally as perplexing. 1st and goal on the 3, the Cats went with trend and passed on first down. Jeff Badet was just outside or inside if you see the replay, the white line following the catch. Incomplete, but not a horrific play. What followed led to many a visor and hat toss in the concrete edifice known as Vanderbilt Stadium. On second down, Patrick Towles threw a short and errant fade route to Dorian Baker. With most of the 25,000 folks in the stands expecting the play, Vanderbilt reacted accordingly. The pass into double coverage was intercepted in the end zone. Third wasted opportunity if you’re keeping score at home.

Keeping to script, late in the first half the Cats were faced with a 4th and 1 near midfield. Mark Stoops decided to go for it, attempt failed. With 1:15 left in the first half, an uncovered Caleb Scott caught a perfectly spiraled pass from Shurmer for a touchdown. Baffling. Given UK’s anemic short yardage offense, a punt would have been the right call to stick the equally feeble Vanderbilt offense deep in its own territory. Going to the half trailing 14-10 quickly turned into 21-10 repetitive nightmare scenario.

The game did see Drew Barker lead an impressive touchdown drive. Following a scoring strike to Ryan Timmons, the Twitter machine exploded, saying that the Drew Barker era had started, and why did it take so long? Next possession, welcome to the SEC. Vanderbilt Pick 6.

Even as badly and as ugly as the Cat had played, Vanderbilt again tried to hand over the early Christmas gift but the Cats just were not in the holiday spirit. Cats had three chances in the fourth quarter but failed in all. While setting up for a field goal to cut into the Vandy lead, senior Jordan Swindle calmly jogged off the field instead of lining up for the kick. Delay of game Kentucky. Austin MacGinnis missed the FG.

Boom Williams played through injury. The red zone fumble will haunt, but Boom rushed for 115 net yards on 13 carries. Net yards, lost yardage added up as well. JoJo Kemp ran for 53 yards on 8 carries. That’s the frustrating part; UK had success running the football but would go away from the ground and go to the air which had little accomplishment. Drew Barker did go 5-8 and a TD, Patrick Towles finished the night 10-26 for 67 yards. Dropped passes. I swear, if I typed those words once, I’ve done so a thousand times.

Special teams continue to haunt. Including the missed FG, penalties on returns were topped by a blocked punt that eventually sealed the deal. In all the malevolence, there were positives.

Defense played well. Other than the uncovered receiver for six, DJ Eliot’s unit held Vandy to 301 total yards. Ok, I know. The Vandy offense ranked 127th/128 in college football, but I have to highlight at least one positive. Effort and passion were evident as CJ Johnson, Farrington Huguennin, and Jason Hatcher battled and disrupted. In the end, it wasn’t enough. Postgame frustration was voiced to the media. If there was a locker room rift, add another to the fray, offense vs. defense.

What does all this mean?

Kentucky let another SEC win slip through their fingers. Pun intended. Much like against Auburn, Kentucky had the perceived better team and should have won. Unexplainable play calling, decision making, and other mishaps denied the Cats from inching one game closer to bowl eligibility. Now, with Charlotte and Louisville remaining, postseason play projections are bleak at best.

Kentucky is in trouble and staring down another 5-7 season. No way around it or kind way to word it. In a season when the schedule was placed on a tee for a homerun year, the Cats have swung and missed.

The Charlotte 49ers are coming to town for a 7:30 kickoff. I shudder while imagining the crowd, or lack thereof. But let me make a point, and make sure it’s read/heard loud and clear. The BBN has done their job. Even after 4-5 disappointment, that structure in Nashville was majority blue. Great job and thank you.

We were there. Leaving Vanderbilt with echoes of laughter and heckling from the few Commodore fans that actually attended the game was too much for me to handle. Just smiled and walked on. What could I say? Vanderbilt had a plan. Back to the bow-tied gift. In true “Frank the Tank” fashion, the Cats accepted the present. It slapped a blue and white bow on top, inside was a giant number “21,” the number of points UK gave to Vanderbilt.

Article written by Freddie Maggard

Former University of Kentucky Quarterback and Andy Griffith Fan Club President

28 Comments for The Day the Music Died

  1. RadioshackGreg
    3:10 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    Fire Dawson and hire a real OC. You know, one who has called plays before.

    • cats paw
      4:10 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

      No! Fire you as a fan that can’t see the only one responsible for this fiasco is Stoops. Your support of him is the very reason this program has sucked for 20 yrs! Fire Stoops..the one that hired Dawson, the one that had never coached before, the defensive genius that has us rated last in defense in the league? and you supported his 3.5 million dollar salary to lead us right back to the bottom of the SEC.

    • UK Big Board Update
      8:39 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

      cats paw – you’re a Louisville fan, why do you care so much about who UK’s head coach is?

      I don’t understand what you are trying to do here….

  2. roundball fool
    3:26 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    Nice post, Freddie. We can read the frustration oozing from your words. We all feel it. Props also to John Clay (Herald Leader ) for an honest take on this disorganized mess we call UK football. I feel bad for our players. Simply pathetic. We’ve got two games left to give BBN a little hope. C’mon men.

  3. Rixter
    3:57 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    The only things I’ll argue with is, once again, going for a 4th and 1 near midfield in the last minute of the half isn’t a terrible call. The play that was called was the problem. It was as bad as having Boom run it up the middle and get stuffed. There are so many options with slant passes, wide receiver screens, etch that have a high likelihood of success.
    Also, a punt there would have made no difference, as the pass to Caleb Scott could have gone for 85 yards as easily as it went for 50.

  4. Bigblueoo1
    4:03 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    They have to give Barker a chance.You don’t play him any and then when he throws an interception you pull him. Whether the coaching staff like it or not he still threw the only TD for us yesterday.I don’t understand thier stubbornness about changing the QB when the team shows no confidence in Towles.

  5. hakanea
    4:09 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    I’ve been watching this debacle we call UK football since I was knee-high to a grasshopper.I thought I had seen every way to lose a football game, until yesterday. I’m sorry to say , but frankly, my give a damn is busted!

  6. cats paw
    4:26 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    The homer fans that support this coach deserve every loss and embarrassment they will be feeling until he is removed from this university! Fire him and get a coach that has proven he is a winner and capable of building a team into something that is really relevant in college football, not someone that can possibly build us into a low level bowl participant every other year, but a true team that can compete with Bama or Lsu every year. Petrino, Bret Bielema, Kirk Ferentz would be a great place to start. Start with the #1 team in America and work your way down until one says he will take it. 4 million a year goes a long way…

  7. jaws2
    4:51 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    I said the coaching staff lost this team 4 games ago and I’ll stand on that.

    Stoops is obviously learning on the job and he may never become a solid head coach. He his too hesitant to make decisions on and off the field. Dawson is a nice guy but shouldn’t be calling plays for a good high school team. The players have to be frustrated by the play calling. Any person that has watched football for many years can predict what we’re going to run on almost 85% of the time; easily.

    We’re getting players and have enough talent on this team to have won 7 games by this time of the season. The ONLY reason that hasn’t happened falls on this staff period.

    Oh yeah, and I’ll still be at the game Saturday looking for a win. How pathetic is that?

  8. kyjohn
    5:09 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    I.m not so sure we are getting players.Some of these guys would have a difficult time making a juco team.Attitude,desire,toughness don’t seem tp be there.
    The head coach is befuddled and does’nt seem to know whats going on,but you can bet he will always say,”we’ve just got to do a better job coaching,.”and the natives will be happy.

  9. whatwasthat
    5:37 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    Have to agree with a lot of posters on rivals, it appears there is a division on the football team and that Barker’s friends are sandbagging on Patrck. In particular Dorian Baker, missed blocks and numerous drops of easily catchable balls. If I’m not mistaken this is the same cat that was with Barker in the paint ball and Richmond incidents. I know of three drops on the first drive alone and one was a touchdown pass to Baker, Patrick did throw one onto the dirt, but that was on purpose as the running back was covered on the screen, although the idiot announcers call it a bad throw. This is were a lot of the criticism of Towles is coming from, they are just repeating what they are hearing from all the D-league announcers. Lots of changes are needed and if Stoops doesn’t make them I feel his time here is going to be short indeed. But I think the first change I would make is to bench Baker for the era of the year and all the others that are sandbagging and if Barker wants to transfer, let him, don’t think he is big time anyway. Think we have Hoak and Jones coming in and I think both are better than we have now.

    • leon singleton
      5:43 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

      Towles is a damn joke.

    • 2thepoint
      7:17 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

      Some passes have been dropped, but most of them are off target. Yesterday he had time to throw yet couldn’t hit his guys. 26 passes for 67 yards, pathetic. Saying both qb’s are bad now is wrong. Barker will do fine once he gets to play more. His long strike early was on target and on line for the receiver to haul it in. Towles hasn’t done that all year. The loss is on Stoops for letting Towles start one more time.

    • whatwasthat
      11:36 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

      You’re both so far off base, your right in one regard Barker did throw a perfect strike to to the Vandy defense. Some Kentucky fans are just to ignorant to argue with and you two, especially Leon, fit that bill to a tee.

    • Pitinohater
      7:35 am November 16, 2015 Permalink

      It’s hard to catch a wounded duck thrown at your knees or high and behind you. It’s very simple, Towles can’t pass. It takes him to long to make a decision and throw the ball. If Stoops had given Barker playing time earlier we’d be a much better football team. If Towles is Kentucky’s QB next year it will be more of the same.

  10. biged17
    6:07 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    Am I the only one annoyed by the players dancing around between tv timeouts and breaks when they are losing. I had a vandy fan say to me after the game that at least our team dances good. It amazes me how our players can be so happy and act like everything is good when they are getting their butts kicked. Maybe if they quit jamming to the stadium music they can focus on their assignments and make some plays. This isn’t dancing with the stars!

  11. cats42301
    6:27 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    I have to wonder if Neal Brown didn’t see this coming and bailed to Troy while the gettin’ was good. In any event he looks like a pretty smart move to get off this train wreck.

  12. BluKudzu
    6:41 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    Barnhart has put two people with no head coaching experience as the HFBC at UK B2B. The joke and stoops. How is that working out? I think the blame goes higher than stoops.

  13. catsarerunnin
    6:51 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    It’s UK football. Years of 4-8 or 5-7 or worse. The occasional 6-6 or 7-5 with a crappy bowl invite. It is what it is.

  14. kjd
    7:23 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    This disastrous loss has to be laid at the feet of Coach Stoops. Three years into to his tenure, it is inexcusable the coaching blunders that occurred.
    Our first shot with first and goal: pathetic. Fourth down play with Towles under center tells it’s a qb sneak because that is the only play we run under center. Our offensive line does not blow defenders off the line. One of the worst calls of the season. Going into the game, we knew points would be hard to come by, and Vandy doesn’t score a lot. You take three points there. Plus, a positive outcome to build on.
    Second first and goal, another bonehead result. Horrendous decision by Towles forcing a fade on second down. Towles football IQ is extremely low. Low IQ also on display when he goes into his slide short of first down. Please, somebody explain to him you’re down when your knee hits, not where your slide ends. Last example, takes a sack instead of heaving it downfield to end the game. Moronic.
    Then, the switching back to Towles in the second half. ????? Barker did not look happy when we got a shot of him on TV. Would not be surprised if he transfers. I feel the same way about CJ Conrad. The most under utilized talent in Div 1.
    Our receivers…..oh boy. All we heard in preseason from KSR was we had the best 8-10 receivers in Div 1. Yet, almost all we see, are the same 4 dropping balls. What about the other really good receivers? What a surprise. Snodgrass transferred. Baker should have been benched. He couldn’t block a little old lady yesterday. Coaches seem to have their favorites who play strictly based on potential despite actual results.
    IMO, Stoops is so desperate to get to 6 wins that he has thrown common sense football strategies out the window. The team appears on the verge of being torn apart. Fans, most likely are going to bail. Recruits? Iffy at best.
    I went all in when Stoops was hired. Bought season tickets. Now, with how things have transpired this season, I just don’t know if I make the $$ investment next season.

  15. inside info2
    7:51 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    i’ve been called a troll since last year every time i pointed out a boneheaded coaching move. i gave Stoops and staff the benefit of the doubt in his first year. but there has been no improvement in the staff since day one. i don’t expect any difference next year. more Stoops and more Towels. no progression with either of them.

    finally the KSR staff have realized this too. so if i’m a troll, they are a troll.

    • UK Big Board Update
      9:12 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

      Will somebody please give this guy the pat on the back he so desperately wants?!?!?!?!

  16. Bigblueoo1
    8:10 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    I think the most discouraging thing is , we can expect to lose to teams with more talent,but no way was Vandy more talented.

  17. TimInOboro
    8:16 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    Building a SEC football team takes time. The reports lately have been that our football program was at the bottom of the barrel talent wise when Joker was the coach. The talent has improved the last 3 years but there is still a way to go for SEC depth and size. Stoops is a first time head coach. This is Mark not Bob. And for that, I am glad. I am one who predicted a 9-3 season for this year. I am disappointed in 3 losses(FL,Aub and Vandy). We were close enough to win them. There are questions I have about players and coaching decisions.Looking at next year’s schedule, I would be very surprised to make a bowl then. But,I have a 2017 time frame when my hopes will be higher. Since it is taking time to get the players with size and depth, I think Coach should have that time also to get settled in to being a head coach with the staff he wants and can keep. 2017 and beyond, I want a bowl EVERY year. Give him time. Seasons are short. Time for a learning curve is needed. Seems like most complain that Ky hasn’t had a football team in the last 30+ years. What is a 5-6 year wait when 3 have already passed? Me for one…..I am still #ALLIN

    • BLUEsky
      9:14 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

      TimInOboro: A voice of reason among the chaos. Thank you. Must be a west Kentucky “thang.” If you are in Oboro then I am about 30 miles south of you. I was at the Vandy game. Stoops and company worked their butts off trying to win that game. I jumped off the Rich Brooks bandwagon too early and was hoping for his departure before he turned things around. I will not make the same mistake again. Brooks’ early teams looked VERY disorganized early on. These guys are recruiting very well, and it has started to show; but, it is still a work in progress. There are going to be some ups and downs. That’s just the way it is. Better days ahead. Maybe even this year.

  18. timer2
    9:03 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    I listened to Stoops post-game comments after the game. He must have said “you know” at least fifty times – sometimes four or five times in one sentence. His comments during the interview were just as bad as his coaching during the game.

  19. tippytoe
    9:46 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    I am glad to see KSR finally putting down it’s pom poms and report about this fiasco that has become Kentucky football. Props to John Clay today on true sports journalism.

    I will be very interested to hear Freddie’s comments on the podcast this week, especially on the quarterback position, and why this is being so badly handled.

  20. BLUEsky
    10:10 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    Any idea why the overturned touchdown was not reviewed? The ref right that was right there called the touchdown. The pic posted on KSR site sure looked like he got the toe down before momentum carried him out of bounds.