It’s Sunday evening and last night’s loss isn’t any less embarrassing. After taking some time to celebrate Halloween and sleep through the day’s NFL games, I’m ready to put a few words on the internet about Tennessee’s rout of Kentucky. Join me in listing the pros and the cons from the fourth loss of the season.
— Mikel Horton stepped in for Boom Williams and played well. It was Horton’s best game of his career. He carried the ball 14 times for 109 yards with an average of almost eight yards per touch. He’s the guy now.
— C.J. Johnson returned a fumble for a touchdown. That was pretty cool.
— The uniforms looked good?
Pretty much everything else. Let’s hit the major problems…
— Patrick Towles faced pressure all night long. Some of Towles’ mistakes were inexcusable and avoidable, but a lot of them were on his offensive line. He had no time in the pocket at all and was forced to make throws on the run or with the pass rush swarming him in the backfield. Keep that in mind when unloading your criticism and complaints on the quarterback position. His offensive line did him no favors last night. Poor guy was getting attacked from all angles on every single play. Not making excuses for his inconsistency, but it’s not going to get any better if the line doesn’t get him some protection.
— Speaking of the offensive line, there were far too many holding calls last night and most of them cost the Cats more than 10 yards each. Several lengthy plays were negated due to penalties, costing Kentucky another 60 or 70 yards you won’t find in the box score. Overall, UK was hit for 93 yards on nine penalties, but the damage was much worse than that. Line play has been atrocious in recent weeks.
— Kentucky is 2nd-and-10 U. Freddie Maggard and I shrugged our heads at each other in the press box with each new 2nd-and-10 UK faced. They’re getting nothing on first down and it’s putting them behind on second and third. Gotta get off to better starts.
— Third downs aren’t any better. Kentucky converted only two of its 13 third downs last night. Tennessee, on the other hand, converted over half of its 15 third down plays.
— On second thought, Kentucky is Dropped Pass U. CATCH THE DAMN BALL.
— Tackling must improve. Defenders are still whiffing on tackles and letting guys run through them. Everyone on the team has been guilty of this at some point. Teams are getting too many yards and picking up too many first downs when UK could’ve made a stop closer to the line of scrimmage and behind the first down marker. They’re giving up free yards by not wrapping up and bringing the ball carrier down.
— The scoreboard is a liar. It was a Halloween miracle that Kentucky was still in the game after one quarter. The fact that Kentucky held the lead at 14-10 in the second quarter is baffling. At no point was Kentucky the better of the two teams. Tennessee dominated throughout and the final score could’ve and should’ve been much, much worse. The 31-point loss is a blessing. We could’ve seen the Vols hang 70 on the Cats last night.
— And the worst aspect of last night’s beatdown: Mark Stoops is losing the fan base. Not everyone, but more and more people are really questioning if he is the man for Kentucky. As easy as it is to say he is a couple plays from beating Florida and Auburn, he is also a couple plays from losing to Louisiana Lafayette and Eastern Kentucky. Stoops just doesn’t have a good football team right now and the patience for results is running dry. It’s over midway through Year 3 and fans are still waiting for wins. Taking a loss like the one last night simply can’t happen at this point. He needs to put together some wins to get the excitement and optimism back in the program.
Last night sucked.