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What exactly happened last night?

Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 11.51.55 PM

It’s tough to even come up with a post following a loss as disappointing as the one we just witnessed last night, but let’s take a shot at it, shall we? It’s obvious there was a glaring difference between the first and second half last night, but let’s dive into just a few reasons as to what sparked the disaster of the decade.

Abysmal tackling

Mark Stoops emphasized this point from the very first scrimmage of training camp, the team really struggles in the tackling department. When we heard it for the first time, we figured it was the inexperienced linebackers missing a few here and there, but the rust would get knocked off eventually and the team would be able to make, oh I don’t know, fundamental tackles.

Yeah, well, they didn’t.

This has been a problem since both Mark Stoops and DJ Eliot made their way on campus, and it honestly has not improved the way a “rebuilding” SEC team should. Someone must be held accountable for it. Stoops came in out of Florida State as a guy known as one of the best defensive minds in football, and DJ Eliot was the linebackers coach on that same dominant Seminole defense. The first year or two, yeah, the talent didn’t match up, and some of the mistakes were excusable. Now, however, you have a defense loaded up with four-star talent, your system has been implemented and you’ve (apparently) worked all the kinks out, what’s the hold up?

*As a side note, the secondary did a tremendous job making tackles. They made some tough open field tackles, smacking guys right when the ball hit their hands, and played cleanup duty when the Golden Eagles’ dynamic running back duo hit the outside corner. These guys held up on their end of things.

Second half play-calling

The play-calling in the first half was some of the most impressive stuff I’ve seen at Kentucky in who knows how long. The perfect mix of run and pass, with throws ranging from deep balls, mid-range, dump passes, and screens. The Southern Miss defense was on their toes, had no clue what to expect, and Drew Barker carved them up like a pumpkin. 11-19, 278 yards, and four touchdown throws. 387 total offensive yards in the first half. It was unbelievable. Eddie Gran and Darin Hinshaw were all they were cracked up to be.

And then the second half happened.

It was like Shannon Dawson had switched sidelines at half time. Back to back runs up the middle, five yard throws on 3rd and long, the hole nine yards. A Cincinnati fan tweeted to me during the second half that Gran did the same thing in his years as the Bearcats OC, take an impressive lead at half, play extremely conservative in the 2nd half and hope the clock runs out before the other team catches back up. Hopefully Stoops puts an end to that problem heading into Gainesville next week, because UK will need about as much offensive gas as they can manage if they want to put an end to that streak. Right now, however, it doesn’t look pretty.

The student section

We seem to be calling them out every single year, but guys, it’s time to step up to the plate and cheer from kickoff to the final buzzer. There was a great turnout, students lined up out the door, wanting to participate in the year’s first “Caturday.” Awesome, way to go. But then at halftime, nearly half of the student section emptied out. Kentucky was up 35-17 at halftime, a comfortable lead, but it wasn’t a trouncing. Students made their way to the exit, completely forgetting what happened in the Louisville game last season and countless other times in the Stoops era. The team feeds off of the crowd’s energy, and there wasn’t a whole lot to feed off of in the second half. It was pitiful.

The students are stationed right next to the recruits that will (hopefully) be suiting up in blue and white here in the coming years, and it was designed for the student section to help bring in these guys. Be part of the reason they want to come to Kentucky, not a “con” on their pros vs. con list. Stay around, cheer whether the team is up by 40 or down by 40, no matter how hard it is. Most importantly, just stay the entire game.

Overall thoughts

We gave you guys just a few of the second half statistics last night, but let’s go over this for the morning crowd.

UK finished with just two first downs in the second half. Two.

Southern Miss scored 31 unanswered points between the late bomb in the first half up until late in the fourth quarter. 31. Unanswered. Points.

UK had only 13 yards of offense in the 3rd quarter on 8 plays, -20 rushing yards.

UK has been outscored 58-0 in the second half in the last two games against UofL and Southern Miss.

Southern Miss ran 95 offensive plays compared to UK’s 50.

These are just inexcusable statistics that just can’t go unnoticed.

I thought in the first half, the defensive line made a fantastic push on Nick Mullens and gave him the pressure necessary to limit his success. Three sacks, several QB hits, forced scrambles, etc. Josh Allen, Jordan Jones, and Denzil Ware were brilliant in the pass rush. It was impressive.

In the second half, the defense obviously got tired, and an already-bad tackling team somehow managed to get worse. Three-and-outs seemed to pile up on the offense, and the defense just couldn’t keep up. The tackling was laughable, but when you think about how often they were on the field, going against a fired up Southern Miss offense in the second half, it sadly makes sense.

We all knew the defense would struggle, specifically with the linebackers and defensive line, but the explosive offense was supposed to carry a good bit of the weight to help balance that out. Going forward, the offense has to come out with guns firing in the second half, not just to keep/extend the lead, but to keep the defense off the field as long as possible to conserve the gas in their tanks.


It’s going to be a long week of practice for Stoops and company, but hopefully they manage to figure it out and head into Gainesville with a bit of confidence most people lost following last night’s performance.


Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

36 Comments for What exactly happened last night?

  1. MinerMan12
    10:20 am September 4, 2016 Permalink

    When I was in college (UK ’12) UK was just as bad as they are now. Thing about it is, after we got our asses kicked by whoever we were playing, we’d always end up back at good ol Conn Terrace where there would be plenty of beer, cheap liquor, and loose women to help ease the pain. Now when we lose, I just go to bed like a heartbroken middle aged man with a double chin and a neck beard. I cant party all night like I used to. My wild oats have been sewn, the grass is grown, and the wind has all but swept away the sage brush that is my former self. Is it too much to ask to at least have a decent football team? The fall season brings joy to so many people. Basic women have their Pumpkin spice Lattes, children have pumpkin patches and Halloween, but all I have is a mediocre football team who thinks that the game is won after the second quarter. We drop easy interceptions, get bullshit penalties, and have a fat ass 385 lb nose guard that my 5th grade Doritos eating little cousin could blow off the ball. Last night’s game was like going to the strip club with a whole wad of Benjamin’s, getting the first five dances free along with a couple outside the pants rubs. You’re convinced she’s going home with you until the bouncer shows up, takes all your money,kicks you in the balls, and bangs your girl right in front of you. I have not given up on UK. I will still watch every game, cheer for every touchdown, and unfortunately still be crying after every loss. The only thing we can cling on to is the false hope that maybe one day, we might get lucky.

    • Go Deep
      10:29 am September 4, 2016 Permalink

      Don’t even have to blow him off the ball. I think you could just not block him at all and unless a rb just runs right into him he’s not gonna make a play. Maybe they should let him start plays from a standing position. He can barely get out of his stance.

    • runningunnin.454
      12:13 pm September 4, 2016 Permalink

      Well, MinerMan, that’s really depressing. Sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you.
      It’s JUST a game.

    10:29 am September 4, 2016 Permalink

    Cheat lie steal, pay the players. Recruit hookers for the dorms. Poison the other teams gatorade. Get guys straight out of prison. Issue handguns to players. WIN…get caught and get fired. NOTHING IS AS EMBASSING AS BEING BEAT UP ON NATIONAL TV…NEXT COACH “RAY DONOVAN”

  3. JaxUK2012
    10:32 am September 4, 2016 Permalink

    The secondary was all we had last night. But even they had a lot of miscues. But what do you expect when we bring zero pressure all second half. Thats on DJ. The defensive line is worse than we thought it would be. Elam stands there leaning on people with high pad level and not moving his feet. Then the linebackers can’t scrape to save their lives cuz they have his big but in their way. And the offensive line is terrible. They can’t block to run the ball whatsoever. USM’s D-line just grabbed our guys and threw them out of the way to stop the run. We were embarrassed in the trenches all night long. It’s clear that we did a poor job in recruiting and developing up front. In year 4 this is where we should see the difference. We need things to change and change quick. The fan base is already done. The dumpster fire needs to be put out some way, some how.

    • WildcatCam
      12:05 pm September 4, 2016 Permalink

      This right here! We got super conservative on both sides of the ball! Just because the fans get comfortable with a lead doesn’t mean the coaches can…I hope they kept on their ass at halftime in the locker room reminding them that they’re a good team and the game wasn’t over. But something tells me they didn’t do that.

      The aggressive defense wasn’t there in the 2 d half, no blitzes, no nothing. We aren’t Bama, we can’t not blitz and play base with 3 down linemen with no attack from the two mike lbs, that’s terrible! They didn’t play downhill at all! We didn’t set the edge and let their rbs get outside and forced our corners to make hella tackles! All second half, pitiful. And Gran started calling GRANdfather plays, c’mon bro. Step on the got dang throat with the play calling!!

    • runningunnin.454
      12:36 pm September 4, 2016 Permalink

      That’s right Cam, 1st and 2nd half was Jekyll and Hyde; Conservative offensive play calls just run the defense into the ground. I don’t know why a lot of the posters on here get that; but, our highly paid coaches don’t… could see it coming our first two possessions of the 2nd half;
      We weren’t going to “dance with the one that brung us”.

  4. inside info2
    10:44 am September 4, 2016 Permalink

    Sadly we will probably play Florida close enough next week (but still lose) that people will say that yesterday was a fluke and this team really has improved. But it hasn’t. This coaching staff is a bunch of amateur idiots. We are stuck with them this season and next thanks to Barnhart.

    • Billy Hill
      10:56 am September 4, 2016 Permalink

      I thought you were close to the coaching staff? And now you call them idiots? What a two faced bitch.

    • inside info2
      1:53 pm September 4, 2016 Permalink

      Billy, go hide until basketball season. You have ZERO credibility here. I am not friends with the staff. I just said I’m around them.

    • Billy Hill
      3:53 pm September 4, 2016 Permalink

      I HAVE ZERO CREDIBILITY? You were the one spouting off about “Robic only signs one year deals” just 36 hours before he signed a two year deal. Eat a dick.

    • inside info2
      6:47 pm September 4, 2016 Permalink

      Lol. Your reading comprehension is lacking. He signed a one year deal previously because he wasn’t sure he was staying.

      You really should be on meds. It’s sad that you get this upset and curse at total strangers on a message board.

  5. TheWildcatKyle
    10:53 am September 4, 2016 Permalink

    Can we just play this at commonwealth next week?

    • maximsm
      11:21 am September 4, 2016 Permalink

      Now that I would go see. Not our pseudo football

  6. shelby
    10:58 am September 4, 2016 Permalink

    I still say it’s a 6-year rebuild—but really no excuse for the lack of a defensive line (or development thereof) and the same can be said for our offensive line; I’ve long been of the opinion that our OL was our biggest hinderance last year–“coach” John Schlarman must be simply awful at player development. It’s time to sit Elam until he gets down to 305—if he isn’t willing: send his ass to work at McDonald’s; that’s his future anyway.
    I knew we were gonna lose last night as soon as we took the foot off the gas in the 2nd quarter. We should’ve been up by 35 at half time.
    We might not see another pass thrown against us all year–I can’t fathom why anyone would. Just run right at our pathetic DL and laugh all the way to the end zone.

  7. Joe Dan Gorman
    10:59 am September 4, 2016 Permalink

    What happened last night?

    Over 50 years of hiring Head Coaches without a winning record—-is what happened last night..

    Last UK HC with winning record WHEN HIRED… 1962 Blanton Collier…

    • onsides
      11:15 am September 4, 2016 Permalink

      Nope. Jerry Claiborne was 69-32-2 at Va Tech and 77-37-3 at Maryland before coming to UK.

  8. Souf beach Lou
    11:00 am September 4, 2016 Permalink

    The only good thing to come out of last nights game is I can quit right now instead of following all year like the last couple years, this at least saves me lots of time. I’ll stick around for the florida game and then that will probably do it. It’s better this way

  9. Blue In Miami
    11:25 am September 4, 2016 Permalink

    How much money did UK just blow on that new training facility?

    Could we have spent that money on a group of coaches smart enough to deal with the opposition’s halftime adjustments?

    A repeat of that Louisville debacle at the end of last season.

    • Billy Hill
      11:36 am September 4, 2016 Permalink

      LMFAO!!! What do you WANT?!!?!?!?

    • runningunnin.454
      12:46 pm September 4, 2016 Permalink

      The opposition’s halftime adjustments didn’t beat us; they just realized they couldn’t keep throwing to our strength…..I thought they were dim-witted to keep doing that in the 1st half.
      OUR offensive halftime adjustments is what beat us.

    • Blue In Miami
      1:31 pm September 4, 2016 Permalink

      isnt “realizing” what they were doing wrong and then not doing it anymore an adjustment?

      and giving up 38 straight points isnt on our offense’s adjustments.

    • runningunnin.454
      2:14 pm September 4, 2016 Permalink

      The defense has problems, sure, but the OC and Stoops are culpable when you look at the 1st down and time of possession stats in the 2nd half. The defense can’t be expected to stay out there until their tongues are hanging out…..they were obviously exhausted before the end of the 3rd quarter.

    • bacnine
      4:19 pm September 4, 2016 Permalink

      Agree 100%. Problem is the top down. 1) Barnhart made a bad hire in Stoops. Stoops not head coach material. SEC is not a place for OTJ training 2) Barnhart-gave Stoop a contract extension. We are stuck with him for another year or two. 3) Stoops has made bad hires for coordinators. 4) The quarterback we had last year was fine. Its not his fault the receivers can’t catch the ball.

      All the stadium improvements and $45M practice facility a waste of money. To quote the newcirlecircular. com “UK spent $45M for the football team to practice losing in”

      Oh, please sign me up for one of those tiny houses so I can have a luxurious tailgate in. I bet you can’t get 10 people in one of those things.

      What hair brain ideas do they have over there next?

  10. gcat4496
    11:40 am September 4, 2016 Permalink

    The defense lost the game. The offense gave them a 35-10 lead with 30 seconds left in the half, and then it happened. The defense looked like an OVC school. Swiss cheese, inept and penalty prone. Southern Miss was getting 5 yards a carry and UK had no answer. They knew it was coming and still every run 5 yards or more.

  11. bluegrassstu
    11:49 am September 4, 2016 Permalink

    I think DJ needs to be replaced. The play of the defense is on him. The defense has pretry much sucked.

  12. Biscuits Old Dad
    11:53 am September 4, 2016 Permalink

    Matt Elam needs to sit. He spent the whole game getting pushed 3 yards off the line of scrimmage, then when the play was over he’d run up to the pile and strut around like he’d done something. All this talk about a “leaner, meaner” Elam was just BS, like all the rest of the BS put out by this coaching staff for the last four years. Everybody knows they can’t make any effective in-game adjustments; it’s been talked about since Stoop’s first year here.
    Well, at least I won’t have to waste any more of my Saturdays watching this trash because I know what’s gonna happen. A bad performance followed by Stoops saying “we have to work harder and get better and we will”.

    • inside info2
      1:55 pm September 4, 2016 Permalink

      I thought I was the only one who noticed that. EVERY PLAY. It was ridiculous.

  13. whatwasthat
    12:24 pm September 4, 2016 Permalink

    Devastating loss, that’s putting it mildly. I don’t think anyone has all the answers on how to right this ship, but I have seen some good responses and some bad.
    My observations from the game is that there is no way we can stay in a 3-4 defense, my understanding of that defense is that you must have a powerhouse at nose tackle that can influence the center and a guard, well kudos for Matt losing weight, but last night he couldn’t even influence a undersized center. It’s up to the coaches to put players in a position to succeed and that lack of success has to fall on the shoulders of defensive line coach, the defensive coordinator and the head coach. ( one play that Matt could have made was the run by Payne, where he stands there watching about 5 guys trying to tackle him, but don’t and is just left there watching).
    Offensive line play is just as bad ( hell the joke had a better prepped o-line than this bunch, after all he did beat convict u with a wide receiver playing QB) even in the first half Barker was hurried and it just got worse in the second half that led to mistakes on his part. That’s on the shoulders of the O-line coach, offensive coordinator and the head coach.
    Special teams is still a dumpster fire and has been since Orteymer left many years ago, that’s on the the shoulders of the head coach.
    Linbackers looked sluggish and had trouble tackling all night, letting a little back drag them down the field. That’s on the shoulders of of the linebackers coach, defensive coordinator and head coach.
    The only bright spots, if you want to call them that, where the receivers who caught just about everything thrown to them, Lamar looks like a good hire. The defensive backfield that made plays and tackles ( they didn’t lose that game because a db dropped a interception). So coach stoops can coach db’s, but its starting to look that is his only talent so far. Barker looked much better than last year, so it appears that coach Hinshaw has had a impact another good hire.
    I have been on the fence with coach stoops but his unwavering loyalty to Coaches Elliot, Brumbaugh and Schlarman is going to end his time here even with a huge buyout, especially if the fans stay away, then that leads to what happens to Mitch Barnhart.
    To much ugliness, I’m taking a break, a bleak future in the sport you love will do that to you, I lived it with the Raiders and practically gave up the NFL after they went in the tank, except for the super bowl.
    I’m out, I pray for the lifting of the curse on these kids, they deserve better.

    • runningunnin.454
      1:07 pm September 4, 2016 Permalink

      Don give up so soon….. the head coach or the OC just has to realize we have to keep the defense off the field and let them get some rest. Two 1st downs in the 2nd half? The lopsided time of possession?
      Maybe somebody will whisper in Stoop’s ear…..keep the pedal to the metal….the game is 60 min long.
      HEY COACH, THE OTHER TEAM IS still trying to score.

  14. mapcatfan
    1:01 pm September 4, 2016 Permalink

    I won’t even comment on the game itself. Everyone already has that disgusting, pathetic display covered pretty well. But instead, I *will* throw in my two cents on the student section. They are equally as disappointing and pathetic. I couldn’t believe that half of them didn’t bother to return for the second half! It might be different if they hadn’t just witnessed one of the most fun halves of UK football in several years and if we had played the first half like we did the second. It’s just ridiculous. No excuse.

    • runningunnin.454
      1:09 pm September 4, 2016 Permalink


    • bacnine
      4:34 pm September 4, 2016 Permalink

      Don’t blame students. They are here for basketball and to party. What about season ticket holders? More of them left than the students.

      Wait till the next home game. See how many students are there and regulars ticket holders. The hits just keep on coming.

  15. ScoggDog
    3:24 pm September 4, 2016 Permalink

    I agree … you come all that way and don’t even put in a full game’s worth of effort …

    What ? Oh … you were talking about the STUDENTS. My mistake.

  16. ThreeCs7
    4:40 pm September 4, 2016 Permalink

    Are you seriously going to call out the student section for this game? A coaching staff that capable of maintaining a 30 point lead, a linebacker core that can’t tackle a 2-Star recruit, and you’re saying the students are part of the problem?

    I have not missed a single home game in my entire tenure at UK and you know what puts students in the stands and keeps them there? An actual SEC football team out there in the blue and white. If the product on the field is there, the stadium is electric.

    Why the hell should I spend my Saturday night out there watching an incompetent head coach lose to Southern Miss and then get up on the podium and give the same excuses that we hear every week. Stoops is all about his buzzwords, all about building hype for this program, but what have we gotten? Nothing. You want the students to show up to the football games and stay at the games? Put a real team out there for us to support. Half of the problem is that our fans are so loyal. If we are top 25 attendance every year and making the University a ton of money, why would they care about the on-field product? Make them earn our interest, just like every other major football program has done.

  17. EdC
    7:13 pm September 4, 2016 Permalink

    It is laughable that anybody has the stones to call out the student section. Did they hire Stoops (or Joker?) Did they call any plays? Did they line up on either side of the ball. This is very simple. Barney ONLY cares if the revenue stream is there to fund his other sports. Stoops, like Joker, is doing the best he can do but he never should have been hired as a 1st year head coach and no other SEC team WOULD have hired him. Yes start at the top #FireMitch and get an AD that doesn’t use football as a revenue stream at the cost of excellence.