Ten games into Mark Stoops’ third season, Kentucky is 4-6 with two games left. An optimist would say that’s two chances to achieve bowl eligibility. A pessimist already has those in the loss column. A realist is still staring at their TV wondering WTF happened.
On the morning after a humiliating loss to a bad Vanderbilt team, I’m in the third camp, although flashbacks to last night’s baffling play calling have me contemplating the second. In ESPN’s Football Power Index, Charlotte is ranked 125th, the fourth WORST team in the country; however, if Kentucky’s excelled at anything in the past month, it’s winning games for other teams. The Cats were directly responsible for seven of Vanderbilt’s points yesterday, indirectly responsible for fourteen. Sorry, Derek Mason, but Kentucky’s ineptitude got your team their fourth win yesterday. I hope you sent the bill for the postgame celebrations to the Nutter Field House too.
What is happening with the program? Where did it all go wrong? I have no answers, only questions.
WTF is happening at quarterback?
After a season of regression for Patrick Towles, Drew Barker finally got his shot in the second quarter yesterday. For two minutes, all of the offense’s problems seemed solved. Receivers miraculously caught the ball. Routes opened. Ryan Timmons caught a freaking touchdown. Hallelujah, put the crown on the kid’s head and anoint him king, right? Not so fast. Barker threw a nasty pick six and couldn’t muster up any momentum on his next drive. In the third quarter, Towles went back in, and despite a few last gasps, the offense stalled again.
Both quarterbacks had about sixty passing yards, but Drew got there in only eight attempts, whereas it took Patrick 26. Going in to the game, we heard Stoops was going to start Patrick but keep him on a short leash. If Patrick’s leash was short, Drew’s was practically a choke collar. After the game, Shannon Dawson justified the switch back to Patrick by saying the staff wanted to “go with the hot hand.” Stoops said they wanted Patrick’s experience. Whatever the reason, the offense is currently in such shambles that the only heat to be found is on Shannon Dawson’s seat.
With two games left, who knows what will happen at quarterback. One positive thing I noticed is that after Drew’s touchdown, Patrick was one of the first to congratulate him. Bash Patrick all you want, but he’s a lifelong Kentucky football fan who wants this team to win more than anything, even if that means he’s on the bench. Hopefully the rest of the team will handle this situation as maturely.
WTF is happening on the sidelines?
Look, I’m a blogger. I type nonsense for a living. I don’t claim to be a football guru, expert, and certainly not a coach. So, when even I can see that the playcalling this season has been totally bogus, you know something’s wrong. I get that this is Shannon Dawson’s first season calling plays, but did Dana Holgorsen do everything at West Virginia? Yesterday, Kentucky had two trips inside the Vanderbilt five-yard line and no points to show for it. Having Barker throw it long on 4th and 1 on the 49-yard line was even more offensive.
“We communicated on the sidelines we wanted to take a shot, so we took a shot. Ultimately, hindsight is 20-20 on everything,” Dawson said of the play. “It didn’t work out and obviously, like I said, if it would have worked out, it would have been great.”
And if “ifs” and “buts” were candy and nuts, we’d all have a merry Christmas.
Right now, it seems like all the coaching staff has is hindsight. At times, it doesn’t look like there’s any forethought in what they’re doing. People used to criticize Hal Mumme for scratching plays in the dirt on the sidelines, but at least he scratched plays. This staff seems to just throw that dirt up in the air to see what happens. But if it had settled in the shape of Touchdown Jesus, it would have been great, right?
On the other side of the ball, I’m not convinced things are much better. Sure, the defense is less offensive than the offense right now, but giving up seven on a trick play? That’s almost as baffling as DJ Eliot’s answer as to why the coaches in the booth who saw what was happening didn’t get word to the sideline fast enough to call a timeout.
“We have a guy who watches that, and he did see it, and he did communicate it,” Eliot said. “But he just didn’t communicate it the right way quick enough for us to get a timeout.”
“The right way”? What exactly did he say?
“Well, football stuff that you wouldn’t understand.”
What? You mean “HEY, CALL A TIMEOUT”?! You’re right, I don’t understand that.
WTF will happen now?
The million dollar question. Charlotte is terrible, so unless Kentucky decides to just sit on the field and play duck duck goose instead of football, surely they can get a win over the 49ers. If not, well, I don’t even want to think about that. That leaves Louisville, but given what’s happened in the past month, I don’t know how you can have any faith this group will beat the Cards.