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WTF is wrong with Kentucky football?

© Jim Brown

© Jim Brown

© Jim Brown

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.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

27 Comments for WTF is wrong with Kentucky football?

  1. psacatfan
    3:00 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    How many times have we heard a coach say, “They are well coached” when describing their next opponent? Do you think the Charlotte coach can keep a straight face and say that about UK?

    Worst prepared major college football team I’ve ever seen. Terrible play calling, terrible clock management, and special teams are the worst in college football.

  2. The Rest of the story
    3:06 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    WTF? Look no further than the coaching staff and start at the very top. What a punch in the gut Stoops has given us. Snake oil salesman at his finest. Hope you are satisfied Coach you got your millions already so who needs to coach this team up? Just sit back and wait for your buyout and smile all the way to the bank.

  3. RadioshackGreg
    3:07 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    You have to fire Dawson. QB, OL, WR, everyone has been garbage, and that falls on the staff. Dawson came in promising air raid and points and has delivered nothing at all. We need to go after a real OC so that Stoops can manage the defense.

  4. dano03
    3:26 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    Hate to say, but at this point I don’t really care. I have been invested in UK football for 50 years starting by watching games at Stoll Field with my dad (and including sitting through UK Vandy in Joker’s last year).

    This year is unbelievably bad, high school football teams are better organized and coached. Also tired of being promised the Air Raid for last three years but seeing junk like yesterday. I may get sick this week when the coach says “we have to run it better”.

    To top things off. being a 30 year season ticket holder, loosing our seats and then paying more for worse this year.

    Sadly, my sense is the fan base is lost and it may take years to recover.

    Dan UK classes of ’84 and ’85

  5. bigbluegh
    3:33 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    Coaches are too married to their game plans. Adjustments are non-existent. Dawson loves to talk about a balanced attack, but sometimes you have to rely on the pass or the run. Go with what’s working. DON’T keep going with what’s not working. Make the adjustment to your game plan. Also, if dropped balls are a result of lack of focus, get them there. At some point, you have to wonder why the coaches can’t get their players in the right state of mind. I read that Dawson came here because he wanted more play calling responsibility. Maybe this is why he wasn’t allowed to do it at WV.

    The OL has absolutely killed our offense this year. The QB has no time to get the ball loose and us constantly hurried. And when we run, there are no open lanes. It’s easy to blame the playmakers, but the between the OL and lousy play calling, their setup for failure.

    Defense is supposed to be Stoops “bread and butter.” For the most part, I’m not to upset with the skill positions. As with the offense, the line is killing us. The don’t close gaps against runners and QBs have all day to find the open man. Granted, they do this after the offense goes 3 and out, so that plays a big part, but overall I think they play well enough to win, if not for the ineptitude of the offense.

    I’m still a fan of Stoops, but the doubts are creeping in. He and his staff are outstanding recruiterd, but we need to find someone who excels at play calling and developing players. The current staff just isn’t getting it done in those areas.

  6. Angelo
    3:36 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    Not going for two when down five… That was the last straw.

  7. Lahinch02
    3:37 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    I witnessed the final season in Stoll Field and first season in CWS. It is amazing that over 40+ years, nothing seems to work here. Kansas State, Virginia Tech, Missouri build in that time. UK tried about everything and invested heavily of late.
    At this point, all we can do is be approciative the SEC doesn’t vote us & Vandy out of the league. Between us both, we are good for 1.75 wins for the other 5 in the SEC East.
    And we need the money given UK Hoops lost nearly $4,000,000 last year.

  8. Kyblue34
    3:39 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    It starts at the top – time for Mitch to go! Has any other power five school had this many terrible football coaching hires? Stoops and company have got be the dumbest coaching staff we’ve ever had here, and that’s saying something. Plus, how is it that a regular season basketball game is not televised anywhere, not even on delay? What the hell does Mitch even do except looking clueless all of the time?

    • UK Big Board Update
      3:57 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

      Calm down, ‘neck.

    • EdC
      8:42 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

      Amazing to me how many UK fans won’t put up with any nonsense in basketball but they let Mitch siphon money away from the football cash cow to other sports.

      He continually hires head coaches that no serious SEC football school would hire as a head coach because he knows he can get them relatively cheaply. He never has to do anything any different because UK fans always WANT to believe that this is going to be the year. UK fans are always happy enough with a 6 win season and ANY bowl game that they will travel. Until somebody puts real pressure on Mitch to hire a coaching staff that other SEC schools would actually want or Mitch is booted UK won’t be competitive in football. If fans stop going to games and stop travelling to crap bowl games then MAYBE we’ll get a coaching staff that is able to coach at an SEC level. Until then just embrace mediocrity.

  9. ribin48
    3:51 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    I believe in Stoops, less faith in Eliot and even less in Dawson. Staff needs to get past being ‘defensive’, get a plan and get kids ready to Plat. Baker has been a disappointment in last 4 games. Get a coach for special teams . Got two more shots at it – get it done. ALL IN !!

  10. BbnGroveStreet
    4:18 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    It’s time to move can I not give up on the football team when the football team has already given up

  11. Joe Dan Gorman
    5:09 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    You get what you pay for….

    First Year Head Coaches (Stoops and Joker)…..and Coaches with career losing records (EVERY other UK Head Football coach since Blanton Collier in 1962) will never succeed in the SEC.

    We have the track record to prove it.

    Oddly, we understand this very well in basketball.

  12. Le Docteur
    5:46 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    It’s hard to argue with any point in this piece, unfortunately. Sports reveals character. I hope Stoops and his staff have learned from last week’s fiasco and don’t get all defensive and belligerent with the media this week. Can they grow (up)? We’ll see.

  13. LansingCat
    6:50 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    I really hate to say it, but I called this when we hired Stoops. I even had posts deleted here during the hire when I criticized it. I have no problem with him personally, and I really believe he tried, but we’re still a 500-.600 team. Just like we always will be without a serious hire. Between this and my forever useless NFL Lions, I’ve got a lot of time to spend not watching my the two teams I actually want to pay attention to.

    • inside info2
      7:41 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

      i have been critical of the staff too but don’t expect an apology from anyone. i knew after the EKU game this year that the staff was not going to cut it. everyone except Stoops and Morrow should be let go. Unfortunately we are stuck with Dawson for at least one more year. Same for Stoops, probably 2 more years.

    • shelby
      8:55 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

      If u were, and still are, critical of the hire, just who in the hell would you have hired? Joker absolutely destroyed this program. Do you honestly think you could have lured a “better” coach to lexington? Who?

  14. g mellin
    7:03 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    I think the problem this year with the coaching staff is that this is the first year since they’ve been here that there has been any pressure to win. The first year they were given a pass. The second year everyone was excited enough when we saw some ptogress. But this year our talent level was hyped, we were gifted with 8 home games, and once again we started hot. Everyone got excited. But we still have an inexperienced head coach (see comments above) who has to be still learning how to manage a coaching staff. I believe the disorganization we see has a lot to do with Stoops not trusting his guys to do the jobs they were hired to do, and Dawson’s learning curve as a play caller.
    I too paid more this year for worse seats and will not be back in Commonwealth next year.
    I think we have good kids and a coaching staff who are good sportsmen. I’m just tired of Kentucky football.

  15. Bledsoe's Biceps
    8:22 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    I was all in when they hired Stoops. After the Joker years, I was finally excited for UK football again. I thought UK had finally made a choice to get the football program to the next level. Sadly, I was very wrong. This was to be the year to start seeing real progress, but Stoops and his staff have been beyond stupid, in coaching and game situations. Great recruiters, but can’t coach at all. And Stoops’ defensive attitude has also been a turn off. Man up, admit he and the staff have blown it, and make a commitment to fix it. Instead, he gets all pissy and defensive. I’m done with UK football. I didn’t even watch the Vandy debacle, thankfully. If and when they ever get bowl eligible, I’ll start following again. Not wasting any more of my time, until that happens.

  16. BCO
    8:37 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    Im still with Stoops but if things dont dramatically turn around the last two games, coordinators have to go. No question. Weve gotta get strong on the lines which is why our 2016 class is so important. We need to keep our 16 and 17 classes intact. These last two seasons…watching our team get worse each year…who can blame fans for not watching and longing for basketball. Ill be perfectly ok with no more football posts this year on KSR to be honest…

  17. shelby
    8:44 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    For crying out loud: how many of you people that are crucufying mark stoops remember our record in rich brooks’ 3rd year? Let me remind you–we went 3-8 and looked simply putrid doing it. This is year 3 of a 5-year (minimum) project; and that’s just to make us somewhat competitive. We are not there yet folks–keep marching, keep recruiting, keep redshirting as many freshmen as we can–that’s the only way to do it. Mark stoops had the balls to take over a freaking high school team and already owns back-to-back wins over south carolina, a win over mizzoo, and came within a couple plays of beating florida (the sec east champ) and auburn. Yes, we played awful saturday–our VERY YOUNG team has lost its confidence after being manhandled by exponentially more talented and experienced teams 4 weeks in a row; GET OVER IT!! Stay behind these kids or get the hell off the bus–and don’t come back.

    • inside info2
      10:19 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

      The point you are missing is that Brooks wasn’t making boneheaded calls from the sidelines and having players regress instead of show progress.

  18. ScoggDog
    8:55 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    “Stay behind these kids or get the hell off the bus—and don’t come back.”

    Not a problem … please feel free to take my spot at the trough. Guess I’m just not Big Blue enough to hang with the likes of you.

    Enjoy the party without me.

  19. tippytoe
    9:25 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    Tyler, cannot wait for the podcast. Hope you and the crew do not hold any punches.It’s time to tell it like is-

  20. Kfckernel
    10:57 pm November 15, 2015 Permalink

    Maybe we can hire Steve Spurrier as a consultant. I think he is free and has been successful in major programs? I’d love to see a trick play every now and then to keep it interesting.

  21. Catpocalypse
    10:06 am November 16, 2015 Permalink

    Unsure about this weekend… but I bet its a close game! It will probably be run heavy since our “mouthy” receiver couldn’t catch a football if it were glued to his hands and duct taped around his chest. He’s given up… looks like a big damn baby. This team could fall into a barrel of boobies and come out sucking their thumb. Yes, I am bitter… and have a right to be. This team is shit… just really look at EVERY game they’ve not played “well” all season. That might be a bit harsh, there were a few glimpses at what they could do… but like a flash in the pan….they don’t last long.

  22. Bluebloodtoo
    2:39 pm November 16, 2015 Permalink

    If you can’t get the plays you practiced to work effectively, why the F*&^ would you try a more complicated trick play? That is all….