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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: High Noon Game This Year?

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For the past 2 years I have predicted what I thought who be the “make or break” game for Mark Stoops and UK.  The game that would truly decide the fate of the season and the direction of the program.  A little recap of those predictions:

2014: at Florida
-My reasoning then was Florida was a program in the decline and UK was, in theory, a program on the rise in year 2 of the Stoops regime.  For the Cats to go to Gainesville and be competitive, something they hadn’t done in 500 years, would be an incredible turning point for the program.  And even though they didn’t win, I think I was right.  At the time of that loss, I think the fanbase had really bought in completely to what Mark Stoops was doing and the talent he was accumulating.  Coming off a 2-10 season, to basically deserve to win a game at Florida really proved something about the program.

2015: Florida
-I thought coming into the season the game against the Gators was again going to be a watershed moment for Mark Stoops.  And that was without knowing the Cats would win at South Carolina before the Florida game.  Once they did that, there was no doubt that if Mark Stoops was going to take this program to new heights that he had to beat an offensively challenged Florida team at home at night.  I was at that game and it was definitely the best pre-game atmosphere I’ve ever been a part of.  And then the Cats stunk.  Where a loss was actually a positive in 2014 it was an extreme negative in 2015 and UK never really got it back on track.

Now, don’t worry, I am not picking Florida again this year.  The defending SEC East champs could very well boat race in Gainesville this year.  I don’t think the Cats have anything to prove in that game.  I am setting the bar a little low because I think that’s where expectations are from the fanbase.

2016 HIGH NOON GAME: South Carolina

Here’s the thing, South Carolina is seriously rebuilding.  Wanna know how I know?  We’ve beaten them the last 2 years.  But at the end of the day if UK ever wants to be a consistently good football program they need to beat South Carolina and Vanderbilt a lot.  And UK never seems to get on any kind of winning streak against those 2 schools.  I think if UK can handle the Gamecocks comfortably this year it could signal a nice shift in the power at the bottom of the conference.  Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee will almost always be top dogs because of their resources.  Missouri slipped in there a couple years but that was flukish.  UK should fight for 4th in the SEC East every year and we should demand nothing less.  And anything more we get is awesome.  That is going to start by beating South Carolina in 2016 in an impressive fashion.

Now, all of this doesn’t matter if they blow the opening game against Southern Miss.  But I am assuming they squeak that out.  At Florida is very likely a loss and then a gimme against New Mexico State.  Which brings us to South Carolina.  UK is most likely 2-1 but 0-1 in the SEC.  Lose to maybe the worst team in the league on your home field and the season is over.  It just is.  If you think the fans are unsure what to think of the program just wait and see how empty Commonwealth will be if we lose to South Carolina.

Mark Stoops has, unfortunately, not succeeded in the biggest moments.  Or rather his players haven’t succeeded.  This year he HAS to win all the games he should.  In conference that starts with South Carolina.  Win that one and let’s see what happens.  Lose that one and see ya later UK Football.

Article written by Bryan the Intern

23 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: High Noon Game This Year?



  1. nuke99m
    9:04 am July 12, 2016 Permalink

    I agree that S. Miss is the first High Noon moment of the season. If we lose that game and then lose to Florida, you lose the fans for the rest of the year.



  2. dshwildcats
    9:29 am July 12, 2016 Permalink

    BTI,

    For me, it’s hard to pick one “make or break” game this season. I believe the Southern Miss game could be a “make or break” game. I don’t believe a win in that season opener is a given. If Kentucky were to lose that opener, the season will be in “freefall” mode, and the fans will start looking ahead to Midnight Madness. I also agree with your take on the South Carolina game. I’m not sold on the Muschamp hire in Columbia. I can see them taking a couple of steps back under Muschamp. I just don’t believe the guy is HC material; but, he may prove me wrong.

    I can point to two other games on the schedule that I see as “make or break”. The first is the Vandy game on October 8th. More than any other game last season, the game in Nashville left a really bad taste in my mouth, especially considering that I drove down to watch it up close and personal. Some of the mistakes made by Kentucky in that game were unforgiveable! Even with all of the mistakes, Kentucky still had a legitimate chance to win that game. A loss to Vandy at home this year would be very concerning, and would leave the fan base with even more questions about the direction of the program.

    The second game would be the October 29th matchup at Mizzou. Like South Carolina, Mizzou seems to be taking a couple of steps backwards. To me, Gary Pinkel was one of the underrated coaches in the league. It remains to be seen, but I think it will be hard for Barry Odom to sustain the level of success that Pinkel had in Columbia.

    If Kentucky can sweep South Carolina, Vandy and Mizzou, the Cats are going bowling. Win two of those three, and the chances for a bowl game are still pretty good. Win one, or none of those three, and it’s most likely another losing season.



    • scorpiocard
      10:08 am July 12, 2016 Permalink

      Do you think Mark Stoops is HC material?



    • UK Big Board Update
      11:00 am July 12, 2016 Permalink

      A quick Twitter search for ‘scorpiocard’ will return these results (from UL fans, mind you):

      Chug [email protected] 7 Mar 2013
      @ULhothot I swear to you, if I ever met Scorpiocard in real life, I’d smack the shit out if him. He’s the worst

      Matt French [email protected] 19 Sep 2013
      @CardChronicle what exactly did you do to ruin Scorpiocard’s life? Dude lives to hate you.

      doctorofdunk [email protected] 1 Feb 2013
      @CardChronicle [Makes template for ScorpioCard profile, waits patiently]

      doctorofdunk [email protected] 1 Oct 2012
      Want to know more about this bar that ScorpioCard allegedly owned.

      doctorofdunk [email protected] 18 Jul 2012
      @CardChronicle We pool some money via PayPal and get ScorpioCard to loan us some cash. We go to an auction, buy cheap 2YO. Stay w/ me…

      gocardsattitude [email protected] 26 Jun 2012
      @CardChronicle Matt Jones’ trip to Final Four vacated… Scorpiocard to immediately assume his place. #LCPT

      R.C. [email protected]_calhoun 15 Jun 2012
      @CardChronicle scorpiocard really is a buzz killer! Lancaster and billy T should be in front of rozier and crook

      gocardsattitude [email protected] 13 Jun 2012
      @troydstout scorpiocard is 12.

      Paul Peavler [email protected] 11 Jan 2012
      @ULhothot @cardscott5 Pretty bad. Clay Ables, scorpiocard, Whacker77, all the big name trolls suddenly make a return.

      Chris Sohl [email protected] 16 Feb 2011
      Somebody please tell scorpiocard he’s got diarrhea of the keyboard. I can’t do it.

      doctorofdunk [email protected] 10 Sep 2013
      @ULhothot I’ve already decided to live-yell my tweets at both road games in TX. Canned shout-out to ScorpioCard, #fth, etc.



    • ukkatzfan
      11:25 am July 12, 2016 Permalink

      UK Big Board Update, I am really surprised that you have not been banned by KSR for cyberstalking.



    • scorpiocard
      12:25 pm July 12, 2016 Permalink

      He isn’t even aware of how he is perceived on ksr. It’s pretty funny that only about 3 of those tweets are particularly hostile toward me. Go back past 2013 on CC and you’ll find a lot worse, because I had the balls to call Pitino out on his BS. Most of these tweets are from that time (4 years ago lol). Some of those girly men who worship Pitino still carry a grudge against me to this day. Big deal.

      I’m just glad I’m not a loser college student who lives on ksr 24/7. When I was in at UK when I wasn’t studying I was partying and getting laid. I guess the Internet is a safe haven now for 19-22 year old vigins.



    • UK Big Board Update
      12:44 pm July 12, 2016 Permalink

      “Only 3”? LOL. And again, the ones that hate me on here are the trolls I call out. They can dish it, but they sure can’t take it. 😉

      And I’m not a ‘vigin’. I assume you mean a vegetable only diet?



    • UK Big Board Update
      12:49 pm July 12, 2016 Permalink

      And ukkatzfan, why are you defending an obvious UL troll?



    • scorpiocard
      8:18 pm July 12, 2016 Permalink

      Look dude. Your weak adolescent attempt to cyber bully me is pathetic. You think I don’t know that I stirred things up and ruffled some feathers on Card Chronicle 4 – 5 years ago when Pitino was in the middle of a scandal, and we were getting booted out of the tourney in the first round two years in a row? I don’t care. And neither does anybody else. Some tweets from 4 years ago that absolutely don’t surprise me at all and are nothing compared to what some people said to me on the site back then, and one prediction I got wrong 2 1/2 years ago that you post over and over and over again is all you got? Seriously dude. Try to use your brain and try a little harder than just cruising the web for outdated stuff. Don’t you have a life, or any wit about you at all? This is about entertainment. Smack talk and poking fun at each other. Rivary stuff. Come up with something better, or give up. Now excuse me I need to go trim my line beard while I sip on a Crown and coke.



  3. Sentient Third Eye
    9:35 am July 12, 2016 Permalink

    Rather than a single game, I think the team just needs to do better in games decided by one play. Last year, Dorian Baker’s dropped touchdowns alone were the difference between 7-5 and 5-7. We need to win a good percentage of those close games this year.



    • CATandMONKEY
      9:44 am July 12, 2016 Permalink

      This x 1387!



    • dshwildcats
      7:25 pm July 12, 2016 Permalink

      Sentient Third Eye,

      Great point, brother! This team could’ve easily have gone bowling the past two seasons! You can probably take 10-15 plays over the last two years that have cost us several wins. I realize that many teams can say the same thing. Louisville had realistic chances to beat Clemson the past two seasons, and probably should have two seasons ago at Clemson. But, we follow the Kentucky program much more closely than any other, so it’s easier to point to the plays that have cost us. You’ve already brought up the Dorian Baker drops, specifically the pass in the endzone against Florida last season. He drops that pass TD pass that hit him in the hands, and we end up losing 14-9.

      I think about the late game dropped INT by Marcus McWilson (I believe it McWilson) two years ago at Louisville. If he makes that INT, he has plenty of green in front of him, and Kentucky is probably able to run out the clock against the Cards (there was about 4 and a half minutes in the game at that point, and Kentucky led by three).

      All that being said, good teams make those plays and finish the deal! That’s what this year’s team needs to do.



    • scorpiocard
      8:27 pm July 12, 2016 Permalink

      You also won some close ones last season that you could have lost. EKU stands out as an obvious one. I wouldn’t count on the record getting better given that you might just win some close ones you lost in the past, but lose some close ones that you won.

      For me, and a lot of UK fans I believe, we will have to see that they can win more of them to believe it. The schedule is not conducive to that, despite some of the Kool Aid I am seeing served up here on ksr. Nothing new about that though.



  4. Blue Boy
    10:02 am July 12, 2016 Permalink

    The Vandy game has continued to be overlooked or taken for granted. They will have a very stout defense so it will be imperative that Drew Barker succeeds.



    • dshwildcats
      11:50 am July 12, 2016 Permalink

      Very good point, Blue Boy! We should never take Vandy for granted!



  5. dshwildcats
    11:49 am July 12, 2016 Permalink

    Scorp,

    To answer your question about Stoops, I think the jury is still out on whether he ultimately succeeds as a HC. This season may go a long way in determining whether Stoops is able to have long term success at Kentucky. I like the way he and his staff (primarily Vince Marrow) have recruited. They have brought in some kids that Kentucky would never have gotten in the door with previously. My issues with Stoops and his staff is player development; and, in-game management. I’m not consistently seeing players improve from year to year. Probably Patrick Towles (now at BC) and Matt Elam are two of the best examples of players not getting better from one season to the next. As much as I despise a slimeball like Bobby Petrino, that is an area where he excels. He is able to take a player that might have just average football ability, and get them to exceed everyone’s expectations. I think that has been a major component of the success Petrino has had.

    I think some of Stoops’ in-game management problems have come from him being a first time HC trying to make it in the toughest football conference in the country. I also think some of it stems from having a younger staff, relatively speaking. I’ve thought he needed to go out and bring in some older, more experienced assistants. Last season, Kentucky had a situation where they had 8 players on the field as they prepared for a punt return against Auburn. That should never happen at the D-I level! At Vandy, the Commodores scored a TD right before the half because a WR was standing over at the far sideline waiting for the snap. I saw the kid from the opposite side of the stadium. You have coaches in the pressbox that should immediately catch that, but it didn’t happen that afternoon. Kentucky is still a program that has very little margin for error, so mistakes like that end up coming back to haunt you.

    The thing that bothered me most last year was DJ Eliot’s admission after the Louisville game that they (the defense) really didn’t spend much time preparing for Lamar Jackson. That was more than a head scratcher, and is totally inexcusable! With Stoops being a defensive guy, something like that should never happen, no matter who your DC is.

    These things have to change in order for Stoops to be successful at Kentucky. We’ll have to wait and see how things play out.



    • BluKudzu
      12:54 pm July 12, 2016 Permalink

      This is exactly what I had been saying from day one, relating back to MB’s opening statement about the hire of Stoops. I very much agreed with MB, and his rationale regarding the SEC and the requirement for a strong defense, in order to move forward.

      However, as is stated above, one of the most dynamic players in college football, not being prepared for, is inexcusable on any level. Eliot may not be the man, moreso than Stoops for much of the defensive woes we have seen since his arrival.

      However, the multitude of poor game management examples, coaching by committee for special teams, no fundamental skills enhancement of certain players, you have to think this man is way above his head in trying to build a program, and further, try to win in the best college football conference in the history of the game.

      This year may be the ultimate test. Every game will be high noon. How long will the fanbase wait and accept a .500 season, as an indication of improvement. Many, (myself included) believe we have the players that are good enough to be better than a bottom tier conference program. Many also believe this is the season to see what this man has got.

      I am thinking most every game is a “High Noon Game” especially the season opener. Losing that one, and the season is done. I hope that is not a “We’re just getting started, bro’!” heading in the opposite direction, to borrow a phrase after his first win ove the Gamecocks, which we all put too much emphasis on.



    • scorpiocard
      8:50 pm July 12, 2016 Permalink

      dsh and BluKudzu I agree with your analysis. The one big thing I am looking at is that these things did not seem to be any better in year three, than they were in year one. In game management may have even been worse. Not a good omen. In year three the program should be looking like it’s a better run and a better organized operation. We should have seen some (more) of these high ranked recruits performing at a high level, and at least several looking like, at the very least, future studs. Its hard to look at the roster and pick out more than one or two players who are potential breakouts this season. Boom and Toth are obviously already there.The signs just are not there to me that he can get it done. He may surprise me, but I think you all are going to be faced with having to buy him out. There are just too many tell tale signs that he is in over his head. I mean EKU game going to OT??? Crazy.



  6. Sentient Third Eye
    12:23 pm July 12, 2016 Permalink

    Even if Stoops is not the man who takes UK Football to the promised land, he is the guy who made Ohio part of our “in-state” recruiting. That was a key change, and it will be historically important for the program if our future coaching staffs also have that mindset. Basically, our coaching staffs for the next five decades need to have strong Ohio connections. It’s the only way this program can compete with the recruiting bases of the other schools.



  7. jr1122
    12:56 pm July 12, 2016 Permalink

    Lets not put the cart before the horse. Take this one game at a time. Honest Southern Miss is the high noon game. I had a weird feeling when we played WKU the 1st (and 2nd) time, and I have that same feeling with So Miss. The worst thing to happen with the exception that SEC recruits the best in the nation, is Ohio State being back to prominence in a state we recruit out of. Lose the first game, its over. Don’t worry about a bowl game.



    • dshwildcats
      9:46 am July 13, 2016 Permalink

      jr1122,

      I’m like you, in that the opener vs. Southern Miss scares me, brother! Southern Miss ranked 12th last season in Total Offense, and QB Nick Mullens is back to run the offense. My hope is that Shannon Dawson will help slow down the Golden Eagles’ offense with his playcalling! Lol!!

      But I believe you’re absolutely right! If we lose the opener, I think you can kiss a winning season, and subsequent bowl bid, goodbye!



  8. dshwildcats
    4:26 pm July 12, 2016 Permalink

    BluKudzu,

    I agree with you in the fact that we have enough talent to be more competitive than we’ve been in a lot of games over the past couple of years. We seem to make mistakes at very crucial points in games that end up coming back to bite us in the butt.

    I also agree with your assessment that most every game this year could be classified as a “High Noon Game”. If we lose the opener, you lose a big segment of the fan base right off the bat! We need some momentum right out of the gate. Beating the Gators in Gainesville would be a huge boost for this team, but I don’t believe it’s imperative to a successful season. South Carolina is a team we should handle at home. There’s no chance of beating ‘Bama on the road; and probably only a small chance of beating UGA at home, and UT in Knoxville. That leaves you with Vandy, Mississippi State, Mizzou and Louisville. To me, Vandy and Mizzou are the best chances for wins out of those four games; but, beating State at home, and Louisville at the “Pizza Palace” are not unthinkable.

    I think everything hinges on how well the defense develops, particularly the DL. We have to start slowing down big, bruisin’ SEC RBs; and, getting some pressure on opposing QBs. If the DL is better than we expect, we could be better overall than a lot of people believe.



  9. dshwildcats
    10:32 pm July 12, 2016 Permalink

    scorp,

    I think this is the year that we find out whether Stoops is going to make it or not. As you pointed out, things should look much, much better in regards to player development, and in-game management in year three than they did in year one. We just didn’t see that last season. As I pointed out in another post, I think Stoops really hurt himself by coming in and surrounding himself with younger assistant coaches. I think he did that from a recruiting perspective (maybe assuming that players respond better to younger coaches, not really sure!). If you look back at Brooks’ time at Kentucky, he had some veteran coaches on his staff. When you’re a first time HC, I believe experienced assistants are even more important.

    With regards to the EKU game, I thought that Kentucky deserved to lose that game. Eastern’s kids outplayed Kentucky for the majority of the game. I think two things contributed to that close call. First, I think the Kentucky kids, and maybe the coaches too, took them for granted. The week leading up to that game had several stories from the local media about Kentucky using the Eastern game as a chance to get some time for the backups (i.e. Drew Barker). Secondly, Eastern had the player that was killed several days before the Kentucky game (can’t remember his name right off hand). I think the Eastern kids were playing for their fallen teammate that night, and it showed in their performance. Kentucky was very, very fortunate to win that night!

    But if you recall, a week after Auburn handled Louisville for the majority of the game (it was 31-10 with a little over 10 minutes left in the game), they had to go to OT to beat in-state, I-AA Jacksonville State. As you well know, sometimes those things happen in college football. Louisville struggled with Boston College and Wake Forest in back-to-back weeks, winning those two games by a combined 4 points. Those two teams had 6 wins between them. Louisville was clearly superior to both of those schools, but didn’t demonstrate it when they played them.

    Getting back to Stoops, I think he absolutely has to make a bowl game this year. He has already lost a portion of the fan base, who were already disheartened by the “Joker” experiment. You have old guys like me who have been following this program for 4+ decades who will continue to show up no matter what. But, a lot of the younger fans aren’t built that way. They want a return on their investment. Many of them want immediate results, and that’s rarely been the case for Kentucky Football! Lol!! If Kentucky fails to reach a bowl game this year, especially with some games that appear, at least right now, winnable, I think a lot of fans will be calling for Stoops’ head.