We all have varying degrees of football knowledge, and according to the comments section on this website, nearly every writer for KSR has no knowledge of the game of the football. But, I think there is something that we all can agree on:
IF YOU SHUT OUT YOUR OPPONENT, YOU ARE GUARANTEED TO WIN
Since the NCAA implemented overtime rules in the 1990’s, if you hold your opponent to zero points you are a lock to win the game. The reason I bring this up is while perusing some past seasons for another post, I recognized that Kentucky didn’t seem to shut out very many opponents. In fact, they shut out almost no opponents. Kentucky hasn’t shut out an opponent since 2007 (Miami OH). So I kept going further and further back into the record books to find out that Kentucky has only shut out that one opponent since 1997! That’s 18 years of football, tons of 1-AA and lower conference level opponents, plus playing Vandy and Mississippi State every year and UK has only shut out an opponent ONCE since 1997.
Now, holding a foe to zero points is quite a huge standard to ask of a defense. So while that number seemed incredibly low to me, I wondered if maybe that was actually pretty normal for an SEC school. Maybe shutouts weren’t as common as a I tended to think. So, I looked back at each SEC school’s schedule since 1997 and here are the number of shutouts each has produced in that time frame:
Ole Miss: 8
Mississippi State: 6
Texas A&M: 6
South Carolina: 4
Ummmm, wow? Again, I recognize that shutouts is a pretty specific and extraordinary thing to focus on, but cmon Kentucky! If Vanderbilt can get 4 shutouts in 18 years, I think we can get more than one. In fact, Kentucky has been the recipient of several of these shutouts:
LSU (2000, 2006)
So what’s the point? Well, the point is that when looking at that list of SEC schools above, you see a variety of level of program. You have the Alabama’s and LSU’s of the world at the top, and UK is just not going to get there. We don’t have the commitment all around. But that’s fine. The problem is we are at the bottom and not even close to the team above us, Vanderbilt (and now South Carolina). This fanbase has just experienced bad defenses year after year after year. This year’s D wasn’t the worst in the world but UK has maybe had a “good” defense once or twice in 20 years. And those shutout numbers are just a fraction of the pain we’ve had to feel watching our team try and defend.