Just like my boy Rahul Anand said, Saturday’s game in Oxford was a disaster. As a Kentucky football fan, we’ve been trained to never expect too much. We may beat #1 ranked LSU, but we will also turn around and lose to Mississippi State by two scores. See UK Wildcats Football 2007. We are accustomed to mediocrity; we embrace the letdown. Much of these feelings are rooted in the Hal Mumme/ Bill Curry eras, but this type of disparity is par for the course for the fans of a lower echelon SEC team.
Rich Brooks brought consistency to the program, and for the first time in the recent history of the Blue and White, the roster had depth. The hires of Randy Sanders to quarterbacks coach and Joker Phillips to Offensive Coordinator vastly improved our recruiting, adding pipelines in Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Under the Joker Phillips administration, off season work out programs improved greatly, and players finally participated in position specific conditioning programs, just like programs offered by the major SEC schools. Last year, Kentucky signed two top tier quarterbacks, a huge step for the program. We signed Chris Matthews, a 6-5 WR with more talent than height. We are coming off four consecutive bowl appearances. We beat Georgia and Auburn on the road. We have one of the most explosive players in the country, a real bonafide winner in Randall Cobb. This is not your father’s Kentucky team. This is a team that has all the tools and preparation to take this program into the next level.Thus far, however, not much has changed. We beat a struggling Louisville, and barely. We crushed Akron and Western, which is a little bit like the SEGA Saturn, kinda cool at the time, but not that impressive in retrospect.
Then there was Florida, who blew us out. If it were an intramural game they would have called it off early, citing mercy rules. News Update: That team that took us the shed isn’t even in the top three or four teams in the league. Seriously. Auburn, Arkansas, South Carolina, Alabama and likely LSU are better teams than Florida. And they ran us out of the stadium.
And let’s don’t miss this: The University of Mississippi had the worst football team in the conference going into last week. They lost to Vanderbilt at home, which is only marginally more respectable than losing to Jacksonville State. I hate to run this algorithm here, but J. State took Murray State by 6 yesterday, and Ole Miss, who lost to J. State AT HOME, beat Kentucky by a touchdown. Kentucky was down by THREE SCORES in the fourth quarter. I don’t have to tell you what’s going on here. That loss yesterday reeked of Bill Curry. That old time, stupid football. The pull your hair out and turn off the television kind of game. For the second week in a row, we were out of the game after three quarters.
I like Mike Hartline, but sweet Weezy Jefferson that offense runs worse than a 1994 Geo Metro. KentuckySportsRadio.com does a great breakdown of SEC rankings, and Mike Hartline has the second most yards of any signal caller in the conference. Behind Ichabod Crane aka Ryan Mallet. The UK defense boasts the #1 pass defense in the league. Which shouldn’t make you feel better. There are gardens in Chernobyl that produces better results than this team. “But we scored 15 unanswered points to close out the game. What a greeeeeaaaat effort out there.” Shut up Barney Rubbel. That’s nothing to be positive about. You mean to tell me that we should be proud of this new discovery? That we somehow discovered that we have a 6-5 receiver that suddenly has a favorable matchup every time he lines up in man coverage? You mean we just figured out we have one of the fastest amateur athletes in America standing in our backfield? You mean Joker Phillips and Randy Sanders all of a sudden saw Randall Cobb and said, “You know, maybe that kid should touch the ball more.” Well it sure did seem like it. And it’s a shame, really a crime to science and logic that two professionals, two men who made teaching and studying football offenses a career, can fail to spread the field against one of the worst teams in BCS football this season until the middle of the fourth quarter. It’s shocking, utterly shocking, that we couldn’t find an answer for a Rebel stacked box.
I’m not ready to call for Mike Hartline’s job, but plenty of smart people are, and for pretty good reasons. He isn’t playing that poorly, but it is readily apparent that Mike is playing to keep his spot on the depth chart, and not win games. Maybe that’s what the coaching staff wants him to do. I don’t know. But what I do know is that this team has the talent to turn this boat around. If they can get it together, the Ole Miss debacle will be an after thought, and the mojo will be back in Lexington. But boys, we gotta get it going, and quick. And you better bring a new attitude to bear against Auburn on Saturday. That one you have now will get you run out of your own backyard. Watch.