I feel like a bad used car dealership when I say this, but everything must go! After watching Saturday night’s game in Gainesville, I literally caught myself laughing. So many things went wrong, that you couldn’t count them on one hand. Our offensive line, for one, was the worst I’ve seen it since Shane Boyd and the West Coast (God help us). Mike Hartline threw any support and confidence he once had from his fans out the window with every check down he called. Our linebacking corps looked like they were running in slow motion which made allowance for the abundance of crossing routes and completed passes in the middle. And yet ANOTHER game with against a quality SEC powerhouse with no execution, lack of aggressiveness in scheme, and poor decision making. All of these things summing up why Kentucky is a basketball school, and not a national contender. You can react two ways: See it as a learning opportunity (Really?), or you call for change. I prefer the latter.
Mike HartlineI was on the Mike Hartline bandwagon when coaches led us to believe he had shown signs of maturity in the pocket and in his ability to read defensive coverages. But the truth is that Hartline was more conservative than Bill O’Reilly, and it made everyone sick. I know how the pro style offense works, and Mike does have a cannon, but he isn’t doing himself any favors by throwing 4 yard passes on 3rd and long. Take a shot Mike! People say the play calling was the problem, and that’s half true. Hartline is given two plays by the coaches. He calls one in the huddle, and if he doesn’t like the way the defense is presenting their coverage, amongst other things, he changes the original play to the alternate second. The reads by Mike were beyond terrible, and it exposed how ‘Operation Win’ was more like Operation Survive. We were scared to challenge their defensive backs. Man on none, we folded quicker than Johnny Chan with a 7-2 off suit. Think about this, Chris Matthews had 4 catches for 114 yards, all of which were well executed balls thrown DOWN FIELD. Something we saw just flashes of. You have to spread the field, or defenses will not respect you, which is the sole reason for Jeremy Brown’s 52 yard pick-6 in the second quarter. While check downs could be a reflection on the OC’s coaching philosophy, it doesn’t mean that it must happen as much as it does, because then it becomes predictable. Let’s be honest, Mike has to go. We have waited and waited for Mr. Hartline to make a comeback, and it isn’t coming anytime soon. He obviously must do all the right things in practice, but he can’t seem to transfer it to the game. The kid just isn’t producing quality wins, and that’s what UK fans are crying for. I’m not saying I don’t trust the head man Joker Phillips or the genius of Randy Sanders, but I am saying when it came down to picking the right man for the quarterback spot, their judgment was off, by a lot. I have the luxury and good fortune of knowing many players personally, and all say that Mike is a verbal leader, which is what we need, but when one leader steps down, another will take his place. After Saturday night, the previous three victories just don’t seem to carry the weight we all thought they did. Now where do we go from here?
Next in Line!
Morgan NewtonThis kid is young, but talented. Whom Joker Phillips calls the most athletic of all the quarterbacks in rotation, Newton can throw the ball farther than your dad. He started the last eight games in 2009 and won 5 of them. His first start was at Jordan-Hare Stadium where he led his team to a 21-14 win. Mind you, at this time, he was a true freshman. He also won against LA-Monroe, EKU, at Vandy, and in Athens, Georgia for the first time in thirty-two years. He lost to a decent Mississippi State, a tough OT loss to rival Tennessee, to a star studded Clemson with now NFL running back C.J. Spiller, in the Music City Bowl.
But what I like most about Newton is his attitude. Newton is a born winner — No question. DQ Evans, Kentucky’s scariest player and defensive end, was quoted saying “You look at him and he looks like a NFL quarterback, or maybe linebacker, he is 230 and runs with the best of them. He is always trying to come in first and is always competing.” Evans later said, “The thing about Morgan Newton is that he is always trying to get better. He is always striving to be better. I think that follows over to his game play and his character.” A desire to win isn’t something you can simply coach, and it’s the intangibles that makes Morgan Newton who he is, and it’s the exact reason we need him to win football games.