You've heard that it's better to give than to receive. Well, I think this years Kentucky football team has taken that well intentioned adage to heart. Giving, and giving some more, or even giving until it hurts, might best describe UK's propensity to give to their opponents this season. I'm all for looking out for one's neighbor, but does, 'it's better to give than to receive,' apply to the football field? I think not!
Allow me to illustrate exactly what I'm referring to, because the startling nature of the numbers drives my point home with authority.
UK's defense, in nine game, has given up 136 points points, or 15.1 points per game ( the team has given up 159 total points ... but, more on that later). Of those 136 points, 51 of them have come via offensive turnovers or underwhelming special teams play, allowing UK's opponents the good fortune of playing with a "short field." Which of course is not conducive to winning football.
The ugliness breaks down thusly:
- Versus Norfolk State: A Randall Cobb fumble sets up NSU on UK's 27 yard line. UK's defense allows only a field goal = 3 points.
- Versus Middle Tennessee: A Mike Hartline fumble sets up the Blue Raiders on UK's 34 yard line. In short order MTSU scores a touchdown = 7 points.
- Versus South Carolina: UK allows an 84 yard punt return, setting up the Gamecocks on UK's 16 yard line. Ya know Spurrier is gonna score a TD = 7 points.
- Versus Arkansas: A Mike Hartline interception sets up the 'Backs at UK's 24 yard line. It could have been worse; Arkansas returned the interception to the UK 9, but a personal foul penalty moved the ball back 15 yards. Arkansas scores the TD = 7 points.
- Versus Arkansas: A Derrick Locke fumble sets up the Razorback's on the UK 18 yard line. Following the same theme, Arkansas takes it in for the touchdown = 7 points.
- Versus Florida: A blocked punt sets up the Gators at the UK three yard line. A right quick touchdown = 7 points.
- Versus Florida: A blocked punt set up the Gators at the UK one yard line. A touchdown sets the romp a rollin' = 7 points.
- Versus Mississippi State: An Alfonso Smith fumble sets up the 'Dogs at the UK 31 yard line, resulting in an MSU touchdown = 6 points.
What all this means is that UK's opponents had to travel a distance of 154 yards, to score 51 points. Thirty-seven percent of the points that UK's defense has given up, have come via 'short fields.' That's the gift that keeps on giving.
Add those uninspiring numbers to the fact that UK has given up 21 points in other, just as colorful ways, and the benevolence of the team as a whole becomes evident. Benevolence, in the following forms:
- Versus Alabama: A Mike Hartline fumble is returned 11 yards for a touchdown.
- Versus South Carolina: A 21 yard field goal attempt (by Ryan Tydlacka) is blocked and returned 81 yards for a touchdown.
- Versus Florida: A Mike Hartline interception is returned 40 yards for a touchdown.
Seventy-two of the 159 total points (45%) given up by Kentucky this year have come on either 'short field' possessions, or gift-wrapped touchdowns. That's a startling number.
Tis the Season ...
I bring this unpleasantness up because as we enter into the holiday season I want the team to realize that they have already given more than any college student could be expected to give. Even more importantly, they need to know that the giving has to stop. It's becoming embarrassing.
Kentucky's defense has a difficult enough job already (trying to put the kibosh on some of the best players in the country), without having to fret over constantly having to play with their backs up against their own goal line. And with upcoming games versus a steamed Georgia Bulldog team, a game Vandy squad, and a Tennessee club looking to send their coach out a winner, the fixation Kentucky has with giving-away must stop. It was cute for a while, but it's not funny anymore.
Actually a pretty good argument could be made that if UK wasn't so interested in giving, that the 'Cats would be sitting at an excellent 8-1, instead of a pedestrian 6-3. But, I don't even want to think about that.
So for the final four games let's hold on to the ball a little tighter, be a little more accurate with your passes, and block with a little more purpose, and maybe, just maybe you guys could pull off a few more victories.
The generosity can recommence AFTER the bowl game.
Thanks for reading, and Go 'Cats!