I was going to put my comments about the MCB game in the responses on Tru’s Rear View Mirror thread but thought it might get a little long so it is posted here for easier bypassing. I just got home from the game and a day long reflection of the game while driving home. Also I’ve read through the game thread and other threads concerning the game and Brook’s "80% gone" announcement.
A day at the game started with the arrival in Music City and the utter amazement of the overwhelming numbers of Cat fans versus the Clemson fans. Orange was a rare color on the streets of Nashville, which is just as well since it remains the most revolting color God created for fandom. Despite a season ripped from the plot of RL Stevenson’s masterpiece, the UK faithful will follow their football team to the ends of the earth or at least an easy drive from Cat Country; but most fans seemed more confident in getting a good drink at Wildhorse Saloon or Cadillac Ranch than getting a victory across the river.
As gametime approached and the fans made it toward the stadium the temperature started dropping and the wind started picking up. It was going to be a cold one; definitely not a Florida bowl. Thankfully I was bundled up enough to pass for Jabba the Hud. Before we went into the game we caught the Catwalk and the players seemed subdued and almost embarrassed – whether that was due to the attention or the location of the bowl they were in I leave up for debate. We visited with the many tailgaters and lost a couple games of cornhole before entering LP Stadium to catch the last game of the season – our first. Did I mention it was cold? Anyway, butts in seats and game on.
To limit the verbage I’ll just list highlights:
1. Kentucky’s first score was scripted perfectly and some good luck on Clemson missed assignments led to the score. Mistakes that wouldn’t be repeated and Kentucky continued play without total team desire.
2. Lindley had another off game. He’s lucky their tight end can’t catch a ball when past the coverage.
3. Morgan Newton – by step two of a drop back he’s already locked on the receiver. If he can't start looking off the defense or finding the open man his career will be limited. The deep pass to a covered Cobb instead of the wide open streaking LaRod King is just one example.
4. Kentucky players stood around the sideline glued to the space heaters while Clemson players were following the game.
5. The Clemson band was into the game the UK band was at the game.
6. When UK was on offense: Coming out of commercials the UK team was just watching the TV guy on the field to see when play would resume, Clemson players were talking each other up. Newton needs to take those moments to talk up his offense.
7. Anytime UK was lined up in the spread and Newton did the tomahawk to his helmet the whole stadium knew Locke would get the ball to run up the middle. Even the Clemson players would repeat the signal.
8. It was COLD! Bowl games should not have snowflakes coming down.
9. The stadium announcer sucked. Constantly gave wrong down and distance, wrong ball location given, missed names (ie. "John" Allen), rarely gave name of tackler, many times didn’t name ball carrier or gave wrong name.
10. No stats shown or announced anytime or anywhere in stadium.
11. Refs need to attend Ballspotting 101.
12. Game was really not that exciting.
13. Clemson’s corners were too fast for any outside running.
14. Kentucky receivers can finally catch but still cannot run correct routes. Too many times two receivers end up in the same area.
15. Defense did enough to help toward win. Considering talent of Spiller/Harper they did quite well. Harper’s long run on scoring drive was due to cutback (read "Defensive Achilles Heel"). Micah and Corey had great game.
16. The 3rd and 5 dropped pass by Cobb toward the end of the game will bother him for the entire off-season. He’s such an inspiration and talent for this team I hope he remembers all of the good he has done.
17. Clemson loved to see Cobb in the Wildcat. They know he will keep it 85% of the time so the corner and safety on the side he moves to always attack the line.
18. McCaskill can’t be blamed. The die was cast way before that point in the game. Although, I was pleased the defense stopped the gimmick play right after the turnover.
Would I go again? In a heartbeat. Kentucky played much better than this in several games this year and seemed flat. Should Kentucky go again? Nope. If things turn out the same next year they should turn down a MSB game. They players seemed to be just going through the motions and a change of venue is in order. Even if it’s the PapaJohn or the Independence, Kentucky needs to get out of Nashville.
For next year’s quarterback we need to truly open it up as Coach Phillips has indicated. Hartline is……..well, Hartline. Newton has confidence but does not exude leadership when you watch how he interacts with the team and also needs an incredible amount of work on his progressions. Mossy and others? Who knows, we’ve got to find a go-to, fundamentally sound leader or we’ll be rehashing the same thing this time next year.
As to Coach Brooks - like others, I respect and appreciate more than words can express what he has done for our program. But like a fading athlete you want such an admired person to move on to what everyone knows is best for all involved. Coach has earned a long retirement and a spot in our heart, Joker cannot gain any more experience in his current position to assure success as Head Coach and recruits in the back of their mind know that Joker will be the next coach, so lets just get on with it.
By the way – did you hear it was cold at the game?