Auburn 37 @ Kentucky 34:  Postmortem

Stud? Uh huh.

Congratulations to the Auburn Tigers for their win over the Kentucky Wildcats on the last play of the game, a 25 yard field goal.  They played an outstanding game, and despite the strong effort by Kentucky, they defended their position as the only one of two undefeated teams in the SEC.

Yes, 'Cat fans, I know this is disappointing.  In fact, it feels almost as bad as a 48-7 embarrassment I saw predicted in one of the threads today.  Close is not close enough.

It would be easy to bash the coaches, or the players, or ... well, everyone associated with the loss.  But let's be real.  This wasn't a game Kentucky was supposed to be competitive in, let alone win.  After being embarrassed by the Florida Gators and losing a winnable game to the Mississippi Rebels, Kentucky fans did not deserve to expect a win in this game, and they were properly rewarded with a loss.

Now that I've trashed the Wildcats, let me build them back up.  There were a lot of positives to be taken away from this game, not the least of which was outscoring the powerful Tigers 17-6 in the second half, and giving the Wildcats a chance to win a football game that they lose on paper by 2+ touchdowns.  A lot of that credit goes to the defense, which really showed heart in the second half after having 31 points dropped on them in the first stanza.

I hope, but am not too confident, that what we saw in the second half is what we can expect in the future -- a defense that understands the strength of a team and forces them to play to their weakness.  As good as Cameron Newton is as a dual-threat quarterback, he is much better as a runner than as a passer.  Forcing Newton to pass in the second half was what made Kentucky competitive, and even if they were not able to close the deal, you have to be impressed with the improvement from half to half.

Observations:

  • Randall Cobb dropped two passes, yet without him, we were not competitive.  Forgiven and forgotten.  You are awesome, Randall.
  • Sad to lose Derrick Locke in the second half, especially to a boneheaded play call.  Jesus, Sanders, give me a break.
  • Chris Matthews was almost invisible.  Why?
  • What a great game by Mike Hartline.  He was great, period.  Don't bore me with "but if's."   Game ball.
  • Donald Russell may have won his second-string spot back tonight.
  • Kentucky's defense may have grown up tonight.  We won't know until next week.
  • Did I mention that I love Randall Cobb?  Call it a man-crush, but any football fan who doesn't have a man-crush on him needs to have his pulse checked.
  • Did Ryan Tydlacka really only punt twice?
  • The fumble recovery by Burden was a very close call.  The interference call in the first Auburn series was an unquestionably missed call that cost UK a touchdown.
  • We need experience at linebacker.  Our youth showed up in that position yet again.
  • How hard is it to teach kids form tackling?  Just askin'.

Tough loss by Kentucky, but at least they showed signs of having an SEC game.  Losing by 3 to the #8 team, especially when you could have beaten them but for a couple of plays, sucks but is an oft-repeated despair.  What we need to do now is take the positives and make them mean something, particularly defensively.

Great game, Tigers.  We'll see you again next decade, and going 1-1 is probably as good as we could have asked, historically.  Now, it's time to prepare for the Elephant-killers, and stick one to the 'OIe Ball Coach.

Go, 'Cats!

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