Kentucky 14 @ Tennessee 24: Postmortem

I have a confession to make -- I really didn't think UK was going to win this football game at any time.  Tennessee has just been on a roll since Tyler Bray began starting, and they didn't come off that roll today versus the Wildcats.

Congratulations to the Tennessee Volunteers for an outstanding game.  They did it with offense and they played just enough defense to keep the Kentucky Wildcats out of the end zone.

I really don't have a lot to say about this game.  It went pretty much according to the script that the Wildcats have written for themselves all year -- poor defense, turnovers, and stalled drives a critical times.  As the old saying goes, there is really nothing new under the sun.

Even Randall Cobb's heroics were not enough.  The Kentucky ground game, which began to move the football for a while in the second quarter, got stymied eventually.  The combination of time and score forced Kentucky to go to an all-out pass attack, and in the end, that attack just wasn't good enough.

Kentucky, who is pretty much known for getting big plays on offense almost every game, had a notable dearth of them today, and had numerous wide-open receivers that Hartline just plain missed.  Conversely, the defense repeatedly gave up long vertical pass plays, many of them due to perfect ball placement by Bray.  That kid is just as hot as a $3 pistol right now, and might be leading the conference in passing if he had started from the beginning of the year.

Superlatives:

  • Randall Cobb amassed a ridiculous amount of offense today, but it wasn't even close to enough.  Game ball.
  • The defensive line played pretty well today, comparatively.
  • The offensive line gave Hartline all the time he needed, but their run blocking could have been a lot better.
  • The receiving corps ran exceptional routes today.

The not-so-superlative:

  • The defensive secondary was just unable to stop pass plays.  It wasn't that they were letting people get wide open or anything, but Denarius Moore and Gerald Jones just killed us.
  • Special teams were loathsome.  A missed FG that would have given us momentum, a shanked punt that cost us, a touchback when we could have pinned them down.  Those plays were the difference between winning and losing, in my view.
  • Bad throws by Hartline - he had a handful of receivers wide open and missed them for huge plays.  You can get away with one of those, but not four or five.
  • Turnovers.  This needs no exposition.  The end zone fumble effectively lost the game for us.

It's too early yet for me to sum up the season, and I have too much to do here to take the time to write a long post on that, but one will be forthcoming soon.  Yes, this is a disappointment, but really, I am getting used to disappointment with this team.  It has been one of those years where the potential has simply been unfulfilled due mostly to poor ball handling and badly-timed miscues.  As good as this team looks statistically, they look disappointing in the only statistic that really counts -- winning winnable football games, especially in the league.

With that, I'll leave you to rejoin your Thanksgiving weekend, already in progress.

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