After Pigskinapalooza 2011, I've been laying low this week. But as "the football guy" I did take some notes during yesterday's game and thought today might be a good time to share some leftover thoughts about not only the Kentucky Wildcats-Central Michigan Chippewas, but the season so far as a whole.
1) Morgan Newton is going to be erratic throwing the football. He is like the guy you play pickup hoops with who nails some threes then mixes in a brick of two. It doesn't mean he can't be an effective QB, but if you are expecting pinpoint precision on every pass, he isn't your guy. Newton's inconsistency is odd because he is much better about throwing the deep ball than underneath routes. That is the exact opposite of most mediocre QB's. In my opinion, it is an easier fix, but Newton is running out of time.
2) Matt Roark has lost his place in the WR pecking order. DeMarco Robinson, Aaron Boyd and E.J. Fields all saw snaps after his drop. Newton's (perfect) pass to him seemed like it took forever. I saw the route, saw the ball in the air and thought, "Well, this will tell the tale for Roark". Sports can be harsh, especially at a high level. Good teams have to have receivers who catch the ball. Being tall, athletic and understanding your responsibilities are great things, but in the end, you gotta catch the ball.
3) The Cats seem to have found their tailback in Clemons. He finished with 126 yards on 14 carries. I think Raymond Sanders is a good running back, and he'll get snaps in this system. I wonder if Joker isn't trying to fit a square peg into a round hole by running Sanders between the tackles so much. I see Clemons as out every down guy and Sanders being a change of pace/third down back.
4) The offensive line eventually wore CMU down, but they were not particularly impressive. It will be interesting to see what happens when Matt Smith and Billy Joe Murphy come back. One would be tempted to think that the line will improve. O-line play is so much about teamwork, though, that it is going to be harder to reincorporate them into the group than you might think. This is especially true of Smith, as the center generally has the role of calling out assignments. Jake Lanefski has now been doing that all season.
5) Martavious Neloms left the game twice. I assumed he has suffered a concussion early on, as he laid on the ground for several minutes, then got up and ran off as if he was fine physically. Surprisingly, he was back in shortly, only to limp off the field for good in the second half. True freshman Ashley Lowery played in his place and made a couple of nice plays. Word is that Neloms has a stinger.
6) Kentucky's offense spent the first six and a half quarters of the season searching for an identity. What is it that we do well, and how are we going to exploit that to open up other opportunities? I think that we have found it now. Kentucky is a run first team that can change pace by having its quarterback carry it himself. For Newton's faults, he can also keep a defense honest by throwing the deep ball. Hopefully teams will hesitate to load up the box because the bomb is always a threat.
7) For the second game in a row, UK did not complete a pass to a Tight End. The deepest unit on the Cats' team isn't seeing much action. Likewise, Kentucky running backs have only one catch for zero yards. Granted, 16 completions is a pretty small sample size, but this is a pretty good indication that the offense is limited in what it can do.
8) It bears a mention. Danny Trevathan is very good at football. We can't take the kid for granted. He will go down as one of the best ever to play here. Listening to him on the radio after reminded me, he is also a great guy. Truly, he has been everything Randall Cobb was for this program, except that he happens to play defense.
9) Winston Guy, Jr. had a very good game, but allowed CMU to extend a drive when he let an old habit creep back up on him. Winston wants to "stick" people and make them fall down without wrapping up. It is a macho thing that most elite players get over in college.
10) Verdict on new Commonwealth AV. Video screens-meh, ribbon boards-awesome, sound-unreal.
11) I still think this team can play in a bowl by beating U of L, Jacksonville State and Vandy, then finding one more win, but I'm not sure it can do much more. Based on what I've seen so far, a bowl would be a major accomplishment.
12) Yesterday was a great day of college football. If you missed Notre Dame-Michigan, you can probably see it on ESPN Classic soon.
13) This may be the least anticipated UK-U of L game in years. Something tells me that the Cats and the Cards will surprise everyone and put together an exciting (if not particularly well played) contest.
14) Never forget.
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