It would be really easy for me to open up on Wildcats for their performance today, but that would be unprofessional and completely gratuitous. Every Wildcats fan who saw this game knows that Kentucky got shut out primarily because Maxwell Smith was unavailable. Joker Phillips was either trying to misdirect Florida, or Smith got worse since Thursday's practice when Phillips said he looked fine.
Predictably, the Wildcats offense under Morgan Newton was ... well it was just unfortunate. Newton threw three interceptions, one for a Florida touchdown and one that led to another touchdown in just a few plays. It was a a horror from an offensive standpoint, and there's not much you can say about that.
The defense came to play -- that is, until they figured out that the offense could not score unless the Gators failed to field a defense. I'm not convinced that the UK offense under Newton could have scored on a 7-man Gator defense. It was just that loathsome. Newton missed wide-open receivers he could have lobbed the ball to. If you did not know the quality of Newton's character, you might think he deliberately threw the game. He didn't of course, but ineptitude of this magnitude is truly unfathomable for a senior quarterback ranked very highly out of high school.
In the end, Kentucky earned what they got by simply failing to muster any kind of offense, and sticking with Newton until the game was hopelessly out of reach. As a result, the defense spent most of the game on the field, and it doesn't require one of the great football minds to figure out what happened after that.
- You can't blame Phillips for Smith's injury, they are part of football. You can blame him for sticking with Newton after he lost all his confidence in the third series.
- I understand the reflexive reaction to talk about the coaching, but we are now officially past that. Phillips will not be retained after this, not because we lost, but because he didn't coach to win. You can't have that.
But let's be adults when it comes to talking about him. He has given us most of his life, and his dream is ending. That is sad. Phillips showed more loyalty to Newton than he did to his own job, which is laudable. In his situation, it probably didn't matter, anyway.
- I refuse to pile on Morgan Newton, and I ask you to refrain as well. I'm sure he feels awful. I feel awful for him. He is a good kid, but an utterly incompetent quarterback.
- The defense showed some signs. Forget about the score, that was due to the abject failure of the offense. The defense really put UK in a position to be competitive until the offense handed them the game and force the defense to play the second half at the point of exhaustion.
- I thought the defensive line played really well, and Alvin Dupree was outstanding. Where was Avery Williamson?
- How long do we have to wait before the defensive backfield learns to look for the football? I blame that on coaching. I would run a kid to exhaustion if he did what Dakotah Tyler did, and what Martavius Neloms did in the Louisville Cardinals game.
- If we had Smith, this game may have been competitive. But we didn't so we will never know.
- We ran the ball well against the Gators, another hopeful sign.
- If we get Smith back, could we pull an upset? If this wasn't a fluke from the defense, and the team hasn't totally given up, we might.
There's just not a lot of good to say. Kentucky is supine right now, and I'm pretty sure they can't get up, but we never know. I'll still be here cheering them on, regardless. Next year will be a new dawn for UK, and there are a lot of promising young players on this team that could be really productive next year. It's a pity the guy who recruited them won't be there to coach them, but this is how things must go. There is no alternative at this point absent a shocking run through the SEC, and that is beyond unlikely. But we may yet steal a couple.
In the end, I suggest you don't sweat it. Kentucky football has been here before, and probably will be again. We have to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, find a guy who can win some games, and keep trying. In the meantime, we need to support these kids. There's no need to protest Phillips, he has become a lame duck as of now, if he wasn't before. Let's pay him the respect he's due for being an advocate for Kentucky and producing a lot of good for UK, but he's about to be Peter Principled to a lesser position.