What a great weekend. Although the Blue/White game was four days ago, I wanted to add my take on a perfect day. Is this a tale of 'What you missed'? Absolutely.
I got in to Lexington late Friday night and promptly went about getting ready for Saturday. Did you know a Rite-Aid Pharmacy is the closest thing to a liquor store in the Fayette Mall area? Anyway, I was off to my sister's house for a short night of rest. I finally got into the house and on the couch was Tony Franklin's book Fourth Down and Life to Go. I picked it up and quickly lost a couple more hours from a planned good night of sleep delving into some of the scars of the Mumme era. (A full reading is planned since I absconded with the book when I left town.)
Saturday morning: No alarm needed, I'm up at 7 am and ready for some football. How do you kill 12 hours before game time? Easily and enjoyably. Quick stop at Micky D's for breakfast then arrive at the stadium ready for the day to begin. First to arrive is a2d2 and she proves to be as big a football fan in person as she is on-line. Darkandbloody and Bluehound also meet up and those inclined quench their thirst on some Bloody Mary's to stave off the windy, chilly morning. As some cars continue to straggle into the parking lot, tents are set up, cornhole games begin, grills are lit and it looks like there might be a decent turn out for the spring game.
The shuttle to Keeneland is a couple hundred feet from where we're located so we jump on the shuttle which travels through the war zone known as Versailles Road road improvements and drops us off at the front door to Keeneland. With the Bluegrass Stakes being run later in the day the atmosphere is electric (and crowded!), it's just like a mini Kentucky Derby day. People are dressed to the nines and obviously enjoying themselves. The time at Keeneland alone would have been worth the trip to Lexington.
We left the track before the Bluegrass Stakes as the siren song of football was playing loudly in our heads. When the shuttle bus pulled up to Commonwealth the transformation of the area was astounding. All the lots were full and a hundred acres of asphalt had been covered in blue. Occasionally the crowd was lifted when the Air Raid siren blared over the masses. It was like a full blown football game crowd and the visiting team also had the correct color of blue. It was truly A Sea of Blue. I think even the Cat Walk drew more people than the entire attendance of last year's game.
More time before the game was spent wandering among the crowds where we also ran into Jords and her friend then we finally headed into the stadium where the lines for the restroom were shorter. When we got to the seats kydamcat and his entourage were there so we settled in for a football game. Obviously a2 was there for football as she chastised kydamcat and darkandbloody for talking not about football but some discovered common ground as they hailed from the same area.
The Game: First, the quarterback play was interesting as the QBs rotated among both teams. As many have said, Whitlow was the best option that day. In order, I'd pencil in their ranking as – 1. Whitlow, 2. Phillips, 3. Smith, 4. Towles and 5. Witthuhn. Phillips may have had an advantage of playing without any pressure to be #1 and I don't know if some routes were run wrong during different QBs turn but Whitlow's mobility gave him a leg up (sorry). Offensive line splits were tighter than I was expecting and blocking was effective for the most part. At running back we have a nice group to give us a dependable threat running and Clemons looked ready to make a come back. The tight ends were integral to the offense (and likely will be this season). We didn't see much in the way of long balls and during the season we probably shouldn't expect that to change much since the short pass will be our bread and butter. Along those lines our receivers are going to have to improve their yards after catch numbers, there really wasn't a great display of blazing speed, elusiveness or tough running. Top receivers on Saturday were Cunningham, Legree, Robinson and Sweat although I expect Cobbins to contribute more as he learns the position. Among the receivers there was still a bit of last year showing when they weren't the hot read.
Defensively, I'll join the chorus extolling Za'Darius Smith. Stoops has a great set of bookends with Smith and Dupree, we will see some great plays from them this season. Cobble was so-so, but I've been suspect of him since he floundered his first years on the team. It will be better to judge him once Rumph rejoins him up front. The secondary performed better than expected with good work by the Blaylocks, Faulkner, Tiller and others but honestly my attention was more on the offense. And since I don't have Fox Sports South here I won't have the benefit of watching replays to go into detail.
After the game, goodbyes were said and everyone went our separate ways carrying memories of a perfect day. I know that next year I'll return to experience all that is good in Lexington. For those of you that couldn't make it, be there next year because it is a perfect day that celebrates everything that is Lexington and UK. For those of you that were there but didn't meet up with us, we'll try to organize it better so we all can meet. It's nice to put a face with the on line names and also gives us a chance to bond and even talk about non-ASOB topics – politics, etc.