We've known for well over a year that we've had issues with catching the football. Saturday did not prove that the problem has been corrected. The wide receivers, however, were not the only players who did not execute. They had plenty of help from our two quarterbacks. Kentucky had an opportunity to get off to a fast start and simply blew it with poor execution of routine plays. That hurt an otherwise fine defensive stand.
Now that the dust has settled from the Governor's Cup game, it is time to compare where we are this year with the 2012 base year. Are we an improved product? Yesbut.
If Louisville is the 7th best team in the country, college football really sucks this year. If "Touchdown" Teddy is a genuine Heisman candidate, then what are TAMU's Johnny Football and Oregon's Mariota? I submit that Manziel and Mariota would've absolutely destroyed Kentucky on Saturday.
I watched three games Saturday, Kentucky-Louisville, Bama-A&M and UT-Oregon (taped). I should've watched Ole Miss and Texas. I don't watch other than SEC teams except as the season winds down. The three games I did watch clearly showed a pecking order that tells me Alabama will be playing Oregon (maybe Ohio St.), not Louisville, for the BCS championship.
One thing happens when you lose a game. Team stats begin to slide, and it happened this week for our Wildcats even though our eyes told us we are improving, especially on defense. While numbers don't lie, they don't tell the whole story.
Kentucky's defense played great for a half. Unfortunately, they didn't get ANY help from the offense and by the end of the half, the defense was pretty much spent due to the amount of time spent on the field. That first half, we saw the best defense we've seen in a long time. They showed me that, when pressured, Teddy Bridgewater is just an average quarterback. The numerical decline for the defense is a direct result of an inept offense. Here's what Neal Brown had to say when interviewed by Larry Vaught. While some might want to complain about play calling, it really doesn't matter what play is called if the players can't execute.
Offensively, Kentucky has a quarterback problem. Kentucky also has a turnover problem. Kentucky has a 3rd down conversion problem. Kentucky has a lot of problems on offense. Yet, there are some bright spots at the individual level and most are coming from the newcomers club (1st year players). Talent (stars) matter. Still don't think so? Try this on: Javis Blue (4*JUCO) ranks 5th in the SEC in receiving yards. Against Louisville, Blue caught 6 passes for 58 yards with his longest at 25 yards. But, he also had a couple of drops.
Ryan Timmons (4* true freshman) caught 3 for 72 yards and a long of 25 yards, Jeff Badet (3*) caught 3 for 44 yards with a long of 27. Alex Montgomery (3*) caught his first touchdown pass. Jojo Kemp had 5 carries for 80 yards and averaged 16 yard per carries. He also had the longest run of the day (47 yards). Who had the most carries on the day? Jalen Whitlow with 12 and he averaged 3.1 yards. Our experienced backs didn't do squat, but together they only had nine attempts.
Maxwell Smith was 9-20 for 109 yards and Jalen Whitlow was 8-17-1 for 105 yards. This paltry showing had more to do with bad passes and drops than Louisville's defense. Whitlow had 2 fumbles and lost one and Smith had one which was lost. For some reason, I expected more from the Air Raid. If the QB and/or WRs don't execute, we might as well run on every play.
Defensively, experience proved fruitful and the newcomers club performed well too before they gassed out. Avery Williamson was in on15 (8 solos) tackles. Bud Dupree was in on 8 (2 solos). Za'Darius Smith and Dupree shared a sack. Smith is tied for first in sacks with several others in the NCAA stats at 1.5 per game. We haven't yet had an interception, although Ashley Lowery had one thrown his way that he muffed.
For me, our depth across the board is a real problem, but help is on the way. If the 2014 class performs as well as the 2013 recruiting class, we will see significant improvement and be much more competitive.
Here's the numbers from the NCAA and UK. Get your fix by clicking on the links. I've provided the available stats from last year, according to the NCAA, just to show a comparison. The UK site has a play chart for those interested in the details.
Rushing Offense: 213.3 (42nd) ↓ from 32ndlast week. 2012 Rank 138.75 (#87)
Passing Offense: 276.6 (39th) ↓ from 25th last week. 2012 Rank 176.25 (#102)
Passing Efficiency: 144.22 (47th) ↓ from 23rd last week. 2012 Rank 108.62 (111)
Red Zone Offense: 78.6% (t-84th) ↓ from 48th last week thanks to the knee 2012 Rank N/A
Scoring Offense: 26.7 (78th) ↓ from 55th last week 2012 Rank 17.92 (#116)
Total Offense: 547 (t-33rd) ↓ from 16th last week 2012 Rank 315.00 (#113)
Tackles for Loss Allowed: 18 (t-87th) ↓ from 73rd last week 2012 Rank N/A
Sacks Allowed: 1.67 (t-60th) ↓ from (t-44th) last week 2012 Rank 2.17 (#75)
Time of possession: 26:00 (110th) ↓ from 100th last week thanks to the knee 2012 Rank N/A
3rd Down Conversion %: 25.6% (t-114th) ↓ from 71st last week 2012 Rank N/A
4th Down Conversion %: 80% (t-13th) ↓ from 1st last week 2012 Rank N/A
First Downs: 59 (t-57th) ↓ from 55th last week 2012 Rank N/A
Rushing Defense:185.7 (89th) ↓ from 70th last week 2012 Rank 161.25 (#62)
Passing Defense: 181.3 (t-27th) ↓ from 21st last week 2012 Rank 229.75 (#57)
Scoring Defense: 23 (55th) ↓from 47th last week 2012 Rank 31.00 (#85)
Passing Efficiency Defense: 130.65 (70th) ↓ from 64th last week 2012 Rank 146.56 (#100)
Passes Intercepted: 0 (No Ranking) No Change 2012 Rank N/A
Tackles for Loss: 4.0 (t-105th) ↓ from 78th last week 2012 Rank 4.42 (#105)
Sacks: 2.67 (t-24th) ↓ from 18th last week 2012 Rank 2.17 (#49)
Total Defense: 367.0 (54th) ↓ from30th last week 2012 Rank 391.00 (#59)
3rd Down Conversion %: 23.1% (3rd) ↓ from 2nd last week 2012 Rank: N/A
4th Down Conversion %: 66.7% (t- 48th) No Change 2012 Rank N/A
First Downs: 52 (t-60th) ↓ from 34th last week 2012 Rank N/A
Fewest Penalty Yards: 73.33 (t-111th) ↑ from 120th last week 2012 Rank N/A
Fewest Penalties: 8.33 (110th) ↑ from 120th last week 2012 Rank N/A
Turnover Margin: -.7 (t-99th) ↓ from 58th last week 2012 Rank N/A
Net Punting: 33.13 (107th) ↓ from 105th last week 2012 Rank 39.46 (#18)
Punt Returns: 7.82 (65th) ↓ from 47thlast week 2012 Rank 7.5 (#75)
Punt Return Defense: 8.63 (73rd) ↑ from 88th last week 2012 Rank N/A
Kickoff Returns: 26.40 (20th) ↑ from 27th last week 2012 Rank 21.02 (#71)
Kickoff Return Defense: 18.90 (38th) ↑ from 82nd last week 2012 Rank N/A
Early last month, Neal Brown talked about his expectations:
Plays per game: 75
3rd Down Conversion Rate: 48%
1st Down yards: 4 or more yards
Saturday's plays: 68
3rd Down Conversion Rate: 0%
1st Down yards: 50% 4 or more yards.