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Post-mortem on Florida Atlantic at UK

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So it's time to take a look at the UK-FAU game in hindsight.  And what a game it was, taking the Wildcats to 5-0 and, along with all the upsets in college football last night, give us an outside shot at landing in the top ten in the polls.  But more on that later.  First, a look at the good and the bad.

The Good

  • André Woodson -- What can you say?  26/33 for 79% completion percentage, 5 touchdowns and one long-overdue interception.  Regarding the INT, Woodson has made at least eight really bad throws this year that had a good chance to be picked.  You can't do that forever.  He was picked on a really poor decision, and quite frankly, it was probably for the best.
  • Raphael Little -- Joker Phillips did what he was supposed to do against this team -- run the football.  While FAU was stouter than expected in run defense, our multiple talented tailbacks eventually wore them out.  It was a perfect example of what successful Kentucky football has looked like all season.  Little was good on the run, good on the pass, and just generally had a great game.
  • Dickie Lyons Jr. -- Great game for the volatile young wideout.  We have many weapons in our receiving corps, and the ascendancy of Steve Johnson has kind of forced Lyons into the background a bit.  But yesterday, he emerged again with 76 yards on 8 catches and 2 touchdowns.
  • Average yards/play - 6.9 yards is just dominant.  If we keep up this kind of offensive efficiency, there is no way to know how far this team can go.
  • Micah Johnson -- Our most highly rated football player is finally coming into his own.  As only a sophomore, he is showing improvement every game after taking over the MLB spot from Braxton Kelley.
  • Injuries -- We have been very fortunate injury wise, and are getting healthier by the day.
  • Our running back depth -- Derrick Locke is becoming a weapon.

The Bad

  • Our defense against mobile quarterbacks -- If a player like Smith can give us this much trouble, what is Tebow going to do?
  • Our focus on defense -- Kentucky clearly improves from first to second half, they have done so virtually every game.  When are we going to give 60 minutes of effort on defense?
  • Our pass rush -- No sacks yesterday.  None.  Zero.  Against a Sun Belt team.  Not good.
  • Our special teams -- Punt and kick returns are still anemic.  What happened to being a leader in the country last year in those two stats?
  • Turnovers -- what happened to the way we were valuing the football a mere two games ago?
  • Our fans -- lots of empty seats, apparently.  What is that all about?

Kentucky is looking more and more like a real SEC football team, but our defense must begin to show it can play.  We have seen flashes of excellence, but we have yet to see a focused, solid performance from the defense.  The D-line in the first half of most of our games has been very suspect, and as the games get tougher, such ineffectiveness will get punished.

Overall, though, how can we be too critical?  We expected a good season, but if you asked most Wildcat fans pre-season if 5-0 were likely, I think you would have had very few yes votes.  We now have a legitimate chance to stake a claim to leadership in the SEC East with a victory on Thursday, and dispose of another unpleasant streak currently maintained by Darth Visor.

Enjoy it, Wildcat fans.  The road gets a lot tougher from here, but for the moment, we are the golden boys of the SEC.  Can you imagine how shocking that is to the Great Powers in the conference?

Finally, our ranking.  Can you even imagine us reaching the top ten?  What a comeuppance that would be for many of our rivals.  But truth be told, I am not sure we should be considered that highly.  Still, I wouldn't mind, just for the sake of bragging rights.  These moments come along all too rarely for Kentucky football, and Kentucky fans should embrace the "precious present".

Update [2007-9-30 17:36:54 by Truzenzuzex]:  As you no doubt have heard by now, Kentucky suddenly finds itself ranked firmly in the top 10 at number eight nationally.  I live in Louisville, and I think I just heard a large chorus of loud popping sounds.  I wonder what that could have been ... ?