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Vanderbilt Commodores 20, Kentucky Wildcats 38: Postmortem

Today was Randall Cobb day in the the Bluegrass.  Thanks in large part to Cobb's heroics, Kentucky is bowl eligible again and will not have a losing season.

Nice effort by the Vanderbilt Commodores, who dominated the first half in almost every conceivable way.  Fortunately for Kentucky, they were only able to visit the end zone once in the first half, instead of three.  As maligned (and rightly so) as Kentucky's defense is, they did manage two critical stops that forced field goals.

The Commodores really came to play today, but the injuries and lack of depth took a toll that eventually had them worn down.  At that point, Cobb, Hartline & Co. took over the game and put up 28 points to Vanderbilt's 7 in the second half.  Both the Kentucky offense and defense played much better in the second half, eventually burying the Commodores under a fusillade of points.

I know most Kentucky fans will join me in the frustration I feel toward this team.  They do the most senseless things, from drive-killing penalties to end-zone celebrations to dropped passes to fighting and getting ejected.  It's just not what we are used to seeing, and I am not really enamored of this new "Catitude" that I have been seeing lately.  Kentucky has been whistled for a ton of personal fouls this year, and I am getting sick of it.

The good:

  • Mike Hartline.  He threw the ball very well, hitting receivers in the right places all day.  He threw maybe one bad ball all day, an back-footed pass to Cobb that almost got picked.  But overall, he was very good.
  • The Kentucky offense.  It was a tale of two halves for them, but overall, they got the job done in style.
  • Special teams.  The punting unit did a good, if not great job.  The kickoff team was pretty good overall.
  • Danny Trevathan.  He's always good, and had 10 tackles again today, at least two of them were touchdown-saving.
  • Derrick Locke.  He got better as the game went on, culminating in an 83-yard touchdown run.

The bad:

  • The defensive secondary.  They allowed a non-passing team to rack up 198 yards on them.
  • Chris Matthews.  Yes, he caught a touchdown, but he was personally responsible for 40 yards in penalties and dropped a perfect pass.  He sometimes plays out of control, and today was one of those times.
  • Martavius Neloms.  Not only did he get beat repeatedly on defense, he lost his mind and punched a Vanderbilt player.  He is likely to be suspended for at least one game, and I wouldn't be upset if he didn't play again until the post-season, if there is one.
  • The fourth and goal play that Vandy stopped.  What the heck was that?
  • The defensive line.  This is a close call, as they played much better in the second half.  Still, it took them until the second half to bring any pressure, and they repeatedly got moved out of their gaps allowing many big plays.

The studly:

  • Randall Cobb.  Wow.  He took the game over in so many ways, it's just hard to grasp.  279 total yards is an amazing statistic for any player, but Cobb's diversity of skill is breathtaking.
  • Winston Guy Jr.  Guy's performance wasn't flawless, he made several mistakes in coverage and gave up some big yards.  But 18 tackles in a game is studly, and that's why he gets mentioned in here.

Overall, it was a typical Kentucky performance -- lousy first half, stellar second half.  I don't get it, but I suppose we can't complain about a convincing win even if we had to wait a whole half for Kentucky to take control.  I continue to be frustrated with the play of this team on both sides of the football, but they could have thrown in a clunker here and refused to do so, mostly due to the inspiring performance of Randall Cobb.

Next up, the Tennessee Volunteers, who own the longest winning streak in the NCAA against the 'Cats.  As you might expect, they have suddenly emerged as a dangerous team due to the emergence of freshman quarterback Tyler Bray.  Bray tossed for 323 yards today against the Mississippi Rebels and the Vols blew them out 52-14.  This is the same Ole Miss team than handed UK a loss down in Oxford.

But that game is two weeks away.  Perhaps we can be ready to end the streak by then.