I watched the Kentucky Wildcats versus the Charleston Southern Buccaneers on Sunday. After that review, I felt like Kentucky fans have rather more questions than answers after that game, so in a kind of "open letter" to head coach Joker Phillips, I am wondering a few things:
- I understand that the defense is young, and as SEC defensive lines go, they are pretty small. But how is it that Charleston Southern can push us around so much up front? How long does it take for player to improve, at least incrementally?
- Why are we repeatedly getting caught out of position on misdirection plays? Twice, CSU threw back across the field for big plays, and Kentucky defenders were nowhere to be found.
- Is it just me, or do we have absolutely no pass rush whatsoever?
- At this point in the season, I think giving up 270 total yards to an FCS team is a real problem, don't you? Please tell me the team just didn't take CSU seriously. I'll accept that explanation for now.
- What's up with the play calling? How many times did CSU obviously have their defensive backs in cover-0 and we didn't audible to a vertical or a quick slant route?
- Why three passes in a row in the second quarter when CSU had proven that they couldn't stop the run?
- How long does it take for a linebacker to learn to stay in his gap? Danny Trevathan seems to get this, but none of the other linebackers do. After 10 games, am I wrong to expect them to have figured out how to execute something this fundamental?
- Why have we completely shelved the Wildcat? I know we didn't need it to win this game, but shouldn't we be working on it just a little?
- Matt Roark gets a one-game suspension after pleading guilty to a DUI in which he ran into a parked car and blew a .192 BAC, not to mention being under age? I understand that "zero tolerance" is too tough, and I'm sure you are doing some other things, but don't you think this is a bit ... I don't know, laissez-faire?
- What's going on with these in-game suspensions? Don't you think perhaps the team would be better served by suspending the player for the entire game and allowing their substitute to get the whole game to show why he deserves to play? After all, I presume there is a reason you are suspending these guys at all. Just askin'.
- I saw some of the most passionate coaching out of you in this game. Why did I have to wait until the tenth game of the season? I'm sure it's just a learning curve, but we do need to see that you care whether we win or lose, not just hear you say it.
I'm not mad at Phillips, and of course I don't think he should be fired or even on any kind of a "hot seat." I just see some puzzling things. To be fair, I saw puzzling things under Brooks, too, and other coaches as well. And also to be fair, despite some minor discipline issues, UK is about as far as it is possible for an FBS program to be from Fulmer Cup (maybe we should rename it the Meyer cup now) consideration.
I'm sure many of you have questions, also. I was disappointed that Kentucky's defense looked so vulnerable against such a weak football team. It would bother me less if the defense had showed improvement, but they seem to be making the same old errors over and over again.
Fortunately, the offense was humming along pretty well except for some inexplicable play calling at times. Turnovers are still a serious problem, although the Mike Hartline interception was just an amazing one-handed grab by the defender. However, Hartline threw that ball on the wrong side of the receiver, so he probably deserved the pick.
Still, I am not pleased with what I saw on Saturday, and I'm sure most of you are equally unhappy with it. I guess we can just chalk it up to a letdown, but we need a lot better on Saturday against the Commodores, because they could have easily beat this CSU team by similar margins and held them to less than two touchdowns.