1. A decent start. If one negative has defined the Joker Phillips era, it is Kentucky's inability to get out of the gate. One notable exception was last year's Louisville game, when the Cats got out to a 20-6 halftime lead and essentially coasted to the finish line. The Cats dug some big holes in other important game last year, and have played two incredibly flat first halves this year. Louisville is no world beater, but they are better than WKU or CMU. If we don't start better, we might be in for it.
2. Depth at the skill positions. By now word is out that Raymond Sanders will miss 2-3 games after undergoing knee surgery. Josh Clemons was clearly on his way to edging out Sanders as the starter, but the loss still stings. The Cats cannot make it through game against a BCS school with one true freshman back. And we'll surely not make it through a whole season without Clemons getting nicked up. Be it Jonathan George, CoShik Williams or Brandon Gainer, someone is getting key carries tomorrow. In the passing game, Morgan Newton is still looking for his #2 target, a role that Chris Matthews played so well last year. Matt Roark isn't going to be that guy and so far Gene McCaskill hasn't filled those shoes either. This could be a time for a backup like Brian Adams or DeMarco Robinson to shine.
3. Pass blocking. The Cats aren't doing a great job protecting the QB thus far. Joker commented earlier in the week that the tight ends are not getting catches because he needs them to block. Sanders is considered one of the best football minds on the team, and he will be missed in the pass blocking schemes as well. The O-Line is going to have to take on more of the load if the offense is going to be well rounded and successful.
4. Successful trickeration. As George W. might call it. UK has run 3 reverses to Robinson for a total of negative 10 yards. If this play won't work, we need to reach into the bag for something else. When it comes to our offense, good looks and charm alone aren't going to do it this year. We are going to have to find a way to keep people on their toes.
5. A confident Morgan Newton. Before anyone boos Newton on Saturday remember this: HE IS ALREADY ACUTELY AWARE THAT HE ISN'T PLAYING WELL. You can see it all over his face. I am not ordinarily one to hold hands and sing Kumbaya, but some encouragement for the kid would be much more helpful. This is a guy who not only knows he is letting people down, but is literally watching a dream crumble. I really believe with Newton that a lot of it is between his ears. He can lead this team and throw much more effectively. Whether he will is another story. When he makes plays, lets cheer like hell. It couldn't hurt. On a related note, I'd like to see some fire from Newton when things do go well.
6. Louder fans. Along those lines, it bears mention that Commonwealth was a morgue on Saturday. Granted, it was a noon game and there wasn't a lot to cheer about for most of the game. The 2007 Louisville game was the best atmosphere I've seen at a Kentucky Football game since I moved here in 1994. IN 2009 the noon start really dampened the spirits, shall I say, of the crowd. (Side note: Isn't it funny how network TV and ESPN always dance around the role alcohol plays in the in the level of crowd noise? For Saturday, in the words of Bluto Blutarski "My advice to you is to start drinking heavily." Except not really. ASOB promotes the responsible use of alcohol. Let's just be responsible and loud.)
7. A third stud to emerge on defense. Guy and Trevathan have it on lock right now. We need someone, be it Martavius Neloms, Ridge Wilson or Collins Ukwu, to step up and wrek havoc play after play.
8. A pass rush. Speaking of Ukwu,if there was a chink in the defense's armour last week, it was rushing the passer. Will Stein may be a less than impressive specimen (and he went to Trinity, so there is a 70/30 shot he is a pompous jerk) but he threw for 349 yards last week. I don't think he can do that to our defensive backfield, but I'd love it if we didn't give him the chance. Side note: as good as Guy has been this year, he still doesn't look completely comfortable rushing the passer. It is still new to him, and I expect that as the season wears on he'll improve at shedding or avoiding blockers on his path to the QB.
9. Stops on third down. Points 8 and 9 go hand in hand.
10. To beat the everloving snot out of the Louisville Cardinals. I have nothing against the Louisville coaching staff or the Louisville players. I'm indifferent to all things Victor Anderson or Charlie Strong. I don't care about their stadium or facilities. But, AND I AM SPEAKING IN GENERAL TERMS HERE, because a lot of people I like are Louisville fans: I hate the numerous Louisville fans who screamed at or in the general direction of my wife, child and I on the way out of last year's game. And to every Louisville fan who would have given the chance. You lost the game, and it was still, "Mike Hartline is going to win the SEC for y'all", "Calipari is a cheater", "Go back to Lexington", "UK sucks" and a bunch of other clever stuff I won't repeat. Dude, you lost the game. Your new coach with the great resume, your sweet new luxury boxes, your precious program that was playing in a BCS bowl not four years ago and you lost. Shut your mouth. Go back to your hovel you call a house. Go to Waffle House and eat more lard. Go get another tattoo of some bs you on your shoulder. Go buy another 40 that your entire fan base seems willing to litter the entire area around your stadium with. Go do whatever you are going to do, but get out of my face and shut up. You lost and you smell bad.
I don't wish anyone bad health or tragedy. But other than that you can all go to L. I hope your dog leaves you. I hope you wake up every day with a hangnail. I hope your car gets a flat tire. I hope you wallet falls off its stupid chain and some other idiot steals it. Moreover, I hope the football team you love so much (as long as it is playing well, of course) loses every single game it plays. But even more importantly than that, even if you win every other game on your schedule (its the Big Least, you never know) I hope that you leave Commonwealth Saturday night completely demoralized, dejected and depressed because your football team was destroyed by the team and school you all seem so willing to to poke fun at. And then I hope you realize you locked your keys in the car.