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Kentucky Football: From The Frying Pan Into The Fire

Well, that game against the Florida Gators was fun, wasn't it?  We got to watch Jeffery Demps and Chris Rainey run all up and down the field, and we also got to watch the much-reviled Morgan Newton get pancaked by the Florida defense due to a failure by the offensive line to do the most fundamental thing in football -- get in front of the defender.  It called to mind a scene from "Remember the Titans" which I shan't describe, but those of you who have seen the movie know what I mean.  The only difference is that at least the guy from the movie missed on purpose, whereas Kentucky's linemen simply failed to notice the 6'4", 240# defensive end four feet in front of them. 

The coaching staff has got to do something about the glare in Commonwealth Stadium that seems to be blinding our linemen during night games.  I mean, it isn't as if these Florida guys got through on a blitz or a stunt, they were right there on the corner, and our guys just ignored them as if they figured these Florida players were were incapable of covering 15 feet before Morgan Newton threw the ball.  It's nice to have confidence in your QB, but it's usually a good idea not to allow a defender a free shot on your quarterback on the dead run.  I'm just sayin'.

All that glare didn't seem to affect the Florida linemen, though.  They managed a pretty flawless performance last night, although Danny Trevathan did manage to get a shot on the Florida QB on a delayed blitz. Kentucky has been pretty hard on Florida quarterbacks lately for some reason.

The good news from all this is that we likely won't seen Demps or Rainey again in a Florida uniform, and no other team in the SEC has speed like that.  Many teams have fast players, but nobody else has world-class sprinters dressed up as football players.  Give those guys a step in the second level and you can just stop, because unless you have jet pack fastened onto your fanny, you're not catching them.  Last time I checked, jet packs aren't legal apparel in college football.

I want to thank the umpire for causing a fumble in the second half after Joker had run up the white flag.  Kentucky will get credit for causing it, and it's that kind of stat-padding that will give UK fans something positive to look at if they didn't see the game.

Want more positive news?  Morgan Newton threw the ball pretty accurately most of the time -- so accurately that the UK receivers refused to catch such easy balls, thinking it an affront to their skills.  Six times UK receivers rejected Newton's passes, sending him a message to throw them some tougher balls that allow them to show off their prodigious talent.

While we are on the subject of receivers, I think some congratulations are in order for Matt Roark.  He has finally figured out that he isn't all that, and deigned to catch every ball thrown his way.  You have to love a humble receiver who receives.

Can't wait for more good news?  Well, it's there.  UK racked up 134 yards on a Florida defense that has held opponents to 30 yards on average this year.  See, I told you there was good news.  Of course, many of those yards came after the game was out of reach, but why pick nits?

At least one genuine positive came from this game -- the playcalling looked almost sane.  It was futile, but at least it wasn't completely divorced from reality like we saw in the Louisville and previous games.  Reason for hope?

Some bad news?  3.8 yards per pass attempt.  That's lame.  So is a 50% completion rate, but that would look a lot better if our receivers hadn't decided not to catch those easy balls.  Kentucky managed 3.7 yards per rush, but that stat is tilted somewhat by a couple of long runs by Morgan Newton.

More bad news:  UK turned the ball over 3 times in the first half, and the Gators scored touchdowns off every single one of them.  If you erase those mistakes, UK still loses the game, but the score is a bit more respectable.  But this has been a trend for UK against Florida.  Do you remember the blocked punts back in 2008?

KSR's Thomas Beisner has a really nice recap of the game here for those of you who can't get enough Kentucky football, and it has a few more observations that deserve to be read.  Try not to read too many of the comments, though, or you might catch a disease.

Then there is this column from John Clay, which says that UK has not closed the gap between the SEC's top programs, and this is indisputably true.  The best that can be said about Kentucky football over the last few years is that they have won against lesser teams most of the time, but very rarely have upset a better team, and other than the victory over #1 LSU in 2007, has not defeated one of the conference elite in memory.  I'm not sure the gap is really widening, though, as Clay argues.  To me, the scores and games look pretty much the same.  But it is not closing, that's for sure.

So next week, it is the Deaf Death Valley (LSU apparently changed it because they decided aping Clemson was easier than trying to get announcers and writers to get it right) and LSU, who beat the coonskin off the West Virginia Mountaineers last night, 47-21 in Morgantown.  Last time I checked, West Virginia was a pretty good team, and they were playing on the Mountaineers' home turf. 

Needless to say, very few of the Big Blue Faithful are optimistic about going down to Baton Rouge and beating the Tigers.