After facing the Missouri Tigers, it seems to me that the state of Kentucky football can be compared to a leaky roof in need of serious repair. One leak develops and you seemingly have it all nice and patched. The next time it rains, the roof springs another leak and then another and so on. Eventually, you have to replace the entire roof. Our football team is a patchwork of leaks and it seems to me that Stoops is in the process of replacing the roof.
Cases in point: Our offensive and defensive lines leak like a sieve. Like worn out shingles, they had their moments, but could not consistently hold back the rain. The same goes for the special teams, the receiving corps, the defensive and offensive backfields. Like a worn out shingle, our quarterback made a heroic effort to stem the tide of the consistent torrent. The shoulder injury had an impact, but there were some bad throws followed by good throws that were dropped or fumbled. While the rain was consistent, the roof wasn't.
Missouri simply was bigger, faster and stronger and beat us down the same way Alabama did. The bright spots were hidden by the mistakes and poor officiating. You have to admire the fact that the team never quit even though they were getting man-handled. You have to peel the onion and realize that Tennessee could only score three points on the same defense that gave up seventeen points to the Wildcats.
You have to give Missouri credit. The Tigers have beaten Vanderbilt 51-28 in Nashville, beaten Georgia 41-26 in Athens, and Kentucky 48-17 in Lexington. They also beat Florida (36-17) and Tennessee (31-3) at home in Columbia. Their only loss was at home to South Carolina (27-24) in two overtimes. You have to wonder why Matt Jones insisted this was a "winnable" game on his radio show all week long. I kept wondering what kind of weed he smokes. As the game ended, I kept thinking maybe he smokes crack like the mayor of Toronto. Here at A Sea of Blue, Wamarsh and I provided our readership with statistically sound basis as to why this was not a "winnable" game. His stats were more sophisticated than mine, but we both came to the same conclusion that victory was highly unlikely.
Dorial Green-Beckham showed us why he was ranked as the number one recruit in the country in 2012. Seven catches for 100 yards and 4 touchdowns. He even used Blake McClain's helmet as an assist on one touchdown catch. McClain had him covered very well, but DGB's 6'-6" height was the difference maker.
Jalen Whitlow went 17-27 for 225 yards with no interceptions compared to Maty Mauk's 17-28 for 203 yards with no interceptions. The difference between the two is Whitlow was sacked 7 times compared to zero for Mauk. Maty Mauk also threw for 5 touchdowns compared to zero for Whitlow. Whitlow had no one remotely compared to Green-Beckham to throw to.
I am not down on this team for two reasons. They don't quit and I love our head coach. Mark Stoops is clearly emotionally involved in every game as opposed to standing stoically on the sideline scribbling on a note pad. You can see that it translates to the whole coaching staff and the team. He fights for his team and the team tries to respond in kind. There just isn't enough talent to play in the SEC, but help came with the 2013 class and help is coming with the 2014 class.
I also came into this season with my eyes wide open and with an empty glass. It is now only half empty and it would have been half full were it not for the WKU game. The fact that we played like last year's team was particularly irritating to me. The Hilltoppers stand at 6-4, having beat Army yesterday 21-17. They should never beat an SEC team as Tennessee showed (52-20), yet they beat us this year and last year. In both games, WKU was better than my Wildcats and I don't blame this coaching staff for they knew not what havoc had been wreaked on the team previously.
My biggest disappointment of the year?
Student attendance: A student ticket costs five dollars....$5.00! They've clearly checked out from supporting their team. These are the same students who demand lower level seating at Rupp and complain about the "blue-hairs" who actually pay big money in great excess of $5.00, show up and sit (as opposed to standing so those behind them can't see). You tell me who supports UK's teams. You tell me who the fair-weather fans are.
Last year, the alumni and paying public made a statement (by not showing up for the games) which forced the university to make some changes which were: renovation of the stadium and a coaching change. It wasn't so much about winning and losing as it was about the product on the field. These groups of fans are back and are supporting the team, the university and Kentucky football. Season ticket demand will grow next year. I suggest that UK sell some of the student allotment (particularly those lower level empty seats) to the paying public until the lower and upper level student sections are full.