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Kentucky Wildcats 6 at Vanderbilt Commodores 22: Postmortem

Once again Kentucky fails to execute on offense and special teams, and loses yet another SEC game.

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Well, Kentucky was once again competitive, and once again lost. They lost the exact same way they have lost all season — inconsistent execution in every facet of the game, and an inability to score points even on the weaker part of the SEC.

Congratulations to the Vanderbilt Commodores for becoming bowl eligible for the third straight year. They deserve a lot of credit for winning this football game, and even though they had help, they were due for a letdown after a great win last week in the Swamp against the Florida Gators. They won ugly, but nobody will care about that. And Jordan Matthews was absolutely terrific, as he has been all year.

The only criticism I have of Vanderbilt was the unnecessary and, in this writer's humble opinion, absolutely classless and unsportsmanlike 4th down touchdown with the game almost over. That goes on James Franklin, and it will be remembered, I'm sure. I criticized Nick Saban for doing that, and no way Franklin gets away with it without comment.

Yes, it's a fair play, but it shows, in my view, a disrespect for sportsmanship as I once knew it. I guess I'm just an anachronism, but I don't have to like the new order, and I don't, any better than the idiotic "targeting" rule. Maybe Coach Cal will remind Commodore fans, some of whom will no doubt defend the move, how it feels.  Just for the record:

Me too, coach.  Guess we're both anachronisms.

For Kentucky, it was more of the same. Today's malfunctions were four interceptions of Jalen Whitlow balls (only 3 of which were actually meaningful) and a continuing crash of special teams play, literally to 2012 levels. Combined with an inability to move the ball at all in the second half, all those errors were deadly to the Wildcats' chances.

Team observations

  • There is just no getting around it — Kentucky is just too offensively challenged to win in this league this season. They moved the ball all over the field for the first half, and then got stuck in reverse in the second.

  • The defense was impressive up until the point that the offense stopped moving the ball, and then they rapidly wore out and were unable to stop Vanderbilt from moving the ball.

  • The targeting calls in this game were unacceptable. I had written a virtual screed about this, but it is meaningless. Kentucky's guy getting suspended and Vandy's not on review is ... wrong. This rule needs to die a brutal, agonizing death THIS SEASON. Hopefully, it doesn't take college football with it.

  • Vanderbilt was better than Kentucky, but not by a huge amount. Not sure what that says.

  • The special teams is just going backward. I applauded Bradley Dale Peveto for the good play, but I'm sick of this suckage.

  • Kentucky is a pretty poor football team, and although Stoops gets a pass on this season, apparently. I'm not real impressed with his coaching in this loss. Some of the playcalling was just stupid, in my opinion. Far too many gimmicky screens and gimmicky plays, not enough downhill runs and simple throws.

  • We had some good plays on defense, especially in the first half, but our lack of depth began to show in the second stanza, aided by our feckless offense.

  • Kentucky gained 262 yards on offense and scored 6 points. How the hell does that happen?

  • Penalties, AAARGGHH! 10 flags for 85 yards.

  • Kentucky converted 7 third downs in the game, six of them in the first half.

  • How do you let Vanderbilt hold you to a single touchdown when neither Louisville, South Carolina, nor Missouri could?

Individual observations

  • I love Jalen Whitlow, but he is absolutely not an SEC quarterback. Unfortunately, he is the best we have, apparently, and no doubt he is better than Maxwell Smith.

  • The whole offensive line is a mess. They can be counted on to blow at least three plays a game so badly that the other team either scores or makes a game-changing play.

  • Really loved Donte Rumph today. He was what we had hoped he would be. Mister Cobble was okay too, but not as much.

  • Jojo Kemp wasn't so hot today with 2.9 ypc. Raymond Sanders was much better with 4.3.

  • Demarco Robinson almost had a breakout game. Almost. I will say he looked better than he has all year.

  • Avery Williamson with only 6 tackles is not something I would have expected in this game.

  • Almost unnoticed was Glenn Faulkner's 4 tackles and 2 assists. Nice to see him beginning to make an impact.

  • Landon Foster has back-to-back games with 13 yard punts. That's just... I'm sorry, I have no adjectives to describe that. A nine-year old could do better.

I know most of you are as frustrated with this game as I am, and I am sick and tired of losing winnable games to teams that, while better than us, are ripe for an upset. Vandy was definitely ripe today and the score in no way reflects the game, thanks to Franklin's douchebaggery. It just frustrates me that the coaching staff can't find ways to iron out these execution errors and get some consistency on this team. I can accept being dominated by vastly better squads, but is this all we can do against the weaker part of the SEC?

At this point, I hold little hope for improvement. Too many disappointments have sapped may enthusiasm for the team, and although I'll be covering every one of these games to the bitter end, I'm about at the end of my rah-rah postmortems for one year. Even an irrational optimist like me must occasionally raise his head from the sand and observe reality, and the reality is, Kentucky is just not really improving at this point. This game, despite the stern play of the defense, had a hint of surrender to it in the end.

You can't blame the kids. Nobody can suffer a season like this and not suffer some psychic malaise. I just hope they can come back from this and give a good account of themselves in the final two games.