Johnny Manziel electrified college football on Saturday with a loss to Alabama in a manner that only Johnny Football can. I feel like this is one of those, "Can you top this?" moments that very rarely occur in a loss.
Tweet of the Morning:
How important was the 66-day period Mark Stoops had to put together UK's 2013 class? Cats' leading rusher, top 4 WRs all newcomers. #BBN— Chris Fisher (@ChrisFisher247) September 16, 2013
Wow. Just wow.
Interesting comparison of Mark Stoops and Charlie Strong's contracts. I really like what UK did with Stoops, tying up a lot of his compensation into performance-related bonuses, like $100k for every SEC victory after the second one. In our league, that's the right way to reward performance. If he wins 7 SEC games, he gains a cool half million.
Of course, 7 SEC wins seems like a dream right now. But 4 seem doable, although not this year.
Defense gave Kentucky a real chance against Louisville:
The Kentucky Wildcats aren’t quite as bad as some football pundits might think. The Louisville Cardinals have some warts, which they’ll need to take care of as they take aim at the Cupcake Train they call a schedule. This much we know after U of L’s 27-13 victory at Cardinal Stadium.
But we also know this: Mark Stoops can coach some defense.
More positivity after the Wildcats' loss to Louisville.
In Saturday’s loss to 3-0 Louisville, there were just too many mistakes, too many dropped passes that more experienced receivers would make, too many bad passes from quarterbacks Maxwell Smith and Jalen Whitlow (too many bad decisions as well), and too many turnovers – two.
Specifically, there was one turnover by the Wildcats that trumped every other mistake.
The story of Kentucky's loss to Louisville goes like this:
"It was disappointing. Those are drive killers," coach Mark Stoops said. "There were some shots in there early, even a screen – I forget who dropped it – but we had a screen (set up). That was a big play at a critical time. The next thing you know, instead of hitting that, you’re third-and-10. That’s not good against a very good team."
The play he referenced was a well-timed, perfectly executed screen pass to sophomore receiver A.J. Legree – right up until he dropped it. There was nothing but grass and a wall of blockers in front of him. That came on a second down and immediately preceded another drop by tailback Raymond Sanders on third-and-10 from the Cardinals’ 44. Instead of scoring, UK punted.
While we all have seen some positivity in this loss, let's keep in mind that it was largely self-inflicted. This was a game Kentucky could have won had it executed.
John Clay notes that while there is more excitement around Kentucky football, it hasn't exactly translated to butts in the seats:
The opening week crowd of 54,846 was a disappointment considering UK drew that for the Blue-White Game. (The again, the Blue-White Game was free.) Saturday's crowd of 65,445 was the smallest for a Louisville game since the pre-expansion days of Commonwealth Stadium, which added approximately 10,000 more seats in 1998.
I think Clay's view is a little "glass half-empty." Kentucky was a huge underdog to Louisville (if you listen to sportswriters, and not Las Vegas), and that no doubt kept some people away. Kentucky has to win football games, not just be competitive, if they want to pack the house.
Interesting take from Mark Ennis on what Louisville football will look like after Bridgewater leaves. I think I'd take the opposite view, but you can't blame Louisville fans for being optimistic. They did win, after all.
Mark Ennis has another good article over at the Card Chronicle about the fact that both Kentucky and Louisville appear to be programs on the rise:
All teams, good and bad, make mistakes. Dropped passes, errant throws, missed assignments. They happen. Both teams made them today. But neither team gave the game away today. No, Louisville and Kentucky both gave their absolute best and as Vegas suggested, Louisville's absolute best was two touchdowns better than Kentucky's absolute best at home. It's probably the last time for a while that the disparity will be that large, and that's a good thing.
Chris Diggs is pleased that Kentucky didn't get blown out on Saturday. It's a low bar, but I think a lot of people are glad UK got over it.
Neal Brown liked what Jojo Kemp did on Saturday:
"He played a different gear, and he earned himself more playing time," Brown said. "There's no question."
However, it's on Kemp to match that effort on the practice field from now on.
Where does Kentucky go at quarterback from now on? I just don't know.
Team Speed Kills notes Kentucky's better than expected performance, but questions remain.
And The Valley Shook manages some backhanded kudos:
14 Kentucky. Surprisingly frisky against Louisville. It's not enough to get them out of the basement, but at the end of the year, their 14-point loss is going to be used to bludgeon the Cardinals. So, congrats for essentially preventing your cross-state rivals from winning the national title. Achievement unlocked!
Well, what would you expect? We didn't exactly win the game, you know.
This is called, "putting lipstick on a pig:"
If you were worried about Louisville 27-13 win over Kentucky being used to penalize Louisville in the polls, you worried in vain. Yes, the Cardinals lost a few points in the Associated Press poll, but they remained at number seven. In the USA Today Coaches Poll, Louisville moved up another spot to number six.
Can you say, "pity sex," boys and girls? I knew you could.
The new supervisor of officials for the SEC is Jake Bell. So far, I like what is being reported: More blocks, less roughness.
Iowa Hawkeyes blog Black Heart Gold Pants waxes philosophical about the loss of Tyler Ulis to Kentucky:
I certainly can't fault Ulis for choosing Kentucky, as much as I (obviously) wish he had chosen Iowa. Kentucky is one of the absolute Cadillac programs in the sport and, unfortunately, they offer things that Iowa simply can't match right now. Kentucky can offer deep runs in the NCAA Tournament and legitimate chances to win an NCAA title, almost every year. Iowa hasn't won an NCAA Tourney game in over a decade. Calipari's track record at sending his players to the pros is insanely good; Iowa hasn't had a player drafted by the NBA since Adam Haluska was a second-round pick and Fran McCaffery has (to the best of my knowledge) never had a player selected in the NBA Draft. Until Iowa is able to change the facts on points like this, persuading elite talent to sign on the dotted line here is going to be a challenge.
John Calipari is a happy man right now. He got off the plane, walked in the gym, and coached his team.
I'm happy, too. I can't wait to start writing more about basketball.
Other Kentucky sports
Ugh. Softball loses a doubleheader to ... Eastern Kentucky. That needs to change.
On the bright side, women's soccer upset #10 West Virginia on Saturday.
In more good news, Kentucky's Cally Macumber won the Bluegrass Invitational 5000 meter for the cross-country team.
Kentucky basketball photo day, 2013. Man, Jon Hood looks like a lulmberjack.
What can you say about Johnny Football? You can say anything you want to about his off season, but that kid is a killer on the football field and no mistake. He is a rare, seminal talent that will not be denied. His will to win is off the charts. I wish we could recruit him for the basketball team, and I don't know if he's ever seen a basketball. Competitors like him are incredibly rare, and they succeed at whatever sport they play.
If he's not the Heisman front-runner after Saturday, then the trophy truly has become a political affair, not something for the best football player. Sorry Teddy Bridgewater, you're great, but Manziel is an order of magnitude greater. No, his team didn't win, but it wasn't because of Manziel. That's a fact.
I think this headline by John Clay is right: Alabama beats A&M defense, not Johnny Football.
Texas loses to Ole Miss, and Texas fans have reached the point of numbness with Mack Brown. I call it the "Joker Phillips" point.
Barking Carnival sees my Agent Smith paraphrase about Mack Brown, and raises me 900 words.
Somehow lost in all the Governor's cup talk was the fact that Louisville lost yet another 2014 player last week — JaQuan Lyle. It is also interesting that Lyle is 6'5", and pretty much a prototype Calipari point guard. But there are rumors that somethings not quite right with Lyle, so it will be interesting to see if Calipari decides to get involved. As far as I can tell, UK has never expressed much interest.
In fact, this Rant Sports article suggests that Calipari spurned Lyle, and if he did, it may have been for a reason. More here.
Other sports news
- Teams likely to have multiple picks in the talent-heavy 2013 NBA Draft.