If you had told me Kentucky would be tied at the half 3-3, I would have been ecstatic. And I am. Look, Florida is a great football program with extremely talented players. They are significantly more talented than Kentucky, but the Wildcats are playing with the kind of passion, and purpose, that has been absent from Lexington since Papa Brooks retired. Now, suddenly, we are competitive with a team that has multiple national championships.
The Wildcats have played inspired football, especially on defense. Kentucky has done exactly what I asked them to do defensively — bend, but not break. I am so impressed by how physical and how fast this defense has become compared to previous seasons. It’s almost night and day.
I still don’t expect to win this game. We are competing against a great SEC program on their home field with less than a full deck of quality SEC players. That is reality. But two things give me hope:
Florida was palpably, and noticeably cocky in the first half. The fact that cockiness got them a dead-even defensive struggle has to have them second-guessing themselves. They underestimated the Wildcats, and they are realizing it about now.
Kentucky thinks they can win this football game. When you think you can win, you are usually competitive.
Mark Stoops has been vastly more passionate, even angry, than I have ever seen him. He smells the possibility of an upset, and he wants it right now. I saw him open his mouth and almost swallow D.J. Eliot’s head in the first half. He not only wants to win this game, he thinks he can get that job done.
Stand by for an epic second half. Go, ‘Cats!