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Kentucky Football: Seeing The Forest Beyond The Trees

No matter how you want to twist it, this is not the same old Kentucky and this is not a curse. This is a program that under Mark Stoops has been making impressions, last night it made a statement.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I have a message to all of the Big Blue Nation; avoid the urge to do it...  I know it will be easy.  I know the feeling you have right now (moments after this game), but you have to avoid it.  Go take a shower, have a drink or two, or watch a movie.  Whatever you have to do to deflect your mind from it, do it.  Just do not put this game on the list of prior heart breaks.

I am not going to go through the laundry list of missed opportunities in the past history of the program, if you are a long-time fan you know them all by heart by now.  What I am going to do is tell you that you cannot put this loss in that same category.

Do not get me wrong; this had all the familiar symptoms of one of those losses.  One of those losses that stick in your craw, one of those losses that make you wonder why you still torture yourself and follow Kentucky Football.  We had all the usual suspects in play too.

  • Mind Boggling decisions
  • Inexplicable clock management
  • Play calling that made you wonder if they were even trying to win or to "not lose"
  • A once in a few years play that defies physics and logic (Fred Tiller missed INT)
  • Dropped passes that leave points on the table and seemingly would have been caught 999 times out of 1,000
  • Inability to get a running game going
  • Bonehead penalties
  • Seemingly unreachable leads evaporating in minutes
  • Dominating efforts with video game statistics by opposing players
  • Those oh so close plays that were in our grasp but just slipped out (Dorian Baker OT end zone pass)
  • There was even the zebras coming into play with a universally criticized call/non-call
  • There was also the all too predictable missed FG with the impending winning score right around the corner

However, I implore you, do not allow the aforementioned to cloud what everyone should have seen out there.  We saw a program changing its future.  I know it may not feel like it, especially right now... but it is there.

In many of those past heartbreaks we were sometimes in a game we never should have been.  Many times, we were the benefactors of a team playing down to us, only to pull the ball away just before we kicked it.  There were also the days of the original Air Raid offense when the league was not ready for it and we may as well have worn capes on our uniform due to the smoke and mirrors.

The reason I feel this is different than before is because the improvement has been deliberate and planned, The improvement has not been a gimmick offense, it has not been lucky to get a group of 2 and 3 stars to outplay their rankings.

Coach Stoops has put together a group of SEC caliber talent that is all-in with him and his staff.  He has also done this in a short period.  This is not a house of cards, it is a concrete base.  Tonight, mistakes not withstanding, we saw a team line up against an SEC caliber defense and perform admirably.  We saw a UK defense put together a first half that was SEC worthy as it has all season.  The only thing missing is a few more pieces, a few more SEC caliber bodies to give the depth chart meaning to its name.

There is not a recent history you can point to where we have had this many true playmakers on offense.  Patrick Towles is seemingly on his path to being a very good homegrown quarterback and leader.  Not to mention it is becoming increasingly clear that Mark Stoops is more than the man for this job and will be getting more than his fair share of attention from numerous athletic directors.

So, while this loss is one of the more painful losses in recent memory, be glad you are feeling it.  This is a good pain, we went to the Swamp and punched a top 10 defense in the mouth and witnessed a week where a program far superior to us punched down at us all week.  When can you say that has ever happened?  Mark Stoops is building something special in Lexington and I am more than excited at what is to come, and I do not think I am alone.