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Kentucky Wildcats Football: Leaving the Fear and Loathing Behind

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Last year is in the past. I'm ready for some football.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

In late November, I sat in Commonwealth Stadium and watch the Kentucky Wildcats blow a 24-7 lead and lose to the Louisville Cardinals, 38-24. I have to admit, that's about the lowest I've been since Joker Phillips was blown out of CWS by Vanderbilt with about 5,000 onlooking fans.

But this was a different kind of despair. This was a despair that said, "We were just as good as that team, we just didn't play together and we were unprepared." That's what stung. That's what made me throw up my hands and say, "Don't talk to me about this team until they show me something different." After that game, I became more critical of Mark Stoops. I was tired of the excuses and I was tired of the game planning.

I vowed, as many Kentucky fans at the end of that game, to not get excited in the off-season. This was the second time in two seasons that, in my opinion, our most hated rival ended our dreams of going to a bowl game.

But here we are with just over a week until the season starts and I'm as excited as I have ever been for kickoff.

Why am I so excited?

  • According to experts, Kentucky has the best secondary in the SEC.
  • According to experts, Kentucky has one of the best wide receiver cores in the SEC.
  • According to experts, Kentucky has one of the best running back cores in the SEC.
  • Kentucky should have one of the best tight ends in the SEC.
  • Outside of Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida, the East continues to be the weaker of the two divisions in the SEC.
  • I believe in Eddie Gran, Darin Hinshaw, and Lamar Thomas.
  • Finally, I'm just ready for some meaningful football.
As I try to put the Fear and Loathing behind me, it rears it's ugly head from time to time. I fear the front seven isn't deep enough or experienced enough to play in the SEC. I fear that Drew Barker isn't the answer. I fear our heralded offensive line is going to do the same thing the heralded Wildcat offensive lines of the past have done: stink.

I loathe the thought of having to play at Alabama. I loathe the thought of again being at five wins and having to beat Louisville to get to a bowl game for the third straight season. I loathe the thought of DJ Eliot still not being able to make in-game adjustments. I loathe the thought of injuries.

Kentucky football has always existed on a plane held by a threat. If that thread snaps, the season collapses and we revert to our usual loathing. Kentucky football will never be good and it will forever be stuck in a malaise of mediocrity and underachievement.

Yet here I am, with bowl in hand, looking at Mark Stoops and asking, "Please sir, may I have some more?" Becuase I can't give it up. Not for the life of me. I've tired. I've promised myself that this year I will temper my expectations.

But I don't care that we didn't whiff the top 25. I don't care that Southern Mississippi is ranked ahead of us. I don't care that Kentucky has let me down again, and again, and again... I'm ready for football and I'm ready to kick this fear and loathing in the ass to make room for open unrealistic optimism.