I hate to self-promote, but I tweeted the following before the Kentucky Wildcats took the field against the Florida Gators.
1. If the Cats get blown out today, the check out factor for #BBN will be the highest of the Stoops Era.— The Real Big Game (@Round_Daddy) September 10, 2016
2. If they lose a close one, the season remains on life support and #BBN will continue to be in "show me" mode.— The Real Big Game (@Round_Daddy) September 10, 2016
3. If the Cats win, #BBN is back on board with the team at 1-1, where we all expected them to be at this point. Crowd will turn out next Sat— The Real Big Game (@Round_Daddy) September 10, 2016
Since #1 happened, where do we stand as fans? I’m not completely checked out, partially because I cover the ‘Cats for this site and for ESPN 680 on the radio, and because I genuinely love the team.
I’ll continue to watch and support Kentucky football. My support for the coaching staff, Mark Stoops and DJ Eliot in particular, has suffered and is close to being non-existent at this point.
The reason I’m writing all of this is because I’ve never sat down to do a Good, Bad, and Ugly post with such few good items and so many bad items. I wasn’t covering Kentucky during the Joker era like I’m covering the team now. So looking at it through the perspective as a full-blown member of the media puts a different spin on it for me. I’m more analytical. I can’t detach like I was able to as a fan.
So here it is in all of it’s awful glory: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
Jordan Jones was amazing again with his energy and his attitude. Did he miss some tackles? Sure he did. That’s what Kentucky defensive players seem to do under DJ Eliot, but he at least gave maximum effort and was playing with a chip on his shoulder.
Jones, a freshman, even went as far as calling out his teammates for quitting. What does that say about this defense when one of the youngest players on the unit is the most mature and hardworking individual?
I’ll also throw some good at Boom Williams. He carried the ball 12 times for 66 yards and 5.5 yards per carry. I still contend that he is the most under-utilized star in the country.
That was one of the worst offensive performances I have ever seen in my life on any level of football. It was pathetic. Power 5 teams don’t amass 55 yards through the air unless they are running a Wing-T or a triple option. Kentucky was doing neither.
Florida’s defense is pretty good but not great, but they completely dominated Kentucky’s offensive line from start to finish. Drew Barker had little time in the pocket. But whatever time he did have was wasted by poor throws and a look of complete ineptitude.
Outside of a few runs by Boom and a nice reverse carried by Jeff Badet, the offense did nothing with Barker at quarterback. Kentucky couldn’t score until Stephen Johnson came in to run a gimmicky offense with Jojo Kemp running the Wildcat into the end-zone against Florida’s second and third string defenders.
This coaching staff is terrible. The team is ill-prepared every single week. The defense cannot tackle. The offensive players cannot block. Garrett Johnson completely whiffed on a simple one-on-one blocking assignment for a screen and let the defender intercept the pass.
Florida didn’t do anything tricky on offense in the first half. They ran the ball up the middle. Kentucky stopped it. Then they started to run the ball to the right. Then Kentucky stopped it. Then they started running simple screens. When Kentucky stopped that, the Gators went back to running the ball up the middle and to the right again, with the ‘Cats defense looking completely lost as to how to stop them.
After Luke Del Rio got comfortable with the offense, he started burning the ‘Cats vertically and the beat down was on at that point. Del Rio isn’t Peyton Manning. Hell, he isn’t even Nick Mullens, but he looked like a Heisman candidate against the inept Kentucky defense.
After a players-only meeting that failed to get the point across, the Wildcats again quit. Most of that is on the players, but much of it is on the fact that they don’t respect their coaches or their abilities to put them in positions to play winning football.
I haven’t been this down on a Kentucky team since the 40-0 beat-down that Vanderbilt handed to Joker Phillips in Commonwealth Stadium. That team had FAR less talented players than the team Kentucky has right now. Don’t believe me? Check out the respective recruiting classes.
What’s the same? The poor coaching and the lack of leadership from the top. Rich Brooks could at least get his teams to respond after being embarrassed. Mark Stoops has yet to prove that he can do the same.
Rich Brooks isn’t walking through that door, and neither is any coach worth anything in the foreseeable future.