After today’s embarrassing 44-17 rout at the hands of the Louisville Cardinals, it’s hard to find anything positive going forward. Outside of Benny Snell’s jaw dropping performance, Mark Stoops’ team did little to ignite a football fan base that’s been a little restless lately.
Kyle Tucker and Joe Mussatto from SEC Country both did a wonderful job being critical but fair in regards to what they saw on the field today out of the Wildcats. While I echo what both writers had to say, I want to delve into some positivity before I get to the negatives.
- Benny Snell Will be Back- Snell may be the best player we’ve ever seen at Kentucky not named Tim Couch. He ended the season rushing for over 1,000 yards, a repeat performance from last year, and he broke multiple Kentucky football records. He was the lone bright spot on an otherwise glum day. Snell’s love for the game and attitude is one that I wish some of his teammates, particularly on defense, would emulate. Even though the game was way out of hand, Benny Snell, Jr. put his head down and ran over the UofL defense for one more touchdown on the day. He ended with 211 yards and two touchdowns. He is a special player and he will be the focal point of the offense going into next season.
- We’re Going Bowling- For the second straight season the Wildcats will be going to a bowl game and will have a chance at eight wins. Right now this is little comfort, but put it in perspective compared to where the team was when Mark Stoops arrived and where it is now. I remember when Stoops was hired and Kentucky fans said they would be happy with 6-6/7-5 and a bowl game every season. He’s delivered on that talking point.
- Recruiting is Still Going Will- Yeah, they lost out on Jarren Williams. But the 2017 recruiting class is still going to be a top 30 group with room to add. At the moment the team is sitting at #26 according to Rivals. Stoops has been around the top 30 every season that he’s been at Kentucky and he continues to build on depth and talent.
- The Discipline Issue is Real- Jordan Jones and Nick Haynes aren’t the only two players to voice their displeasure or act out during the Stoops tenure and they probably won’t be the last. This is becoming a troubling trend with his tenure that hasn’t been addressed. Jordan Jones should have been kicked out of that game by Stoops for a multitude of reasons but he was allowed to stay on the field. What message does that send to him? What message does that send to the other players on the team? Stoops has a tough guy reputation but he doesn’t live up to it when it comes to his own players.
- Stephen Johnson will be Gone- While Stephen Johnson had his limitations, he was a winner and he salvaged Kentucky’s season in 2016 and was big part of getting back to seven wins. It’s hard to replace his moxie and his leadership. The question is who replaces him: Gunnar Hoak, Drew Barker, Danny Clark, or another quarterback that has yet to be added to the team? While Barker has started and played in games for Kentucky, his record isn’t great. Clark and Hoak haven’t taken a snap in a real game situation. While Snell is going to do his thing, he is going to need a legit passing game to compliment him, something he hasn’t really had in his career at Kentucky.
- Kentucky Blew an Opportunity with their Schedule- One of the reasons as to why the fan base is bummed right now is that there were opportunities to win nine or ten games. The Florida Gators were dreadful. The Ole Miss Rebels were mediocre at best. Yet Kentucky blew both games at home. The schedule will not be as forgiving next season. Depending on who they hire, Tennessee and Florida may be better and Kentucky travels to both schools. Instead of getting Ole Miss at Kroger, they get Texas A&M on the road. They have to go to Louisville. I think Kentucky may have one more season with a down Florida and a down Tennessee, but that’s it. Looking back on this schedule and this record 10 years down the road will leave fans as frustrated then as they are now. Maybe even more so.
So, A Sea of Blue faithful, are you happy, mad, or indifferent with the 2017 football season?