Kentucky Football Fan Frustrations are Incredibly Short-Sighted
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Kentucky Football Fan Frustrations are Incredibly Short-Sighted

Nick Roushabout 3 years

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Article written by:Nick RoushNick Roush

@RoushKSR

Kentucky fans have learned what it's like to cheer for a major player in the college football landscape. In less than a month the football fan base's sentiment changed from, "just give us a shot to play Georgia for the SEC East," to, "this is a frustrating disappointment."  What changed? After an overtime loss at Texas A&M exposed Kentucky's offense, the Cats gutted through game-winning drives in the fourth quarter to beat Vanderbilt and Missouri.  Ranked No. 9 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings, Kentucky fans got a week to dream about the SEC Championship and a potential Playoff berth. In the two weeks since, the Cats were outclassed by a superior Georgia team.  The emotional hangover lingered into Knoxville where UK suffered its worst loss of the season. With two games to play, Kentucky is 7-3 and ranked 17th by the CFB Playoff committee.  Even though they finished SEC play with another loss at Neyland Stadium, UK's 5-3 SEC record is the best in 41 years.   After listening to today's edition of Kentucky Sports Radio, I thought I was covering a Joker Phillips team, not a team that's been in the Top 25 for eight straight weeks. Nobody is happy after a loss.  That feeling is amplified after a loss to a rival.  You can be angry after a loss, but pleased with the team's overall success; they aren't mutually exclusive.  However, the critiques I've heard since Saturday have reached ridiculous new heights.

"The Offense has to Change" 

Remember when Eddie Gran decided to change the offense before the Texas A&M game?  Facing a stout rush defense, UK's offensive coordinator didn't think the Cats could run it at Kyle Field.  When he put the game in Terry Wilson's hands, he was crucified.  For two weeks the decision to not give the ball to Benny Snell was questioned by the Big Blue Nation. After the Bye Week, Benny Snell got the ball.  The best running back to ever wear a Kentucky uniform rushed for 169 yards and the game-winning touchdown.  When SEC Inside published video of Snell's final drive heroics, the BBN's jaw-dropped in amazement. https://twitter.com/SECNetwork/status/1055212539326464006 Although an unforgettable game in the long-term, the Vanderbilt performance represents what this offense is and it's biggest problem.

1.  Do you really wanna not give Benny Snell the ball?

The rushing game has undoubtedly struggled in recent games, but it's been the cornerstone of Kentucky's success over the last three years, thanks to Benny Snell.  With an excellent defense, Mark Stoops chose an offensive emphasis on ball control over taking risky shots on explosive plays.  If you disagree with Stoops, fine, but that also means Benny gets the ball less.  Do you really not want to feed 2-6? He is hungry.

2. A Slim Margin

Many fans were infuriated by some of the comments made by Mark Stoops and Eddie Gran since the Tennessee loss.  Demanding change, none of them realized the offense that has looked so terrible since the second half of the South Carolina game, actually looks the same. Since that "dramatic" turning point for the offense, they're still producing about the same number of yards.  UK's offense just kills themselves once they get into scoring range (pre-snap penalties on third down, snaps over the QBs head, etc.).  What many would describe as the worst offensive performance in three years, Kentucky gained more yards against Missouri than they did in a 28-0 win over Mississippi State.  Alabama didn't even score 28 points on Miss. State.

Opponent

Total Yards

Total Points

Miss. State

300

28

South Carolina

327

24

Texas A&M

178

14

Vanderbilt

298

14

Missouri

385

15

Georgia

310

17

Tennessee

262

7

Is it frustrating to watch this offense operate at times?  Of course.  But it was not a problem until Kentucky lost two games (the only two games UK's defense gave up more than 20 points all season).

"We Missed a Rare Opportunity"

Kentucky played one game a for a chance to go to the SEC.  It's the first time that has ever happened in the history of this school.  In the preseason that was a ridiculous notion.  Unfortunately, they ran into the defending SEC Champs and National Runners-Up. The loss stunk, but there was still an opportunity to go to a New Year's Six game with a 10-2 finish.  When that went out the window, well...here we are. I wanted UK to play Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.  I also wanted John Wall to win a National Championship.  I wanted to go 40-0. They lost.  It happens.  I was mad for a few days.  Now when I remember those teams, I don't think about how I cried into a pillow after the Wisconsin game, I think about the time Willie killed a guy at Florida and at the Yum! Center.  I think about Boogie and Wall's game-winners and the beautiful dance.  When I think about this year's Kentucky football team, I will never forget a victorious My Old Kentucky Home at The Swamp, the dominance in the rain against Miss. State, the walk-off win at Missouri and the week of euphoria that followed. There's a difference between the two losses in 2018 and the basketball losses in '15 and '10: this football team still has two games to play. A wise man once told me, "Never tell fans how to fan."  I am breaking this rule for the 17 football players who changed the trajectory of this football team forever.  Before their final game at Kroger Field, instead of feeling the warm embrace of the Big Blue Nation, they are hearing they aren't good enough.  That's not fair. Josh Allen, Benny Snell, Mike Edwards, Darius West, C.J. Conrad and many more took a chance on Kentucky when few others would.  They've given the Big Blue Nation unforgettable memories.  They won more SEC games than group before them.  They created a winning culture that will ensure they aren't the last UK team to play for an SEC Championship.  The least they deserve is your support in the three finals games of a spectacular season. [mobile_ad]

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2022-01-17