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The Slide Continues

Article written by:On3 imageFreddie Maggard
[caption id="attachment_188094" align="alignnone" width="600"]UK Athletics UK Athletics[/caption]
  • Mississippi State 42, Kentucky 16
  • Tennessee 52, Kentucky 21
  • Georgia 27, Kentucky 3
Starting with an underachieving overtime win over EKU and followed by a disappointing loss to an average (at best) Auburn team, the Wildcats have experienced an alarming, downward spiral. What’s gone wrong? One could argue that competition level has increased. I could maybe buy that against Miss State and UT, but the Georgia shellacking was downright disgusting. The Dawgs wobbled into the game coming off a ten quarter touchdown drought and a program in total disarray. A sixty minute tango with the Kentucky Wildcats was just what the football doctor ordered for Mark Richt. Offensively, Kentucky is a hot mess. The Patrick Towles tenure is in question as is the lack of offensive line progression. More dropped passes occurred as well as third down pass routes ran short of the first down marker. When the Cats had success running straight at the athletic Georgia defense, it would throw questionable first down passes that all but ensured a 2nd and 10 would follow. No rhythm, no sense of urgency, no chance for the offense. CTOqd6sWoAAf_Hk Much discussion will focus on special teams. As it should, but a Special Teams Coordinator can’t catch the football for Ryan Timmons, nor would he not block in the back on kickoff returns. Realizing there is a strong argument for such a coach to assume that title, but last year’s result was significantly worse with a ST Coordinator who is now coaching at a Top 25 team (Houston) that’s in the middle of the college football playoff hunt. UK’s woes run deeper than an office nameplate. Special team holding calls don’t account for more yards than the same penalty that occurs on offense. A missed special team’s tackle is no different than those missed on defense. The openness of the situation and potential for altering field position magnifies the errors. For the past three weeks, this team has lacked focus and execution in all three phases. Question still remains, would a special team’s coordinator help the situation? Sure as heck couldn’t hurt but again, UK has more troubling concerns. Fan frustration in personnel decisions are reasonable and justified. Sticking with Patrick Towles for more than three quarters was baffling. The fact he wasn’t given much help has to be addressed, but going 8-21 for 96 yards and 2 interceptions just isn’t getting it done, especially from a redshirt junior. Going back to special teams, the persistence to have Ryan Timmons return punts is also debatable.  A quarterback change in week 10 is not the norm. However, it certainly needs to be discussed and at a minimum, strongly considered. A spark needs to be found or this team is staring down another 5-7 season. Is Drew Barker that spark? I don’t know, but the current status quo has resulted in unsatisfactory results. For the day, the defense was continually placed into problematic circumstance. Drives on a shortened field due to interceptions and punt return fumbles were frustrating. So did the offense’s three and out parade. However, surrendering 27 points to a team that hadn’t scored an offensive touchdown in 29 possessions isn’t above scrutiny.  IF there was a bright spot for UK on Saturday, its defense would get that mark. At least it fought back. Granted it was on the field way, way too long. But still, UGA didn’t exactly execute an exotic game plan. Line up, run the football, stop us if you can. [caption id="attachment_188095" align="alignnone" width="600"]UK Athletics UK Athletics[/caption] This team is in trouble. Where does it go from here? Kentucky’s next opponent, Vanderbilt, took a 7-6 lead over Florida late into the 4th quarter. The Gators finally won the game with a late field goal to clinch the SEC East. That same Florida team battled Kentucky to a challenging 14-9 road win in what seems like nine months ago. Getting past this atrocious three game stretch is nearly impossible. What’s happened to Mark Stoops’ football team? Truth of the matter is this team has regressed while facing a gracious schedule. Reality check; Vanderbilt and Louisville’s defense is as good as or better than the unit that totally manhandled the Wildcats in Athens. Will UK go bowling? Possibly, but I can’t answer that with a resemblance of confidence. But even if it does, will the BBN be able to move beyond three embarrassing losses? Not sure. Becoming bowl eligible has only one benefit for this team, and that’s extra practice time. UK needs to mature, in a hurry. I’m not a coach nor do I pretend to understand how to right a wayward football ship, but something has to change. Players-only meetings are fruitless attempts in hopes of altering outcome. The time for talking is over. Go to work, fix problems, and play football. The same effort and execution the Cats displayed against Georgia will lead to an all-out destruction against Vanderbilt and Louisville. Charlotte, I can only hope that the Wildcats can out-talent a D-1 newcomer. The Georgia game was so incredibly frustrating to watch. Changes need to start the moment the team arrives back to Lexington. No, I stand corrected, changes need to take place on the bus ride to the airport. This recent display of ineptitude has disintegrated a once promising season and challenging a loyal fan base to keep caring.

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