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Operation Win Now Turns To Operation Survive

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By Ira D. Combs Syndicated Columnist
Tri State Sports Media Service Inc.

Remember that old sound bit of advice we all have given our family members and close friends? Most things in life are never as rosy as they seem at times and they are never as bleak and hopeless as they seem at times, eventually it all settles in the middle.

It definitely applies to UK football.

This UK football team looked like a 7-5 team all along to me, they're just going to take a little different road. The Cats are a classic example of "you are what you are" (please refer back to my preseason column).

However, that leap into the middle of the road pack UK was to take in SEC football may take longer and be more frustrating at times than even those ugly years when UK couldn't compete or beat virtually anyone. Even this new weekly routine has to be getting frustrating for those long time loyal UK football fans, the same ole script game after game, fall behind in the first quarter hold serve until halftime then make a run in the second half and come up short at the end (except for South Carolina).

UK now stands (4-5 and 1-5 in the SEC) for the 2010 season and "Operation Win" is in major trouble limping into November with three games left and must run the table to get a bid to a minor bowl.

Go ahead and say it and get it out of your system along with me. It's simply aggravating, frustrating, and makes you cussing mad to lose to Vanderbilt or Mississippi State or Ole Miss if you’re a UK football fan. It shouldn't be in certain years but it still is because that's the mindset we've all established over the years. UK does lead in wins in the overall series against two of the three you know, I guess that's what causes the mindset.

Go ahead and place the blame wherever you desire, there is plenty to pass around Joker Phillips, Steve Brown, Randy Sanders, or Mike Hartline. Heck, let's throw in a new name, special teams coach Greg Nord.

Why you ask?

UK supposedly has one of the most versatile and exciting special teams players in America in Randall Cobb yet have made very few game changing plays when returning punts and kickoffs. In the punting and kickoff departments the Cats have given up big play after big play at crucial times in all of the five losing efforts. Throw in the turnovers and you have plenty of blame to pass around the entire coaching staff and player roster.

I personally can't place the blame anywhere but on the trails of recruiting, UK is simply still 15-20 players away from that SEC type program it desires to be.

The good news is the three teams left on this year's schedule are inferior to UK at most positions on both sides of the ball, not all, but most.

Now when we come to the end of the road on Thanksgiving weekend you will all look back and say we should have beaten both Mississippi schools this year but I'll trade those two losses for wins over South Carolina and Tennessee any day of the week any season.

Ah heck, it's getting frustrating to even write about it so I'll cut the football portion of this week's column short and talk hoops a little longer.

Cal's Cats Open Exhibition Season

John Calipari and his second edition Wildcats open the exhibition part of their 2010 - 2011 season at Rupp Arena this week on Monday against Pikeville College at 7:00pm and Friday against Dillard University at 7:00 pm. Both games will be televised live on the Big Blue Sports TV Network which includes several stations statewide and regionally across the south, check your local listings. WKYT-Lexington and WYMT- Hazard will provide coverage for Central, Eastern, and Northern Kentucky.

With only 12 days of practice and the recent Blue-White scrimmage for Coach Cal to evaluate so far there are still a lot of match-ups as well as offensive and defensive schemes and patterns to fill for this team. These two scrimmages should reveal a lot to all of us at week's end.

Although it does appear that the bulk of the scoring for this team is going to have to come from three players: Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones, and Darius Miller.

I'm not saying no one else will contribute, just that it appears for the time being (especially with Enes Kanter in the NCAA Jailhouse) that those three will need to put up around 50 points between them for the Cats to be successful this season. Having seen players like DeAndre Liggins, Doron Lamb, Jon Hood, Josh Harrellson and Eloy Vargas now I think they will compliment those three nicely in all departments stat wise.

But the team will not flourish offensively in my eyes at this stage without a solid points production from Knight, Jones, and Miller.

With Enes Kanter's situation on eligibility still in limbo, this team can go in many directions. Hopefully, the Kanter situation will be resolved by November 12th when the Cats open their 2010-2011 season with East Tennessee State University in Rupp Arena and everyone involved can move on.

This may be one of those seasons where it's as much or more important about how good UK's opponents are than how good UK is in order to pull enough wins out to get in the Big Dance in March Madness.

Go to for more coverage of the Kentucky Wildcats and KHSAA Sports.

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Comment by JBR on October 31, 2010 at 10:53pm
It has already turned into Operation Fail...this program has never been taken seriously on the national level because even when we have had decent seasons and upset the big boys, we still find ways to lose to inferior teams...that has continued this season on steroids...and with the SEC so down this year, we should have taken advantage, and we have the talent to have done it...but in typical UK football tradition, we have found ways to blow opportunity, and squandered a chance to compete in an absolutely pathetic SEC East. Joker will not recover from this season in the long run.

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