I want to start of this week’s review by telling everyone to relax. Kentucky had an awful game, but step back and look at the big picture here. The Wildcats went into the Swamp and played the #9 team in the country. Kentucky was not supposed to win the game. No one circled this contest as a sure win in August. Very few people circles Florida as a possible win in August. So let’s summarize everything here. Kentucky went to play the #9 team in the country at home and got creamed by a team that by all accounts should have creamed them. Too many talking heads put this team on a pedestal this week, and our entire fanbase is freaking out over the loss now. Just Breathe. Now on to the review.
I’m going to start things off here by laying into the coaches. I thought Florida outplayed Kentucky in EVERY SINGLE facet of the game of football and when that happens, the biggest culprits are typically NOT wearing shoulder pads.
The offensive gameplan was ridiculous. Kentucky did not play on their strengths and struggled to do anything right. Cobb was essentially shut down for the entire game (by his standards) and instead of immediately throwing to senior Chris Matthews, Kentucky tries to target sophomore LaRod King and force it to Cobb. When King is clearly struggling and Cobb is blanketed, no changes are made. The short passes only works when you have the defense wary of the long pass or you are just clearly better and neither of those circumstances fit UK on Saturday. The players didn’t make the plays, and the coaches absolutely did not put them in a position to win the game.
I do not consider the fake field goal for the touchdown an offensive touchdown. Good call and good execution by Greg Nord’s unit, but I don’t really care for the smoke-and-mirrors trickery crap. Don’t act like the Kentucky offense scored on Florida twice. There was one fantastic catch and a sucker punch. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still take it, but it’s still more indicative of the lack of focus by Florida than the offensive ability of Kentucky.
I honestly think I have never seen a worse coaching decision than playing the starters late in the fourth quarter, and yes I am fully aware of how severe of a statement that is. I couldn’t give less of a crap about Locke or Cobb’s or Hartline’s statistics. ALL THREE OF THESE GUYS HAVE AN EXTENSIVE HISTORY FOR INJURIES. Why play them in the fourth quarter in a game that is past decided? In my opinion, the starters had their chance to pad their stats by competing during the first 7/8 of the game. Let the young guys play and move on. There was zero chance of winning the game at that point. Imagine the calls for Joker’s head if one of the star players had been injured.
To add to that, why attempt a field goal? Adding three pints going to win the game? You’re only down by 5 touchdowns! Serves the staff right for the kick getting blocked. I wonder if someone thought Meyer would let off the gas if we rolled over?
The defensive coaches need to all do some soul-searching after that type of performance. At what point do you look at the game and decide that you are going to do something to stop the other team from scoring? I’m not sure Kentucky would have ever found anything to stop Florida with the way they were playing, but I would have liked to at least see an attempt. If the short crossing routes are killing you, keep a safety in the middle of the field! Ronnie Sneed was left to cover 2-3 guys by himself and was continually burnt. It’s hard to pick on him when he was hung out to dry like that, so I’m going to completely omit his poor coverage from this week’s review.
I’m sorry, but allowing a true freshman to score six touchdowns against you is embarrassing. It was almost sad to watch. You knew it was coming, and the defense looked deflated when he scored. At what point do you assign five guys to him and decide that if you’re going to get beat, it’ll have to be someone else? I guess it takes more than six touchdowns.
Hartline didn’t have as bad of a game as everyone is making out. While he did throw two interceptions, he also piled up 242 yards against the best secondary in college football. This group of defensive backs will make far better quarterbacks look far worse during the course of the season, and there are at least six guys in their secondary that will be playing on Sundays at some point. Hartline wasn’t helped by bad play calling, poor protection, and dropped passes. Everyone remembers the outburst Mike had as a sophomore where he blamed getting benched on his teammates. He could have said the same thing Saturday night and he would have been right. No doubt he made some mistakes, but there is plenty of blame to go around.
Derrick Locke added another 100+ yard game to his resume, albeit in garbage time when Florida had pulled the majority of their starters. He did well this week considering how often he was hit in the backfield, and how often the Florida defensive line disrupted the entire play. I was extremely impressed with Locke’s ability to pick up the blitz and I thought this was an area he needed to improve on before the year. This is the kind of stuff that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet and wont win you the Heisman, but it will majorly help your draft status.
I know we all expect a lot from Randall Cobb, but I really thought he would have had a bigger game than he did. I know he was double covered and it looked like he was the primary focal point of the Gator defense, but big time players make big time plays. Julio Jones, A.J. Greene, Alshon Jeffery, and every other top receiver sees it too, but they overcome it and still dominate the game. I still think Cobb is one of the best players in the country, but I really want to see him shine against to top teams and not just the scrubs.
Major props are in order for one Chris Matthews. Unfortunately, it was too little too late and he wasn’t given enough opportunity to have a major impact on the game. I’d like to see our 6’5 receiver featured a lot more next week.
In a game full of awful play, the worst thing I saw all night was from Florida. On the 42 yard catch by Matthews that was initially called an incompletion, and then was overturned by instant replay (what a terrible call by the way) and awarded as a catch, Florida safety Will Hill leapt over Matthews and obliterated a man in a wheelchair. You know you saw it. Come on Hill, at least help the guy up!
I really thought some of the other wide receivers would step up to be reliable targets. That didn’t happen. I think King will eventually be there, but he was inconsistent against Florida.
Holy cow. The entire offensive line decided to just get the dog crap get beat out of them for 60 minutes. I know that Florida has some of the most talented defensive line players in the country, but seriously? That was embarrassing. Florida’s defensive tackles consistently moved the line of scrimmage back into the Kentucky backfield, and the defensive ends threw blockers to the side like they weren’t even there. The UK O-line did pass block relatively well and allowed only one sack, but Hartline avoided a couple on his own too. The Wildcats have got to get better here to win in the SEC.
The Defensive line was awful. Not getting any pressure on Brantley allowed him to look like Peyton Manning while dissecting the defense. Not playing properly against the run allowed the Gators to literally manhandle them and blow them out of the holes. In my opinion, this is the most important position group in college football and UK just doesn’t have an SEC defensive line yet.
The linebackers didn’t have a bad game. I thought the defensive scheme Kentucky employed exposed them all night and several of the guys stepped up and made plays when called upon. If one guy on defense should be singled out, it would be Qua Huzzie. He played with fire and intensity in his first start and he was one of the few guys that didn’t seem scared by playing at Florida.
The defensive backs were put in a no win situation with coverage and still managed to keep the big plays to a minimum. Where the biggest problem lies is in poor tackling. The only thing you could consistently expect was that the defensive backs would lower their head and attempt to arm tackle the athletes of Florida. Yeah, how’d that work out for you?
The little things drove me crazy during this game. So many stupid penalties. I mean, some of this stuff you learn in peewee football.
I’m done defending Steve Brown. I’ve tried to think logically of how I would have done things differently in the past, and I can usually find a justification for some of the things he does. This was embarrassing to sit through and I just can’t continue to watch this sad excuse for defense. I would have covered man-to-man on the outside and blitzed seven or eight guys to see if it worked. I would have attempted to bring pressure from a heavy side to see if it worked. I would have sent two guys up the middle to collapse the pocket and see if it worked. I would have made some type of alteration to the defense at some point in the third quarter when my team was getting picked apart by Brantley to see if it worked. Basically, nothing happened. The defense was ineffective and Brown stuck with it. Time to find someone who can develop and coach a true SEC caliber defense.
I know that this week’s edition was a little overly negative, but it was a poorly played game. I believe the Cats will rebound from this performance and play better for the rest of the year. I really don’t see another team on the schedule that Kentucky can’t beat, so it’s not the end of the world. Maybe this was just what was needed to get it together and dominate the rest of the season. Think about this. We get South Carolina, Georgia, and Auburn at home. While all three teams are talented, none are invincible and they’re the best teams on the schedule. The season is still a long way from over, and a 11-1 record is still a possibility. It's time to put this bad loss behind us and look forward to Ole Miss.