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Upon Further Review: Florida

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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.

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Comment by kyfan32 on September 30, 2010 at 6:03am
I like keeping U of L and Western on the schedule, as you I like the in state rivalary. I would also agree on keeping one non BCS team, that would be a perfect gauge for where this team goes year in and year out. As far as Leach and Bowden, was talking about Defensive Coordinators and not necessarily head coachs. Yes I don't care for Joker and he will have to prove but NO, I do not believe in replacing a head coach after a year. I believe his test will be on how he handles Brown. Any how I am glad we where able to clear the air.
Comment by The Fake Dermontti Dawson on September 29, 2010 at 11:58pm
I actually think you did a very good job of listing your expectations in a clear and coherent way. You may be the chicken little of this particular website, but at least you're a knowledgeable and passionate fan. Try to be at least somewhat positive sometimes though. There are way too many moron UK football fans that constantly complain about everything and I kind of think they like it that way and would be pissed if UK won. Anyways, to your thoughts.

I agree that using your position in your conference is a great measuring tool. Kentucky hasn't been good historically, and whether you want to attribute last year's results to an improvement at UK or a down year in the SEC, I thought we made great strides. Beating Auburn, Georgia and Vandy on the road with a true freshman QB is quite a feat and I don't think anyone would argue that. With UK finishing one game away from second place in the SEC east and a near Outback or Capital One bowl, last year brought clear progress. The hard part is building on that and improving this year. The Florida game exposed some weaknesses, but Kentucky won't be the only team exposed by Florida's athleticism this season. I think the games against Ole Miss, Georgia, South Carolina, and Auburn will really tell us where this team is. Kentucky could conceivably go 4-0 or 0-4 over that stretch.

I think going to a bowl is a big deal. I know there are a lot of them, but think about it from a player or recruit's perspective. You get to play in a game that will DEFINITELY be on national TV and there will DEFINITELY be at least a couple of NFL scouts there. You're going to play a team from out of your conference and you get to mix it up after a long conference schedule. You get a ring if you win, and don't underestimate how important that is to players/recruits. A lot of fans don't know that you get a big bag of goodies that can include a video game system, clothes, designer sunglasses, ipods, gift cards, food, shopping sprees, and other stuff that appeals to a college kid. Even the smallest bowls give out gifts to the players. Recruits want to know they'll get all of this too even if it'll be hard to play for a national championship with the current post season set-up (but that's a discussion for a different day). I think that if Kentucky beats UT, Vandy, Ole Miss, and Miss. St, and looses to Auburn, Georgia, and South Carolina, that the 8-4 Cats would deserve a bowl. I think they could/will do better, but I still think they should be rewarded for that season.

As far as scheduling, I like keeping UofL on the schedule every year. It's good for the state. I also like having another in-state school on the schedule each year. It means a lot to some of the kids at EKU, Murray, Morehead, WKU etc to get a chance to play in commonwealth stadium and it means just as much for their family. Where we agree though is that UK could stand to add another decent non-BCS team and a decent BCS team to the schedule. I don't want to see us playing Ohio State or Miami, but a team like Boston College or Cincinnati or Michigan State would be more fun to watch. I still like to play a non-BCS team for a game where UK can rest starters and make sure they have the schemes down before SEC play. How about a schedule like this.

Louisville
WKU/Morehead/Murray/EKU
Navy
Virginia
Florida
Georgia
South Carolina
Vandy
Mississippi St
2 of Bama/LSU/ARKAUB/MISS in rotation
Tennessee

I like something like this until Kentucky is consistently winning .500 or better in the SEC. Then when we're actually competing with the Florida's and Alabama's, we replace the non-BCS team with a big time neutral site game or a home-and-home with a team like Florida State or WVU.

I won't defend Brown any longer. The defense has not improved in any way over several years. He is still better than Mike Archer was, but he needs to either get it together and make the changes necessary to win or move on. If the defense plays like it did against Florida for the rest of the season, Joker will have to roll a head or two and Brown would be the guy. I don't want to see anyone on the current staff promoted except for maybe Turner either. Turner has a history of developing and coaching solid DL players.

Think about this for a second. Kentucky has historically been one of the two worst teams in the best conference in college football. It takes a ton of time. A team in the Big East can turn it around quickly b/c of the lack of conference strength. Look at Cincy! Then look what happened when they played Florida. It's tough to go from the cellar to the roof, and I think Kentucky is on the right track. The players are clearly getting better, and that's the first step. One of the biggest hurdles UK has to combat is the lack of talent in their state. A team like Texas Tech, UCF, or USF can build quicker because they ave so much talent right in their back yard. I will commend Joker for nailing down the two stud OL from here in Lexington this year because you CAN'T let that type of talent get away. Lamar Dawson down in Danville would cement this as the best class in UK football history with no 2* players (2 guys left unrated at this point and no way Darrian Miller is anything but a 3* or 4* when he's rated, Shaq Love is a solid 3* talent, and Bean was a 3* as a prep, doubt he got worse). I think UK is on the right track. I agree that an increase in talent warrants an increase in expectations. Luckily for everyone, Joker seems to understand that Kentucky needs better players to consistently compete in this league and he's made some unpopular staff changes to get there. We've seen immediate dividends to some of the new coaches on the recruiting trail and you can only expect that to grow if UK's success on the field improves. Now if we don't win better than .500 in the SEC at least 3 out of the next five years, something is wrong. I like to give coaches 5 full years as the head man. If things remain status quo or get worse quickly with no improvement in sight, make a change. If not, give the guy time. This firing coaches without immediate results crap pisses me off. Look at the NFL!!! It's a joke. You get three years to make the playoffs or your fired. That is not the way to win in the pros and it's certainly not the way to win in college. I think Miles and Richt have earned a down year here and there too. They've been proven winners over a long period of time. With the bowl system how it is, you can't use national championships as a gauge of success at ANY program because a few votes can send you from the NC to a non-BCS bowl.

Have you ever met Mike Leach? He's just as weird in person as he seems on TV. You want to bring in someone who has BCG personality issues? No way. If anything, wait until Richt, Miles, Zook, or someone of the like is inevitably fired and swoop them up. Terry Bowden was out of the game for a decade and just got back into it. I wanna see if he still has "it" before we even talk about him. N. Alabama ain't the SEC.

Give Joker a chance as the head coach. He reminds me a lot of Chuck Noll or Tony Dungy and that type of personality typically makes a much better HC than it does a coordinator.
Comment by kyfan32 on September 29, 2010 at 10:26am
Okay, let me clear the air with some poor writing on my part and use of words on my part. First, I do not expect a National Championship, I have never said I gauge a team based on a National Championship. You must have me confused with someone else. I do however gauge the success of a football team on final standings in the SEC and not win/loses and whether we go to a bowl. Having said that, where is the improvement? We still finish in the bottom half of the SEC most every year.

Kentucky fans gauge the success of a football program based on going to a bowl. In order to get to that bowl you must have a minimum of six wins to be considered. The six wins we accumulate are based on a weak non conference schedule. You commented about playing the starters in the 4th quarter against Florida, how about losing Locke or Cobb, God forbid to an opponent such as Akron or Charles Southern? Yes the SEC is a brutal conference but you can still schedule formidable opponents.

Where would I start? I start with Steve Brown. He needs to go. In the three years as Defensive Coordinator the same problems still exists. His play calling and apparent teaching methods do not seem to be working. Players are out of position, not making tackles is all on him. His defensive game calling is horrible, just as Joker’s were when he was offensive coordinator. There is no excuse for a freshman QB to have 5 TD’s when very little pressure was applied. When it was applied they made some plays. To sit back with time to throw can make any QB look like a genus. His schemes are not all right. Perhaps scheduling decent teams might help, Am sorry but Akron has to go as does Charles Southern, especially when you are trying to get a young team ready for SEC play. Wake Forest, Utah, North Carolina, Duke, why not schedule some of those teams. I just think you can have a stronger non conference schedule which in turn prepares your team more adequately than Akron, Charles Southern, and yes Western.

You say it takes time, Brooks/Joker era has been since 2003, seven years. How much time is needed? I understand Brooks took on a probation laden team, how much time is enough? Give me a time frame other than it takes time.

Yes, we are getting better athletes and players. So the frustration level will grow, because you are not going to be allowed to say any longer we need more athletes, you are not going to be allowed to say recruiting is a problem, especially since we have the best recruiting class ever. How much is enough….

Two Coaches come to mind, Mike Leach or Terry Bowden….
Comment by Todd Maggard on September 29, 2010 at 2:57am
I meant pryor, not myers...
Comment by Todd Maggard on September 29, 2010 at 2:55am
I'm really glad you gave examples of things you would try on Deff. I have said similar things myself, but most of the time when you say something there are a lot of people that ohhh coach brown knows more than all us... Which is true but i think adjustments are something you must have or any team are going to expose your inability to switch you scheme. We use to play a lot of man coverage and hit people in the mouth, watch any game the we won in the sec except last years win against Auburn. Last year when we played them we sit back and came up and made good clean open field tackles. It worked though, last year auburn were more of a passing team. Against these spread running teams like Miss state, florida and south carolina you have to be aggressive especially when the other team is more talented. What i've noticed this year are spurts of him trying new things like against AKron we came out with 3 D lineman 3 backers and 5 guys in the secondary we brought pressure and guess what Taylor and Delic both had a sack on one play. When i say i wish he would try this i always think before i type, i'm not just winging this, i really pay close attention to games i watch our D line and LB constantly, that's how i learned to watch film by a former coach. It's not hard to notice when we are trying something and when a different scheme is being executed. I really like brown he seems like a smart guy in interviews, i think the football program has got a little better every year and now we have a fan base that really expects wins every week. I'm guilty as well, i wanted a win too. I think the only way for his D to really work the way he wants it is to have full grown men on the D line- that can put pressure on the qb with only 4 people. When we had Jarmon, myers, Jenkins, peters and had a 260 middle backer that was as strong as any MB in the league his scheme worked a lot better. Not to mention a shut down corner and a experienced and very athletic David Jones and warford on the other side. I think we have some talented ends. I think everyone is expecting a little much out of Lumpkin, but if you watch the D line he gets DB teamed a lot. Then you got Luke who plays as hard as he possibly can, and i think he would be great on 3rd down and especially toward the end of the game when the other team is a little tired but he really just doesn't have the size and strength of a true DT in a 4-3 deff.
Comment by The Fake Dermontti Dawson on September 28, 2010 at 9:32pm
And I've pointed out multiple times that your expectations are unrealistic. Winning a championship takes time. It isn't done overnight. We've had this conversation before and your dream world remains the same. The funny thing is that it only took one loss for you to surface this year.

We all know you don't like any of the coaches. Congratulations.

We all know that football fans need to be more passionate and raise their expectations. Good for you.

We all know you think Kentucky is a bottom-dwelling doormat and it will never change unless big changes are made all around. Whoop-de-doo.

You continually show your ignorance by referring to FCS level schools as division II teams, despite being corrected on at least three occasions previously. No one else in the SEC would EVER play a FCS team though! Oh wait….

Alabama -> Georgia State
Arkansas -> Tennessee Tech
Auburn -> Chattanooga
Florida -> Appalachian State
Georgia -> Idaho State
Kentucky -> Charleston Southern
LSU -> McNeese State
Ole Miss -> Jacksonville State
Miss. State -> Alcorn State
S. Carolina -> Furman
Tennessee -> UT-Martin
Vandy -> N/A

ONLY VANDERBILT DOESN"T PLAY A FCS TEAM THIS SEASON!!!!!!!!
You may not like it, but it’s common practice these days and not playing a FCS school is a disadvantage. You are going to have to get used to it b/c without an NCAA rule change, playing one FCS school is going to be standard practice for a long time. Before you say anything, WKU and Akron are BOTH division I teams.

I will partially agree with you on the scheduling thing though, because although I like playing in-state teams WKU and UofL, I thought Akron was a poor choice for the fourth game.

~

Kentucky is about to bag the top recruiting class in school history. The talent level is seriously rising right now. UK has had as many players drafted over the past three NFL drafts (9) as they did between 2000-2007, and that doesn't even count current Denver Bronco captain Wesley Woodyard who went undrafted in '08. There is an abundance of very young talent on the roster in freshmen and redshirt freshmen that picked UK over multiple BCS conference offers. Brooks and Joker were able to develop talent into NFL caliber players, and now Joker is recruiting guys with more talent that need less work. This is how you build a team over time.

You have to be delusional to think we're not better than we were before Brooks took over.

Now, you always seems to be able to point out the problems with Kentucky football, how about some answers. What should Kentucky do to take things to the level of Florida, Alabama, USC, Ohio State, Texas and the like. What would you do differently? I am genuinely interested in your response here, so make sure it’s at least plausible. Don’t just say something like “Hire Tony Dungy out of retirement.”
Comment by kyfan32 on September 28, 2010 at 7:54pm
A down year?? We have had the same conversation at least one other time. I do not call Brooks Era or Joker Era good years. Simply going to a bowl does not mean we had a good year, not when it is based on Division II victories to get to six wins. We are still a bottom dweller in the SEC, so explain what has changed? I apologize, forget all I said, I mean no disrespect and don't mean to argue. I just have a different standard and gauge a teams success differently.
Comment by kyfan32 on September 28, 2010 at 7:50pm
Brown has had 40 games to adjust his schemes and it is the same game in and game out. That is more than enough time.....
Comment by The Fake Dermontti Dawson on September 28, 2010 at 10:52am
For the record, I wasn't for the firing of gillispie but I understand why he was let go. While I do believe that the losses on the court played a major role, his off-court antics and the loss of his players trust and respect played the biggest part in his termination. Brown has done everything right off the field, but has struggled on it. I'm all about keeping him around if he can adjust his schemes to actually be effective, but he's shown over time that he can't field a consistent defense despite having multiple guys that spent time in th NFL. Continuity is so important in football, where one or two good recruiting classes won't win you games. The only thing I worry about is who we get to replace him? But regardless, comparing him and gillispie is essentially apples to oranges. Would you prefer we take the Georgia or LSU approach and put a proven winner on the hot seat because of a down year or two?
Comment by kyfan32 on September 28, 2010 at 6:00am
And ya fired a Coach for goin g to the NIT.......where is the same passion, when will enough be enough

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