Senior day has come and gone and we fans have seen the last game in Commonwealth stadium for the 2010 season. I’ve taken a few weeks off of the “Upon further review” series of posts due to some new responsibilities at the job I actually get paid for, but I’m back to recap the Vandy game.
Mike Hartline had a pretty decent game this week. It’s easy to look at his performance and say he was down, which is true based on the performances he put forth against Auburn and South Carolina, but his play this week was more than enough to get Kentucky a “W” for the game. He finished 15-23 on the day for 232 yards and a huge touchdown to Chris Matthews that basically put the game away for Kentucky. Some fans will continue to hate the man, but we have all been lucky to watch a guy with the type of grit Hartline has played with this year.
Randall Cobb comes out and has a game that only Randall Cobb could have. The artist formerly known as Cobb, now known as “It” according to Joker, had 56 receiving yards, a career high 170 rushing yards, 7 passing yards, 19 punt return yards and 34 kickoff return yards on the day. He was clearly exhausted after the game, and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a guy that had so clearly laid it all out there for a game.
Derrick Locke had a pretty good game by anyone’s standards. He made the most of his last home game as a Wildcat as he ran for 145 yards and chipped in 26 receiving yards for the Cats. He was clearly not himself though. On his career best 83-yard touchdown run, he was nearly caught by two separate Commodores. A healthy Locke would have blown by everyone one his way to the endzone. In a way, that makes his performance that much more impressive.
If I had to pick the offensive surprise of the game, it would be redshirt freshman running back Jonathan George. I know he only played in mop up duty and he only rushed for nine yards. What was so impressive to me was his ability to drag defenders down the field and just run over anyone in his way. He may not be the “hot” name in the running back rotation after the season, but if he can get UK the tough yards inside, he certainly will get some carries next year.
The Wide receivers had pretty good games as well. Chris Matthews had a big catch in the second half on his way to a game high 97 receiving yards. LaRod King only caught two balls for 31 yards, but he made both catches count. The receivers also blocked well on the perimeter allowing Cobb and Locke to break some long runs.
The offensive line really clicked tonight and opened some semi-truck sized holes for the Kentucky runners. The interior line specifically opened some big holes and shut down any trace of a pass rush by the Vanderbilt defensive tackles. Matt Smith, Stuart Hines and Larry Warford don’t get the recognition they deserve. These guys are all excellent in pass protection and run blocking and they really shined on Saturday. The tackles did a good job of keeping Hartline clean, and held Vanderbilt without a single sack on the afternoon.
The defensive line had some ups and downs on the day. There were a couple of plays where they got caught out of position and gave up some big runs, but Vanderbilt quarterback Larry Smith was under pressure all night too. DeQuin Evans was finally able to play and while his stat line isn’t that impressive, he was able to wreak havoc throughout the game. Backup Nermin Delic was able to get in at the end of the game and I get more excited about his potential every time I see him play. He had a sack in the fourth quarter where he just completely overpowered the Vanderbilt blocker and took down the quarterback, causing a fumble in the process. He has some big time potential.
The linebackers had one of their best games as a unit for the season. Trevathan was his usual self on his way to 7 tackles and 2.5 tackles for a loss. The big difference was the help he received from Ronnie Sneed and Ridge Wilson. Sneed only had 4.5 tackles on the day, but he was flying all over the field when he was in. Wilson was credited with a sack and a half in the game and is starting to make a name for himself near the end of his sophomore season. These guys did over pursue at times and were blocked out of the play at times too, but they were all important factors in several stops on the goal line and on third and fourth downs.
The corners had a good day and held Smith to only 128 total yards for the game. Randall Burden and Martavius Neloms both locked down the outside receivers and limited the Commodores to only one pass of over 20 yards.
The duo of Mychal Bailey and Winston Guy have been more like linebackers than safeties this year and the two accounted for 17 total tackles for the Wildcats.
The offense came out flat and started the game with a three and out. That is not how you beat another SEC team. With all the injuries to the defense, it was important for Kentucky to come out and assert themselves early and they did not. The Commodores got some confidence on the heels of a couple of big plays and gave the Wildcats a tougher game than they should have had. If UK comes out as flat against Tennessee as they did against Vandy, the deficit at halftime will be a whole lot more than three points. Starting strong and still making the adjustments necessary in the second half will be important in two weeks if the Wildcats want to end the losing streak to Tennessee.