It’s starting to feel like deja vu. Saturday after Saturday, loss after loss.
The Wildcats haven’t won a game in over a month and even worse, they haven’t won a conference game since Sept. 26 against Missouri. UGA was the most recent team to cash in on the Wildcats’ issues, thumping Kentucky with a convincing 27-3 victory.
This report card won’t be pretty.
It sounds harsh, because it is. If we take a second and view a report card in the traditional school setting, typically a student doesn’t get an ‘F’ so long as he or she at least showed up to class. Kentucky’s offense technically got on the team bus to Sanford Stadium and took the field when it had to, but that was about it.
All afternoon, it seemed as if the Wildcats were just going through the motions. Even offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson dubbed Saturday’s offensive showing the worst of the season, the Lexington Herald-Leader’s Jen Smith reported. Quarterback Patrick Towles — whose starting job might be in jeopardy — agreed, Smith learned.
Kentucky scored three points on Saturday on one field goal. Towles threw two interceptions. The entire team mustered 79 yards on the ground. It’s Week 10. With so many red flags this late in the season, it’s hard to give Kentucky a passing grade for this one.
The defense actually played a pretty decent first half considering it relinquished 94 total points in the two games prior to the UGA matchup. By halftime, the Bulldogs had only scored 10, and Kentucky was within a touchdown of tying the game.
As you’ll see in the Louisville Courier-Journal’s postgame video, defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said there were things he thought his unit could have done better, but they get a ‘B’ for such massive improvement. Yes, the group did end up giving up 27 lofty points, but with the offense providing no help, the defense was overworked a little more than usual Saturday.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D
If the offense gets a ‘D,’ so does the special teams unit. With just more than five minutes left in the first quarter, UGA punted to Ryan Timmons, who fumbled despite it being a punt he easily could have handled. The Bulldogs recovered the fumble, which immediately put the Kentucky defense back on the field. Those types of plays can’t happen in Week 10.
Kentucky also appeared to have decided to go with an onside kick as the first half dwindled down, but even that wasn’t planned. Jon Hale of the Louisville-Courier Journal expanded on all the things that went wrong for this unit if you’re interested in reading more.
What hasn’t been mentioned in this report card is that Kentucky was without star running back Boom Williams, who was sidelined with an injured elbow. The coaches did the best they could with what they had. The problem Saturday was that the players didn’t give them much to work with.
While coach Mark Stoops will certainly take some heat after the fourth straight loss, at some point the players have to hold themselves accountable and really dig deep to make a substantive change. Stoops can’t force his players to play smarter or with more awareness. That’s something they have to figure out on their own.