Since before camp week, fan spirit for UK football has been low. UK has made numerous attempts to encourage BBN to rally around the Cats. Everything from creating a “We Are UK” twitter fan hub, to billboards and involving the Greek community on campus by encouraging sororities to “adopt” football players.
Even with one of the higher ranked freshman classes in recent years, morale has been low this year. Though the Cats pulled off a win over SEC rival Tennessee last season, it wasn’t enough to convince fans to purchase tickets, as UK’s athletic department announced in the pre-season that season ticket sales were down for the 2012 season.
The team has taken to twitter to ask BBN for support, asking for them to continue to support and “#Believe” in UK football.
With spirits already low after the loss to in-state rivals Louisville and WKU, UK went a step further by preventing many students from tailgating as a result of actions after the Western game. This is sure to cause another drop in attendance, especially in the student section.
Students seem to have given up on football for the season, focusing their attention to basketball and the upcoming Big Blue Madness. The mere mention of football triggers a variety of emotions on campus. Many believe that problem lies within Head Coach Joker Phillips, while others believe the defense has become obsolete in past weeks, or that injured quarterback Maxwell Smith needs to return rather than play senior QB Morgan Newton-citing his lack of success in gaining yards against Florida for needing to be benched.
Regardless, the student body has all but given up on the season going into conference play at home.
There are, however, some positives left in the season. Maxwell Smith, according to practice reports and coach statements, will be ready to return to his starting position this weekend against NO. 6 USC. Prior to his shoulder injury against Western, he was ranked third in the nation for percentage of completed passes.
Freshman standout Jalen Whitlow, ranked NO. 12 in his class, has also been working out after debuting against Florida. Whitlow originally committed to Alabama, but made a snap decision on sign day to come to UK. Although UK lost against Florida on Saturday, the true freshman was able to get some valuable experience on the field.
Another positive for UK’s football program is freshman redshirt Patrick Towles. Towles, a Kentucky native from Highland, made it evident that Joker Phillips played a vital role in his decision to come to Kentucky. Many were concerned that if Phillips’s position were to be terminated, that Towles would transfer. Towles took to twitter to assure fans that he would continue to play at Kentucky by saying, “I
don’t want to play for anyone but the University of Kentucky…#BBN,” to dispel any rumors. Fans were also concerned that Joker may burn Towles’ red shirt if Smith remained injured rather than play Whitlow or Newton, but in a press conference last week, coaches assured the media that Towles would remain red shirted.
Kentucky’s youth is a factor working against them in the tough SEC conference and chances of a bowl game seem slim at this point. Just remember, the NCAA tournament seemed like a stretch in the Billy Gillispe days, you just have to wait it out.