Sometimes reality hurts. In the case of the 2013 Kentucky football team, it hurts really bad. An extended series of excellent decisions by the new coaching staff had built the program up and excited the fan base to levels not seen these parts for years. Ultimately though, reality reared its ugly head on Saturday night and we all came to the same conclusion that this team is not as good as we hoped it was.
So it’s time for real talk.
Kentucky is not a very good football team.
Now, I’ll admit that I got caught up in the hype as well. With so many of the right moves being made, it almost seemed obvious that this staff and this team were going to surpass expectations. Promotional videos, recruiting classes, and fan events all culminated in risen expectations that were never really fair.
This year’s team is made up predominately of players left over from a roster that went 2-10 last season. Joker Phillips’ last recruiting class yielded some pretty promising players, but the three previous ones were largely colossal failures and this ultimately leaves the team with scarce talent in the junior and senior classes. While the sophomore and freshmen classes are much more promising, relying heavily on a ton of those young players is never a good path to success.
Kentucky is playing the hardest schedule in the country this year. A winning season was always going to be a long-shot.
Remember that Joker Phillips guy? Well, he’s gone and so is his entire staff. With them, the pro-style offense and 3-4 defense have packed their bags and moved on as well. This means that the entire approach to the game of football is different and the current staff is attempting to use the leftover players to implement their schemes despite the fact that they have never played in them and weren’t recruited for them. Think of this year’s roster as a huge roll of duct tape. It’s about holding it together for now and waiting for the right parts to arrive.
And let’s give WKU credit, they’re good. Jonathan Dowling might be the most naturally talented defensive back we will see all season. Andrew Jackson could start for most SEC teams. Antonio Andrews was stellar. Hell, even Doughty played shockingly well. A big part of the frustrations that Kentucky fans are feeling now is that Taggart left the cupboard stocked much better than Joker did.
The future looks bright though. There are 24 players listed on the depth chart this week that are freshmen or sophomores. The 2014 recruiting class is one of the nation’s best. The staff has started to bring in players that fit their scheme and the outlook for the 2015 season and beyond is extremely positive. Rome wasn’t built in a day and you don’t turn a 2-10 team into a national contender overnight.