Last night saw Kentucky soundly defeat Alabama State during Homecoming at Commonwealth Stadium. The crowd of over fifty-three thousand was the smallest of the season but would have been the third best last season. It was the first cold-weather game of the season and a less-than-exciting opponent but tailgate was well populated, although not full. In true homecoming tradition, the game was attended by a smattering of former Wildcat football players. Danny Trevathan, Winston Guy, Jacob Tamme, Alphonso Smith and John Conner were introduced to the crowd. Overall not bad to celebrate a 1-6 team.
What they all saw was not a perfect game. Kentucky started great, with an 88-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jalen Whitlow. Then they allowed a 32-yard touchdown gallop by ASU running back Isaiah Crowell. The Wildcat faithful got a little uneasy to see a tie game and the Hornets flying around the field, especially on defense, where they played surprisingly stout. The game seemed on the verge of getting out of hand, with both teams getting a little chippy after the whistle and perhaps a few cheap shots being thrown around. But the Cats pulled away and never looked back, only allowing a second score after the game was well in hand. It was pretty standard for a tune-up game against an FCS school.
Many fans were disappointed to see the team struggle in key areas. Whitlow was hot and cold, missing on a swing pass then firing an NFL strike on the next play. He finished with over 100-yards rushing, but 88 came on that opening touchdown. Several key players were injured, including Javess Blue during warm-ups and red zone threat Alex Montgomery on a touchdown celebration. Do-everything freshman Ryan Timmons also went down a few times during the game.
What may be most disappointing for the football die-hards was not getting to see some of the back-ups that don’t get much playing time like one would normally do during one of these games. Most notable was the absence of Reese Phillips, expected to see some snaps to prepare for the rest of the season. Whitlow played into the fourth quarter before giving way to Maxwell Smith. The only explanation that comes to mind is that the coaches plan to roll the dice with Whitlow (and Smith behind him) for the rest of the season. It’s a risky proposition considering Whitlow’s playing style and Smith’s arm injury. It will be shame if they have to make a decision between possibly losing a game or pulling Phillips’ redshirt for only a game or two.
Kentucky is now 2-6 on the season, with four SEC games left on the slate. Tennessee and Vanderbilt appear to be the most attainable victories left and Kentucky is good enough to beat either of those squads on a good day. There are also two home games included in that stretch, starting with next weekend’s tilt with the Missouri Tigers. That is two more chances for the Big Blue Nation to do what they do and impress the players and recruits with their support. So let’s keep it up for November folks, I’ll see you at the stadium.