Patrick Towles, Kentucky Wildcats Football poised for redemption


It was only two years ago, but seems like a lifetime ago.  The last time that the Vanderbilt Commodores came to Commonwealth Stadium it was arguably the lowest point for UK football since the lean probation years early during the Rich Brook era.  The Commodores, long the doormat of the SEC, trounced Kentucky 40-0 in front of a crowd of 18,885.

The rout by Vanderbilt was only part of the big story.  UK had announced the crowd as 44,902  but the real total was less than half that.  And in case you wondered if the players and coaches notice that sort of thing … they did.

"Defensive coordinator Rick Minter said the crowd doesn’t change his coaching, but he does have sympathy for the players.“I feel bad for our kids,” he said. “These are SEC football players. They came here to UK to have great support and I feel bad for them. … I feel bad for our players playing in front of half-empty houses.”Head coach Joker Phillips said he just tries to appreciate the fans that are at Commonwealth Stadium.“I see the people that are there and I want those guys to know that we appreciate them,” Phillips said. But “regardless of how it looks, you’ve got to play. … It shouldn’t have any effect on how we perform.”"

Patrick Towles was one of the few Wildcats left that were on the field for that game and you can imagine, it was an experience he would like to forget.  Towles, who had just been pulled off the scout team a few weeks prior was dreadful as he went 8-23 for 99 yards.  But he was not the only culprit as the Kentucky offense managed just 260 yards and were shut out.  You can bet that Towles still remembers the game:

"Yeah, I mean, for sure. It was 40-0. I played about half the game, split reps with Jalen (Whitlow). And it sucked. I remember being at a concert that night and somebody sitting to my left was like, ‘Gosh, man, Kentucky really did not play well today,’ and had a score. I was sitting right next to him and he had no idea. Just wasn’t good. Wasn’t good. But we’re way past that. We are miles ahead of that, miles past that, and we’re going to go do everything we can to win this game on Saturday.”"

Fortunately or unfortunately, there were not a lot of fans there to witness the carnage.

The fans had chosen that game for a self-imposed boycott to make their voices heard and it worked.  Joker was out of a job shortly and a little more than a month later, Mark Stoops was in Lexington touting culture change.

Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

And for the past almost two years, Kentucky fans have bought whatever Stoops has been selling.  And Stoops has produced about as much as he can off the field.  But the past year and a half of promise and potential has to come to fruition.

And on Saturday, the Kentucky football can come full circle from their low point to winning their first SEC game in 18 tries.  It’s a small step in the grand scheme of things, but every long journey begins with just a single step.   And that step is beating Vanderbilt.

The fans need to do their job as well.  As of late Thursday night, there were still tickets available for this game.  Just like the fans in 2012 boycotted, the fans in 2014 should do everything they can do to make this game and to sell out Commonwealth.  It’s time to come full circle and the fans have a chance to redeem themselves as well.