Kentucky Wildcats Football: Sunday Afternoon QB


Kentucky’s biggest crowd of the season showed up to watch the Cats take down Vanderbilt
for their first SEC win in two years. It was a fitting conclusion to a streak that may have been defined by a 40 point loss to the Dores in front of less than 20,000 fans in the game that really sealed Joker Phillips’ fate. The contrast was stunning. Despite Kentucky only winning by ten, the game never seemed to be in doubt. Compared to that last Vandy visit, where it seemed like the team quit before the opening kickoff. It was hardly the blowout everyone wanted to see, but wins in this league are tough to come by period.

I think its fair to say that most fans were disappointed with the offensive output. Following an explosion in the Swamp, many expected UK to put up big numbers against a hapless Vandy team who would be winless if not for a missed field goal by UMass. The Cats started fast, scoring on their first drive, and going 98 yards to do it. But quarterback Patrick Towles looked rattled after throwing a pick six near his own goal line. That may have affected Neal Brown’s play calling. Or perhaps Derek Masons adjustments on defense. Mason wad Stanford’s defensive coordinator and has some experience stopping tempo spread offenses like Oregon’s. The way Vanderbilt was playing defense, Kentucky could run the ball up middle nearly at will outside of a few stops. Look no further to that final drive that saw Jojo Kemp rack up 60 yards out of the Wildcat, running the same two plays repeatedly. With a two score lead and the ability to milk the clock, I dont blame Brown for running it all fourth quarter. I was pretty surprised that UK didn’t take many shots down the field after excelling there against Florida. I think you will see Brown open it up again next week when South Carolina and their young secondary comes to town.

Now as far as the defense goes, that performance couldn’t have been much more impressive. The defense pitched a shut out when they were on the field. They still haven’t surrended a first half touchdown. They got to quarterback Wade Freebeck early and often. The beating they gave him paid off too, Freebeck was under pressure on each of his interceptions. UKs secondary was considered a question mark entering the season and they have played really well this season. AJ Stamps continues to be a playmaker that Kentucky sorely lacked in recent years. Bud Dupree got back to being Bud Dupree. Kentucky ranks 25th in the nation in total defense through four games. They were 92nd last season. A drastic defensive improvement in year two is a Mark Stoops trademark and its paying off in Lexington.

I understand that the point total may be a little disappointing, fans like touchdowns. But Kentucky just won an SEC game over a team that had dominated them for the last several years and did so handily. The Wildcats were in control the entire game. It’s another step forward for a rebuilding program. Even Dupree said afterward that this was the kind of game that UK would have lost last year. This team is undeniably better than the last two. Obviously they have more wins through four games than they did total last year. But their level of play is much improved on both sides of the ball. Fans upset with the offense would do well to remember last season, likely the worst offense I’ve watched Kentucky field. You have to walk before you can run folks. See you next week.