Guest post: Georgia loss could have long-term implications

Jordan  Jones,  UK's leading tackler, celebrated at halftime when the Cats had the lead Saturday. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Jordan Jones, UK’s leading tackler, celebrated at halftime when the Cats had the lead Saturday. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By KEITH PEEL

Saturday night’s game against the Georgia Bulldogs really hurt. Not because we lost a game we should have won. Not because the loss once again denied us bowl eligibility. Not because it kept us from moving into first place in the SEC East.

It hurt because it may have longer term implications in our ability to recruit quality players. Make no mistake that Mark Stoops has been the best recruiting coach we have had at UK since Fran Curci. But even at the high level we are recruiting at we still find ourselves at number 11 or lower in the SEC.

I also realize that ranking recruits in high school football is a very inexact science. If it were exact Benny Snell Jr. would most likely be playing at Alabama or Ohio State right now. But I also know that if our competitors in the SEC EAST are consistently recruiting 4 and 5 star players and we are recruiting mostly 3 star players, it is almost impossible to catch up. (if you don’t think so just ask the teams chasing UK in basketball).

With all that being said Saturday’s loss really hurt because we needed a win against a traditional SEC powerhouse program to validate the improvement we have made. It is great to beat the Vanderbilts and Missouris of the SEC East, but we needed a signature win to once and for all show recruits that the improvement is real.

In the recruiting class of 2017 Kentucky currently ranks 39th nationally and 11th in the SEC. Our competitors in the East (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee) rank 17th, 3rd, 14th and 9th nationally, respectively, and all rank 8th or better in recruiting in the SEC. Only Vanderbilt and Missouri rank lower than UK in the SEC East in recruiting in 2017.

In order to turn the corner and be competitive in the SEC East, we needed to beat a perennial powerhouse team to boost our profile nationally. Unfortunately it didn’t happen and we missed a golden opportunity to continue receiving national exposure on networks like ESPN and CBS.

There is still a lot of football to be played with games against Tennessee and Louisville and hopefully bowl eligibility against Austin Peay. Maybe, just maybe, we can pick up a signature win against a UT team that is having an off year or surprise Louisville as the Cardinals look past us to the ACC Championship game.

Either way if we want to truly turn the corner we need to beat one of the blue bloods in the SEC soon and continue to beat them in the future if we hope to attract top ranked talent going forward.

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  1. What momentum we would have had if we would have pulled that one out.

  2. I think a close and competitive game like Saturday is a stepping stone towards a better team. Being competitive comes before beating better teams. This season is just the next step in building a winning team. Louisville took these same steps to get to where they are today. We as fans need to support our team each week, like we did Saturday. Be patient and good things will come to UK.

  3. That was a tough loss but we did not fold. Turnovers are costly esp the interception that fell into the DB arms when Badet could not hold on to the ball. TN is decimated by injuries and Hurd has left the team as well. This could be our chance for another road win,

  4. II disagree. Stoops is selling a movement. And there is obvious progress to any recruit. And any recruit will see how close we could be to an SEC championship. Any recruit could see that in a 4 yr span from now. 2 games awy this yr. Even though we wouldn’t have truly been ready to challenge. In 4 yrs, maybe.

  5. We beat a Miss St. team that just beat Texas A&M. That is a better win than the one against Georgia would have been. Also, UK still has the only victory for an East team over the West.
    I think we are in great shape and looking better all the time. I think recruits will take notice of the turn around and want to be part of what is coming.
    Like I said in an earlier post, it is just nice to get ready for a game and think we have a chance. A great run game like UK has, goes a long way in keeping you in a lot of games. If they ever get the passing game going with the run they now have, they will be a really tough team.

  6. Is the glass half empty or half full. I tend to believe it’s half full. The pitch to recruits should continue as it has. Young man you are the difference maker we need. You could be the one that pushed us to Atlanta to the SEC Championship game. We are building for the future and you can help that be a bright on! Or something like that. They played well and were a play or player away from the W. Keep on moving Cats. Beat the dirty orange and take each game one at a time! !

  7. I will be nice and simply say the loss was typical UK football. They had everything in their favor playing the game at their house for a big chance to move up in the SEC East race, and what do they do? They blow it.

    1. LP….I am on board with your feelings. We took 3 steps forward 3 prior games and took a step back with loss to dawgs. How could we not have a sense of urgency with our most important opportunity in many years. I feel this will have some carryover to UT game with possible longer term implications beyond. if we lose this weekend have we really taken that step forward that many seem to think? Our recruiting for next year hasn’t been going that well. I do not feel a 6-6 record is is going to win over too many recruits. TG we do have a lot of talent coming back, but I am still not sure that Johnson will be able to improve his passing game for nezxt. I also feel the same about Barker.

      1. UK fought hard IMO, but it was UK’s play calling that lost this game. Gran appears to have little confidence in Johnson in the passing game against a stout defense. Georgia was coming with a lot of pressure. The failure to score a TD on that last UK drive lost them the ball game. Gran’s play calling near the goal line on that final UK drive was very predictable. Georgia was clogging the middle and Snell had to be out of gas after carrying the rock 9 or 10 straight. Gran forgot about his speedy Boom Willianms down there with UK in scoring position. Geez, how about attacking the edge or throw it some. Gran did try a fade route to Baker in the end zone on third down and missed, so I guess that has to be remembered too. From what I saw, Stoops called that play as he was in Gran’s face on the sidelines during a timeout or something. But who knows. It is so easy for fans to second guess. UK missed a golden opportunity to gain big time exposure is all I will say. Georgia is another SEC team that has UK’s number. Everybody will only remember the loss, and that just adds to Georgia’s string of wins over UK. When will that ever change?

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