Vaught’s note: Mick Murrell of Birmingham is a die-hard Kentucky football fan. The Louisville native has UK football season tickets and rarely misses a home game. Both his children went to UK, and are die-hard UK fans. He was at Thursday’s UK-Mississippi State game and has some interesting insights I think you will enjoy.
By MICK MURRELL
I get to one or two road games a year. This year it’s been two and I hope for one more. The perspective you get from the visitors’ section is sometimes pretty interesting. It’s a small microcosm of the UK fan base, but I find it is always a much more football savvy group of people that what you see as a general cross section at Commonwealth.
UK’s road travelers were an entirely different breed last night. This is my second visit to Starkville for a Thurs Night game and my third overall Thursday night game.. UK fans traveled well to Mississippi. These games are typically poorly attended and the visiting section generally has a lot of holes in it where fans have purchased tix and later decided to opt out.While UK did not sell out their allotment, my guess is there were 900 to 1,000 in the UK section. As you could see on TV it was a solid blue box on the right hand side of your tv screen. I saw three MSU fans in the section and they quickly moved out.
The attitudes were the very best since the Mumme days. The negativity of the fans that was a cornerstone of road crowds under Joker, and sometimes Brooks were buried. The only boos were for the off sides penalty on the on sides kick attempt. Even the QB play which was pretty bad, drew a pass from most of the fans. And unlike alaBama who can’t keep fans in the stands, the UK fans were their til the end. Only on the last play did you see blue headed for the exits. It was pretty amazing stuff for a fan base that frequently gives up early.
While the infrastructure underneath the old stands is woeful, the new sections of the stadium are amazing. When the current construction is completed, MSU will have one of the six or 7 best stadiums in the SEC. They have come a long way, from when I went there 30 years ago and they had a stadium smaller and more decrepit than Stoll Field which we tore down 10 years before. MSU seems to have gotten a lot of bang for the buck. The Jumbotron is what we should have done at Commonwealth several years ago.
With the glaring exception of the Hump, all of the facilities on Campus are first rate. Dudy Noble Baseball stadium is one of the top 5 in the country. The new Palmiero Center is a baseball practice facility that appears as big or bigger than Nutter Center. No wonder Cohen left.
Focused. No towel waving at the fans, no joking around on the sidelines during the game. During time outs and chalk talks all the players in the unit participate. The huddles are not just for the starters. I love the Coach Stoops teaching moments on the field during timeouts. He is there pointing out what he wants and provides feedback on what needs to stop or what needs to improve. He is very much a leader, similar in style to Coach Brooks.
This team plays better as the game wears on. We still have gaps in talent and more importantly insufficient talent. But I saw no one on the field who didn’t play hard. The defensive secondary still seems confused at times. We had a last minute secondary substitution in the second half and the new player seemed confused as to where to line up. MSU burned us for a first down. It happened on a couple of other occasions.
All in all experience will get us past these lapses. It’s clear to me the staff is addressing the issues promptly. I will let you contrast this against the previous three years, but there is no doubt we are well on the way to better times. I don’t know if it will be Mizzou, Vandy Uga or UT, but one of those is going down when we play them this year. No doubt in my mind. Improvements are coming steady and quick.