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Vaught’s note: WLAP Sunday Morning Sports Talk host Mark Buerger is a football season-ticket holder and regularly attends games and tailgates with his wife and two sons. This is his response to comments from fans who were not happy with UK’s offense against Louisville. Enjoy @meisterbuerger.
By MARK BUERGER
In retrospect, I should have known – Should. Have. Known. – that it wouldn’t last. It couldn’t last. That the lovefest that surrounded the new UK football coaching staff and the program in general heading into the season couldn’t make it to the end of the year. In some circles, it didn’t even make the bye week. Yes, in retrospect I should have known that among the 55,000 people or so who rolled into Commonwealth Stadium for the Blue-White game, there were at least some who were simply staking out their place along the rail, so they could be the first to jump ship at any sign of trouble.
That’s why I shouldn’t have been surprised when an hour or so into Sunday Morning Sports Talk after the UK football opener against Western Kentucky we received out first “I told you we should have hired Bobby Petrino” call. And I shouldn’t have been surprised when I saw a vaughtsviews tweet Monday that indicated Larry had heard from fans who weren’t happy.
What weren’t they happy about? The way the offense is being run. Seriously. I’ve heard complaints too, but the ones I heard were that the offense had been too conservative. These were more along the lines of the offense being too wide open and not sustaining drives. Heck, I’ll wait while you read them yourselves.
First, this isn’t the run and shoot. It never was. It has similarities in that it’s based on short, quick passes, but the run and shoot almost NEVER ran the ball. Even the Hal Mumme Air Raid used the pass to allow him to stick the ball in a guy’s belly and send him downfield. Second, this isn’t the Hal Mumme Air Raid. If that’s what you’re looking for, I don’t know what to tell you. You were warned. Neil Brown ran the ball a lot at Texas Tech. He told you he’d do it here. He has.
And here are the stark realities of this football season:
1) The Western Kentucky game was the single greatest indictment of the Joker Phillips era we have ever seen. There were few if any positions on the field where Kentucky’s player was physically better than Western’s. Beyond that, Kentucky’s players looked like they were basically re-learning the game, primarily because they practically were.
2) The offense Neal Brown wants to run is predicated on having an accurate quarterback who makes decisions quickly. That guy isn’t here right now. Instead, Brown is running the offense with a guy who hasn’t been able to stay healthy for five consecutive games and whose shoulder issues are going to be an ongoing problem (even before the injury against Louisville, it was clear Max Smith wasn’t the same thrower we saw early last season), a quarterback the last coaching staff was apparently terrified to let throw the ball (and all off-season evidence that Whitlow’s accuracy had improved evaporated as soon as games went live) and a quarterback who – though highly touted – has been unable to beat out the other two with two different coaching staffs (eliminating the “Randy Sanders just didn’t like him” argument).
All that said, if you’re watching this football team and not seeing a bright future, I can’t help you. The defense has improved by leaps and bounds each week and the newcomers on offense – Timmons, Montgomery, Kemp, Blue, etc. – are stars in the making. There are just not enough pieces there yet to put the whole puzzle together. There are more pieces on the way. This is a three – maybe four – year process. That’s how bad things were when Stoops, Brown and the others took over.
So I’ll say again what I told that caller after the Western game. Straddle that rail and jump ship now if that’s what you want to do, but if you take that route you deserve to be left in the water. And when you do, I’ll be standing back on deck waving – and probably laughing – at you.
Mark Buerger hosts Sunday Morning Sports Talk with Larry Vaught and Anthony White every Sunday from 9 am-Noon on NewsRadio 630 WLAP in Lexington. You can also listen online at wlap.com or on your smart phone through the I Heart Radio app. You can follow him on Twitter at @meisterbuerger.