Most Recent Posts
- Young Kentucky fan (@nosidam__) shares her passion for Kentucky sports
- Stoops: UK-Louisville future games “up to our administration” but “not interested” in 9 SEC games
- UK football coach Mark Stoops understands obstacles, challenges at UK but “we’re going to play to win”
- Former UK great Jeff Sheppard excited about recruiting class, but says fans should remember players are young
- Kentucky fans even took time to throw up the “3 goggles” in the Alps
- Signee Marcus Lee says Kentucky “will refuse to lose next year”
- Even UK football coach Mark Stoops did not expect this much fan support at Kentucky
- Video: UK softball coach Rachel Lawson previews the Super Regional clash against Arizona State
By LARRY VAUGHT
ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no more margin for error for Kentucky.
The Wildcats survived a non-inspired effort to beat Charleston Southern 49-21 here Saturday to even their record at 5-5 and put them within one win of being bowl eligible for the fifth straight season.
However, it will take a better overall effort than what Kentucky had in this game to beat Vanderbilt and definitely to beat Tennessee, a team that last lost to UK before any current Wildcat player was even born.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“One things we talked about was playing clean. We did not play clean,Ã¢â‚¬Â said a somber Kentucky coach Joker Phillips.
Maybe the fans who braved the windy, cold conditions to watch the game should have known this would not quite be the laugher everyone expected when UK went for a first down on fourth down and two at its own 48-yard line Ã¢â‚¬â€ and gained only one yard on a pass to Randall Cobb. Two plays later Charleston Southern scored to tie the game 7-7.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We turned the ball over on downs, and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s my fault. That is me being selfish,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Probably should have kicked ball and played field position. That is like a turnover.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Come on, Joker. DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t fault yourself. It was a gamble your Cats should have been able to convert Ã¢â‚¬â€ but didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t.
And it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t your fault that Mike Hartline threw another end zone interception with UK leading 14-7 and the visitors then marched 80 yards to score to tie the game 14-14 midway of the second quarter.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“That canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t happen,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said.
Not against a team that only got 21 points off Stony Brook Ã¢â‚¬â€ Stony who? And if that wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t bad enough, Charleston Southern had the football 40 minutes even though it used a quarterback Ã¢â‚¬â€ Malcom Dixon Ã¢â‚¬â€ who had never taken a snap at quarterback. He ran for 80 yards and threw for 38.
Obviously, Kentucky was looking past this game and eager to try to win the next two to get to the Ã¢â‚¬Å“better bowlÃ¢â‚¬Â players have talked about all year.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think it was hard to get them ready. I thought they were raring to go. We had really good practices. Attitude was good. Lot of enthusiasm. I thought we were ready to go,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said.
Kentucky did roll up 502 yards of total offense, including a 110-yard rushing effort and two touchdowns from Donald Russell as well as 95 yards and three scores from CoShik Williams as they filled the void left by the absence of senior tailback Derrick Locke for the fourth straight game.
But donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t let the numbers fool you into believing this was a smooth offensive performance. Remember, Charleston SouthernÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s two wins came over Mars Hill and North Greenville, teams not to be confused with Vanderbilt or Tennessee.
The Cats, perhaps predictably, did just enough right to win and had more than enough superior talent to count on big plays to put points on the scoreboard.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I still believe that we can win any game. I felt like that at the beginning even with the tough times we had and I still do now,Ã¢â‚¬Â receiver Chris Matthews, who had a 53-yard touchdown catch among his four receptions for 92 yards, said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We can finish what is in front of us. We just have to come out with high intensity and get after people.Ã¢â‚¬Â
So why didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t that happen Saturday when UK needed two touchdowns in the final 3 minutes, 21 seconds of the first half to take a 28-14 lead?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think it was more of a letdown. We didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t come out with a total focus and have the effort we should have,Ã¢â‚¬Â Matthews admitted. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t treat that team like a SEC team. I wanted to go out there and put a 100 (points) on them. That is what I told everybody we wanted to do, but we started slow and things didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t look good. But at the end we pulled it out and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what matters most.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Even star Randall Cobb, who had a 36-yard touchdown catch, was perplexed by the lackluster overall performance.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I do not think guys were as motivated as much as they needed to be. It is kind of hard to get motivated for games like these, but you have to find a way to push through it,Ã¢â‚¬Â Cobb said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“It was not the kind of performance we expected. Regardless of who our opponent is, we need to come out and execute.Ã¢â‚¬Â
If not, Kentucky wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t beat Vanderbilt, which was roasted by Florida Saturday, or Tennessee.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You know, you felt like you had control (of the game today), but you didn’t have control. But when you look at the scoreboard it didn’t say it,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We played a lot better longer. But also the fact that you won, I think can you get a lot of things corrected in a different way with the win.Ã¢â‚¬Â
If heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s right, Kentucky could be 7-5 and bowl bound. If heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s wrong, Kentucky could be lucky to be 6-6.