By Lee Ann Herring-Olvedo
Bear Bryant used to say, “When you make a mistake, admit it; learn from it and don’t’ repeat it.”
It was no question that the Cats opener versus the Cards had its share of mistakes from the unexpected side of the ball in the defensive unit that shouldn’t have been made. However, what’s done is done and now it’s time to lick the wounds and move on to the next one. If only it were easier said than done for this Cats’ team.
Despite the gloomy start to the season I still continue to see something in this team that has the capabilities to achieve the unexpected not just on a mental level but a physical one as well. The only way that can be done is by this team growing a little backbone on the field during the game. I can say it time and time again but the only way for a team to have success is to translate that raw ability and talent on a Saturday when it counts.
When it comes to football in the SEC it has always been my philosophy that you put the best talent out there that is going to bring in the tangibles you need to win ball games plain and simple. It doesn’t have to be pretty or perfect but it does have to be effective. So you can imagine how shocked I was to not see this core group of young talent that has been endlessly talked about and I have observed get some more time during the Louisville game. They could have made the difference where it counted.
Too often when we think of youth we tend to focus on the inabilities rather than capabilities. The reality is though this is what we have at Kentucky a team full of youth so why not use what we have and make it work to our advantage. Take a walk on the wild side for a bit and lets not be afraid to stray away from the conservative every now and again if it means winning games.
I think it’s important to credit the vets who have anchored this team and shared leadership that is vital for laying the foundation. However, at the same time we have to look ahead. These young guys like Pancho Thomas, Demarcus Sweat, Daryl Collins, Khalid Henderson just to name a few bring this dynamic energy that can awaken this dormant Cats program. These young athletes when you see them day in and day out at practice they have this belief that just transcends into something tangible that we have been longing for in this program.
While Joker brought a smile to my face saying to heck with it and its time to put the talent of this youth in to get some experience for the Cats. I will only believe that one when I see it! I am hoping that he will take a risk and not make the mistake of going the safe route with who he plays in this game against Kent State in the home opener this Saturday. Here’s what Joker had to say on the Cats final Practice before Kent St.
Joker on Thursdays Practice: “It was another heated day which is good. We had a lot of teams, a lot of special teams also. Trying to get these young guys honed in on their assignments and, again, let them play. That’s what we’ll do.”
Joker on RB Coshik Williams injury status: “He will not play this weekend and it doesn’t look good, but again it gives us an opportunity to play the young guy.”
Joker on Coshik’s strength as a player: “The guy is a tough guy. Ain’t no doubt about that. The thing we have to have him for: the long haul. I’m not taking these guys for granted by any means, but we need CoShik full speed. He’s not a real big guy, and he needs to be full speed. The guy busts his gut on every play, whether it’s practice or pregame. We’ve just got to make sure we take care of it and make sure we get him to the field healthy.”
Joker on Kent States’ misdirected play against Towson last week. “The first thing I was thinking was why the officials weren’t blowing the whistle. It’s dead. They should’ve been blowing the whistle. They probably were, but everybody was so excited about trying to make blocks and everybody was so excited about trying to make a tackle.”
“The funny thing was watching the coaches’ reactions. You really couldn’t see Kent’s coaches, but you could see Towson State’s coaches like, ‘Don’t tackle him! Don’t tackle him! Don’t tackle him!’ I was around to see the old Viking, Marshall go the wrong way. That was a live play. At least this one wasn’t a live play. But the guy is a really good football player. Number 10 is a really good football player. Just, again, 18- and 22-year-olds sometimes react in strange ways. The thing he did is he reacted quick and he stuck with it.”
Joker on obstacles Cats will face versus Kent State: “They’re physical. They won four out of their last five last year, beat a team handily. They’ve got a lot of confidence. They’ve won five out of the last six games that they’ve played. They’ve seen their league go into top conferences and come out with wins, so they’re excited. There’s two guys on their staff that I’ve been on that other sideline, too, and had a chance to come back here and all the emotions at play. We’ll be feeling some of that, too. That’ll go through their football team also.”
Joker on Pancho Thomas: ““Pacho’s at middle backer behind Avery . A different guy on game day. I like that. Those guys are different on game day, in sweats running up and down the sideline screaming and yelling, cheering on the defense. You’ve got to play those kind of guys. Those guys like to play. Pancho, you could tell leading up to the game that it was different to him. A lot of things became different the way he approached it the closer we got to game day, so he deserves to play also.”
Joker on the assets of the young talent: “Those young guys will play in different packages. They played a bit last week on the 3rd downs. They are going to get better as the season goes. Next year, we will be sitting here saying they are inexperienced so we have to get them experience now.”
Joker on what he expects from the Defensive side for the Cats: “I want to see us get lined up, and I want to see us attack the guys in front of us. Get lined up, play physical, get off blocks and make plays. I’ve said our defensive front is good; I still say that. Our defensive front is good enough to win with. They are. We’ve got to give those guys a chance.”
I hope to see some of the unknown faces to this team bring some livelihood back on both sides of the ball and bring back some confidence in the talent that lies in the den of the Wildcats. We have to remember choice, not chance, determines destiny. Too often do teams go through a season not knowing exactly what they want, but feeling sure they don’t have it. There has to come a time when a team must firmly choose the course which they will follow. Destiny after all is not a matter of chance; it’s a matter of choice. We have to start creating feasible winning choices to put our team in the direction to move forward and create positive changes! If that means letting the young ones play then let them.