Questions aplenty after lackluster UK win

Late last night Kentucky scored a final touchdown to seal a tough--but lackluster--14-3 victory over the Sun Belt's Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. They say a team's biggest improvement of the year is from week one to week two. Will we see answers to the many questions in next week's contest vs Central Michigan?

The game last night may not have been the ultimate litmus test for this year's Kentucky football team. But if it wasn't, the game v Central Michigan will be. Not that they are a tough team; in fact, they are probably down from where they normally are as a halfway-decent midmajor team. But they will be the opponent in Week Two when we will be able to see what kind of "fixes" the UK staff will make on the team.

There are a lot of questions to be answered. Among them, in no particular order, are the following.

* Will the play of the offensive line be improved to the point where they are an asset to the team? A related question, was Matt Smith's absence *that* critical to the play of the entire unit? The offensive line was expected to be a strength of the team, to push around DLs, to open holes and to give time for Newton to pass. Incredibly to most of us, they were a gigantic weakness last night, were pushed around, made Newton run for his life, and allowed running backs to be hit behind the line of scrimmage multiple times.

* What is the plan for the wide receivers? Newton was 7-18 last night, with three picks (not all his fault), a very poor performance by anyone's standards. But how many "drops" occurred? We may be looking at an entirely different type of quarterback and passing game, as Newton seemed to throw a pretty long ball on the money on multiple occasions, only to see it dropped by our receiving crew. There are two big question marks here for me--first, of course, do we have receivers that can catch a ball? That seems so elementary, but we have to ask. We viewed this as a question going into the season; has the question been answered--but not to our liking? The second question is, "will they continue to get open?" Folks, that was Western Kentucky we were playing. Yes, they were open on those long passes--maybe by a step. Forget LSU, Florida, South Carolina. Is there any possibility of them getting open against Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, or Tennessee?

* Was the running game hindered by the play of the offensive line, and the fact that our passing game was impotent? Sure. But even given that, was it the SEC-level running game we need to control games, to pick up first downs, to grind clock, or to be a possible game-breaker? Other than the 14-yard nifty run by Clemons, and if you discount the 58-yard potential game-saving run by Newton, we didn't see the game-breaking running game. It may not exist. But we also didn't see the yard-gaining, clock-eating game either. Is it there? Will it exist with better OL play? Will it exist to the extent we need it to exist?

There are other questions, of course. What happens when Kentucky doesn't have Superman punting for us? Tydlacka has a great leg, but can we expect that every single game? If Kentucky doesn't have him last night, they may lose the game. If he punts for an average 40 yard kick, the Cats lose 50 yards in the game last night. That's critical. And that doesn't count punting it inside the 5 a couple of times.

So what's the plan? Changing personnel? Do we have other personnel that can step up and fill the needs? Larry Vaught's excellent postgame column said E.J. Fields may have moved up the depth chart by (not) playing last night. It was that kind of night.

Is the plan playing "harder, better, smarter?" There's a story of a young businessman who was attempting to compete in a cutthroat business. It seems the businessman had placed most of his eggs in one basket; a large client (or two) that he expected to buy from him. When the client failed to come through with promises, he had a meeting with his business advisor and his CPA. They asked him what he intended to do now. "Balls to the wall," was his response. The CPA and the business advisor glanced at each other, and almost simultaneously blurted, "that's not a plan."

The young businessman is out of business today.

What is going to keep Kentucky football from going out of business this year? Do you know? Does Joker know?

I think we'll have an idea next week.

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