I was one of those who have followed the Wildcat program closely who thought this season would wind up similar to the last five seasons – hovering around .500 for the season. But looking ahead and seeing what the Kentucky team has shown so far, I don't think that's the case.
Kentucky beat Western Kentucky in the first game 14-3 after struggling virtually the whole contest against a team they dominated last season. They followed that win up with a tough contest against Central Michigan, winning 24-13. While both victories are important and you really can't compare margins of victory, look at these scores.
Western Kentucky lost to Navy 40-14 last weekend. They followed that up with a loss to FCS Indiana State 44-16. If that's not enough, Central Michigan got blasted by fellow directional school, Western Michigan 44-14 this afternoon.
Looking ahead, Kentucky takes on Florida, South Carolina and LSU consecutively. Going into the season, optimistically, I saw UK with an opportunity to beat South Carolina, but figured in losses to both Florida and LSU.
I thought UK would win three of those four with a chance to win out in that position. Right now, only Jacksonville State and Ole Miss look even slightly winnable for the Cats. Even if they win those two, they would have to pull off an upset at Georgia and beat Tennessee for the first time since I was in elementary school to get to a bowl.
Four wins looks to be pushing it for this group right now and there are problems all over the field.
Kentucky's offensive line has had a big problem protecting the quarterback and opening holes for UK's stable of running backs. Morgan Newton was sacked six times against Louisville and the Wildcats had only 35 yards rushing in the game. While injuries have played a part, it seems that they are just being pushed around. Timing and technique mean a lot, but they have been physically man-handled in all three games. It only gets tougher from here.
On the defensive side of the ball, Kentucky's defensive backs continue to get beat for big plays. As a corner and a safety, you're going to get beat sometimes – that's the nature of the game. But Kentucky's corners have been picked on most of the season by mediocre quarterbacks.
The SEC isn't chocked fully of star quarterbacks either, but Tyler Bray and Aaron Murray have to be licking their chops. And even Jarrett Lee, known for his interceptions at LSU, has to be excited for their game against the Wildcat defensive backs.
There is no question that the Wildcats are a talented bunch, but there are some things that just aren't working offensive and defensively for this team. It's time for Joker Phillips and his staff to go back to work and find out where they can get consistent positive plays on offense. Defensively it's time to sure up the defensive backfield.
Nobody knows what is necessary for this particular group to improve more than Joker Phillips. The question is "can he get them there?"
I'm not one calling for Joker's head because I believe it's still a little too early for that. But the Wildcats definitely need to get better and do it in a hurry, or it will get nasty(er) in Lexington.
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