KERRI BROOKS: The blame game

If you feel the need to blame one entity for Kentucky's losing season, you may as well blame the coaches. By all means, let the coaching staff take all the blame and heat for everything going wrong, all the injuries, the lack of experience ; everything that is in, and out of their control. It makes perfect sense.

Coach Roper has thrown how many interceptions? How many times has Brooks fumbled the ball? They have personally turned the ball over 21 times this year, and undergone about 18 surgeries in trying to keep Kentucky's football team afloat. Oh, wait; that doesn't make sense, does it?

Perhaps I need to re-examine what a team is. By definition, teamwork is defined as: work done by several associates with each doing a part but all subordinating personal prominence to the efficiency of the whole. Synonyms of teamwork: fellowship, partnership, community, oneness, solidarity, togetherness, unity.

There is no I in team. There are units, and pieces to the puzzle. One man alone cannot make or break a team. One coach alone cannot win or lose a game. In order to win or lose, play after play is involved in developing the outcome. If you fail to execute properly in all aspects, perhaps one area can pick up the slack, and overcome the deficiencies, but all areas together create the outcome. Teams don't gain anything from blaming a team mate or a coach for a series of misfortune; successful teams find ways to pull together and overcome.

This weekend, if the offense fails to score, the defense needs to stop MSU's offense. Ideally, we need to create some turnovers, and take the ball away. If the defense allows a score, the offense needs to rally back and score a touchdown. This concept of team is not new, but seems to be sometimes overlooked in times of adversity. Team. Teamwork. Team unity.

The coaching staff is certainly a part of the team, but it takes all aspects of a team pulling together to find success. The coaching staff is like the conductor of an orchestra, they need to lead all the units in playing together and finding harmony. If one or two instruments are out of tune or missing, that will never happen. News flash! The Wildcats have not been playing with a full orchestra. The conductor can swing his arms all he wants, but if there is no horn section, there will be no horns.

Everyone says they are tired of hearing about the injuries, but they are a reality that has had a terrible effect on this team. Fortunately, this week, we expect to see some needed action from Keenan Burton and Tommy Cook. In my opinion, the second biggest area that is hurting the Cats, is turnovers. We have to hold on to the ball. We have to stop turning the ball over deep in our own territory, and need to stop giving opposing teams great starting field position. It is hard to push yourself off when your back is against the wall.

With only seven take-a-ways this year, we have a minus 14 in turnover ratio. Generally speaking, it is very difficult for a team to prosper when they are not showing positive numbers here. I am sure we all have vivid pictures in our minds of key turnovers this year, turnovers that put our defense in precarious situations and that stopped our offense from getting the ball into the end zone. Both sides of the ball need to show improvement here.

Although certain players and playmakers may stand out at times, a basic fundamental of football is to be a team member. You should not put blame on Andre Woodson alone for throwing interceptions. There are numerous things that need to be done properly in order for Andre to be able to execute accurately. The offensive line has to block, Andre needs to read the defenses, receivers have to run the correct routes, and by all means they have got to catch the ball. Moving the ball is a team effort. Losing our top three receivers to injury has certainly had an adverse effect on the effectiveness of our passing offense. A quarterback that is able to move the ball is always surrounded with good targets.

Although Rafael Little has had two fumbles in each of the last two games, he is also our leader in rushing. He has put so much pressure on himself to make things happen, I am inclined to believe his fumbles have been, in part, caused by this pressure. Trying to get that extra yard, or spinning to lose one more tackle, has out of desperation, caused him to make some mistakes. Not for the lack of trying or skill. If there was more success in other areas on the team, this would ease the burden on Little to be the play maker, and allow him to just go out and play football; which he does very well.

Antoine Huffman noted this week that the team is pulling together. The more they are coming under the gun, the tighter the team is becoming. This is a team unified. These are players that are learning to support each other, and will find ways to overcome their deficiencies.

Unless you are living under a rock, you are well aware of the controversy and negativity currently circulating around the program. Amazingly, through all of this, recruiting is going fairly well. This, you can blame on the coaches. You can blame the coaches for going into the homes of recruits and selling Kentucky football to them and their families. They are selling Kentucky as the school for these high school kids to play for and prosper with. They are selling Kentucky, selling the football program, and selling themselves. As ESPN is airing the story that Kentucky's Brooks is on the hot seat, this staff is still convincing recruits to come to Kentucky. Can you blame coaches for the kids who watch ESPN and are having reservations about committing to this program? In the toughest of times, these coaches are still finding ways to bring in players. I can only imagine how recruiting would be going if ESPN weren't airing these stories. To not realize that this is a distraction for the team and making recruiting even more difficult would be remiss.

Through all the adversity and lack of support, I believe that this team of hard working men is going to find a way to win. I know they will win next year, because our experience level and talent level is steadily increasing. I also believe they will win this year. Hey team, I believe in you. Believe in yourselves, and you can make it happen.

Beat Mississippi State.

Kerri Brooks is a CBS camera operator with substantial college football and NFL experience. Her job takes her to venues throughout the country, and she is fortunate to have met and formed relationships with many football coaches, analysts, and other experts in the field. And yes, she is the proud daughter of UK head football coach Rich Brooks. Visit with "BrooksDaughter" on the KSR Premium messageboard, where she appears to talk football, answer questions, and just be another UK football fan.

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