This year, again UK came in a favorite, an overwhelming favorite, and as I said in my two articles late last week, on paper it was going to be a blowout. But, as have many games in the IU/UK series (which by the way IU leads), it ended up closer than expected.
What was completely unexpected was the ease in which IU ran the ball. In the first two games, they had barely broken the century mark. Although IU averaged almost 4 yards per carry, the Hoosiers simply were not committed to running the ball effectively, and it showed
Obviously when Coach DiNardo said he had found a weak spot in the Kentucky Defense, he was not just blowing smoke. The interior of the line had barely been tested by either of the previous two opponents. Also, neither team had the experience that IU has on the offensive line. On virtually every play, there was at least a 3 yard push by the line, and even when it seemed we had made a great play, there was still a 2 yard gain
The ability of the Hoosiers to run does not solely lie on the shoulders of the Defensive Line, which still gave good pressure on passing plays. The linebackers simply need to learn how to shed a block more effectively. They have done very well in defending the pass to the backs out of the backfield, but the run up the middle? Numerous times the Linebackers were caught feet away from making a big stop, but could only get an arm on the runner, which will simply not do. Or, if they did make it to the spot, it was 4-6 yards too late.
Guy Morriss and his staff, despite the deficiencies on defense and the lack of emotion on offense, won the game, which is the most important stat of all. This is a game that Kentucky simply would not have won last year. Cumby would have never made a great break on that ball, and he would not have ran it to the house.
Like Derrick Tatum said after the first game, the attitude has changed. UK no longer believes they can win, they believe that they cannot lose. It is a grit and determination that wills them to make plays that will seal victory despite the odds.
The problems that led this game to be a close one, when it should not have been, will be addressed, and I am sure Guy Mo and his staff will again get the full attention of his team when ReShard Lee and Dwone Hicks make their way into Commonwealth. Hicks was on the preseason watch list for the Heisman. Lee is a young back with just as much, if not more talent than Hicks.
Buckle up that chin strap Dewayne, you are going to need it this time.
Later on this week, I will be giving a complete stat breakdown of the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders team