MTSU is Just A Battle Won in the War

I have seen some folks garner a chip on their shoulder. I have seen them carry it like a badge of pride, refusing to allow it to be brushed off. But, after watching the dismantling of the Middle Tennessee State team on Saturday, that chip may carry the weight of the entire University of Kentucky fan base combined.

Get this:

After the MTSU game, Kentucky now has the SEC leading rusher in the league in Artose Pinner, the third leading passer in Jared Lorenzen (mind you on 52 less attempts, and 25 less completions, and has 3 more touchdown throws than anyone in the league, including 6 more than golden boy Grossman), the 5th leading receiver in Derek Abney, and the 4th best interceptor (is that a word?) in Quentus Cumby, who should be leading the league had it not been for some untimely penalties.

What does all this mean? It means the team that had penciled UK in as a sure win got pounded on Saturday, and there is more than one reason why it happened.

Every single player that steps onto the field for the University of Kentucky has done so with a swagger and a walk that I personally have never seen. It may have been present in the late 50's when the Cats were destroying, absolutely destroying team after team, including Number 1 Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.

Offensively, there may not have been a better game plan on offense. Brent Pease had done exactly what I thought needed to be done in order to dominate the game (not saying I am some offensive genius, it was a common sentiment among the Big Blue Nation Camp). After the Indiana game, where the short passing game looked stagnant and placid, there was no doubt that Middle Tennessee was going to open up the short game and try and focus on Pinner coming out of the backfield. What this resulted in is what we saw, 8 man front with the DB's 10-15 yards off the ball.

This created a plethora of 10 yard gains in the first drive alone. Heck, MTSU couldn't even stop the aforementioned Pinner, who continues to red-carpet his way to the NFL. As soon as Middle Tennessee said no more and brought the DB's closer, you have the Abney and Boone touchdown throws.

But, as impressive as the Offense looked, was just about as unimpressive as the defense looked. Giving up numerous third and longs is just plain flat out frustrating, and should not happen. The rush defense to the sidelines is spectacular, but the rush defense to the middle is plain flat out horrendous.

I think people are underestimating the importance of having Justin Haydock. Since his departure, and the increased time in the Box for Mo Lane, the UK defense has been anything but stellar against the run. If Haydock returns to the lineup, we could see a much different run defense against the Gators.

This is a glorious week though, revel in it Cat fans. For the first time in a long time, UK fans have a legit reason to be optimistic going into "The Swamp".

UK vs. Florida
When: September 28th, 2002
Where: Gainesville Florida, "The Swamp"
TV: CBS Sports, 3:30pm

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