With the Kentucky Wildcats starting the 2017 football season 3-0, including a convincing victory over South Carolina last weekend, anticipation for this Saturday’s matchup versus the Florida Gators has been building all week. Besides an opportunity to improve their record to 4-0, the Cats have a very good chance to finally break the 30-year losing streak to Florida.
The media has been reminding everyone of this streak. The coaching staff has made it clear they are very aware of this streak. The players know. And the fans most certainly know.
We’ve heard how critical it will be for Kentucky to control the clock, establish a running game, and continue their strong rushing defense. Everywhere you turn, another writer has another list of “ways the Wildcats can beat Florida.”
In short, things are building to a fever pitch and the trendy thought is a perfect storm is developing for the Cats. The game is sold out. Fans are getting more excited by the moment. There has been much talk about storming the field (I understand why, but I will always be opposed to this. Why give Florida that much of a compliment, especially in a year they are not a top 10 team?)
But the Cats aren’t the only ones facing a big challenge Saturday. I will be challenged as well. What possible challenge could I be facing? Let me explain.
I have the distinct honor of covering the game for Cameron Mills Radio this weekend. While I have covered a number of basketball games for the men and women as well as baseball and softball games, this is my first time to sit in the Central Bank Press Box for a football game. OK, I covered the Spring Game, but this game is another animal entirely. This time, I must abide by the media rules. Specifically, this means no cheering.
For 40 years, I have been a fan of the Wildcats. I’ve been in the stands for a few of the losses to Florida. I was there in 2015 for the heartbreaking 14-9 loss. It was several days before I regained my voice after that game. To say I have been vocal at football games would be a huge understatement. So, now you understand the challenge I will be facing on Saturday.
It was fairly easy to train myself for basketball games as I covered exhibition games as well as some of the early season “cupcake” opponents. While certainly enjoying watching the Cats, those games did not generate as much excitement and emotion as other contests would. But a football game of this magnitude is new territory for me.
Hopefully, should Stephen Johnson make one of his patented runs for a key first down, I can remain calm and focus on tweeting about it instead of breaking out into applause. When Benny Snell, Jr. barrels through the Florida defense to score a touchdown, I shall do my best to record that in my game notes for my recap that will be published after the game. And if the scoreboard should show the Cats leading when the clock reaches 0:00, I will force myself to remain in my seat and prepare for post-game interviews.
Regardless of how calm I may appear while sitting in the press box, rest assured I will be screaming “Go Big Blue” with all of my might. I’ll just be doing it silently. And that is my challenge on Saturday. But let’s face it, there are far worse challenges one could be facing. Bring it on…and Go Cats!
Follow me on Twitter @ForeverBigBlue