For fans and followers Kentucky Football everyone already knows this. The struggle is real. The quest for respect in the SEC is constant and never-ending. Mark Stoops’ first head coaching job greeted him with a truckload of challenges. Having said that there have still probably been a couple more potholes in the road than most expected.
After completing the gauntlet portion of their SEC schedule Kentucky finds itself 4-5 overall (2-5 SEC) as they head into the conference finale against Vanderbilt (3-6, 1-4 SEC) in Nashville at 4:00 PM eastern time.
The Cats best chance to steal a game in the grueling four game grind came in the first one against Auburn where they fell 30-27 at home. The following three games: at Mississippi State, Tennessee at home and at Georgia saw the Cats get outscored 121-40 in those losses.
The loss to Georgia may have been the most frustrating of the four. The Bulldogs came to Commonwealth Stadium last year and left with at 63-31 blowout win. This year however UGA had potential distractions and issues of their own to address. There were rumors and displeasure with Mark Richt. That always seems to be the case, but this year it was on another level. He has yet to sign the contract that was offered to him, the Dawgs offense was a mess and they had just lost to eventual SEC champ Florida 27-3 in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party the week before.
A tad of apathy was evident as well because there were lots of empty seats “Between the Hedges”, more than we’ve seen at Sanford Stadium in quite a while.
Yet Kentucky had too many things going on themselves to take advantage of Georgia’s troubles. Like a good baseball team that hits a funk and gets right in a four game series against an inferior team, the Dawgs “got healthy” against Kentucky.
Coach Stoops detected doubts creeping in before the game.
Interesting response by Stoops when asked if he thought his team believed they could beat Georgia. pic.twitter.com/VZn6c6fbkv
— T.J. Beisner (@Beisner_cn2) November 9, 2015
What could be worse than this? Well, not detecting the problem. Now the task of correcting it is obviously the next step.
They’re back to being a Vanderbilt team, especially on defense, that believes it can win games, Stoops said. — Jen Smith (@jenheraldleader) November 9, 2015
Vanderbilt’s defense is nasty, second in the SEC in rushing defense, seventh against the pass and fifth in total defense. Kentucky will have its hands full ironing out their offensive glitches against this group.
Kentucky’s offense, much like a plate spinning act, has a lot going on. Even when all of the plates are spinning harmoniously the potential for disaster is always lurking literally just around the corner. The Cats haven’t been able to get all of their plates spinning at the same time this season. Protection issues, accuracy issues and dropped passes have hindered the continuity that was expected to be there.
When something is going well here, there’s a problem over there. Plates have been crashing on the floor more than they should. This doesn’t just pertain to the offense either, it applies to defense and special teams as well, it’s just that the thought going in would be that the offense would more than likely be the strength of this year’s team.
Stoops: When things aren’t going well, it’s tough on all sides.
— Jen Smith (@jenheraldleader) November 9, 2015
All sides will attempt to get right Saturday in Nashville. It’s one game seasons from here on out Like we said at the outset, it isn’t going to be easy. Coach Stoops wouldn’t have it any other way.