By: Vinny Hardy
A large portion of the Big Blue Nation has spent the bulk of this week thinking about where they were in 1986 when they witnessed Kentucky’s 10-3 defeat of Florida. They have also been joyously exulting in the thoughts that they’ll never have to ask if they will ever get a chance to see it happen again.
If you weren’t born or were too young to remember the events surrounding that chilly November afternoon then you’ve probably spent the bulk of this week processing what it’s like to see Kentucky beat Florida in football for the first time in your life.
— Shawn Smith (@gbbcountry) September 9, 2018
Soaking up the elation has been fun but at varying points throughout the week the fan base has also thought about what the coaching staff starting thinking about not long after the 27-16 victory over Florida was in the books.
Coach, first of all, Great Win! All the hard work you and your staff have done is amazing. Thankful to have you lead our young men! After such a big win, how do you get them refocused for this week?
— Branden Hart (@BrandenHart1) September 10, 2018
This tweet came in Monday evening. Tom Leach read it to Mark Stoops on his call-in show. Coach Stoops said that he was “confident” that they would be focused. He said that the staff would be hard on the team and that they would educate them on the importance of coming back down to earth after the monumental win over Florida and that they wouldn’t take Murray State (0-2) lightly in spite of Mississippi State looming the following week.
He’s reiterated these sentiments throughout the week in his interactions with the media.
Breaking the streak against Florida presents a unique situation for him. Unlike the Tennessee streak that was halted in 2011 at 26 games, the Florida game is played early in the season. The Tennessee streak was ended back when that game was the season finale, Joker Phillips didn’t have another game to get ready for the following Saturday. The Florida streak is in the rear-view mirror and there are 10 games remaining.
As joyous of an occasion as it was seeing the Tennessee streak brought to an end, the reality was that it was like putting the proverbial luscious red lipstick on the hog that’s happily lying in the mud and slop-filled pen. It was a 5-7 season that ended nicely.
The 2018 Kentucky Wildcats have much loftier goals and expectations but the first order of business is coming out and making sure they take care of business against the Racers from Murray State. There have been some games against lesser opponents that have been too close for comfort in the latter stages of the contest (Eastern Kentucky, Central Michigan etc).
I had the chance to speak with former UK defensive back Van Hiles on our Cats Talk Wednesday radio show earlier this week and he said that would be something that he would be watching closely. Would Kentucky be able to come out of the gates quickly and make the Murray State “trap game” a blowout and then get to the business of Mississippi State?
There are a lot of veteran players on this team with a lot of experience and maturity. This was evident by the way they bounced back and finished off Florida in Gainesville after letting them off the hook last year in Lexington.
Cruising past Murray State after breaking the burdensome Florida streak would definitely show signs of continuing maturity.