Few remain aboard Cats sinking ship

By – Ira D. Combs

Director / Syndicated Columnist

Tri State Sports Media Service Inc.

Where is Matt Roark when you really need him?

After Saturday’s latest performance by Morgan Newton from behind center, I’m trying to visualize what that close quarterback competition looked like to the human eye that Joker Phillips so vividly and daily talked about for three weeks in the preseason .

Evidently nobody on the UK coaching staff conducted curfew checks at the football players living quarters last week because it appeared to me that Morgan Newton played like he spent the last four days frolicking outside Memorial Coliseum partying with the masses standing in line for Big Blue Madness tickets .

Please , stay with me for just a few more minutes and I’ll be brief this week sports fans, because I’m headed out the door to cover the National League Central Division champion Cincinnati Reds in their last regular season home stand but we must talk about last Saturday’s visit to Gainesville , Fla. if only for a few remarks . 

First of all It’s difficult for me to understand a coach who beats that drum of we’re in a rebuilding cycle and were so young with 72 freshman and sophomores on our roster to then turn around in your next game with the # 1 QB injured and start a senior who has been terribly inaccurate his entire career with his passing skills and painfully inept at reading defenses plus getting the offense in correct formations and plays, when you have an obvious physically talented freshman QB on the sidelines who you have already pulled his red shirt off two games ago .

I’m confused , what do you gain short term or long term by doing this.  Please somebody help me out with the rationale in this decision.  I want to learn more about college football and evidently I need to because I’m beside myself in this matter .

With last Saturday’s shut out loss to the tune of ( 38 – 0 ) to the Gators, the fellowship of the miserable club should be at peak membership this week across the Commonwealth and if that is not enough for Joker Phillips and / or Mitch Barnhart to deal with, don’t expect any mercy from the ole ball coach when he rolls into town later in the week and takes the field for Saturday night’s nationally televised game at 7:00 on (ESPN2) .

Former UK offensive coordinator and new Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease announced a goal a few weeks ago of hanging 50 points on the struggling Kentucky Wildcat football program when they arrived at The Swamp later in the 2012 season . Thanks to a UK defense that didn’t waver in it’s commitment to improve on recent embarrassing performances it never happened . But Kentucky’s inept senior quarterback Morgan Newton contributed his fair share to Pease’s cause of dropping 50 on the Cats and in the process buried any chance the Cats had of extending a competitive first quarter any farther by putting together a 2nd quarter performance that included (3) interceptions and a countless number of passes that sailed several feet above or in front of his own receivers .

By halftime UK was looking up at a 31 – 0 deficit and strangely enough had already accumulated more yardage ( 112 ) on the ground than their per game average for all the previous three games this season .

Be that as it may , what happens at the onset of the 2nd half when UK gets the ball first with a fresh opportunity to change the direction of the downward spiral Newton put the offense in?  Out trots the embattled  senior QB Morgan Newton to once again lead the Wildcat offense.  Finally , after an even more embarrassing 3rd quarter exhibition of only 24 yards offense, UK brings in true freshman Jalen Whitlow for some game experience . Then in the Cats next to last offensive series, the coaching staff finally gives in and showcases together the freshman duo of QB Jalen Whitlow and RB Dysham Mobley who between them gained 24 yards rushing on ( 3 ) consecutive plays that produced ( 2 ) first downs and what brainstorm did that produce from the UK offensive gurus but three consecutive drop backs for passes that all fell to the turf . Go figure!

Once again I’ll make the point I’ve made many times in the past in this column …………. Kentucky football is never in as bad a shape as it seems, nor does it have the ability to be a consistent top 20 program ………… it falls somewhere in the middle and there is obvious young talent presently in this program, but they have to have time to grow and mature into their bodies but once again we have arrived at a time and era that UK football is as frustrating as it’s ever been to follow as a fan and plain brutal at times to cover as a member of the media .

Try as I might It’s hard to defend a head coach who preaches one game and coaches another.  I can’t see the UK brain trust at the top going much longer without being forced to make some type of decision concerning the leadership of this program and I’m not talking about senior leadership .

Unfortunately,  in today’s world of college football when the head man is let go the staff usually follows him out the door by seasons end and this is a good staff for a developmental type football program that is still in the early part of a rebuilding cycle that will take at least another 12 months to reap some meager rewards at best .

Which brings me to this question , is it too early to start talking seriously about who the next coach will or should be ?  Actually , only one opinion really counts, but for the life of me I still can’t figure out who actually will pull that trigger, Mitch Barnhart or Eli Capilouto, because at this point Big Blue Nation has pretty much spoken or at least a large majority have on their feelings of the situation .

Then again there are those in the inner circles of UK athletics who believe the two guys at the top are the real root of the problem with UK football.  Maybe they’re right, but It’s hard to defend that angle of needing more money and upgrades in facilities when SEC brothers like Mississippi State and South Carolina are pulling in a lot more wins and getting much more accomplished with a lot less money than what UK is spending at the present time with their budget .

Seven UK and SEC Facts and Rumblings From Last Weekend 

# 1 – UK rushed the ball 32 times from the line of scrimmage for 159 yards ( I don’t factor in sacks like the NCAA does ) so it appears that youthful offensive line is getting better each game .

# 2 – Where has that new super sophomore play maker Demarco Robinson run and hid at . He hasn’t been on the kickoff return unit since the Louisville game and wasn’t thrown to one time Saturday but then again there may have been plays sent in but the QB went blind toward Robinson’s side of the field .

# 3 – Aaron Boyd and DeMarco Robinson caught 19 passes between them the last two weeks against Kent State and WKU , neither caught a ball against the Gators and it appeared only two were thrown their way .

# 4 – We are approaching the true fall season in the Bluegrass which always provides us an opportunity of having a few doubleheader days at Keeneland and Commonwealth Stadium that have been so popular in past years . It will be very interesting to see how the present dilemma of UK football plays out in the attendance figures that are always a factor in coaching tenures .

# 5 – Vanderbilt it appears is, well Vanderbilt ………….. anybody seen any hot rumors lately on James Franklin and his coaching expertise ………….. I haven’t

# 6 – All 20,000 plus Big Blue Madness tickets went again in just over 30 minutes ………. that’s about how long it took Florida and Georgia to separate themselves from their Little Football Brothers Kentucky and Vanderbilt .

# 7 – Let’s go ahead and move Mississippi State up and out of that lower tier of the SEC and replace them with Missouri ….. hey Mizzou …..you wanted in …….be careful what you ask for in the future .

You can go online for more info on UK football and basketball as well as KHSAA football and basketball .

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