The first major step in any type of recovery is always acceptance, so I think we should all look at that the headline one more time. There's no sense in running from it, Kentucky beat Louisville...in football.
National championship gone, Heisman gone, top ten ranking gone, five in a row gone, and now all of the sudden the most talented team in the history of Cardinal football has a loss just three weeks into the season.
It's a bitter pill to swallow, but it's the reality we're faced with right now.
I'm trying again to start things off on a positive note, so I will say that the only thing that made me a little happy after the game was seeing all the Kentucky fans storming the field. This was their Florida State 2002 game, and it came against us. Can you imagine seats emptying after a win over UK in PJCS? It'd be absurd.
Cayut fans can continue to demean our conference and use losing to good to above average teams as justification of their superiority, but actions speak louder than words, and the fact that big blue nation reacted as if they'd just won an SEC title after a win over "little brother" confirms everything they try to deny about where our program stands nationally.
I was nervous coming into the game that Kragthorpe and Stubbs were going to be enamored with the whole scoring on the first play thing and that it was going to cost us. And who knows, maybe the play works if Guy holds onto the opening kickoff. Fumbling on the opening kick is just one of those things that completely screws up a game plan and messes with your psyche. Not that I even remotely blame Trent for how the game turned out, he certainly made amends for his mistake in the third quarter.
The real killer about the two early turnovers was that Andre Woodson did come out a little wide-eyed and overthrew open receivers multiple times on UK's first two possessions. Of course it didn't matter because the Cats started with the ball deep in our territory both times. If we don't fumble the opening kickoff, maybe we drive down the field for a score and then get the ball right back after Kentucky's first drive stalls. Or maybe Woodson is more settled down and effective after watching U of L's offense, and comes onto the field and answers right back. You never know.
Harry Douglas is the best receiver in the history of Louisville football. What an absolutely amazing performance. If Brohm hits him in stride on the first play of the second half, and the catch on 2nd and 18 is correctly overturned (he caught the ball) then Douglas has a 300-yard receiving night.
I was thinking it even when I thought we were going to win; Kentucky was better prepared for this game than Louisville was. Andre Woodson came to the line, looked at the defense, and then called the play from there every single time. It was perfect.
When Woodson saw he could get seven yards on a stop route, he took seven yards on a stop route. When he thought they could get four or five on the ground, they took four or five on the ground. Woodson completed 17 passes in the first half and barely had over 100 yards passing. They took everything we gave them.
Though Kentucky's offensive game plan was fantastic, Phillips let us right back into the game near the end of the half. Kentucky was controlling the ball and it looked like they were going to be able to run enough time off the clock so that they would score and go into the half up 26-14, also knowing that they were getting the ball to start the third quarter. Rafael Little had just run for ten yards and a first down, and instead of continuing to put the ball in the hands of a player the Cards had shown no ability to slow down, Phillips called three passes and then an option on fourth and one. Myles' hit was right next to the U of L sidelines and was just the thing to get Louisville back in the game.
I was amazed at how lethargic both teams looked at the start of the second half. There wasn't all that much fire, and even the crowd seemed like it was slowly coming back from the concession lines. The whole drive I kept looking up at the scoreboard to make sure I was watching the same game. It was the second week in a row that the Cards had come out of the locker room looking uninspired. Whatever is being said at halftime seems to be doing more bad than good.
Mario Urrutia seems like the kind of kid who doesn't respond well to coddling, so let me be blunt: you're not a fucking freshman anymore. This isn't the Gator Bowl where you can cut off routes and everyone will say "oh he's just a freshman he'll learn." Urrutia is the same player he was two years ago, and it's sad. Can you imagine what Harry Douglas would accomplish with your size? Kid has every natural advantage in the world and he chooses to rest his head on it.
They manned up on Mario and dared us to try an throw deep. We did, continually, and it didn't work.
Rafael Little is the best player on UK's team. Kentucky fans keep talking about Woodson's performance on a night where he didn't really have to make very many difficult throws. Who they should be talking about is the guy who continually made the first two guys miss, and turned losses into four yard gains and four yard gains into ten yard gains all night. Little is just a tremendous player.
With the exception of a few mistakes by Barlowe and Donoghue, Louisville's O-line was outstanding all night. This makes it even more mind-boggling that the Cards completely abandoned the run in the second half. Allen was getting five yards whenever he wanted, and instead of taking it we chose to put the ball in the air time after time on first down.
When George Stripling came into the game and we were in the shotgun, I knew it was going to be a screen, everyone in Commonwealth knew it was going to be a screen, and Kentucky's players certainly knew it was going to be a screen.
Steve Kragthorpe completely mismanaged his timeouts, which would be somewhat forgivable if he hadn't done the exact same thing a week ago. He called a timeout to ask the referees to review a Keenan Burton catch (which they obviously weren't going to do), and the catch was only a six-yard pickup on first down on the Kentucky side of the 50. He inexplicably took a timeout before an extra point, and then in the second half he ensured that we would have no way to stop the clock if we needed to kick a game-winning field goal, a mistake that completely defies logic in a game that sure looked like it was going to come down to that.
As poor as those coaching decisions were, can you imagine what Rich Brooks would be going through right now if Douglas had taken the ball into the endzone on the final heave? I know you're excited, but how can you possibly not think to go for two in that situation?
It certainly doesn't forgive the illegal formation penalty or the subsequent play call fourth and six, but Anthony Allen scored on third down. It was fairly obvious that he broke the plain of the goalline, and with so much on the line, I still don't understand how they could not review that play. Allen was going berserk as he walked back to the huddle, but Kragthorpe (who was so adamant about getting that meaningless six yard gain overturned) didn't do anything.
Speaking of the decision to go for the touchdown on fourth down, I actually agreed with it. I thought we had reached the point where the teams were going to trade touchdowns for the remainder of the game, and since a field goal would have only brought us to within two, and 2 + 7 = 9, I thought we needed six. The whole not throwing the ball in the endzone to try and get the six, yeah, less cool with that.
For as long as I can remember I have absolutely detested the fade route to the corner of the endzone. The play, which is about as modern as The Macarena, works I'd say about 20% of the time, making it a ludicrous option for a two-point conversion call. I watched Brohm take the snap, I watched Mario head to the corner, I watched Brohm look that way, and before he even cocked to throw I said, "are you fucking kidding me?" It felt like I was watching Rice.
Kudos to Lamar Myles, who was flying around the field and popping people all game. He finished the game with 22 total tackles, 13 more than Woodny Turenne who was second on the team. Malik Jackson made a few big plays, but Myles seemed like the only guy playing with reckless abandon for four quarters.
I think we're all learning that Willie Williams' late summer illness may very well prove to be the biggest blow to this team, because we need him healthy at that weakside linebacker spot.
The ineffectiveness of our defensive ends continues to be befuddling. Mo Mitchell made a few nice plays but didn't do anything extraordinary, Brandon Cox absolutely blew an easy tackle, and if I hadn't noticed him being dominated on one play, I wouldn't have even known Peanut Whitehead got into the game. I can't tell if it's their effort or the defensive philosophy, but these three very talented guys should be making a far greater impact.
Speaking of players who should be making a far greater impact, where was Scott Long? I didn't expect his stats to be anywhere near Douglas, Urrutia's or Barnidge's this season, but he's far too good to spend so much time on the sidelines.
Perhaps the best thing about this game is knowing that it was the last time we'll have to see most of the major players on the other side of the ball wearing blue. Andre Woodson, Keenan Burton, Rafael Little, Wesley Woodyard, Jacob Tamme and Joker Phillips are all gone after this season.
I can't explain it, I'm not going to try to explain it, but we got more pressure on Andre Woodson when we rushed three down lineman than we did when we brought two linebackers or tried anything else.
As much as I'd like to say that if Latarrius Thomas is healthy that last play doesn't happen, I can't, because Thomas played just as poorly as anyone else in the secondary the last two weeks. I do find it wildly ironic that UK fans spent much of the game week talking about what Willie Williams did in high school and how Louisville players are all thugs, and then the guy who scores the winning touchdown is a Kentucky player who was arrested three weeks ago.
As UK was getting ready for what would ultimately be the game-winning drive, Rod Council was in the face of the rest of the defense trying to get everyone fired up. Good for him.
The thing is, Kentucky should have never gotten a last drive, or at least a last drive with two minutes left. Even Kentucky's defense knew we were going to score, but instead of throwing short routes over the middle or running the ball for five and six yards, we kept taking shots down the field, again mismanaging the clock badly.
The way Kragthorpe left the field was so bizarre. He looked bewildered and was talking to UK fans, then he was talking to U of L players who didn't seem the least bit interested in what he had to say, it was almost surreal. Someone on ITV perfectly compared it to a dazed fighter stumbling around and trying to figure out how to get back to his corner.
Bilal Powell played on special teams, thus burning his redshirt. I suppose this means that the injuries to Bolen and Spencer are bad enough to keep them out multiple games and that we're going to see some Bilal at running back against Syracuse. If not, and we're only going to see him on special teams, then this makes no sense.
I guess in the end it worked out for us that the game wasn't played in week one or on a major channel, because Kentucky isn't getting nearly the attention it deserves right now. No one nationally was talking about this game Sunday morning, and even now if you check the front page of the major college football web sites, it's all Notre Dame, Florida or USC.
After the game I was understandably stunned, but I couldn't help but crack a smile as I watched the local news coverage from the field and saw a kid with a "Fuck Louisville" shirt and another with one that said "Eat Blue, Shit Paint" blatantly hang on camera for seven or eight seconds. Ah, Kentucky.
As for the noticeable increase in interest Wildcat fans have taken to this site, it's really only five or six guys, but a few of them have the initiative and lack of friends to create multiple user names. I'd never banned anyone before this weekend, but sadly have had to ban eight users, delete insanely over the top comments, and I'll have to actually ban whole IP addresses (a pain in the ass) if this continues. There are good Kentucky sites out there (I think A Sea of Blue is tremendous), but there are many other that we're all aware of which are embarrassing to Kentuckians, Americans, and human beings in general. I refuse to let this site become one of those.
I will, however, never...EVER delete a comment in which a rival fan brags about his school's Music City Bowl victory and his rival school's bowl loss, when said rival school has actually just won the Orange Bowl. Stay classy, stay intelligent, stay blue my friend.
I'm not throwing the towel in just yet, and I can't understand the mindset of anyone who is. There is a possibility, regardless of how slim, that this team could go 11-1, play a traditional powerhouse in a BCS bowl, and end up having the greatest season in program history. I know it doesn't sound logical right now, but as long as it's still on the table I don't think anyone should start the whole "when does basketball start" routine.
Truth be told, this was easily the best game this team has played all season. I don't think Kentucky is a great team, but they're a good team that gave us everything they had in front of the rowdiest crowd they've had there in some time, and the game still came down to the closing seconds. Look, it sucks, there's no denying that. This team is far too talented to have a loss right now, and while we shouldn't have to be hoping for improvement from the players AND the coaching staff in the middle of September, it can happen and this season can still be a success.
I don't endorse blind loyalty, I don't think the folks who wanted Ron Cooper fired weren't "true" Cardinal fans, and I don't think that anyone who's pissed off right now is in the wrong. I just think that there's still a lot to look forward to as far as this football season goes. We have two of the most talented players you're ever going to see wearing a Louisville uniform, and we have no more than ten chances left to witness their greatness before they're gone. We have budding rivalry games with West Virginia, Rutgers and South Florida, and an old rivalry game with Cincinnati all still to be played. And lastly, there's still the tiny deal of there being a conference championship out there for us to defend.
Keep cheering people.