It’s usually a good sign when the most severe injury is suffered by a member of the coaching staff on the sideline. In this case, though, the injury suffered by offensive coordinator Randy Sanders in a 4th quarter collision with Derrick Locke was pretty severe. Sanders, as Locke was finishing off a long run, took the brunt of the collision, breaking his arm. He had to take a few plays off, but like a good football player, sucked it up. It doesn’t appear that any surgery will be required, so he won’t miss any time.
-The most worrisome injury was suffered by star cornerback Trevard Lindley, who left in the 4th quarter with a knee injury and was unable to return. X-rays, though, were negative, and he was diagnosed with a bruised knee. He is expected to play next week against Florida, but could miss practice time.
-Other injuries suffered by ‘Cats were by DE DeQuin Evans (hip flexor), C Jorge Gonzalez (MCL sprain), DB Randall Burden (sprained neck). We should know more about their statuses later in the week.
-WR Kyrus Lanxter missed the UofL game and is not expected to be ready for Florida. Matt Roark played in his place and made a few nice plays.
-This isn’t a UK injury, but it could impactful in the next game. “Several key players” for the Florida Gators were ill for this week’s 23-13 win over Tennessee according to head coach Urban Meyer. This is something worth watching and you have to believe Florida will be extra cautions, because of Swine Flu concerns.
Also, UK backup DT Antwane Glenn was sent home with flu-like symptoms as a precaution, so the ‘Cats are not without those kinds of concerns.
So, with the mundane injury talk out of the way, let’s get into what we learned from UK’s 31-27 win over UofL yesterday:
UK knows how to defend a hail mary
To any fan who has followed Kentucky football recently, this is a bigger deal than you would think. Everybody remembers the disastrous loss to LSU at the last second, but there have been numerous occurences where UK has gotten away with poor hail mary defense.
You just knew that if UK was going to win, we were going to have to watch a last second hail mary. This time, though, UK handled themselves well. They got a bit of pressure on Justin Burke with a 3 man rush, congregated around the ball, and knocked the ball DOWN, not up. Basically the entire bench was motioning to knock down the pass before the final play, and it seems that UK has learned how to handle itself in those situations.
I think that’s symbolic too. UK has always been the kind of program to lose games it shouldn’t, oftentimes on brain dead last second plays. It seems that those times have changed. UK won a game on Saturday it probably should have lost, wrapping things up with sound, fundamental play at the end.
Delusions of a 3-1 run through the next 4 games are just that: delusions
UK has the kind of team that I believe can communicate with most any SEC school. Athleticism is much improved and some ground has been made up at the skill positions, but it still is going to take a mammoth effort to win any of the next 4 games.
I believe UK can pull off one or two games at home against Florida (maybe not) and Alabama and on the road at South Carolina and Auburn, but the ‘Cats are going to have to come with their ‘A’ game.
Randall Cobb is Kentucky’s best offensive player. By far.
Cobb didn’t have the kind of statistical game he did against Miami (OH), but he won the game for UK when it mattered most, and it was appropriate that he was the first to get his hands on the Governor’s Cup post-game.
He made 2 of the biggest plays you will see to lead UK. On a 3rd and 10 with UK down 20-17, he made a beautiful 24 yard catch and run (mostly run) when it looked like UofL had him hemmed in. Then, he scored UK’s game winner with an acrobatic catch in the corner of the end zone.
Perhaps as impressive as his play is his status as THE team leader on the offense. As much as everybody has raved about Mike Hartline’s emergence in this regard, the offense is Cobb’s unit, and there’s no mistaking that fact. The offense takes its cue from Cobb and I couldn’t pick out a better person to do it. What a pleasure it will be to watch him the rest of this season and beyond.
Mike Hartline has definitely improved, but he still has his faults
Hartline had a solid statistical game against Louisville (20-27 178 yards 1 TD 1 INT) and managed the game pretty effectively, but it’s evident that his ceiling as a QB is limited. Again, he has improved, especially on his deep ball, but he still has trouble stretching the field and gets a bit rattled at times when the offense needs a steadying presence.
However, Hartline is the QB that gives UK the best chance to win and it will remain that way the rest of the season. It is frustrating to me how quickly the UK crowd can turn on Hartline. One missed open receiver or one 3 and out can elicit a groan from the crowd that is all to familiar, reminding me of last year’s QB controversy. I’m telling you, there is no QB controversy on this team. UK fans need to recognize that and recognize the fact that lack of support is only going to make things worse.
Derrick Locke is back
No one was really sure that Derrick Locke would be able to quickly regain his freshman year form and grab hold of the running back position…until the UofL game. Not only did he have that long kickoff return, but he also provided a constant threat on the ground and as a receiver, totaling nearly 300 all purpose yards.
UK’s defense is good, not great
Last year, I would say that the Whomp! Squad was a great defense at times. This year, I think the ‘Cats are a solid pass rush away from reaching that level. DeQuin Evans is UK’s only SEC-level defensive end and the ‘Cats miss Jeremy Jarmon badly. Justin Burke had twice as long as he should have to throw on multiple occasions
UK did do an excellent job in the red zone on defense, which is a great sign, but the pass rush needs to improve if UK is going to do better than allowing 9-17 on 3rd down like they did against Louisville.