UK's uninspired play sickening

November 18, 2003|JEFF ZURCHER

* That Kentucky lost to Vanderbilt is sad. That Kentucky seemed lost on the field - playing largely uninspired and unaggressive - is sickening.

* FYI: Since the series began in 1896, Vandy has a 37-35 advantage over Kentucky (Gulp). There have been four ties. The Commodores last defeated the Cats in Nashville in 1995.

* VU last defeated UK at Lexington in 2000. Since then, Vandy has defeated no other Southeastern Conference teams anywhere. Until Saturday. That would explain why a victory over traditionally-meager Kentucky stirred each and every one of the 78 Vandy students at the game (not counting the band, of course) to tear down the goal posts (band was in on that).

* Let's hope Kentucky football never reaches the point that Vanderbilt is a "goal-post" game. Let's also hope that UK, like Vandy, doesn't lose 23 straight conference games (which was the longest such streak in the country). Neither one of those scenarios is plausible ... right? Right?


* Ironic stat: Despite its season-long longing to establish the run, UK is 0-1 this year in games in which it has a back rush for more than 100 yards (Arliss Beach: 18 carries, 109 yards last Saturday; gutsy performance given his injured knee).

* Iconic stat: Vandy sophomore QB Jay Cutler - 14 for 17, 175 yards, 4 TD, and 0 INT; plus 11 carries, 129 yards. Can somebody say SEC Offensive Player of the Week? Both Cutler's TD passes and rushing yards were career highs. Oh yeah, and those 129 yards were the most gained on the ground by any VU player this year.

* Kentucky's defense made (or is it, "let?") Cutler look like Arkansas QB Matt Jones with a 3.98 GPA.

* Cutler is from the in-your-face-festive Santa Claus, Ind. That could be why Cat defenders left cookies and milk on the hearth for him. Next year, UK better be less nice and more naughty, or the talented Cutler is going to deliver more "gifts."

* While on the subject of quarterbacks ... . Vanderbilt, according to its pre-game radio program, was quite concerned with how Kentucky might use Shane Boyd this past week. Apparently, Kentucky was not. Boyd threw just three passes, completing one for seven yards. He had four carries for 18 yards. He had no receptions. The good news - now you can officially spell "underutilized" with four letters: B-O-Y-D.

* Given its slow starts in every game so far, Kentucky should try something new and start Boyd at Georgia this week. However, Kentucky should not start Boyd at the home finale against Tennessee; a certain senior signal-caller deserves that honor.

* When Jared Lorenzen tried to make a play in the red zone just before halftime (with UK down 14-3), he was hit as he threw, and the ball fluttered into the arms of Vandy safety Kelechi Ohanaja near the 10-yard-line. Of the momentum-killing pick, someone in the press box muttered about J-Lo, "That's his trademark." True, No. 22 has thrown some critical interceptions this season; but nonetheless, I would submit his trademarks are effort, endurance, and valiancy.

* Same trademarks for Derek Abney. On a middle screen to Keenan Burton with 9:22 left in the game, Abney threw a block that helped Burton gain 25 yards. On the play, Abney went down. While the UK trainers were on the field attending to him, the offense stayed in its huddle, about 15 yards back from where Abney lay. Lorenzen, however, walked over to No. 12 and crouched for several moments beside his friend. I have no idea what was said (if anything), much less what was thought. But that image of Lorenzen and Abney will stay with me for a long time - will serve as mental statue for this season and their careers. Though dirty, tired, and frustrated (for most of 2003, not just this game), those two have hung in there together - epitomizing the best about college football: heart, relationships, love for team and university.

* Vandy dominated the trenches, thus the game was not as close as the 28-17 score. And it won't get any easier for Kentucky linemen this Saturday at Georgia. With its stellar O- and D-lines, UGA looks (or feels) more like UGH (pronounced "ugh!") As in uh-oh. As in 60-minute headache.

* And then there's Tennessee. At the beginning of the 2003 season, most UK fans didn't think the UT game in Lexington was winnable, as usual. Then after a few games, talk began percolating on how the Cats might be able to steal one from the Vols this year. Now the Vols are back in national title contention - and most Kentucky fans are back to sad reality.

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