Vaught's Views: Cats are 'about as bad as we can get'

October 03, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - When the offense needed a boost, the backup quarterback delivered just what his team needed.

However, it wasn't Kentucky backup quarterback Andre Woodson that provided the heroics here Saturday night. Instead, it was Ohio's No. 2 quarterback, Austen Everson, that threw an 89-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to seal his team's 28-16 victory over Kentucky.

Everson came into the game with Ohio leading 14-10 after Kentucky starting quarterback Shane Boyd threw into triple coverage and had his pass intercepted with the Cats in position to take the lead.

He was facing a first down-and-19 at his own 11-yard line when he hit receiver Scott Mayle crossing through the center of the Kentucky defense. Mayle ran through two tackles and easily outran everyone to the end zone to send many in a stunned Commonwealth Stadium crowd that was far from capacity heading for the exit.


"In my mind, this is about as bad as we can get," Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said. "It was 14-10 and we throw the interception. If we just throw the ball in the stands and kick a field goal, we are one point down. But we turn it over. How can you run a slant for 90 yards? It is beyond my comprehension, but they did it."

After Mayle's score, the Wildcats surprisingly gambled on 4th-and-13 from their own 35-yard line with over eight minutes to play and Boyd's 50-yard pass was dropped by a diving Scott Mitchell. Three plays later, Ohio's Kalvin McRae ran through UK's arm tackles to score on a 12-yard run.

If that wasn't enough, UK's Rafael Little fumbled the kickoff, kicked it backwards and Ohio recovered at the four-yard line and sent most of the remaining fans heading for the exit.

Woodson not given much of a chance

Those that left didn't see Woodson finally have a chance to show what he could do. As promised by coach Rich Brooks, Woodson played one series in the first half. He handed off twice to running back Tony Dixon for two yards and then scrambled seven yards on third down after his protection broke down.

Woodson didn't play again until UK's final two series. A deflected pass was intercepted on his first possession, but then he led a scoring drive that included a 16-yard pass to Jacob Tamme which ended with a 2-yard scoring pass to Lonnell Dewalt.

Kentucky's disorganization showed again when it failed to beat the 25-second play clock on its two-point conversion try and was penalized for delay of game before Woodson was stopped on the extra point run.

Woodson finished 6-for-11 passing for 72 yards while Boyd was 12-for-25 for 118 yards. While Brooks said Boyd is "still our guy," he did also say after the game that Woodson "probably" would play more in future games.

"We need to see what his future holds and holds for Kentucky," Brooks said. "He did a pretty good job with a lot of young people around him on that last touchdown. I was glad Andre got that touchdown in there. I just wish it had not been under those circumstances."

This loss had to rank right there with the 21-14 defeat to Northeast Louisiana in 1994 when UK finished 1-10, a mark this year's team could match if it makes as many mistakes and misses as many opportunities as it did in this game.

UK was supposed to protect its home turf

This was the start of a three-game home stretch where UK was supposed to protect its home turf. Alabama comes to Commonwealth Stadium next and then South Carolina. The theory was Kentucky could win all three and have a chance at a bowl bid. Now one has to wonder if anyone will even be watching the Jefferson-Pilot telecast of the UK-Alabama game considering that the Crimson Tide lost 20-3 to South Carolina Saturday and obviously has as many offensive problems as Kentucky.

"If you think you walk out the door and laugh this one off, it ain't happening," Brooks said. "We have Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee coming up. We need to step up or the thing that happened tonight could get totally out of hand."

The Cats had only 280 yards of total offense, including just 90 yards rushing, and had four turnovers against an Ohio defense that was without three injured starters.

Kentucky's defense, which gave up just 20 points at Florida, allowed Ohio to score on consecutive first-half drives by going 4-for-5 on third down conversions. The one time the Bobcats didn't convert resulted in a fourth-down touchdown run by starting quarterback Ryan Hawk. Then came the fourth-quarter collapse when UK still had a chance to win the game and maybe build some needed confidence for future games.

"Obviously this was pretty bad," Brooks said. "I don't want anyone to leave not thinking this was my responsibility because it is. Everything falls on my shoulders. We have taken a huge hit on this game. Now we are going to find out just who wants to get it right."

Which is something Kentucky didn't come close to doing often Saturday in a loss that may haunt Brooks and his players the rest of the year.

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