Vaught's Views: Why would UK ever take a win for granted?

October 04, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

How unexplainable is it that Kentucky seemed to have taken a win over Ohio for granted?

This is the same Ohio team that was tied 7-7 with Kentucky at halftime a year ago, and clearly the Wildcats are not as good this year as they were in 2003. Yet both coaches and players agreed that the Cats were lacking intensity and a sense of urgency against Ohio when they were embarrassed 28-16 Saturday night in a game the Bobcats dominated in the second half.

"We honored the 1984 (Hall of Fame Bowl) team tonight, and somewhere (former UK) coach (Jerry) Claiborne is rolling over in his grave because this was an embarrassing performance," said Kentucky defensive coordinator Mike Archer.

Many Kentucky fans booed late in the game when Ohio made plays to pull away from Kentucky.

Brooks said he was sure his players heard the fans, but that he suspected they were booing the UK coaches, not the players. The guess here is that he was right.


"I don't blame the fans for getting frustrated," Brooks said. "I know I am. Hopefully the players are, too."

Brooks took "sole responsibility" for not having his team ready to play.

"I didn't convince them it would be a tough game. A lot thought they would just show up and we would be okay," Brooks said. "But we are not good enough to show up against anybody and be okay. We've got to prepare ourselves better."

Fat Cats? Kentucky failed to score against Louisville. It got only a field goal at Florida. How does that make a team overconfident against anyone, much less an Ohio team that was ranked 25th nationally in total defense? Oops, I forgot that offensive explosion against Indiana that the Cats must have assumed struck fear into the hearts of teams like Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina and - don't laugh - Ohio.

"It's one thing to give it all you have and get beat," Brooks admitted Sunday. "It's another thing not to give your all and not do things right that cost you the football game."

Perhaps if the Cats had put as much effort into pregame preparation as they did working on their celebration moves, they might have played better. Twice in the first period UK had players celebrate making tackles. Those two players combined for four tackles the rest of the game. Four was also the number of touchdowns Ohio had.

Kentucky arrogance continued after game

The Kentucky arrogance continued after the game. Many Kentucky players left the field without shaking hands just as they did when they were soundly defeated at Louisville.

Brooks shook hands with Ohio players and coaches. He expected his players to do the same.

"I assume the players did, too," Brooks said when asked if he requires players to shake hands with opponents after a game. "If some chose not to, that's not a good sign of sportsmanship."

So he would want his players to shake hands?

"I would, yes," Brooks said.

Maybe that's why it's no surprise that Brooks alluded to football being a team sport and indicated he had too many players thinking "I" and not "we" Saturday night.

That's why Archer indicated he could make major lineup changes this week if certain players don't practice better. Brooks softened that stance some Sunday, mainly because of UK's lack of quality depth at certain positions.

But it's clear Brooks has to make some changes. What can it hurt to let Andre Woodson play more at quarterback and see if he can spread opposing defenses more with his passing than Shane Boyd can? What about using fewer receivers and sticking with ones who catch the ball? Give some backup defensive players a chance.

"The one thing we wanted to do was get better each week and this was a big step backwards," Brooks said. "We took two steps backwards in most areas against Ohio."

Now taking two steps forward just to get back to where UK was before this loss seems at best a longshot and more than likely an impossible task for a team that lacked the focus to even play its best against Ohio.

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