LEXINGTON — If anyone can understand the pain/embarrassment that the Kentucky offense is feeling, it could well be linebacker Danny Trevathan.
After all, even though Trevathan has been a star player, UK’s defense has struggled many, many times during his career to stop opponents when the offense has scored sufficient points to win games. Last week, though, it was the UK¿offense that had its problems in Kentucky’s
14-3 win over Western Kentucky and that inept offensive performance has many Kentucky fans wondering about the rest of the season.
So what kind of message would Trevathan, the Southeastern Conference’s top tackler in 2010, have for UK fans today?
“Just tell them to stay with us. We might not have had our best game, but we will pay our hearts out. We are down there for anybody that loves football,” said Trevathan. “You can’t just look at one side of the ball. It is a team sport. If the defense plays good, it is okay. But you want to play a great game as a team. The offense will pick things up. I am not making excuses for them and they won’t make excuses, but they will pick it up. I believe in this whole team and that certainly includes the offense.”
Still, other than the first quarter against Tennessee, UK’s offense has now struggled three straight games — Tennessee, Pittsburgh in the BBVA Compass Bowl and Western Kentucky.
Why isn’t Trevathan worried, especially with Randall Cobb, Derrick Locke and Mike Hartline now gone off that offense?
“I just see how they handle it. Life will throw curve balls at you, but it is how you swing. These guys are swinging. They are really trying to keep this together,” Trevathan said. “Adversity has hit them. They have had guys get injured, but that can’t hold you back. They will be fine.
“Those guys are going to pick it up. When we play good as a team, I think it is going to shock the whole world. When we get all aspects of the football team together and play a great game, it is just going to open peoples’ eyes about our talent.”
Count him as a Morgan Newton backer, too. He doesn’t think one poor game has hurt Newton’s confidence or leadership.
“I think it made him want to work harder. Morgan didn’t play his best game, but he’s a fun individual,” Trevathan said. “He’s a bright, mature guy. He is well fitted to run this team. He is a physical guy. He handled things well. He is going to be a great leader here. One game won’t change that.”
Another senior defender, Winston Guy, also is still banking on Newton to be productive.
“This was not Morgan’s first time to play quarterback. He knows what to do,” Guy said. “Little things are not going to frustrate him. He’s a very confident guy and we know he can play. Just give him time to get the offense going.”
That’s easier said than done for Kentucky fans who are counting on a more inspirational performance from the Wildcats on Saturday in Commonwealth Stadium against Central Michigan.
Trevathan says if the game requires the defense to carry a big load to guarantee a win, then that’s what the defense must do.
“We were in position to make plays and we made them against Western,” the senior linebacker said. “Linebackers are taking our job seriously and the defensive linemen are allowing us to take our jobs seriously by them taking their job serious. The defensive backs are some head-busters. They want to come down and be like linebackers now.
“We are fine with carrying the offense, but they are also going to have to carry us sometimes, too. That is part of being a good team. In areas you lack, you have to pick it up somewhere else. Guys on defense look at this as an opportunity to show we can stop the run, we can stop the pass. We can be the best defense in the country, the best in the SEC. This is a chance for us to show what we have worked so hard for and guys will not let this slip through their fingers.
“We have to play with passion and trust in each other. Coach (Rick) Minter instilled in us forcing turnovers and we did it against Western. But the offense is going to be better. I know that for a fact.”
Yet Trevathan has been around Kentucky long enough to understand why fans are a bit more skeptical and why it is important Saturday for the Wildcats to show more overall signs of life than they did in the first game.
“It is vital to play well this week. We have to play our game. A win is a win, but we have to accept the win the way it is,” Trevathan said. “Even if we win by one point, that’s the way it is. We just have to play better as a team. We have to pick up in areas that we lacked and that’s part of getting better as a team. And as a team, we know we have to get better this week.”