It’s the return of the Monday Morning Quarterback series, and what better way to start than by looking back at the 20th Anniversary Edition of the Governor’s Cup (and yes, we know how to spell “Governor”). Let’s get to it!
Most of these have been talked to death, but we need to be thorough.
Kentucky’s mistakes. This is one of the two most obvious negatives from the game. If Kentucky catches that screen pass and reels off a big gainer, it would have changed the tenor of the game and perhaps led to a touchdown. If they convert more third downs, obviously they not only have a chance to score more, they keep Bridgewater and Company off the field. I’m sure they’re going to watch the tape and be sick all over again.
Louisville’s passing. For some reason, the UofL offense just couldn’t get into a rhythm, especially in the first half. Teddy had a decent game, but certainly not the video-game-Teddy we were expecting. Is it possible that UK’s defense was better than we thought? Perhaps. I think the real reason, though, was the scheme — more than one person noted that Kentucky came out with an unbalanced scheme that the Cards and their staff hadn’t seen on tape and weren’t prepared for. Kudos to Stoops and Co for coming up with it — it made a difference in the first half. Then in the second, Louisville obviously decided to rely on the run game, so the passing was not as important. Still, it was disconcerting to see the AFROS and Teddy not light up the scoreboard like we are used to.
Louisville’s poise. This hasn’t been talked about, so maybe I’m way off here, but it seemed to me that in their first away game, the Louisville team was thrown off by the Commonwealth crowd. (Well, since the game wasn’t sold out, “crowd” may be an overstatement.) You’re supposed to be a veteran team, you’re supposed to know how to tune out the noise — so why did it look like you weren’t on your A game?
Going deep. I understand the need to get vertical in order to stretch the defense and stop them putting everyone close. Got that. But it sure seemed to me like Watson dialed up the deep ball too often. It felt like we were trying to get it all in a rush, rather than taking what was available in the short and medium game. Normal Teddy is completely capable of picking a defense apart; Long-Ball Teddy is cool, but the third or fourth time you see it miss, you wonder why we’re wasting downs on it.
Kentucky’s preparation. It was obvious that this is not the “same old Kentucky.” They were prepared, they were disciplined, they didn’t give up, they came to play. I wasn’t sure about Stoops when he was hired — how much does a famous football last name get you? — but I think they’ve got it going in Lexington, and if they can recruit a few more high-end players, they can make some noise. Stoops and Co seem to know how to coach them up. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this year’s team pull some upsets along the way.
Louisville’s running game. After last week, everyone was wailing about the lack of run production of the Cards. Well Hello, Running Game! It was nice to see the offense decide in the second half to establish the run, and then drive the ball down the field through good blocking and good running. Great to see Perry be the workhorse he was before the injury. Good to see Dyer and Dom get their licks in too. And did you know this was Louisville’s first 200-yard rushing game since … last year’s game against Kentucky? In other words, this was a needed turn of events. It wasn’t the Fun and Gun, but it was a needed addition to the offense going forward.
The win. It’s cliche to say so, but when your highly-touted offense is sputtering some, and the opposing team looks better than you thought, and you’re on the road, to be able to make adjustments at the half, then tighten the chinstrap and just grind out a win says a lot about the determination of the team. Louisville did not look as good as we expected, Kentucky looked better than we expected, yet the Cards still got the win. We’re all picky, picky, picky, but the poll voters just saw the victory and the score, and kept us about where we were last week.
This season, we need to pay attention to what Coach Strong said last year — enjoy the wins. People (including me) are all atwitter about Teddy’s Heisman run and the possibility of an undefeated season and the National Championship and which bowl will we play in and …
Just stop it. Dial down the hype, dial down the pickiness, and let’s just enjoy the fact that the Cards are 3-and-0, ranked in the Top Ten, and looking like a really good football team. Throw down some beers, throw up some Ls, and let’s enjoy this fun season.