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It’s been one thing after the other for the Kentucky football program over the last month, as they currently ride a three-game losing streak. Whether it be a high-scoring loss to Tennessee, or a bad performance in Starkville, the Wildcats need to take this weekend to get things back on track.
After starting the season 6-0 and beating Florida and LSU to open the month of October, the Cats have been in a downward slide. This past weekend in Lexington, representatives from the Sugar Bowl and Peach Bowl were in attendance, scouting out the Wildcats in case they were a take when bowl season picks began. Now, we’re looking at a team that could be headed to the Citrus Bowl, unless a few teams in front of them drop a game.
The Wildcats are no longer ranked in the CFP top 25, and they desperately need a win in Nashville this weekend to keep a 10-win season alive. They cannot let this season fall by the wayside. Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops was quick to point out that he’s optimistic about where his team’s head is at right now.
“As far as team morale and where we’re at, things of that nature, I’m very optimistic. I know our team. I know our leaders. I’ve seen a lot of them. I’ve talked to a lot of them after the game. They’re highly motivated to finish the season, so we got to get back on track. We go on the road again this week to Vanderbilt, a team that you can see is showing a lot of spurts of playing some very good football, very inspired football, very disciplined in a lot of ways.”
But if this team is going to have success in the last few games of the season, they are definitely going to need more out of the offensive line and running back group, on a consistent basis. Too many times this season, we have seen the group take one step forward, then two steps back. This offense is not hard to predict, as it runs through Chris Rodriguez and the rushing attack. If they try to rely on QB Will Levis for an extended period, they’ll get the same result as the Mississippi State game. The Cats couldn’t get anything going on the ground, so they put in on Levis, who threw three interceptions.
But, this all goes back to the offensive line, where Mark Stoops thought they got whipped on a number of occasions against Tennessee.
“There’s still some one-on-one situations where we got whooped up front. We can’t have that happen. We lost some one-one-one battles that put us at 2nd-and-11, doing some certain things that didn’t help. We run the ball on first down, lose a yard, and throw a pick for a touchdown on second down. It would’ve been nice to gain five yards there. It might’ve changed the play call or the situation. Again, not calling out any one person or one group or anything. There’s enough blame to go around for all of us. We’re a team and they’re doing some good things. I think we can play better.”
We’ve gotten to the point in the season where I think we can define this Kentucky team. This group plays inconsistent at times, which we’ve seen over the past month. But, we also know this squad can be dangerous when clicking on all cylinders. Mark Stoops summed it up pretty well, concerning the the remaining schedule for this team.
“Nobody likes being in this situation. How much does it bother you to make a difference, to make a change? How we react will return the outcome.”
This team can still win nine regular season games and potentially get to ten with a bowl win. So, the season is not completely lost. The Wildcats might just end up bowling in Florida, as opposed to New Orleans.