I’ve seen a lot of Kentucky football in my life, but tonight’s collapse might be →
By Nick Roush on ©September 24th, 2017 @ 1:01am
Even though they trailed by one, the Kentucky Wildcats still had a little magic in them with 44 seconds remaining. Everything that had to happen, happened.
Benny Snell’s 10-yard run got the Wildcats down to the Florida 25, setting up Austin MacGinnis for a 42-yard game-winning field goal attempt. At the end of the play, a yellow flag was on the ground.
“I was surprised,” Nick Haynes said after the game. “I didn’t think it was a hold, but I guess he thought something else. I mean, that’s all I can say about that really.”
The senior team captain was called for a hold that backed up Kentucky to the 45-yard line. They were able to get MacGinnis a little closer, but 57 yards was still too far. After the game Haynes still couldn’t believe it was called.
“It’s heartbreaking because you pour your heart out there in the game. They go down and score. You get a two-minute opportunity with 49 seconds left. You drive down the field and you get in position to make a fifth-year senior make a kick that he can make all the time, and then a BS call gets made and that’s just how the game ended. It sucks, but at the same time we gotta put it behind us and fight next week.”
The loss is not for Haynes to shoulder alone.
“I gave him a hug and said I love him because that’s not– that’s not one play that defines this game,” C.J. Conrad said. “It’s part of the game, it was just unfortunate timing.”
The timing stinks. The flag stinks. The loss stinks.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 24th, 2017 @ 12:45am
I’ve seen a lot of Kentucky football in my life, but tonight’s collapse might be the worst of all. The Cats went into the fourth quarter with a 27-14 lead, and just when you felt like it was too good to be true, it was. Slowly but surely, the Cats fell apart. Florida’s backup quarterback did what backup quarterbacks do to Kentucky: picked the Cats apart and exposed the flaws. Hope hung on in forms of big plays, but more often than not, Kentucky shot itself in the foot. As the fourth quarter dragged on, it felt like a slow march towards the inevitable: another loss to Florida. Thirty-one in a row. Just when you thought Sisphyus was going to stay at the top of the hill with that boulder, the football gods kicked it back down.
The Stoops Era has given us so many breakthroughs: a four-year winning streak over South Carolina; big wins over Mississippi State and Vanderbilt; the improbable upset of Louisville; the program’s first bowl game since 2010. However, it’s also given us a litany of costly coaching errors to look back and wonder, “What if?” Tonight’s were the most egregious. Twice, Kentucky left a Florida wide receiver wide open on a touchdown. Both times, it came on fourth down out of a timeout, meaning the coaches should have had plenty of time to spot the error and call a timeout. They didn’t.
Fourteen points later, Mark Stoops knew he had no one else to blame and shouldered responsibility in the postgame press conference. Yes, there were other mistakes — the missed field goals, the holding penalty on Nick Haynes on what would have been a first down to set Austin MacGinnis perfectly for the game-winning kick — but if you’re like me, that fourth quarter was excruciating because you knew exactly what was going to happen. It was like being forced to watch a horror movie with your eyes open. With the SEC Network forcing us to relive history after every commercial break, it’s no wonder the actual ghosts of UK Football didn’t rise up from the field and finish it themselves.
Heartbreaking losses lead to hyperbole, so excuse my next rant. Perhaps it’s our cursed nature, but didn’t tonight feel a little too big for us? Kentucky was the better team. The atmosphere was the best it ever was, the offense was rolling, and for once, bless our hearts, we thought we had a chance of exorcising some 30-year-old demons. Unfortunately, the moment got too big and the team shot itself in the foot. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
The mistakes suck. The penalties suck. The result sucks. But the worst part of it for me is the dread I felt in the fourth quarter. No matter what fantastic thing Stephen Johnson or Benny Snell or Josh Allen did tonight, it will be remembered as Kentucky’s 31st loss to Florida. Florida was not the best team on the field. The Cats showed time and time again they were better than the Gators, but whether it be emotion, fate, or downright luck, it didn’t matter. The boulder has rolled down the hill, and here we are.
By Drew Franklin on ©September 24th, 2017 @ 12:35am
Saturday’s loss was the last one that will break my spirits. It was the last time I walked out of Kroger Field with my heart ripped to shreds. From now on, my expectations for Kentucky football in big games will be lower than the Cats’ win percentage against the Gators.
I’ll continue to be a fan — that’ll never change — but you won’t catch me getting too excited before any of the so-called “program-changing” games. I’ll simply expect a loss, because that is all I’ve ever seen when I get my hopes up for something special.
I’m afraid I’m not alone, too. This feeling is probably pretty common around Big Blue Nation right now. We get fired up and we get excited and we spend the entire week saying “THIS IS THE YEAR,” but it’s not the year. It’s never been the year and it may never be the year when it comes to the Florida game. I’m not even sure Kentucky has won ANY of its big games when there is so much excitement and so much to gain. The best wins are the wins that come unexpectedly (see Roark, Matt); but when we go in with plans to storm the field or do something exceptional, we leave with our heads down in defeat.
And it sucks.
Being a Kentucky football fan is a lot like being a boxer who keeps getting knocked down, but climbs back up only to be knocked down again. This time, however, we are down for the count. Throw in the towel. Stop the fight. There’s no energy left to grab the ropes and pull ourselves back up to take another punch. Leave us lying here on the mat in the puddle of our own sweat and blood. We’re knocked out this time.
The good news is the season will go on and there are still plenty of opportunities for it to be a great year for the Cats — and I hope it will. All most of us wanted through four weeks was to be 3-1, and that’s what the record says as of today.
But these big home games, I’m done getting so emotionally invested in them. I can’t do it anymore. Kentucky football is going to be the death of me if I do.
By Nick Roush on ©September 24th, 2017 @ 12:32am
A second half offensive lull killed Kentucky’s chances of putting Florida away for good.
When Kentucky took a 24-14 lead with 5:54 remaining in the third quarter, the offense was imposing its will on Florida from all angles, especially in the passing game. Stephen Johnson was 13-of-17 for 165 yards and three touchdowns.
Instead of sticking with Stephen Johnson, Eddie Gran turned to the running game.
The next UK offensive drive ended with a three and out. A fourth down defensive stop gave the UK offense the ball on the Florida 49-yard line. Five plays later, UK settled for a field goal. On UK’s next offensive possession there was another three and out.
Johnson dropped back to pass just three times between the 5:54 mark of the third quarter and the beginning of the game’s final drive with 43 seconds remaining. Two of the three passes were third down incompletions; the other was a second down sack.
After the game, I asked offensive coordinator Eddie Gran if they should have put the ball in Johnson’s hands more during that stretch.
“No,” he said without hesitation. “When we rush the ball, and if you’re the team that rushes the ball more, you usually win in this league. We were trying to get ’em. We had some pretty good explosive run plays. No, I don’t at all.
“We’re going to run the ball too. We’re going to pass the ball too. I thought we were balanced for awhile. I thought we had ’em off balanced. I thought he (Johnson) played a heck of a game. We have to be physical and we have to help our defense too. We can’t go three and out, three and out, three and out. We’re going to continue to run the football when we feel like we need to run the football.”
Gran felt like the team needed to run the football. From the stands, it felt like the Kentucky offense was playing not to lose.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 23rd, 2017 @ 11:40pm
Several mistakes led to Kentucky’s collapse vs. Florida tonight, but none more so than the Cats leaving two Gators wide receivers wide open on fourth down coming out of timeout. Both plays resulted in touchdowns for Florida, and ultimately, led to Kentucky’s loss. In his postgame press conference, Mark Stoops took full responsibility for the errors.
“There is probably one of 12 plays in there that changed the game. It’s very disappointing that we didn’t come up with those plays. The breakdown in communication defensively on the two [touchdown] plays are really a sore spot because they stick out and it takes away from the great passion and energy that our team played with. We played winning football and we have to get those things fixed. I accept responsibility for those.”
What happened on the first uncovered receiver situation?
“By the time we realized there was nobody on him, I tried to call a timeout. I was too late. I was fractions off of getting the timeout.”
Football is game of inches, but tonight, it was a game of paper cuts. Those two mistakes will haunt us for a while.
Bold strategy, Kentucky 🙃 pic.twitter.com/rPL2myw52F
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 24, 2017
By Nick Roush on ©September 23rd, 2017 @ 11:08pm
The Streak Lives.
Kentucky took a 27-14 lead on a 50-yard field goal with 11:33 left in the game, but couldn’t close the door to snap the streak. On the final Florida drive, the Gators milked the clock before putting a dagger into the hearts of the Big Blue Nation. For the second time in one night, the Gators scored by throwing a pass to an uncovered receiver.
There was still some magic left in the Cats. The Juice got loose, Charles Walker made a huge fourth down catch and Benny Snell ran it down to the 25 for a chip-shot field goal, but it wasn’t meant to be. A hold by Nick Haynes negated Snell’s run and pushed the Cats back to the 45. McGinnis’ 57 yard game-winning attempt fell short.
Some things just aren’t meant to be. Until next year.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 23rd, 2017 @ 7:15pm
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By Nick Roush on ©September 23rd, 2017 @ 6:30pm
I don’t need to tell you Kentucky has lost to Florida 30 consecutive times, but I do need to tell you a few important numbers that will directly impact today’s game.
61,000 — The amount of people who will be in Feleipe Franks’ ear while he is trying to call plays. The redshirt Florida quarterback has never played a game on the road in his short two-game career.
2 — The Gators have only played two games this year, thanks to Hurricane Irma. The storm forced Florida to cancel their second game of the season against Colorado State.
3 — Players on the field who have at least two interceptions. Kentucky’s Honey Badger, Mike Edwards, has a pair of picks. Florida’s Duke Dawson and C.J. Henderson each have two interceptions; three of those four picks were returned for touchdowns.
62 — Each starting quarterback is completing 62 percent of their passes.
32:32 — Kentucky’s average time of possession through three games is the third-best in the SEC. The longer the Cats can keep the Gators’ defense on the field, the better.
50.18 — Florida punter Johnny Townsend’s punting average is pretty damn good; the best in the conference. He’ll flip the field at will. Kentucky must consistently move the ball, even if drives don’t finish in points, to mitigate Townsend’s impact.
21.5 — The average points per game the Florida offense has scored, ranked at the bottom of the SEC.
57 — Rushing yards Kentucky has allowed per game, the best in the SEC and third in the nation. On the other side of the ball, Florida has surrenders 199 rushing yards per game, 13th in the SEC. Cole Cubelic has your stat of the day:
The Florida defense has given up 200+ yards rushing in 6 of their last 7 loses.
Kentucky rushed for 200+ yards in 9 of their last 11 Wins.
— Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) September 22, 2017
All of the Numbers in Today’s Tale of the Tape:
By Nick Roush on ©September 23rd, 2017 @ 5:45pm
By Nick Roush on ©September 23rd, 2017 @ 5:03pm
Kentucky’s uniform combination vs. Florida is a little unexpected.
We knew the Cats would rock the chrome domes. That remains true, but after the athletics department encouraged the crowd to wear blue, many believed they would wear all blue uniforms with the chrome helmets. That is not the case. Instead, it’s all anthracite everything.
So, what do you think, BBN?
By Drew Franklin on ©September 23rd, 2017 @ 4:30pm
Believe it or not, there was a time when Kentucky was able to beat Florida in football. It happened in 1986 and four times in six years from 1974 to 1979. You’ll have to go back to 1956 to find a sixth win, but it’s there, according to Google.
This season is the one, though; if not, it may never happen. Kentucky enters the game coming off a confidence-building win at South Carolina in a dominant performance all around. Vegas predicts a close game and many analysts around the country are even picking the Cats to finally take down the Gators for the first time in three decades.
But as history tells us, it won’t be easy.
Let’s revisit that miserable, embarrassing history before we put it behind us forever…
Florida 45, Kentucky 7
September 10, 2016 | Gainesville, FL
The winning streak hit 30 last season with Kentucky’s worst attempt of the Mark Stoops era. Gator QB Luke Del Rio threw for 320 yards, the most against an SEC opponent since 2004; while Kentucky managed only 149 yards of total offense in the entire game.
To make matters worse, it came after UK lost at home to Southern Miss to start the season, so fans were none too pleased with the outcome of the first two games of the season.
Florida 14, Kentucky 9
September 20, 2015 | Lexington, KY
Optimism was high in 2015 as the Cats came into the game with a 2-0 record and the school’s first SEC road win since the Ice Age, with a win at South Carolina one week earlier. Then reality set in as Dorian Baker dropped a pass in the end zone early in the game and the Gators held Kentucky to nine points by forcing five turnovers.
Florida 36, Kentucky 30 (3 OT)
September 13, 2014 | Gainesville, FL
The Gators needed three overtimes on its own field to keep the streak alive in 2014. It also needed a free play on 4th and 7 when down by a touchdown in the first of those three overtimes.
It was the day the streak should’ve ended.
But Florida cheated.
Florida 24, Kentucky 7
September 28, 2013 | Lexington, KY
Florida held the Cats to 172 total yards of offense in 2013’s 27th consecutive victory in the series. Kentucky’s only points came on a 25-yard scamper by kicker Joe Mansour on a fake field goal, which was nice.
Florida 38, Kentucky 0
September 22, 2012 | Gainesville, FL
Morgan Newton threw three interceptions in the second quarter as Kentucky fans pleaded with Joker Phillips through their televisions to save Newton the misery and take him out of the game. Jalen Whitlow was finally given control of the offense in the fourth quarter, but the damage was done and the Cats laid an egg in Gainesville.
Florida 48, Kentucky 10
September 24, 2011 | Lexington, KY
Florida scored three touchdowns in a 4:31 span of the first quarter to demolish what little hope Kentucky had entering the game. Jeff Demps was unstoppable; he rushed for 157 yards and two scores on 10 touches, followed by 105 yards from Chris Rainey. The Gators totaled over 400 yards on the ground in the game.
Florida 48, Kentucky 14
September 25, 2010 | Gainesville, FL
Freshman Trey Burton scored a school-record six touchdowns in Florida’s rout of Kentucky in 2010. Burton was unstoppable in the redzone, scoring on runs of 11, 10, 9, 3 and 7 yards from the Wildcat formation. He also caught a touchdown and would’ve thrown one had Omarius Hines not tripped over his own feet on a 42-yard completion from Burton.
Florida 41, Kentucky 7
September 26, 2009 | Lexington, KY
Ah, the College Gameday/Taylor Wyndham game. UK’s freshman defensive end knocked Tim Tebow out of the game with a vicious hit from the weak side, but not before Tebow threw a TD and ran for two, moving him to second place on the all-time rushing list in the SEC.
Aaron Hernandez caught a touchdown pass and didn’t murder anyone, as far as we know.
By Eli Mitchell on ©September 23rd, 2017 @ 4:00pm
As Ryan Lemond said on yesterday’s radio show “I am tired of losing to Florida.” This sentiment reigns true throughout the entire Big Blue Nation. As a student at UK I can tell you with 100% certainty that this is the most anticipated game of the Mark Stoops era. Students are excited for this game. I cannot wait.
This is what the Cats must do to end the 30-year streak:
1. Establish the Ground Game Early
The Kentucky offense can not afford another slow start like last week. Unlike South Carolina, the Gators will capitalize on offensive mistakes. Florida has already forced 5 turnovers this season with one interception returned for a touchdown. Benny Snell and the Kentucky offensive line finally got it going last week as the sophomore rushed for 102 yards on 32 carries, but they face a tough challenge this week as Florida’s defensive line is the strength of their defense. If the Cats can get it going on the ground on their first few possessions, it will make Eddie Gran’s job much easier as the game goes along.
2. Win the Turnover Battle
The Kentucky defense has forced 7 turnovers in three games, a major key to the Cats’ success in this young season. Florida’s defense made key plays in the team’s last-second win against Tennessee, including an interception in the red zone that would have sealed the game for Tennessee had it been completed. This game will likely come down to whose defense can force the most mistakes.
3. Control the Clock
In last week’s win over South Carolina the Cats held the ball for 36 minutes, compared to just 23 minutes for South Carolina. If the Kentucky offense can convert on 3rd down at the rate in which they did in last week’s game they will be in good shape. Extending drives pays off in a big way as it allows the defense time to rest.
4. Treat the game just like any other
With all the hype surrounding the game, this may be the toughest task for Mark Stoops’ team. As Coach Stoops said earlier this week, the game is not going to be won by a sell out crowd, it will be won in between the white lines. The atmosphere in Kroger Field (*Commonwealth Stadium) will certainly benefit Kentucky, but if the Cats do not play with discipline, the 67,000 fans will leave disappointed. For the first time in a long time, Kentucky has veteran leaders that have experience winning big time games. It will pay off.
Enjoy the day BBN, no matter the outcome tonight Kentucky football is not what it used to be.
By Nick Roush on ©September 23rd, 2017 @ 3:00pm
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It was a cold, rainy November day at Commonwealth Stadium in 1986, the last time Kentucky took down Florida.
The Kentucky offense kept the ball out of Florida’s hands. The Cats possessed the ball for more than 41 minutes behind Bill Ransdell’s efficient 20-of-23 passing and Mark Higgs’ 96 rushing yards. Higgs scored the game’s only touchdown.
The Kentucky defense played down-right nasty. On more than one occasion, skirmishes caused the benches to clear. Florida had a chance to even the score late in the fourth quarter, but the tenacious Tony Mayes forced a fumble to solidify a 10-3 victory.
The Kentucky Sports Radio podcast feed is filled with interviews with players who were on the field for this game. Ron Mack joined the crew this week, and in previous podcasts (that are now located just below this week’s football podcast) Bill Ransdell, Chris Chenault and Mark Higgs discussed the game extensively.
There’s one overriding sentiment shared by the 86 team entering today’s game: it’s not about them. Today is about the 2017 Wildcats. At the end of the day, hopefully they share the same good company.
By Nick Roush on ©September 23rd, 2017 @ 2:30pm
Former Kentucky Wildcat Enes Kanter will no longer call Oklahoma City home.
Woj dropped a bomb on college football Saturday. After years of speculation, Carmelo Anthony is finally leaving New York City. The Knicks have traded Carmelo to Oklahoma City for Kanter, Doug McDermott and a second round draft pick.
It will be hilarious to see Melo and Westbrook fight over the ball, but it’s sad to see Kanter leave his stache bro, Steven Adams.
— Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) March 16, 2017
By Kindsey Bernhard on ©September 23rd, 2017 @ 1:45pm
Before kickoff, here are five things you need to know about Feleipe Franks, Florida’s 6-foot-5, 227-pount redshirt freshman quarterback…
He was named the starting quarterback in August
Franks will be playing in his third college football game today. The redshirt freshman beat out veteran Luke Del Rio and Notre Dame transfer Malik Zaire for the starting quarterback position.
“The whole body of work from spring on,” McElwain said in August. “He deserves it. He’s done a really good job. Not to say the other guys didn’t.”
Against Michigan, Franks finished 5-of-9 for 75 yards and was pulled after his third quarter fumble and replaced by Zaire. Franks looked completely different against Tennessee, finishing 8-of-28 for 212 yards and two touchdowns.
He was given a trophy by his American History professor
On the Monday following the Hail Mary game-winning touchdown pass again Tennessee, Franks walked into his American History class and his professor gave him a trophy. The professor normally awards the trophy to students who ask really good questions.
“He just gave me the trophy out of nowhere to start the class and told me good throw,” Franks said. “That’s kind of how class started.”
I think it’s safe to say that pass is A LOT better than a good question about American History.
And in case you live under a rock, here is the video:
ARE YOU SERIOUS!????!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/CI6OdeYqgI
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) September 16, 2017
His brother plays tight end at University of Central Florida
Feleipe’s older brother, Jordan Franks, is a senior tight end at UCF. As a junior, Jordan played in 11 games, catching 11 passes for 143 yards and not touchdowns. Jordan did not start out his college career as a tight end, but as a linebacker. During his sophomore season, Jordan went from linebacker to defensive back to wide receiver and then as a junior he switched to tight end. That sounds confusing and like a lot of work.
He played kicker and punter in high school
Not only did Franks have the responsibility of throwing the ball in high school, he had the responsibility of kicking and punting the ball. Normally schools would not want to risk their quarterback getting hurt, but I guess they didn’t care. As a senior, Franks hit his longest field goal of 47 yards and his longest punt was 68 yards. He acted as kicker and punter during his junior and sophomore seasons as well.
He Wears Jorts
Franks clearly does not care that Florida Gator fans are made fun of for wearing jorts because he appears to like them. Thanks for proving our point that “Gators Wear Jean Shorts.”
A post shared by Feleipe Franks (@18franks) on
By Drew Franklin on ©September 23rd, 2017 @ 1:08pm
Some breaking news out of Lexington this afternoon as we count down to kickoff. Florida cornerback Duke Dawson has been cleared to play in tonight’s game after sitting out most of the week in concussion protocol.
Dawson already has two interceptions in Florida’s two games this season, so he’s good.
Now back to the pregaming…