> Kentucky Football

Ladies and gentlemen, it is just about that time….FOOTBALL TIME IN THE BLUUUUUEEEEEEGRAASSSSSS!  There is quite a buzz in Lexington this year, and it’s not just coming from the fraternity and sorority houses on campus.  At SEC Media Days the Cats were predicted to finish 3rd in the SEC East Division (behind Georgia and Florida) and even received some first and second place votes.  After years of getting less respect than Rodney Dangerfield, it seems that at least folks in the SEC are finally beginning to take notice that there is some real football being played in Lexington.  

With opening kickoff just a few days away, we decided to open up the old Lex Buds mailbag to see what you, the fans, want to know most about the upcoming season.  I picked 4 questions, that will in turn, lead to 4 bold predictions for the upcoming season.

Question #1:  “How much of a difference do you think Liam Coen makes on offense and will Mark Stoops let him have control of the reigns?” – Edward, Pikeville

After 5 years of fan frustration at the conservative play-calling from Eddie Gran, preceded by fan frustration at the conservative play-calling from Shannon Dawson, preceded by fan frustration at the (shockingly) conservative play-calling from Neal Brown, a breath of fresh air at the offensive coordinator position was much needed.  

Liam Coen comes to Kentucky from the LA Rams, where he served as the Assistant Quarterbacks coach.  An optimist might see the NFL experience and the pro-style offense to be exactly what Kentucky needs.  A pessimist might see that Rams QB Jared Goff threw for the fewest number of yards, and fewest TD’s in 3 years with Coen as his position coach. Another refrain from the pessimists is that it doesn’t matter who Mark Stoops hires because he isn’t going to allow anyone to come in and take away his ground and pound philosophy…

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December 6th, 2020

MIXED EMOTIONS: HOW DO WE EVALUATE THE 2020 KENTUCKY FOOTBALL SEASON?

Posted by Tyler Bentley

Just like all of 2020, this Kentucky football season has been a rollercoaster of emotions.  We’ve experienced the good (hammering archrival Tennessee), the bad (an overtime loss to Ole Miss), the ugly (blowout losses to Alabama and Florida), and the devastating (the passing of John Schlarman and illness of Chris Oats).  

Depending on the week, I have finished watching a Kentucky football game feeling depressed, angry, optimistic, flabbergasted, overjoyed, confused, and disheartened.  For every 1 step forward, it seemed there were always 2 steps back.  So, with all of these mixed emotions we have experienced as a fanbase this season, the question remains:  How do we remember this season overall? 

Should we be angry and say that a 4-6 record is unacceptable, or accept it because this was the most difficult schedule we’ve ever faced?  Should we be disappointed that the team seemed to absolutely quit during blowout losses, or accept it because these are kids trying to play through a pandemic and the loss of one of their coaches?  Should we be extremely critical of the coaching staff and demand that changes be made, or accept that they have never been through anything like this either?  I honestly don’t know, and have a feeling that many in the BBN don’t know either. So let’s have a little therapy session together.  Pull up a seat, grab a glass of bourbon, and let’s talk these issues out. 

Should we be angry and say that a 4-6 record is unacceptable?  If there is one emotion I think we can all agree upon about this season, it’s disappointment.  When the schedule was released, there was legitimate optimism for an 8-2 season, but most predictions were somewhere around 7-3 or 6-4, and a sense that anything under 5 wins would be disappointing.  Personally, I thought 5 wins was a worst-case scenario for this team.  You have to go all the way back to 2015 (which seems like an eternity ago right now), to find the last time Kentucky didn’t have a winning record (Stoops finished 5-7 that year).  After seeing the last 4 seasons end with 7, 7, 10, and 8 wins respectively, I felt as a program that we were beyond sub .500 seasons and certainly feel it is unacceptable for a team with as much talent as this one to not have a winning record…

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November 22nd, 2020

KENTUCKY RECEIVES WORST ASS-KICKING SINCE LUKE SKYWALKER IN THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

Posted by Tyler Bentley

Kentucky Football has come a long way since the Mark Stoops era began in 2013.  The Cats have been to 4 straight bowl games, had a 10-win season, reached a ranking of #11 in the AP poll, ended the Florida streak, and has been steadily climbing up the rankings of SEC contenders.  Yet for all the progress Stoops has made, on Saturday in Tuscaloosa, Nick Saban was there to remind the up-and-coming coach that he is not a Jedi yet. 

To be fair, I don’t think anyone outside of the players and coaches in the Kentucky locker room really thought the Big Blue had a chance to win this game.  It’s tough enough to play an SEC opponent with multiple starters out, yet alone a #1 ranked Alabama team that was already a 30-point favorite in Vegas.  BUT, I did have some expectation that the game would be reasonably close.  I never expected 63-3. 

This was an absolute ass-kicking.  Kentucky was completely overwhelmed, to the likes of which I haven’t seen since I was a young boy watching The Empire Strikes Back for the first time.  I’m of course referring to the climactic scene in which the protagonist, a Jedi-in-training Luke Skywalker, faces off against the evil Darth Vader for the first time… 

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November 16th, 2020

WHY THE KENTUCKY-VANDERBILT GAME WAS EERILY SIMILAR TO THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

Posted by Tyler Bentley

On a cloudy and dreary day in November, an entire nation (a Big Blue one), turned its eyes upon an event in which they desperately wanted to win.   After 2 consecutive losses, grumblings amongst the fan base about who the starting Quarterback should be, and Eddie Gran’s offense looking absolutely inept, this game was a must-win for Kentucky.  A loss to Vanderbilt and the season is absolutely derailed.  Fortunately, thanks to a career day from running back Chris Rodriguez, and solid QB play from Terry Wilson, the Cats were able to pull out a 38-35 victory over the Commodores. 

As I watched the game play out today, I couldn’t help but find myself seeing more and more similarities between this game and our recent Presidential Election.  Maybe it’s because like many of you, I have been glued to cable news for the past 2 weeks and could probably relate any event in my life to the election (maybe that could be a segment on our next podcast: “Tyler relates changing his kid’s diaper to Trump vs. Biden”). 

Here are my 5 similarities of the 2020 Kentucky-Vanderbilt game and the 2020 Election:

1. The “Blue Team” was expected to win in a landslide. Kentucky was a SEVENTEEN-point favorite in Vegas, the largest point spread in their favor for the entire season.  I for one was a little shocked at this spread, as winning by 17 points would require Eddie Gran’s offense to actually score, at minimum, 17 points. Which is something they have failed to do three times this season (including the last two).  As someone who followed multiple presidential election polls, it was predicted by most everyone that Joe Biden would win convincingly over Donald Trump.  Many polls showed Biden with a double-digit lead in the percentage of the popular vote, which included several who predicted wins for Biden in Florida and Ohio…

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November 1st, 2020

KENTUCKY’S OFFENSE LOOKS SCARY BAD IN HALLOWEEN LOSS TO GEORGIA

Posted by Tyler Bentley

Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger have nothing on Eddie Gran’s offense.  The offensive execution (or should I say, lack thereof) was the scariest thing I saw during All Hallows Eve this year.  Not that Kentucky had been lighting up the scoreboard in recent weeks, but call me crazy for thinking that the best offensive line in the history of the school, an emerging superstar at running back, and a top 50 recruit at quarterback could put up more than 3 points against anybody in the country.  But if you’re an optimist, it was more than the 0 points we put up against Georgia last year, so I guess it was an improvement.  Maybe next year we can actually score touchdown.

This probably wasn’t what Joey Gatewood had in mind for his first college start.  The highly touted sophomore completed 15 of 25 passes for a paltry 91 yards through the air, and 16 rushes for 23 yards on the ground.  In his defense, getting your first start against a defense as good as Georgia’s is a tall order for any quarterback.  In 1996, Tim Couch got his first start against Florida in the Swamp, and proceeded to complete 6 of 18 passes for 13 yards in a 65-0 loss to the Gators.  And things turned out alright for Couch.

But if Joey Gatewood, or Terry Wilson, or Beau Allen want to accomplish anything close to what Tim Couch and the Air Raid were able to do, there are a lot of things that are going to need to be fixed.  Kentucky didn’t even attempt…

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October 25th, 2020

EDDIE GRAN SHOULD BE ARRESTED FOR STEALING KENTUCKY FOOTBALL’S IDENTITY IN LOSS TO MISSOURI

Posted by Tyler Bentley

There is a scene in the cult classic film Office Space, in which “consultants” are brought into the office of the fictional company Initech to figure out whose jobs could be eliminated.  In their interview with one employee whose job they have determined to be meaningless, they flat out ask, “What would you say you do here?” 

After an 0-2 start to the season, it seemed like Kentucky had finally figured out “what they do here” in back-to-back wins over Mississippi State and Tennessee.  This team would win with solid defense, and control time of possession with an emerging superstar at running back by the name of Chris Rodriguez.  Everything appeared to be trending in the right direction heading into Saturday’s road game against Missouri.  A win in Columbia would give the Cats a winning record on the season, and give the team some serious momentum heading into the Georgia game next week.  And after beating the Tigers for 5 straight seasons, there was no reason to think Mark Stoops would head home with anything but a win.

Eddie Gran seemed to have other ideas. 

UK received the opening kick-off, and Gran immediately dialed up 3 straight pass plays to start the game. The results? 2 incompletions, 1 six-yard gain, and a punt.  Maybe Eddie saw something in the film on Missouri that made him think Terry Wilson would be able to air it out.  But as we saw throughout the course of the game, that clearly was not the case…

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October 18th, 2020

Kentucky Sweeps The Leg Of Tennessee For First Win In Knoxville Since 1984

The last time the Cats won at Tennessee was when the original “Karate Kid” movie was still in theaters.

Posted by Tyler Bentley

1984 was a great year.  Apple introduced the world to the MacIntosh computer, Michael Jackson’s Thriller became one of the biggest albums of all-time, and in the movie “The Karate Kid”, Daniel LaRusso won the All Valley Karate Tournament against Johnny Lawrence of Cobra Kai.  There also was a football game played in Knoxville, Tennessee.  If only Wildcat fans who watched the game that day would have known that another victory on the road against the Vols wouldn’t occur until Donald Trump became President of the United States, well maybe they would have savored that victory just a little bit more.

Let’s be honest.  There were very few of us who thought that this would be the year that the streak of losses at Tennessee came to an end.  After a string of recent painful losses to UT, and an 0-2 start to this season, many fans (including myself), had already given up hope that this game would result in anything except a loss.  But Mark Stoops seems to always be at his best with his back against the wall and a chip on his shoulder.  The Cats came into this game with an excellent game-plan, and executed it to perfection.

For the last 3 years, Tennessee QB Jarrett Guarantano has been the kryptonite to Mark Stoops and the UK defense.  Which is kind of ironic because Jarrett Guarantano is also kryptonite to the Tennessee offense in any game not against Kentucky.  In his career against Kentucky, Guarantano’s statistics are staggering:  over 72% completion percentage, over 550 passing yards, 4 touchdowns, 0 interceptions.  Read that last statistic again:  ZERO INTERECEPTIONS in 3 games against Kentucky.  For his career, he has thrown 14 interceptions, and completed a less than stellar 61% of his passes… 

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October 3rd, 2020

“SAME OLE KENTUCKY” – AJ ROSE AND MATT RUFFOLO MAKE 2020 FEEL NORMAL AGAIN

Posted by Tyler Bentley

For almost seven months our world has been flipped upside-down.  Ever since that infamous night in March when we learned that Rudy Gobert and Tom Hanks had tested positive for the Coronavirus, nothing has been the same.  The “new normal” of NBA bubbles, MLB and NFL games in empty stadiums with cardboard cutouts of fans, and 20% capacity at college football games, have all had their brief moments where a sense of “normalcy” would return.  But nothing made me feel more like what life was like before 2020 than today’s game against the Ole Miss Rebels at Kroger Field, where the return of “Same Ole Kentucky” made its first appearance in a long time.

Back in mid-August when the SEC released this modified schedule, we all penciled in Week 2 against Ole Miss as a win – for good reason.  Last year the Rebels finished with a record of 4-8, with only 2 conference wins (against Vanderbilt and Arkansas). And if Kentucky was going to accomplish anything it wanted to do this season, beating the 6th place team from the Western Division at home was a must. 

Then the game actually started, and Lane Kiffin’s high-octane offense marched 75 yards in 8 plays for a quick 7-0 lead. 

What followed has to be the biggest bonehead sequence in UK football history.  Asim Rose, uh, seemed to be on his way to a 75-yard touchdown run before inexplicably deciding to put it in cruise control, wave a peace sign, and start pointing to the crowd while still 25 yards away from the end zone.  This allowed an Ole Miss defender just enough time to tackle Rose at the 3-yard line.  Now, if I were Mark Stoops (which I’m not), Rose would have had his rear-end on the sideline for the remainder of that drive, if not the remainder of the game for such non-sense.  He can flash peace signs to the crowd while he sits on the bench.  But Stoops decided to stick with Rose and give him a chance to finish what he started with that long run.  And in the most “Kentucky Football” play imaginable, Rose immediately fumbled to give the ball back to Ole Miss.  Same Ole Kentucky 

Despite this, the Cats seemed to be in control of the game for the rest of the first half, with leads of 14-7 and 21-14.  When Chris Rodriguez scored on a 22-yard run with 10:41 remaining in the 3rd quarter to give us a 28-14 lead, I think everyone breathed a sigh of relief as we seemed to have maybe put this one away…

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September 27th, 2020

16 THOUGHTS FROM KENTUCKY’S 16-POINT LOSS TO AUBURN

Posted by Tyler Bentley

In their first football game of 2020, and quarterback Terry Wilson’s first game in over a year, the Cats faced the daunting task of traveling to Jordan-Hare Stadium to take on Auburn.  Here are 16 thoughts on the Wildcats 29-13 loss to the Tigers. 

1. I can’t believe we fell for the ole “Swinging Gate” play. Auburn clearly had this planned to run whenever they scored their first TD of the game, and it worked to perfection.  I guess I should take it as a compliment that Auburn felt they needed to run trick plays against Kentucky to win the game. I have a feeling this one will be heavily dissected in the special teams meeting this week.

2. There was some incredible punting. Maybe it was just me, but I found it incredibly annoying each time Auburn’s QB, Bo Nix, did a pooch punt on 4th down. One human-being should not be so talented at both throwing and kicking a football.  On the plus side, UK punter Max Duffy drilled a 75-yard punt in the 3rd quarter from the back of his own end zone, which was good enough to be the 3rd longest punt in the history of UK football.  And that ends what will probably be the longest paragraph ever written on this site about punting.

3. AJ Rose struggled running the ball, managing a merger 31 yards on 10 carries. He was a little more effective catching the ball out of the backfield. On a side note, are we calling him AJ Rose or Asim Rose?  The announcers referred to him as both names today, and I need some clarity.  Asim might be more fitting, as he, uh, seems to be losing his starting job to…

4. Kavosiey Smoke! The sophomore running back really seemed to enjoy being back in his home state of Alabama, averaging almost 9 yards a carry (7 rushes for 62 yards), including the first score of the game on a 35-yard scamper. Smoke was by far the most effective runner in blue and white, and should have earned himself a more prominent role in the offense moving forward.

5. Can someone please inform Terry Wilson that when the other team jumps offsides, it’s a FREE PLAY! Throw it DEEP!  Not once, but TWICE, in the first quarter an Auburn defender was offsides and Terry threw a little dink and dunk pass both times.  After the second one, the SEC Network announcers were wondering (aloud) why he didn’t try to connect on a long ball either time…

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September 13th, 2020

The Most Ridiculous UK Football Preview You Will Ever Read

Posted By: Tyler Bentley

College football is almost back! While technically the season started a week ago, watching Marshall beat EKU 59-0 didn’t exactly get the juices flowing.  We are now two weeks away from watching our beloved Wildcats take the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium to take on the Auburn Tigers.  To get you ready for the season, here are my 5 bold predictions regarding UK football, that are based on absolutely no factual knowledge or keen insight to the UK team, or the game of football itself really.

Bold Prediction #1:  Kentucky will average over 40 points a game.  You might say there’s no way UK can score that many points going against a loaded SEC only schedule full of elite defenses, but hear me out.  Kentucky’s head football coach is Mark Stoops.  “Stoops” rhymes with “oop-de-oop”, which was the secret formation run by West Canaan High School backup QB Jonathan Moxon in Varsity Blues.  I fully expect Terry Wilson to constantly overload the defense on one side, and burn them trying to cover Josh Ali one-on-one on the other side.  If only Coach Kilmer would have listened when Moxon explained to him that Mississippi Valley State averaged over 40 points a game running the same offense.  Stoops won’t make the same mistake.  I can only hope that Coach Stoops also has a trick play lined up for Landon Young to trot down the field and act like he’s lost…

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April 11th, 2020

Lexbuds Promo: The Guys Show Up At Kroger Field For The Annual UK Spring Football Game – Only To Find Out It’s Been Cancelled

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lexbuds still managed to have some tailgating fun at Kroger Field before UK’s 2020 spring football game. They had the food, drinks, UK garb, cornhole board and of course…the hand sanitizer. They still managed to party while having to keep a safe distance of 6 feet from one other.

Problem is…the game was canceled.