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Video: Mike Hartline on his Senior Day emotions

Kentucky
Content provided by John Clay’s Sidelines.

Kentucky quarterback Mike Hartline talks about the emotions experienced over Senior Day weekend.

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Strong Second Half Lifts Cats Over Vanderbilt

Randall Cobb ran for a career-high 170 yards and two touchdowns as Kentucky surged past Vanderbilt 38-20 on Saturday. Cobb had touchdown runs of 5 and 73 yards to help the Wildcats (6-5, 2-5 Southeastern Conference) become bowl eligible for the fifth straight season. He finished with 279 total yards, breaking the school record for all-purpose yards in a single season in the process. Derrick Locke ran for 145 yards and two scores in his first game in a month and quarterback Mike Hartline threw for 232 yards and a touchdown in his final home game.
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Kentucky Football: Some Questions For Joker Phillips

Kentucky
Content provided by A Sea Of Blue.

Hey, Joker!  Don't you think we should be improving at this point in the season?

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James Crisp – AP

Hey, Joker! Don’t you think we should be improving at this point in the season?

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I watched the Kentucky Wildcats versus the Charleston Southern Buccaneers on Sunday.  After that review, I felt like Kentucky fans have rather more questions than answers after that game, so in a kind of “open letter” to head coach Joker Phillips, I am wondering a few things:

  • I understand that the defense is young, and as SEC defensive lines go, they are pretty small.  But how is it that Charleston Southern can push us around so much up front?  How long does it take for player to improve, at least incrementally?
  • Why are we repeatedly getting caught out of position on misdirection plays?  Twice, CSU threw back across the field for big plays, and Kentucky defenders were nowhere to be found.
  • Is it just me, or do we have absolutely no pass rush whatsoever?
  • At this point in the season, I think giving up 270 total yards to an FCS team is a real problem, don’t you? Please tell me the team just didn’t take CSU seriously.  I’ll accept that explanation for now.
  • What’s up with the play calling?  How many times did CSU obviously have their defensive backs in cover-0 and we didn’t audible to a vertical or a quick slant route?
  • Why three passes in a row in the second quarter when CSU had proven that they couldn’t stop the run?
  • How long does it take for a linebacker to learn to stay in his gap?  Danny Trevathan seems to get this, but none of the other linebackers do.  After 10 games, am I wrong to expect them to have figured out how to execute something this fundamental?
  • Why have we completely shelved the Wildcat?  I know we didn’t need it to win this game, but shouldn’t we be working on it just a little?
  • Matt Roark gets a one-game suspension after pleading guilty to a DUI in which he ran into a parked car and blew a .192 BAC, not to mention being under age?  I understand that “zero tolerance” is too tough, and I’m sure you are doing some other things, but don’t you think this is a bit … I don’t know, laissez-faire?
  • What’s going on with these in-game suspensions?  Don’t you think perhaps the team would be better served by suspending the player for the entire game and allowing their substitute to get the whole game to show why he deserves to play?  After all, I presume there is a reason you are suspending these guys at all.  Just askin’.
  • I saw some of the most passionate coaching out of you in this game.  Why did I have to wait until the tenth game of the season?  I’m sure it’s just a learning curve, but we do need to see that you care whether we win or lose, not just hear you say it.
I’m not mad at Phillips, and of course I don’t think he should be fired or even on any kind of a “hot seat.”  I just see some puzzling things.  To be fair, I saw puzzling things under Brooks, too, and other coaches as well.  And also to be fair, despite some minor discipline issues, UK is about as far as it is possible for an FBS program to be from Fulmer Cup (maybe we should rename it the Meyer cup now) consideration.
I’m sure many of you have questions, also.  I was disappointed that Kentucky’s defense looked so vulnerable against such a weak football team.  It would bother me less if the defense had showed improvement, but they seem to be making the same old errors over and over again.
Fortunately, the offense was humming along pretty well except for some inexplicable play calling at times.  Turnovers are still a serious problem, although the Mike Hartline interception was just an amazing one-handed grab by the defender. However, Hartline threw that ball on the wrong side of the receiver, so he probably deserved the pick.
Still, I am not pleased with what I saw on Saturday, and I’m sure most of you are equally unhappy with it.  I guess we can just chalk it up to a letdown, but we need a lot better on Saturday against the Commodores, because they could have easily beat this CSU team by similar margins and held them to less than two touchdowns.


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Kentucky 49, Charleston Southern 21: Postmortem

Kentucky
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Kentucky's Donald Russell running for yardage.  On the day, Russell ran for 110 yards.

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James Crisp – AP

Kentucky’s Donald Russell running for yardage. On the day, Russell ran for 110 yards.

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The Kentucky Wildcats (5-5, 1-4) football team held serve today in their match-up with FCS opponent Charleston Southern (2-7, 0-4) with a 49-21 victory at Commonwealth Stadium.  The ‘Cats, once again without running back Derrick Locke and Raymond Sanders, still shredded the over-matched Buccaneers for 228 rush yards and five rushing touchdowns.

For the game particulars, follow me after the jump:

The ‘Cats put together several long plays this afternoon, here’s a rundown: A Donald Russell 25-yard touchdown run; a CoShik Williams 41-yard touchdown run; a Mike Hartline 53-yard touchdown pass to Chris Matthews; a Hartline 36-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb; a 47-yard Hartline pass to La’Rod King; a 27-yard Hartline pass to Cobb; and a 37-yard Hartline pass to Cobb.

Donald Russell, replacing the injured Raymond Sanders, who replaced the injured Derrick Locke, ran for a career-high 110 yards on only 10 carries (11.0 yards per carry).  Russell also scored two touchdowns.

Little-used fourth string running back CoShik Williams came up big today for the ‘Cats, running for 95 yards on 13 carries (7.3 ypc) and three touchdowns. 

Randall Cobb had yet another big day: Four catches for 101 yards (25.3 yards per reception) and one touchdown.

Wide receiver Chris Matthews also put up big numbers for UK, catching four passes for 92 yards (23.0 ypr) and one touchdown.

La’Rod King (one catch for 47 yards), tight end Jordan Aumiller (two catches for 23 yards), and uber-athlete Brian Adams (no, he didn’t sing but he did catch two passes for 10 yards) all helped in the Wildcat cause, although, Aumiller did fumble the ball at midfield after making a 15-yard reception (in Aumiller’s defense, it was a flush, helmet to ball hit)

UK quarterback Mike Hartline had an up and down day; at one point missing on six consecutive passes, then, completing seven in a row.  On the day, Hartline completed 15 of 24 passes (62.5%) for two touchdowns and one interception, which happened to come at the CSU goal line.

Morgan Newton took over the play-calling duties at the 10:58 mark of the fourth quarter, and had a nice 11-yard run to set up a Donald Russell 17-yard touchdown run.  Newton was 1-4 through the air for two yards.

Wildcat defensive standouts included the ferocious Danny Trevathan who had 13 tackles and one sack on the day.  Safety Winston Guy Jr. led the ‘Cats in tackles on the day with 16 (it’s never good, though, when the safety leads the team in tackles).  Corner back Martavious Neloms, coming off an injury, produced nine tackles and one sack.

Craig McIntosh, usually a very reliable kick-off man, today kicked the ball out-of-bounds, giving the Bucs the ball at their own 40 yard line.  And of course, CSU scored a touchdown off the UK miscue.  Kentucky also turned the ball over on downs at midfield, leading to a Buccaneers touchdown — The big play of the drive being a 37-yard reception by Gerald Stevenson. 

UK once again lost the turnover battle, this time 2-0.  That makes 18 Kentucky turnovers in the last seven games.  On a positive note, the UK defense did hold the Bucs to only five of 16 on third down conversions (31.3%), but the Bucs converted two fourth downs on two tries.

As a team, the Cats ran for 228 yards on the ground, good for an outstanding 8.4 yards per carry, while the defense held CSU to 140 yards on 2.9 yards per carry.  Kentucky’s offense produced 502 yards of offense to only 269 yards for CSU.

CSU, riding the arms of quarterbacks Andrew Trudnowski and Malcom Dixon, completed 15-18 passes (83.3%) for 129 yards and one touchdown.  Only three incompletion’s? … unacceptable.

All-Big South performer Gerald Stevenson was held in check for most of the afternoon (except for his 37-yard pass reception setting up a CSU TD) by the UK defense, gaining only nine yards on four carries and a touchdown, along with catching five passes for 68 yards (13.6 ypr).

The ‘Cats now sit at 5-5 with Vanderbilt – who took a major beat-down from the Florida Gators today — coming to Commonwealth next week, and two weeks later, UK travels to Knoxville in an attempt to do the seemingly impossible … send the Vols home unhappy.

Thanks for reading and Go ’Cats!


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Cats Fall to Mississippi State 24-17

Vick Ballard rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown, and No. 23 Mississippi State relied on its running game and defense to beat Kentucky 24-17 on Saturday. The Wildcats threatened to tie the game in the final minute, but quarterback Mike Hartline’s pass was intercepted by Johnthan Banks at the goal line to seal a sixth straight victory for Mississippi State (7-2, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) – its longest streak since 1999. Kentucky (4-5, 1-5) hasn’t beaten a ranked team on the road since 1998. Randall Cobb caught 12 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown.
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Kentucky 17 @ Mississippi State 24: Postmortem

Kentucky
Content provided by A Sea Of Blue.

Raymond Sanders did some hard running tonight, but in a losing cause.

Jim Lytle – AP

Raymond Sanders did some hard running tonight, but in a losing cause.

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Congratulations to the Mississippi St. Bulldogs.  They did enough to win this game, and Kentucky continues to do just enough to lose.  But the Bulldogs deserve credit for getting in there, fighting off the Kentucky Wildcats, and claiming their 7th win in 9 tries.

I have to be fair and say that the defense did not lose this game, as they have so many others.  This time, the offense helped quite a bit.  Dropped passes at critical times, an uncharacteristically jittery Mike Hartline, and overall lack of performance by the offensive line were big contributors to the loss.  But credit MSU with some really good defensive play, particularly on the Hartline pass near the end of the first half, and getting in Hartline’s face all night long.

I have to say that the defense stepped up overall tonight, and played a pretty good game by this year’s standards.  They still gave up three big plays, and were unable to make a stand when UK really needed it, but at least they did all they could to redeem themselves by holding the Dawgs to a 3 and out when they could have easily rolled over and died.

It’s frustrating to be a Kentucky fan this year.  This football team has so many weapons, yet they are incapable of sustaining effort throughout an entire game.  For the defense, that is understandable — they are very young, and youth is punished in the SEC.  But the offense had a chance to win this game, and failed utterly by error, not by overwhelming opposition.

I suppose I should wax pragmatic and point out that losses on the road are expected in the SEC, especially against ranked teams.  With that said, the fan in me wants to pull out my hair, swear bitterly, and stomp around the house in frustration.  All of which I did tonight, and I’d be willing to bet that I wasn’t the only one.

Observations:

  • This may have been one of Randall Cobb’s best performances ever.  Statistically, it was only so-so, but he made so many huge plays that looked small, I lost count.
  • Mike Hartline was not sharp tonight, and I think he has been reading his press clippings.  He simply did not take advantage of opportunities, and seemed awfully timid about the rush.
  • To be fair, Mike had a lot of help.  La’Rod King dropped a potential touchdown.  Nick Melillo dropped a first down.  Chris Matthews made a bad play and allowed an INT.  It was a team effort in offensive failure.
  • CoShik Williams really made an impact late in the game.  Well done.
  • Great job by the D on the last MSU possession.  MSU had been moving the ball pretty well and had great field position, but this time the defense stood up and said, “This far, and no further.”  Good for them.
  • UK could have used a couple of missed calls.  But MSU probably had a couple too, so I don’t blame the officiating.
  • UK did not kill itself with penalties this time.  But turnovers continue to plague the Wildcats.  Kudos to Phillips for not jerking Raymond Sanders after his fumble.  That was a good call.
  • What the Hell is this suspension of players for a quarter or a half?  This does more harm than good, in my view.  Run them ’till their tongues hang out or sit them the whole game.  Good grief.
  • Punt coverage sucked tonight.
  • Safety play was really weak tonight.

Well, just like the rest of you, I’m disappointed.  Once again, UK surrendered a winnable game and it just makes me want to … throw things.  Fortunately, I know better than to do that, but I wish I were in a large warehouse with a concrete floor and lots of breakable items I could throw and hear a satisfying shatter.

But alas.


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