Believe in Leadership.
Believe in Hard Hits.
Believe in Blue.
Believe seems to be the slogan for the 2007 University of Kentucky football team and believe these fans do. Maybe there’s something in the water but after an ’06 campaign that included 8 wins and a Music City Bowl victory Kentucky football expectations have skyrocketed.
The words ten win season, SEC championship and BCS Bowl have been uttered on the streets of Lexington. Many preseason football publications have the Wildcats going 6-6 and the UK contingent is not pleased. Mel Kiper has both Andre Woodson and Keenan Burton in the top five at their positions with Woodson at #6 on his big board.
The Cats have ridden their Music City Bowl victory over Clemson all the way to the start of practice this week. Newspaper articles have talked about pride and the future of the program. Fans have talked about more wins, beating South Carolina, Louisville and toppling mighty Tennessee and Florida.
Those are big football dreams in a land where roundball is king. If believe is the mantra, then believe it is, but…
For those who Believe in Blue……..please also, believe in REALITY.
(and the power of the JUMP.)
The reality is, the University of Kentucky plays in the Southeastern Conference, with the big boys. They’ve benefited from always having Mississippi State (who has struggled mightily over the last several years) as an SEC West foe, however this year they replace lowly Ole Miss with Arkansas. The SEC East competition is, as usual, brutal especially for the Cats. Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee, LSU and Georgia are for-sure losses (I know Kentucky beat Georgia last year, but for that reason alone Georgia wins this year). That leaves South Carolina, Vandy and Mississippi State left in the SEC. At South Carolina is not going to happen. Remember lots of experts have picked South Carolina as their dark horse to finish second if not win the East. Going to Vandy is no walk in the park but the Cats will be favored and Mississippi State should be an easy win.
Why are Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee, LSU and Georgia almost impossible wins for Kentucky? With Woodson, Burton and company the Cats have the skill players to compete but skill players are but a small part of the equation. You can’t win, especially in the SEC, if you can’t win the battle up front. Year in and year out the SEC is tops in the country in defensive lineman. Just remember back to last year’s National Championship when the Florida front four gave Troy Smith nightmares. The speed and strength of defensive lineman playing in the SEC is unparalleled in any other conference. Kentucky with so many questions on the offensive line will struggle mightily to contain the front four at Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas and especially LSU. Defenses will be able to put pressure on Woodson without having to blitz allowing linebackers to play in pass coverage.
On the other side of the ball the defensive line seems to have as many questions as the offensive line which only hurts an already mediocre defense.
So where does that leave Big Blue Nation, with possibly only 2 wins in the SEC (Vandy and Miss. St.). The out of conference schedule minus Louisville should be an easy one. Clobberings of Eastern Kentucky, Kent State, and Florida Atlantic should give UK 3 more wins. Only Louisville remains and let’s call it a rivalry game so its 50/50. If Kentucky does manage to upset Louisville and a South Carolina that is still only 7 wins.
Granted you would think a program marred in mediocrity for decades would rejoice at back to back 7 win regular seasons but apparently the Kentucky faithful are thinking more.
Take away nothing from Rich Brooks and company. They have done a good job with the hand they were dealt (limited scholarships, SEC East competition). Joker Phillips is one of the best young offensive minds in the game and a good recruiter. Andre Woodson is a first round draft pick and Keenan Burton along with several other Cats should get drafted early on day two if not on day one.
Kentucky football deserves a 6/7 win football season and has the play-makers to do it. But SEC East champions, BCS bowl, 10 wins? The SEC is just too good.
For all the University of Kentucky Football Fans….
Believe in Leadership.
Believe in Hard Hits.
Believe in Blue…
Just please…..believe in Reality, too. 6 or 7 wins and a bowl game is a real fine football season.