Monday, November 17, 2008

Wildcat Wrap Up: Vandy

What really is there to say about this 31-24 loss to Vandy? First of all, congrats to the 'Dores. It's a remarkable turnaround down in Nashville thanks to Bobby Johnson, and the Commodores played inspired football on Saturday night in Lexington. The overall atmosphere from most of the UK bloggers and fans seems to be a giant "Oh well...". No uproar. No yelling and screaming. No completely irrational angst directed at players, coaches, fans, or the Easter Bunny. Maybe it was because of the Cats' loss on Friday on the hardwood. For me, it was something else entirely.

Disappointment by nature comes after expending hope. Hope comes from expectations, and I had none for this football team. Most teams after a 4-0 start allow themselves some measure of guarded optimism. Not this year. Not this team. This was an odd Kentucky team from the word "Go!" this season. Wins were often more infuriating and frustrating than losses. It was a season that at the beginning saw forecasts from fans ranging from an absurd 2 wins to an even more absurd 9 wins.

And here we sit, at 6-5, with the conclusion of the regular season one game away. At worst, this Kentucky team goes 6-6 and at best 7-5. Considering all this team has been through from graduations to injuries, it's not a small accomplishment... it's a great one. Historically, there have been flashes of greatness at Kentucky with the cyclical return to mediocrity right around the corner. And while 6-6 is by no means "great", it is an accomplishment of no small measure when the season and the intangibles are taken into context.

As for the Vanderbilt game, it was simply two evenly matched teams on the field. One played inspired, motivated, and precise, and the other played arguably their worst half of football in recent memory. It's hard to win ball games when everything goes wrong. And yet, here was this Kentucky team not giving up, playing to the whistle (and sometimes beyond it), and making it a game. I'm not one for moral victories, as any loss sucks, but the bottom line in this one is that it doesn't leave me depressed like some of the wins have. It's really a "Well... good game Vandy. On to Tennessee" sort of feeling.

What the conclusion of this season has in store for the Wildcats I have no idea. But I can tell you that were I an opposing coach of this team in a Bowl Game, after the Cats have several weeks to prepare, rest, and get healthy, I would be very very concerned. This Kentucky football team is not a great team. They are also not a bad team. They are a good team that had bad things happen to them. And at least for this Kentucky fan, that's ok for this year.

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