This weekend kicked off another season of college football. It is one of the most highly anticipated sports weekends every year in America, especially in the Southeast. For most SEC fans, their concern is whether their team will rise up and compete for a conference championship this season. For most fans in the Bluegrass, it is just a time filler until Big Blue Madness kicks off basketball season. The Wildcat’s performance yesterday further solidified why one of the most passionate fan bases in all of college sports has been returning their season football tickets.
The Wildcats kicked off the season by traveling an hour and a half north to play their hated in-state rival: the Louisville Cardinals. The Cardinals came into the game projected as the best team in the Big East conference this year, as well as ranked #25 in the preseason polls. Having said that, we are talking about the Big East conference; a conference that is severely flirting with crossing the line to irrelevant on the college football scene. There were many questions coming into the season for the Wildcats after losing talent on both sides of the football and having an overall lack of depth at most positions on the field. Hopefully yesterday’s performance was not the true answer to a lot of those questions.
The tone for the entire game was set by Louisville’s first possession, which started off looking great for the Wildcats, but quickly favored the Cardinals. Louisville bobbled the punt return forcing them to start their first offensive possession of the year from their own one-yard line. After two quick stuffs from the Wildcats defense, it was third and long for the Cardinals. The Wildcats were looking to change the field position game early. On third down, Louisville’s QB, Teddy Bridgewater, dropped back in his own end zone and completed a 25-yard pass to move the chains. From then on everything else went down the toilet for the Wildcats. That drive was the first of many where the Louisville offense did whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, against the Wildcat’s defense. QB Teddy Bridgewater completed 90.5% of his passes for 232 yards in only three quarters of play. The Cardinals had two running backs go over the century mark for a total of 213 yards on the ground. The Wildcat’s defense looked clueless; there were Grand Canyon-size holes in the secondary and absolutely no pressure up front. You would think they were trying to tackle the Arizona Cardinals.
There were, however, several bright spots on the offensive side of the ball, which highlighted sophomore QB, Maxwell Smith. Smith was very poised and ran a quality, fast-paced Wildcat attack. Smith completed 70% of his passes for 280 yards and 2 touchdowns without turning the ball over. Smith came into the season with very little experience and performed like a seasoned veteran. The offensive line held up well all day long providing Smith with solid pockets and clear running lanes for the backs during their 13 rushing attempts. Still, the offense stalled several times with a missed field goal and two fumbles.
It looks like this could be another long football season Wildcat fans. But let us look at the bright side: we got our eighth National Championship in basketball this year. We are only a couple months away from seeing Nerlens Noel blocking shots, Alex Poythress dunking, Kyle Wiltjer sinking three-pointers, and the University of Kentucky doing what it does best!
Kent “KMac” Wildcat