SHANE SHACKLEFORD: Five Takeaways On Wildcats' Nightmarish Setback To Rival Tennessee In "
According to ancient history, Halloween has its origins in the Druid holiday Samhain, in which villagers would leave food in front of their homes to appease the spirits who haunted their land that night.
If that's the case, the Kentucky Wildcats should have left a whole lot of food in front of the new CWS, because the spirits of Tennessee football past came back to haunt the Cats Saturday night to the tune of 52-21. The Vols looked like the juggernaut of old, thrashing the Cats for 482 yards of total offense, several big plays, and two special teams' scores.
With that in mind, and in honor of Halloween, let's take a look at five takeaways from the matchup.
1. Joshua Dobbs. The UT sophomore signal caller did his best Michael Myers impersonation on the UK defense, terrorizing it for 284 yards of offense and a passing touchdown, rushing touchdown, and several big plays with his arm and legs. He was a nightmare all night long.
2. Special Teams play. The Cats' play in this area has been spotty at best, and it came back to haunt them Saturday night. Due to all kinds of missed tackles, overrunning kicks, and poor lane running, the Vols had a 100-yard kick return and a 84-yard punt return for TDs. Tennessee also enjoyed great field position all night long due to short punts by the Cats. UK was abysmal in this area.
3. Defense. Kentucky's D was gashed all night by big play after big play. UK was haunted by poor tackling, missed tackles, and blown assignments. The Cats couldn't get off the field on third down. The Vols were 8-13 on third down conversions. To compound this, the UK offense was a paltry 2-13 in this category, which leads me to number 4.
4. Offense. The Cats were very pedestrian on offense, gaining a mere 349 yards all night long. They also had nine penalties for 93 yards, the majority of them holding calls. To compound problems, the Cats offense may have lost star running back Stanley "Boom" Williams to a tough elbow injury. Not want you need to hear with the season effectively on the line.
5. Is there anything positive we can take from this game? Yes. The defense did score a touchdown on a 77-yard fumble return by CJ Johnson. Running back Mikel Horton had 109 yards on 14 carries. Quarterback Patrick Towles had nice plays with his arm and legs. But truthfully the bad simply outweighed the good last night.
The Cats are at a crossroads now. Their record is 4-4 with SEC games at Georgia and Vanderbilt coming up, as well as home dates with Charlotte and Louisville to close the season. Their season could go from a nice bowl game to a losing campaign. Here's hoping that the former happens and not the latter.
Shane Shackleford is a third grade teacher at Evarts Elementary School and an assistant boys' basketball coach at Harlan County High School, both in Harlan, Ky. He and his wife Elizabeth reside in Harrogate, Tenn., with their dogs Molly and Bear. Shane can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org