As a lifelong Kentucky football fan, maybe I am supposed to be mad right now. You see, Kentucky has struggled out of the gate against Southern Miss and EKU. Not playing well. Not executing on offense or defense. You name it.
Maybe I'm supposed to be concerned.
Maybe I should be asking a bunch of questions.
Maybe it’s a good thing that Kentucky has even reached a point that there are expectations now for the program.
But here’s what I do know.
The Cats are 2-0. Take that in. 2-0.
I know that UK beat the team that embarrassed them in Commonwealth last year with a stellar defensive and special team's effort. Held them to 17 points.
I also know that UK beat the team that almost (key word there) pulled the upset of the Commonwealth century in 2015. They won the game by holding them to 16 points.
Granted, the Cats have their areas where they are struggling.
Offensively, the Cats have been very pedestrian, producing only 52 points in two games. But QB Stephen Johnson has been rock steady. Not too high, not to low. RB Benny Snell Jr. hasn’t had the breakout performance yet. But has he been steady? Absolutely, averaging about 90 yards a game rushing so far. Do that over 12 games, looking at over 1,000 for the season. You’d take that wouldn’t you? Yup. We also have some flaws in the offensive line, simply by replacing 3 starters. Also need someone to step up as a big play target in the receiver corps.
On defense, the Cats front seven has been rock solid. Tell me where we’ve been like that over the last few years. Hasn’t been there, has it? The unit has been tackling exceptionally well and most of all putting pressure on the QB. Those are good things. I also believe we have struggled in the secondary in coverage and tackling. Must show some development in the back end of the defense in order to continue to improve.
And special teams. Oh, those special teams. The Cats have made marked progress in all phases of that game. Coach Dean Hood has done a phenomenal job with the units. I’m sure you’d agree we’ve been abysmal in years past. Not now. Kicker Austin MacGinnis and punter Matthew Panton have been near perfect so far. Return and coverage teams have been awesome. You’d take that, wouldn’t you? I know you would.
So before you get really upset about the Wildcats start, remember…
We are 2-0. Take a deep breath. We’re okay. A lot of football to play.
Shane Shackleford is a retired teacher and coach residing in Speedwell, TN. You can reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Facebook @shaneshackleford or Twitter @shack_daddy_1.
Photo by Jamie H. Vaught