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Sports in Kentucky

Unbeaten and 14th ranked UK has arsenal like none before


 

 

Encouraging sounds, the clatter of numbers summoned up and showered down on Kentucky football as calendar moves to October. UK’s first 4-0 start in 23 years; first 1-0 SEC start in 20 years.

Best first for Kentucky fans? A football (not basketball) team ranked 14th in the nation a month into the season.

Skeptics have gone quiet behind hum of a growing throng of tailgate tribes at Commonwealth Stadium. It’s a party’s party.

For four decades I have watched Wildcat football mostly bumble along until Midnight Madness drew attention back to basketball. This Rich Brooks’ team is like none I’ve seen at UK, including a 10-1 sixthranked team in 1977 (on NCAA probation).

This is a team of quality depth, an arsenal of skilled players at more positions than we can recall. In preseason, linebacker Wesley Woodyard was touted as All-SEC. Today, Woodyard is but one piece in an improving defense.

In Fayetteville, Kentucky played like an SEC team. Ornery, aggressive, quick, strong, together, expecting to win. Their play was flawed and like-oldtimes occasionally. But at makeor break time, they were superb.

How physical? By fourth quarter, Razorback Heisman favorite Darren McFadden had had enough of UK’s pounding defense and stood watching. Offense? Andre Woodson has become John Unitas. Leader of men who directs and guides his troops. He cajoles them and lectures them, too. Brooks’ team has gotten past the “here we go again” mentality that haunted teams of Claiborne and Curry. It has seized momentum and dictates play instead of waiting for a train wreck.

Heady days for Kentucky football. Brooks’ team has more rose petals to earn before it swaggers up to the B-word. Meanwhile, the superlatives keep coming.

Louisville Tail Spin

“You think maybe (Bob) Petrino knew something?” a man asked Sunday.

Laughs. Implication? The Atlanta Falcons’ coach jumped ship because he knew UofLwould not match the hype, would be overrated.

Answer to the question? No. If Petrino had had a crystal ball instead of being a man consumed with next-level ambition, he would have known trading a blue ribbon quarterback for a dog catcher-killer quarterback was a bad deal.

What’s wrong with Louisville, fans want to know after Syracuse popped a few more Cardinal BCS balloons?

Answer: Steve Kragthorpe has not missed a tackle nor played numb-skull pass defense. UofLcoaches haven’t dropped a pass nor committed a single facemask penalty. One culprit is Louisville media. Instead of schmoozing Tom Jurich and issuing song-and-dance futures about New Years in Miami, the media herd would have served Cardinal fans best with reminders that nine starters were gone from last season’s defense, seven on offense. That this UofLteam might not be Orange Bowl caliber, should have occupied at least one newspaper sermon-of-theweek.

Today, the Cards have disappeared from the polls and headed into the schedule meat grinder. Fans? Proving the squeaky wheel gets the grease, the loudest element in Cardinal Nation blaming Kragthorpe is getting platform to do so.

Adding hilarity to the proceedings, a Louisville columnist asked Jurich if he would issue a vote of confidence for Kragthorpe? Comes four Saturdays into a five year contract. Stop laughing.

UofL’s coach should be reminded also, however, last year before Christmas, a segment of UofLfans were clamoring for Rick Pitino hide, too.

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