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UK football season can still be historic

Vaught’s Views

 

A 6-0 start put Kentucky in great shape to think about everything from the national championship playoffs to a New Year’s Day bowl game to a 10- or 11-win season.

Now consecutive losses to No. 1 Georgia, Mississippi State, and now Tennessee 45-42, when UK had 99 plays and over 600 yards of offense, have deflated much of the Kentucky fan base.

However, with games left against Vanderbilt, New Mexico State, and Louisville, the Wildcats can still have a historic season.

Kentucky has won 10 or more games three times — 1950, 1977, and 2018 — in 129 years. Kentucky has won nine games three times — 1904, 1909, and 1984 — in 129 years. Kentucky has won eight games six times — 1947, 1951, 1976, 2006, 2007, and 2019 — in 129 years.

That means Kentucky has won eight or more games only seven times since 1950. If the Cats win out, they would be 9-3 going into a bowl game. Even if UK wins just two of the next three, it would be 8-4 going into a bowl game.

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops made no excuses after Tennessee shredded his defense even easier than Mississippi State did a week earlier. In the last two games, opposing quarterbacks have completed 51 of 59 passes for 660 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions.

“We’ve been a part of so many games where we’ve played so good on one side of the ball, maybe defensively and just come up a little bit short on the other side,” Stoops said after the Tennessee game. “We’re a team. We’ll stick together. They’re all big boys. We can all handle the criticism and the things that come with it.”

Senior defensive end Abule Adabi-Fitzgerald, who got the first two sacks of his career against Tennessee and also forced a fumble, said not to worry about the Cats losing faith going into Saturday night’s game at Vanderbilt.

“Go in and just have faith, and the only way we are going to have faith is keeping our mindset up and keep getting better. There’s nothing else to it,” he said. s

Southeastern Conference media members picked Kentucky to again win the SEC regular-season championship and most oddsmakers also have UK as the team to beat in conference play. However, CBS Sports’ expert panel has the Cats picked to finish third in the SEC behind Alabama and Arkansas.

Alabama won the league title and SEC tourney championship last year and returns its top two scorers — Jaden Shackleford and Jahvon Quinerly, the CBS Sports Preseason SEC Player of the Year after averaging 12.9 points, 3.2 assists and 2.2 rebounds as a redshirt sophomore. Coach Nate Oats also has a top-15 recruiting class.

Arkansas lost four of its top six scorers off last year’s NCAA Elite Eight team, including NBA lottery pick Moses Moody. At least three transfers are expected to start for Arkansas.

Kentucky also dipped heavily into the transfer portal and could also start three transfers — Sahvir Wheeler, Kellan Grady, and Oscar Tshiebwe. Kentucky is the highest-rated SEC team in the media poll at No. 10.

CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander and Jerry Palm picked Kentucky to finish second in the SEC behind Alabama and Tennessee while Gary Parrish picked the Wildcats third. Kyle Boone and David Cobb placed Kentucky in fourth place. None chose Kentucky to win the SEC. s A major in-state target for Kentucky football in the 2023 class is Corbin athlete Dakota Patterson who also has offers from Pittsburgh, Purdue , Memphis, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Eastern Kentucky. Ohio State and Tennessee are among the other schools showing interest in the 6-3, 195-pound Patterson.

Patterson, a four-star recruit, got his scholarship offer from Kentucky midway of his freshman season — the first Division I offer he received.

“He is big and runs well,” Corbin coach Tom Greer said. “He has great hands. Most schools are recruiting him as a flexed-out, tight-end type of player. He’s a little bit light for that now.”

Kentucky recruiting coordinator envisions Patterson at 240 pounds in college.

“They think he can put on weight and keep his speed,” Greer said. “Ohio State and several others are looking at him as a tight end.”

Greer thinks Patterson could play several positions in college, another reason he’s such an attractive recruit. He has run the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds.

“I believe he could play outside linebacker or bulk up and play inside linebacker,” Greer said. “Dakota can play wherever you want him to or need him to. He’s not just a wide receiver.”

When he was 6 years old, he came to Rupp Arena in 2010 for ESPN GameDay wearing a No. 11 UK basketball jersey and a sign where he called himself “Lil John Wall.” He also used to pretend he was UK receiver Randall Cobb, who is still playing for the Green Bay Packers.

Patterson’s Corbin teammate, Treyveon Longmire, is already verbally committed to UK and part of the 2022 recruiting class. s

After making official visits to Alabama and Michigan State, fivestar offensive lineman Kiyaunta Goodwin of Charlestown, Ind., had to call off his official visit to UK last weekend. However, the UK commit was still on campus when the Cats played Tennessee. He just had a family event that kept him from being able to stay all weekend, so he saved the official visit for later.

He already has visits set to Ohio State on Nov. 20 and Michigan on Nov. 27.

Goodwin has been at every UK home game this year, including the wins over Florida and LSU that vaulted the Cats into the national rankings.

Goodwin did admit he was impressed by Michigan State and coach Mel Tucker on his visit when the Spartans beat Michigan 37-33. It was Goodwin’s first visit to Michigan State and first face-to face meeting with Tucker. s

Quote of the Week: “I didn’t know how big the rivalry was until I got here. It’s pretty epic. I’ve only been here since May, and I really don’t like them. It’s fun to be a part of a rivalry like that. They got us this year, but I’m looking forward to going down there next year and getting them back,” UK quarterback Will Levis after the 45-42 loss to the Vols.

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