By Cody Porter
One year removed from witnessing Western Kentucky linebacker Andrew Jackson tell ESPN and its viewers that UK is supposed to be SEC, it’s time to give him his due for knowing what many refrained from alluding to.
It’s arguable the Cats have sustained an overwhelming setback in their 32-31 loss to the Hilltoppers, the Toppers first ever win over an SEC school.
Head coach Joker Phillips has questionably been on the hot seat. Now it’s not the case. Turn up the heat.
It may ease the pain to just agree with WKU head coach Willie Taggart’s notion that running back Antonio Andrews “could be our Reggie Bush.”
He isn’t. Rather a vengeful former Mr. Football in Kentucky who sought to show the Cats they missed out.
In trying to resolve personnel issues Phillips ensured his young talent took to the field.
While the young receivers have helped sophomore Maxwell Smith fit the part of a true quarterback, he didn’t do much to aid them or the defense in throwing four interceptions, setting the latter up for another jab by Western’s run.
In losing their pound-for-pound battle, the younger defensive players were once again sent into battle, but possibly too soon, to the point it could be a confidence killer.
Simply, Phillips doesn’t have enough Band-Aids to fix the team’s metaphorical boo-boos.
UK paid $500,000 for a loss – a loss to a team from the Sun Belt. Here’s an idea, use that money to improve the recruiting facilities so recruits are more prone to come and improve the faltering program.
Despite Phillips’ postgame thoughts, such a game is a risk with the quality of team being placed on the football field.
“I don’t think a lot more to risk,” he said. “We’re both lining up and playing football. We’ve got to play the guys that are on our schedule. I don’t consider it more risk.”
Feedback from fans came in the chorus of boos and tweets that filtered throughout the stadium during the game are likely an indication they’re at their wits end, subsequently making it a risk.
All that’s a far cry from a week ago when the Cats’ 33-point victory created a positive mindset – mind you it was Kent State, who attempted to return a fumble to its opponent’s end zone the previous week.
UK players of future and past even took to their social media outlets to vent over the Cats’ struggles with the Hilltoppers.
Jalen Battle, a commit from the class of 2013, tweeted, “KENTUCKY IS ABOUT TO RUIN A GOOD NIGHT,” among other negative comments, including questioning the defense.
Fellow 2013 recruit Skai Moore tweeted, “(Just) when I put Kentucky in the (running).” That resulted in a response from Battle that said, “SMH THERE GOES ALL HOPE OF HIM COMING WITH ME.”
Former cornerback Randall Burden, the most recent of Phillips’ players to speak on the game, said he was more dedicated to getting a funnel cake than his team. Likely a joke, but not a good look for the Cats from a recent departure.
One of the state’s more beloved Cats, Wesley Woodyard, tweeted, “Western Kentucky…. Really it’s Western freakin Kentucky!”
The Cats aren’t coming off of probation, which unfortunately would be a reasonable excuse for a loss to a team that entered the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2009.
It was also the case for head coach Rich Brooks in 2004. At that time the Ohio Bobcats dealt the Cats a 28-16 loss, two weeks after they thumped the Indiana Hoosiers in two games they hosted.
The final result of that season was a 2-9 record. Ohio ended up losing its coach. While it was because of firing, I anticipate Taggart to get some quality offers that could lead him astray.
A search regarding that 2004 season will unveil many articles discussing Brooks being in the hot seat due to his team’s play in his second season. Had there been Twitter, I’m sure speculation would’ve been even more fueled and today’s UK program may not even resemble itself.
Year in and year out, media and fans alike seemingly are tricked by the product about to be rolled out for the season, many taking the bait that the approaching season is going to be different from the last.
Again, one side of the ball deflates the other’s progress.
At night’s end, the UK defense finally crashed through to get a big stop, but they to were tricked when WKU quarterback Kawaun Jakes found the ball in his possession before stepping into the end zone to secure the victory.
Rick Minter’s postgame comment on the team and conclusion encompasses Saturday and the program’s recent luck, or lack thereof.
“We’re the ones crying over spilt milk.”