In what had the capability of being a winnable game for UK, the Cats entered Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Ark., to witness the heavens open.
And when they did, a 74-yard touchdown rained down upon the Cats’ defense.
Once the sky actually opened, bringing a torrential downpour and lightning that caused play to be suspended with 3:32 remaining in the first quarter, Joker Phillips’ squad trailed 14-0.
Upon returning to the field, the Cats brought with them one of the program’s most inept offenses — ever.
The Cats needed former quarterback and announcer for the game, Tim Couch, to make use of the conditions and slip ’n’ slide his way onto the field.
Most of the night featured freshman quarterback Jalen Whitlow scrambling about the field, trying to make something out of nothing.
The receivers, appearing despondent, had little room to work with against the Razorbacks’ defense that ranks No. 92 in FBS.
Whitlow was held to 2-10 passing for 83 yards and one touchdown. A 61-yard touchdown to senior La’Rod King amounted to more than half of UK’s total passing. That figure includes two completions for 21 yards by senior Morgan Newton.
As previously stated, Whitlow, along with Newton, tried, or was forced to be, mobile in the pocket against the oncoming Razorbacks defense. At night’s end, the Cats had six rushers attempt a combined 25 carries for 66 yards. Junior running back Raymond Sanders led the way with 21 yards on five carries.
These measly stats were posted against a defense that has struggled against even subpar opponents, despite its turmoil following the fallout of former head coach Bobby Petrino’s departure.
The Hogs’ pass defense actually is worse than UK’s, as hard as that may seem to fathom. With its abundance of youth, the Cats are still ranked a mediocre 68, while Arkansas comes in at No. 115 in allowing just more than 304 yards per game through the air.
Although UK’s passing presence has dissipated as the season has progressed, the Cats’ receiving corps was supposed to be at another level this season — that’s even the case with a young quarterback who only played the position on occasion.
If Arkansas’ pass protection was that bad, even Whitlow, or Newton for that matter, should have been capable of planting a pass in the hands of King, Robinson, Collins, Sweat, Legree, you name it. Instead, only one non-screen was completed out of four completions.
It appeared Phillips’ crew was down because of injuries on defense, so 49 points from a high-volume prone Arkansas offense was no surprise. But UK’s offense — full of young talent — has no excuse for such a poor performance against that caliber of defense.
Whether or not UK gets a new coach is irrelevant. Even if athletic director Mitch Barnhart could lure Nick Saban from Alabama (don’t even envision him in blue and white), the state of the program is so clouded that a John Calipari-like turnaround is impossible.
The future could be bright years from now, but Saturday’s termination because of lightning and flooding rain with a 49-7 result was simply a portrayal of the gloom that has been the UK football program.