Kentucky suffers its third-straight blowout loss, this time to Georgia


Georgia players react after scoring a touchdown during the UK vs. University of Georgia football game at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Ky., on Saturday, November 8, 2014. UK lost 63-31. Photo by Tessa Lighty

By Joshua Huff

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In the battle of the downtrodden, the University of Kentucky insured in its 27-3 loss to Georgia on Saturday that the Cats will retain the crown of the most beleaguered team residing in the Southeastern Conference East Division.

With just three games remaining in the season, (Vanderbilt, Charlotte and Louisville) the optimism that once surrounded the program during its 4-1 start has disintegrated into a repeat of last year’s second-half meltdown. UK entered Athens facing the prospect of falling below .500 for the first time this season and instead of playing as if the season was on the line, the Cats limped away with their third-consecutive blowout loss.

What this means for UK is that for the second year in a row every game becomes a struggle to retain order and a sense of pride; Win two and the Cats become one of 84 teams that will go bowling this year; Win one and UK, yet again, will finish the season 5-7; Win none and UK will finish the season with fan resentment focused squarely on head coach Mark Stoops.

Not that it already is.

After Saturday’s loss, the wheels have come off for UK. The Cats have not scored a touchdown in five quarters, and the decision to keep Patrick Towles in after his 8-for-21, 96 passing yards, two interception performance is as mind boggling as the play of the offense line and the poor hands of the wide receivers. Moving forward, Stoops has acknowledged that the quarterback spot is now open, which in essence means that Towles is done and it’s now Drew Barker’s time.

The problem, however, is not entirely Towles’. It’s hard to accurately throw a ball when you have 300-pound defensive linemen breathing down your neck. It’s even harder when your receivers drop the ball. Football is a team game and when your defense allows 300 yards of rushing and your special teams looks like the defense of a flag football team, then the blame is placed squarely on the coaches.

According to, Stoops is the 27th coach on the hot seat in Division I football. His team’s performance against Georgia may have bumped him up the list a bit. Georgia’s head coach, Mark Richt, ironically, is ranked No. 2 on the list despite going 142-51 in 15 seasons at Georgia. Should he go, UK would be foolish to not give him a ring despite Stoops being only in his third season. Granted, Richt wouldn’t come to UK even if the spot was open.

Stoops is running out of excuses. His lamentations after each loss about his team’s inability to enter Saturday’s prepared and his ownership that he was out coached are falling on deaf ears. He gets paid millions of dollars to coach a game. Fans do not want a man saying he was outperformed doing a job where he collects more money than 99 percent of the population.

The excessive penalties, terrible defense, dropped passes, and shoddy special teams is an organizational problem. It was the problem year one; the problem year two and now the problem in year three. Tennessee’s head coach Butch Jones this week decried the call for coaches heads who fail to usher in winning after a few years. He said coaches in the SEC need seven to 10 years to stabilize a program. That’s nearly a decade of collecting a paycheck for poor performances, which sounds like a politician’s job.

The goal for UK this year was to be invited to a bowl game. People call it baby steps. A step towards relevancy. A step that draws in recruits and puts the program in the spotlight. The problem for UK though, as was the case on Saturday during a failed kickoff fumble recovery, once the ball bounces into UK’s hands, there’s always something that nullifies the positive.

Unfortunately for the coaching staff those implications effect livelihoods, which is a reality that seems to be par for the course for UK football.