Cats’ offense off key

Morgan Newton makes a pass against Western Kentucky University on Thursday, September 1, 2011, in Nashville, Tennessee. It was considered a home game for the Hilltoppers at LP Field. Photo by Latara Appleby

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Thursday night it was the Music City that played host to the Cats and Hilltoppers.

At the conclusion of the night it was UK that picked up the victory, 14-3, in the land of guitars, bars and drunks making fools of themselves.

While it may be the Music City, whatever Joker Phillips’ Cats were playing tonight sounded more like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Quarterback Morgan Newton finished the game completing only seven of his 18 passes for 97 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. He also managed a couple of decent runs, totaling 63 yards for the Cats after appearing to be rattled early in game.

“He (Newton) made two big plays, we call them gap plays, one on the run, one on the touchdown pass,” Phillips said. “He could’ve easily had two more, we got to make those two plays. We tried to run a couple of takeoffs on them, but we just didn’t come down with it and those are two plays that may make Morgan look a little better than he played.”

Everything about last night’s game was odd.

Not only did fans not discover the Newton that Big Blue Nation expected, but they witnessed refs deflecting passes, offensive guard Stuart Hines catching passes, the new 3-4 scheme leading to a “RISE” in the defense, and Twitter crying out about the inability to score.

This feeling resonated with Phillips.

“I was expecting to put the ball in the endzone a little bit more than we did,” Phillips said with a chuckle during the post game press conference.

Phillips’ main takeaway from the game was the ability of the defense to play up to his expectation.

“I thought our guys did a good job of tackling and when we did miss him (Bobby Rainey), somebody was there to clean it up for us,” Phillips said.

Last season the UK offense had no problem scoring on the Hilltoppers, putting up 63 points.

That offense wasn’t there.

Thursday night’s defensive struggle proved to be exactly what Rick Minter was looking for out of his defense. His defense slowed down the run of Rainey, who they held to a ‘tune’ of 107 yards on 28 carries.

“As far as tonight goes, the kids came to the locker room a bit morbid,” Minter said.

He then elaborated by adding why they needed to be more excited.

“Runs are so hard to come by in this day and age, you got to feel great no matter what the odds, no matter what circumstances you need to do what you have to, to get the game ball,” Minter said.

The Sept. 10 game against Central Michigan may now not seem as easy as it once did on paper. Although no worries should be at hand over the defense, worries about how the Cats will find their way into the end zone should have them singing the blues all next week during practice.