Tom'sTake: opportunity lost
November 27th 2010
In his postgame radio interview, Joker Phillips lamented a season of missed opportunities and the 24-14 loss to Tennessee was just example of that being the perfect way to sum up a very frustrating Kentucky football season. And no unit can point the finger at the other. The defense was porous but the offense was way too turnover-prone and special teams gaffes occured way too often. And all three of those factors bit the Wildcats in this loss. The early fumble at the UT one-yard line produced a huge momentum swing. Not having Martavious Neloms in the first aided the Vols' passing game. A missed field goal denied UK the kind of momentum boost that had keyed several second-half rallies. Mike Hartline missed on several key throws. And a play that gets overlooked was the fake punt from the UT 24-yard line that followed Kentucky's game-tying drive to start the third quarter. Yes, the Vols failed to score but they swung the field position and kept the UK offense on the bench. Joker's decision to punt on a fourth-and-short at the UT 38 early in the fourth quarter is generating most of the talk among Big Blue fans and it is a decision worth second-guessing (offense is the Cats' calling card this season so you can defend taking that risk on that side of the ball) but it's not like victory was guaranteed if the Cats went for, given all of the other miscues on this day. Everything went Kentucky's way until that fumble at the one but a team has to be mentally tougher than to let that kind of break define the day. I talked to Derrick Locke before this game to ask if thought there was mental component to Kentucky's failures in this series and he thought there was, that Tennessee made the plays at key points time and time again. It would seem that there's something to that notion, but turning the situation around is easier said than done.
(photo by Victoria Graff)
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