That was ugly, but beggars can't be choosers. Kentucky's defense beat Vanderbilt today to secure its first SEC win since 2011 in a game which had all the prestige and pageantry of a GD Alabama concert. All season, I have been impressed by the violent nature of this defense, and today this unit took another step--a step toward becoming special.
It's way too early to label this defense as elite, but it does share a common chromosome with other superior defenses; namely, the ability to be simultaneously dependable and ferocious. Think about Alabama, who, I think we can agree, has become the benchmark for enviable defensive play the last several years. Are they flashy? Sometimes, but more importantly, they're reliable.
A good defense shares the same traits as a good father, who shares the same traits as Theodore Roosevelt: quietly confident yet implicitly strong--demanding just the right mix of respect and fear. Hitherto Shalt Thou Come, But No Further (Job 38:11). On a day when Mother Offense was out getting her hair done, Father Defense fed the dog and kept the kids in order by speaking softly and carrying a big stick.
I'm not going to overreact to the rudderless, undisciplined play of the offense because this same offense was highly effective against Florida. Instead, I'm going to chalk this up to a unit filled almost exclusively with freshmen and sophomores who are still learning about the attrition of SEC football. Additionally, it is sort of the nature of playing offense: some weeks you're just a little out of sync. This is especially true with an offense that relies so much on timing and precision through the air. Where a run-heavy offense, like a defense, can hang its hat on attitude and technique, the pass-first offense is little more easily disrupted. It requires the quarterback to get in a rhythm--a rhythm Towles never quite found today. The rewards, though, for when this type of offense is in that rhythm, can be bountiful, as we saw in the second half against Florida.
In my Vandy precap, I asked the question: can Mark Stoops coach? I was careful to point out that this game was in no way a referendum on the subjct, but I love the way this defense finished. It was closer than we thought it would be, but were you ever worried? I wasn't. This team is tough enough to win games like this, and that, I believe, is a direct reflection of its coach. There's an axiom which states: bad teams lose close games. Today, even though the score didn't indicate it, Kentucky was in complete control of a game against a lesser opponent, and even if it wasn't pretty, they won with relative ease.
So, for now, I'm happy. The Cats are 3-1 (1-1), and go into the South Carolina game with momentum. I'm not sure I saw the maturity on offense I would've liked, but freshmen and sophomores, man. We're moving in the right direction.
I'll be lack later with something college footbally. For now, enjoy the newest Power Krush, SEC Network sideline reporter, Laura Rutledge. Hot blondes who love football = God Blessed the South.
Speaking of smitten, amirite? You're welcome in Lexington anytime, Laura. Go Cats!