Blue Sunday: The Morning After

My favorite pre-game take on the Governor’s Cup battle came from a rabbi at one of the local synagogues. Yesterday was Rosh Hashonah, the first full day of the Jewish High Holidays. Kidding both Cardinal and Cat fans in his congregation, he mentioned how both have always wanted their teams to play on New Year’s Day, but who’d have figured, he asked rhetorically, that it would be the Jewish New Year? Lemme hear some shofar, please!

And there were more than a few wags pointing out before kickoff how Mitch Barnhart undermined his Wildcats by moving the game to Week Three. How easily might UK have won had this been the opening game, when it clearly had a superior team?

As for the aftermath of the game, a gutty UK win despite trying to hand it to the visitors on a Big Blue platter, there are two issues for U of L fans: 1) Has U of L improved, and 2) Were there any signs that Kragthorpe has the team turning the corner toward eventual success?

It is clear that Louisville was an improved team yesterday. Hell, they probably have better players at the skill positions and should have won the game. Justin Burke, Scott Long, Victor Anderson and Doug Beaumont are all the equal or better than their UK counterparts. Where Kentucky is clearly superior is on the offensive and defensive lines. U of L didn’t come close to a sack, or to dominating the run game when it had the ball.

U of L was ready and focused and played an inspired game.

The problem comes with perspective. UK will be nip and tuck for .500 this year. What Rich Brooks does is amazing with the talent he gets. But one must never confuse the Wildcats with a really good football team. So U of L should be proud they played their biggest rival tough, but understand this wasn’t one of the nation’s better squads that beat them.

One guy’s take is this: There was nothing apparent yesterday to indicate that Steve Kragthorpe will ever be able to lead this team back to the upper echelon. Which is where it was when he arrived. His offense is pedestrian. His in-game decision making is questionable. The number of delay penalties and misuse of timeouts because of slow play calling indicates a lack of organization that has been apparent since his first game as Louisville coach. His kickoff team made two horrible gaffes in a row, resulting in a UK TD. (And while it is not directly indicated by yesterday’s loss, his recruiting remains for the most part run of the mill; his ability to coach ‘em up yet to be seen.)

The coach was pissed after game, losing his religion in his press conference, lashing out at the media for no apparent reason and responding curtly to the questions asked. Well, good for him. That kind of passion is necessary to develop a winner. Problem is he hasn’t displayed the other necessary characteristics that also must be present for ongoing success.

And so it goes. The Cards almost gave their fans something to smile about. But they didn’t. U of L got the ball three times in the 3d quarter inside UK territory, had big gains on the first plays of the drives and came away with but 6 points. That’s some sorry offensive football.

With a daunting task coming up this week at Utah, the hand wringing will continue. Fans will wonder if the improvement shown is to the level Tom Jurich is looking for to keep this coach that many in the fan base have already given up on?

Those looking for just some hint of resolution to the Kragthorpe quandary woke up this morning with the same queasy stomach they’ve had since he arrived.

– Seedy K

7 Comments

  1. fred
    Posted September 20, 2009 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    Wait a minute! This makes it sound like Louisville lost a close game they were supposed to have won. That is only correct in that but for a muffed punt, they WOULD have won. But before hand, most of the UL fans I talked to were thinkin’ 45-7 or something like that. Burke clearly outplayed Hartline. Victor Anderson led all rusher, Louisville forced three turnovers and dominated time of possession. They were in a game til the end that most thought would be a blowout. Unless one wants to look for reasons not give credit to coaches and players, I saw lots of improvement and reason to believe these guys are a lot better than we might think. And I’m still waiting for someone to tell me why the referee started the clock on the next to last play after a first down instead of waiting for the chains to be moved, which were moved on second down.

  2. Seedy K
    Posted September 20, 2009 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    I never thought the game would be a blow out, and told anyone who asked that I’d take the points, were I a betting man. Please note. I acknowledged that U of L was an improved team yesterday. My point is that there were still plenty of reasons, despite that improvement, to question Kragthorpe’s ability to move the team in the long run beyond the mediocrity in which it is stuck. Truth is UK is not a very good team, did its best to give the game to U of L, and the Cards refused to grasp the gratuity. John L., The Schnell, Lee Corso and Bobby Petrino coached Cardinal teams all would have won that game yesterday.

  3. Bill Donnelly
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    I agree, under Petrino, John L and maybe even under Ron Cooper we would have won that game. I still think this guy is in over his head. Anybody else notice that he’s now trying to change his image a bit? After the game he was full of emotion not the matter of fact person he was before. Also, he’s not falling back on coach speak and the cliches associated with it. The play calls were still suspect. Not getting plays in on time,…these are all coaching errors that the coaches in the big time just don’t make over and over. I would love to get Jeff Brohm’s take on things. What is REALLY going on. Seedy K get on that story!!

    He would make a great coach at a place like Bellarmine or someplace smaller.
    In my opinion.

  4. c d kaplan
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    I have had no contact with Jeff Brohm. I do know that the relationship between what had been the school’s First Family of Football and the Athletic Department started to deteriorate in Kragthrope’s first year. I believe Jeff and Greg’s positions on the staff were part of the deal handed to Kragthorpe, so he wasn’t able to choose his own men for those positions, which he should have been able to do. Kragthorpe, it appears, never felt secure with Brohms in the program. So . . .

    That said, I’m not sure Jeff Brohm did anything exceptional as OC, but we’ll never really know, who was calling what plays when last season.

    It’s just a sad situation.

  5. Michael
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    The quandry does continue…I had a nice debate with my wife on the subject during portions of the game I watched. Hasn’t Tulsa, Coach K’s former school, had a better record every year since he left?

  6. Seedy K
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Coming into this season, Tulsa was 21-7 since Kragthorpe left. To be fair, the vast majority of contributing players the last two years were his recruits.

  7. Patrick W.
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    I’m sure Mitch Barnhart is concidering changing this game back to it’s rightful place in the Labor Day heat due to all the pressure he feels after going 3-0 since he made the change.

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