CatsIllustrated - Buy or sell: Your hot takes on Kentucky football
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Buy or sell: Your hot takes on Kentucky football

UK Athletics
UK Athletics

In what has become something of a new Cats Illustrated tradition, I opened the floor for your hot takes on Kentucky football on Twitter following the latest UK game.

The takes will always be shaped by the game's outcome, so some negativity was to be expected.

Not really a buy or sell question, but I'll say yes, he could have because Stephen Johnson played great in a one-game setting against Louisville in that big win against No. 9 on the road. Towles didn't really duplicate that often and if you look at his overall numbers the problems were still there. The offensive line is better now, but the backs are about the same (perhaps not as good) and the receivers are worse.

But if you keep reading you'll find out I'm not going to be speaking very highly of the offense.

Buy. There's no question they lacked the energy and focus they've come out with in previous games. Stoops acknowledged that was probably a factor post-game, even if he hates admitting it.

Buy. One of those players would make a big difference. Someone like Rondale Moore would be even better. I don't think Wandale or Danny Davis makes Kentucky a competitor in the East this year, but they would probably be worth one extra win through the five UK has played. Having no real SEC-level WR1 is a problem. Josh Ali's a good player but there's next to no help there.

Sell, and let me explain. He's been a good coach in the past, at Cincinnati and at Kentucky, but right now they clearly need to find a way to reinvent things and rediscover the forward pass. He was not very good on Saturday in terms of the play calling. Ultimately, he does own what the passing game has become or how it has not developed. I think he is generally a pretty good play-caller for what his teams do well. The problem is his teams don't generally have the capacity to be balanced enough. So inasmuch as the development of system balance and passing proficiency falls on the OC, he has been mediocre. In every other respect -- executing what they do well -- he's been good.

Sell. But I'm not saying he should necessarily be the starter or the only quarterback who plays. I don't think anyone else has done anything to earn the job from him. Until that happens he should be one of the quarterbacks who plays. But until Wilson plays better, he should not be the only quarterback who plays.

Buy. For a while, this helped Kentucky. They were going against the trend. That gave opponents a little something different and more difficult to prepare for and compete against. It probably will still help sometimes moving forward, but when Nick Saban is saying great offense is beating great defense, you'd better be doing everything you can to get ahead with what those great offenses are doing. Right now it feels like Kentucky is trying to counter the national trend and get an edge that way. Today, it feels fair to wonder if they need to go in the opposite direction and move the way most other teams are going.

What I will say is I think they need to consider starting from scratch and building a passing game from the ground up. I don't know what that looks like, entails, or requires. But Kentucky and passing have been allergic to one another for about a decade now.

Buy ... If you're talking about Bowden doing it again. Not sure who would do it on this year's team. But without question I am 100% on board with the idea that Bowden would be the best quarterback for this team if he were on it (see my original tweet inviting hot takes; I think he was UK's best quarterback since Andre Woodson).

I'm not getting into the staff decisions stuff but it's obvious that during a stretch of offense like this the unit and the coordinator and the quarterback are all going to be subjects of conversation. Gran has been adaptable in some other circumstances; leaning more on Snell as a freshman, when Stephen Johnson took over for an injured Barker, putting Bowden behind center. But the offense has been bad this year. Just bad. They were good against Ole Miss but everybody is good against Ole Miss.

Sell. Hartline only looked really good throwing to a couple of stud receivers. Kentucky hasn't had that since. Take those receivers with Hartline and yes, I'm buying that for sure.

Sell. The o-line is very good. They're really good at downhill blocking. They just didn't showcase them enough doing that. They were good enough in pass protection that if Kentucky could play throw and catch like good teams we'd be talking about the line like they're one of the nation's best (and I still think they are).

Buy. They would both start for this team. Not sure either would make a huge difference. Baker might, though, in a couple of games. Bone wasn't really a separation guy.

I don't think he has talent or weapons. He has the offensive line. It's a throwback approach, I'll give you that. And it hasn't really been working too well this year.

Sell. That's a bold pick after a game like this one. I said last week I'm not sure they score more than 10 points against UGA's defense and it's tough to feel differently today.

Buy. Definitely in the modern era at least. Although the more some of us talk about it, the less it probably applies. He would make a difference on this team, though.

Buy. Absolutely true. Need to develop the ones they have as well.

Buy in that ... They need to change it up. I wouldn't move beyond him altogether. As I said, it should be a true competition. I'd like to see Wilson, Gatewood, and Beau Allen all get opportunities.

I buy the thinking ... of preparing for the future while they give different quarterbacks opportunities. They needed to be at least 3-2 at this point in the season for it to probably end as successfully as people wanted. One thing I'd add is they have to find a way to set up the next guy for success.

Sell. He did get some teams to 5-1 or 4-2, but proved he wasn't the real answer there either. He lost his job too, remember.

Buy. No doubt about it. I'm okay with being a better rushing team than passing team, but there aren't many teams that have had as many total passing game clunkers the last few years. They've survived it with physical play and defense, but it's a limiting approach.

Sell. Agree that Rodriguez needs more of the carries, but the problem today was that the backs didn't get more opportunities period. And I think the passing game is probably the bigger issue than the running back rotation.

Buy, sort of. I think Gran is on board with it. There doesn't seem to be much of a disagreement but only they would know. UK has tried to open it up and the results have been mixed to put it mildly. I do think Stoops has wanted the conservative approach, though.

Buy. Kentucky's best asset as a program in recent years was having an identity. They've gotten away from it and appear lost.

On the one hand, he's the best they've had for a really, really long time. But there are too many examples of some really good play and turnarounds nationally for me to believe in really hard ceilings anymore. Maybe nobody else will win the SEC as long as guys like Saban and Kirby are around, but I think the lasting impact of the Stoops era is proof that Kentucky can field a program with a narrowed talent gap. He gets credit for that, but others can do it. Agree that nobody should be questioning whether Stoops deserves the job. He clearly does and has earned it.

Sell. But only because I think he's pretty much the same player he was in 2018. Some good games, some bad games. Not enough consistency. Not sure how much I would put that on the injury. He hasn't taken a big step forward this year, though.

Buy. Ground and pound to find that old identity this year, but in the offseason they have to work on the passing game.

Sell. But laughing because it's similar to what I said about those '14 and '15 collapses being good for the program in that it kept Stoops around when he might have otherwise become too hot a commodity. Can't tell if you're poking me about that (if so, well done).

Buy. In that he and Matthews were the last "really" good receivers for Kentucky. Juice Johnson, Jeff Badet, and Javess Blue were all good.

More talented top to bottom? Yes.

Better? Sell. It's close. UK could definitely win if the game were played next week, but right now Mizzou has a quarterback and an increasingly impressive offense.

There are a lot of teams that are similar in the middle of the SEC.

Sell. I like the talent on that 2016 offense. The receivers. Boom and Snell. Conrad. The line wasn't quite as good but it definitely wasn't bad. They also had Snell and Bowden in '18.

Either way, the coaches own the product. They've done a great job with the line and the defense, and the special teams is much improved over a few years ago. But yeah, they own the recruiting, development, and system on offense.

Buy. Late drama and game winners against Mississippi State, Louisville, and Missouri. Citrus Bowl and Belk Bowl wins. Four straight bowls. Doing well by history in conference. No question about it.

None is strong, but I think Ali should be a No. 2 rather than a No. 1 and they don't have a legit No. 2 or 3 compared to other teams in the league.

Buy ... After the season. They lose almost the whole line, their starting QB, their starting tight end. They're starting from scratch anyway. No better time than this offseason to build something new.

Sell. They were at Cincinnati. The question is whether they can be at Kentucky given their offseason and practice emphasis and how they're preparing to play.

Buy. And kudos. Had never thought about it like that.

Sell. He's not above average. I watch too much college football to say with any confidence he's better than the average quarterback I watch.

Not quite sure how to respond to this. As I've said, I think his play calling is "usually" pretty good based on the limitations of his own offense, but was Neal Brown a bad play caller? He's a Power Five head coach for a reason.

Buy. Receivers haven't succeeded lately, that is true. Oklahoma is also a really awesome opportunity for any receiver right now, though.

Sell. They are definitely taken seriously. Before the season people were talking about Kentucky-Auburn as an interesting opener before we learned Auburn was very average. UK was right outside the top 25. The folks on the SEC Network and elsewhere talk about them very differently. Missouri's players and fans were thrilled to beat them. People don't think about Kentucky like they shouldn't be in the SEC anymore. Stoops gets to take credit for that one.

Sell. The main reason Kentucky has won a lot more games in recent years is they have dominated series against teams they should have beat. Saturday was an emotional letdown for sure though.

Buy. Especially the offense, though. The defense really is pretty good. I said all offseason, I thought people were underestimating the significance of having the Paul Hornung winner touch the ball every snap. It was unconventional and unbalanced but it worked. It was also like freezing the program in time, because the receivers were just blocking, the o-line was basically blocking for backyard football, etc.

Buy. They've done most everything else right, but I don't see how someone can object to that.

Sell. Why would a former defensive coordinator who has given his OC the keys to the offense want to call offensive plays?