CatsIllustrated - Buy or Sell: Your hot takes on Kentucky football
football Edit

Buy or Sell: Your hot takes on Kentucky football

Each week Cats Illustrated publisher Justin Rowland invites social media users to share their hot takes on Kentucky football.

Here they are, from the aftermath of UK's 20-13 win against Florida, along with responses...

I think there's something to what you're saying. Big home atmosphere, a Florida program that has caused so many problems in the fourth quarter, and now 3-0 in the SEC. There's always going to be a hump though, especially when your expectations are rising (and they should be rising).

No question about that. We've seen the impact of big wins on recruiting over the last several years. Beating Lamar Jackson and a Top-10 Louisville team on the road gave them a bump. Winning several games against top-25 teams in 2018 gave them a big bump to close that recruiting class. Based on the feedback we've heard so far, a bump's coming now, too.

I'd say the 1977 team and a couple of Bear Bryant's teams would have to be just a tick above the 2018 team, but in the more modern era that team would definitely get the nod.

I wouldn't go that far but if this team is 6-0 (4-0 SEC) after this weekend then there aren't too many teams better than them.

What I will say is after UGA and Alabama the sport is pretty wide open this year. Oklahoma has been unimpressive. Clemson probably isn't even a top-25 team right now. Notre Dame is down from where they've been recently. We're talking about Penn State and Iowa as a Top-5 matchup this weekend and it seems like Kentucky could give those teams a good game.

I don't know what to say about that yet. Too early. I think the '18 defense will probably prove to be slightly better than '21 but this year's offense is definitely better than that offense was.

Good point about the running game. We've spent so much time talking about Will Levis, Wan'Dale Robinson, the emergence of Izayah Cummings, etc., that we shouldn't forget it's the run game that makes everything go for them. When they're throwing off play action after setting up the defense that's a big difference. Run to set up the pass is who they're going to be.

It was nice to hear Stoops say that Paschal had one of the best games he's seen from any player in a long time because that's how it looked watching the game to me as well. He was rewarded for playing with that tremendous motor. To do that against that Florida offensive line was impressive as well. That unit had been very good this year.

All good points and I agree. Experience is the best thing Levis can gain right now and he's getting it every week.

I was surprised to see that call. My assumption is that had to be Stoops because I think it had only been dialed up maybe one other time all season...?

Great point about playing defense like that without McCall. I thought when he went down it was a really bad sign but Justin Rogers and Josaih Hayes stepped up big-time.

I will say that consistency from those young defensive linemen is going to be very important. It's hard to do that when you're young and still learning the defense and you haven't mastered technique or there are temptations to distraction.

Agreed. Take a moment to just think about how far the program has come. Not just from 2012 until now, but in terms of what most of us thought the program's realistic ceiling was. I thought for a long time they had to run an Air Raid or triple option in order to be successful via gimmick. What Stoops has done in building a real SEC team that can go toe to toe with almost anyone is impressive.


I'll probably pick them to beat LSU as well, but on paper it should be a close game.

Kentucky's defense is 19th in scoring, 12th in touchdowns allowed, No. 25 in rushing defense, No. 44 in passer rating allowed. We could run through more stats but my take is it's a top 15 or so defense. Where it fits into that from there, I'm not sure. I like how they come up in big situations. They could force more turnovers but they're playing at a high level right now.

I've seen a few people say that and I suppose that is probably correct. They haven't played their best offensive game and their best defensive game at the same time. That doesn't often happen. I'm not sure what their best game looks like but beating the No. 10 team in the country 20-13 is pretty good in my book. They fixed the ball security issue for the most part and played outstanding on defense. Offensively they were fine, they just didn't run many plays. I think people are waiting for UK to win by 21 and throw for 250 yards, but we'll see if that's in their DNA.

For sure, unlocking more of the offense's potential is what it's going to take if the team is going to mount a dark horse run at the East, however big a mountain Georgia seems to be.

The defense has been doing a ton this year. Going back on the field after turnovers. Coming up big on third and fourth and short situations. Responding when the opponent is the red zone. You probably can't do that perfectly in every game all season but they have been phenomenal so far. The offense has looked good when it has absolutely needed to put together a drive but rediscovering more of that explosiveness will be important for a game or two later this year.

I think it means a lot even if they were to lose to LSU. Anytime Kentucky beats Florida it's a big deal. Twice in 35 years. But no question a lot of fans are going to feel like it's a wasted opportunity if they don't win this weekend. I would just tap the brakes on that kind of thinking. Georgia and Alabama are on another level and there isn't too much difference between a bunch of other teams.

Buy, no question. I thought they were going to stay with tempo and try to push the ball up the field. I thought that was a sign of respect for Kentucky's defense. Those minutes at the end of the first half especially have not been as bad for Kentucky as they used to be. Some of that is probably Mark Stoops becoming a better coach. I think he's really settled into a comfortable place when it comes to managing games.

That's true but depending on what you mean by elite (I take that to mean one of the top few QBs in the country) then a lot of programs haven't had that. In the same time period they've had the best offensive lines, running backs, and defenses in the program's modern era. The passing game is the ongoing task for improvement and they have taken a step forward this year in that.

This team has a lot of leadership so they've got that going for them. The line was -3.5 UK last I checked and that makes sense for me. They could put it all together and play well for 60 minutes, but I'm leaning toward another one-score game. But I don't think motivation is going to be an issue with LSU in town.

That doesn't seem like an extreme prediction at all. Consider, UK is two games ahead of Florida in the SEC. LSU and Texas A&M are down. Those are three big TV draws for bowl matchups. If Kentucky wins against LSU and is 4-0, well ahead of those teams in the SEC standings, then they will be moving toward a NY6 bowl very quickly.

It's one of them for sure. Is it bigger or more defining than Stoops' 2018 win in the Swamp? I'm not sure. I do think this one was really big for the fan base, which wanted a really big win at home so badly. There was the '18 Mississippi State win but this one was bigger because it was Florida. Also tend to agree that White will have a good opportunity after this year if he wants it.

Kentucky has not really been thought of as a defensive program going back a long way and he has really helped get them over the hump there.

Buy and there's no doubt about that, at least so far this year. Four straight single possession games. Kentucky is clearly good at finishing close games, but three of those four games were closer than they probably should have been. Still, overall a net plus to be good at closing.