The Kentucky football program is at one of the lowest points in the history of the game. If the Wildcats lose to Missouri next week, Kentucky’s all-time win and loss record will fall below .500 for the first time since 1902. That is one hundred and ten years, which is a pretty long time. This brings up an important question, what has went wrong with Kentucky football? Most are quick to point the finger at Joker Phillips. To be honest, much blame does lay on his shoulders. However, there are some more factors that I believe you also have to consider when thinking about the poor season the football Cats are currently having.
Joker Phillips currently has one of the youngest football teams in the nation. The Wildcats lack of experience on the field certainly has much to do with their poor play. Take a look at the depth chart for the Arkansas game a couple weeks back. On defense alone, 23 of the 30 players that made the trip to Arkansas were freshmen and sophomores. Remember the Florida game? 46 of the 70 players on the entire team were also freshmen and sophomores.
Kentucky can’t seem to catch a break this season, unless that break is an acl or a bone. The injury bug has ravaged the Kentucky Wildcats. Every quarterback that Joker has tried to put on the field has gotten banged up in some way or another. Max Smith is gone for season. Morgan Newton is limited because of his ongoing shoulder injury. Patrick Towles is possibly out for the season. Against Georgia, Jalen Whitlow suffered migraines, possibly because of hits. Again, this is just at the QB position. I could go on and on about the other injuries, like Martavious Neloms, but it would take all day.
Kentucky is lucky enough to be in the greatest football conference in America, the SEC. Because of that, they also have to deal with having one of the tougher schedules each year. How does their strength of schedule stack up against of teams in the NCAA this season? They are ranked # 1 in terms of how hard their schedule is. That’s right. No other team in the land has a harder schedule than the Kentucky Wildcats. Add this to the the other factors you are reading here and that spells disaster.
A Fan Base with No Confidence in the Head Coach
Attendance at Commonwealth stadium is bad. That is an understatement. Season ticket sales are down. Individual game sales aren’t doing much better. Why? The fans believe that by not attending games, they are making a statement to UK that they want a new Coach. The point is taken. However, a side effect of this is poor player and coach morale. The players all know the fans don’t like Joker. Joker knows the fans don’t like him. How do you think this makes the players feel? It hasn’t made them play better that is for sure. I believe it is making them play worse. Players are there to entertain you. If the crowd is in it, they are going to play better. Point , blank, period.
Among the SEC, Kentucky has some of the worse facilities in the conference. I’m not just talking about an aging Commonwealth stadium. The recruiting rooms and player practice areas are bad too. Joker can’t be blamed for this. UK and the Kentucky State legislature have to be pointed at for this one. In order to upgrade practices areas and new arenas, the University has to work with the State to get things done. Well, it looks like this isn’t happening. You can’t expect Joker to recruit well when the players he is trying to swoon to UK have just visited the Utopia’s at Auburn or Alabama.
I know you probably thought I am just trying to make excuses for Joker. You are wrong. I blame him too. Play calling on the field has been horrendous. I realize that Joker has offensive and defensive coordinators who call most of the plays, however it all still falls back on him. If something isn’t going right, Joker has to go to the coordinators and make some changes. I don’t see that happening. Also, clock management has been bad on more than one occasion. This falls directly back to him. I know Joker has had to deal with a lot of things this season, however I just don’t see how his reaction to those problems justify bringing him back. It is time for a change.