VANDERBILT 40, KENTUCKY 0
Nov. 3, 2012
Commonwealth Stadium, Lexington
It was a game fitting of the fewer than 30,000 fans who braved a cold drizzle for the start of Vanderbilt at Kentucky Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium. Four special team blunders within the first 25 minutes of action and an inability to stop the Commodores on third down resulted in the lopsided 40-0 loss.
Vanderbilt, behind quarterback Jordan Rodgers, was rolling offensively but the Cats continued to aid the process with special teams mistakes that boosted the Commodores’ field position or penalized there own. Once, UK caught a fair catch punt at its own 5-yard line and twice they ran into a Vanderbilt return man who had signaled fair catch. Given those inducements, there was no way to keep Vandy out of the end zone.
Kentucky’s offense, meanwhile, did not even reach the red zone until an Ashely Lowery intereception and return set up UK at the Vandy 12 late in the third quarter. Unfortunately, the drive stalled when La’Rod King dropped a pass on fourth down at the 2.
WHAT’S IT MEAN?
Another bad loss, another nail in the coffin.
“We’re definitely now proud of how we performed today. What’s hurtful is how we played two weeks ago. We haven’t gotten to that level the last couple of weeks.”
“I think Joker is doing a good job, they’re playing hard. They have a lot of youth.” – Vandy coach James Franklin.
FROM THE LOCKER ROOM
“It’s always depressing after a loss, nobody likes to lose and on top of that being shutout at home. It’s real hard but we have to keep fighting.” – UK’s Ashely Lowery.
9. Part of the reason that Vanderbilt put the game away with a 27-0 first half is that the Commodores converted 9-of-11 times on third or fourth down. Kentucky entered the game with an SEC worst 55% third down conversions allowed.
If you’re cruel, you say it was when Vanderbilt hired James Franklin last season and energized the traditionally moribund program. The ‘Dores won 38-8 last year on the way to a bowl bid and blitzed the Cats again this season to pick up their fifth victory while UK, with just one win, misses a bowl for the second straight year.
DID YOU NOTICE?
The attendance? How could you not. Fan displeasure with the lack of success reached a season low with fewer than 30,000 in attendance, despite the official tickets sold report from UK. The eyeball test showed fewer than 200 students.
In a stunning testimony to two similar programs headed into opposite direction, Vanderbilt has now outscored Kentucky 78-8 over the last two games. More tragic, it’s the worst loss by UK to Vandy since 1916.
If it can go wrong, it will go wrong could have been the theme for the first quarter of Kentucky’s game with Vanderbilt on Saturday. On fourth down of its first possession, Vandy connected on a 34-yard touchdown pass. On fourth-and-1 of UK’s first possession, the Cats converted only to then go in reverse. It ended when Craig McIntosh’s 50 yard field goal attempt landed on the ‘E’ in KENTUCKY in the end zone. The goal post is between the ‘T’ and ‘U’. The low line drive miss left McIntosh 3-of-9 on field goals of more than 40 yards, 5-of-11 total for the season. The quarter ended with Vandy eight yards from another score...
Total Yards: Kentucky 59; Vanderbilt 115
... two plays later, Vanderbilt scored on a three-yard run by Wesley Tate. The Commodores would go on to score two more touchdowns, aided in part by special teams blunders and UK’s inability to stop Vandy on third down. By halftime, Vandy led 27-0. Dating back to last season, the perennial SEC cellar dweller had outscored Kentucky 65-8 over the last six quarters.
Total Yards: Kentucky 92; Vanderbilt 154
Picking up where it left off, Kentucky went three-and-out and then Vandy scored on its first possession as backup Brian Kimbrow ran up the middle untouched for a 33-yard score and a 34-0 lead. Bright side? At least the sun was out and the cold rain had stopped. Otherwise, the quarter was merely an exercise in passing time and getting the game over for Vanderbilt and UK continuing to struggle to put together any kind of offensive challenge.
Total Yards: Kentucky 65; Vanderbilt 104
Kentucky’s continued attempts to create a passing attack under Patrick Towles enabled Vanderbilt to get more opportunities on offense. Trying to cruise to the finish line, the Commodores tacked on two field goals to reach the 40-point plateau.
Total Yards: Kentucky 44; Vanderbilt 74
Most believed coach Joker Phillips’ fate was sealed before the game, but the embarrassment that was a second consecutive blowout loss to Vanderbilt – yes, Vanderbilt – makes a coaching change impossible to prevent at this point.
Kentucky (1-9, 0-7 SEC) has a merciful open week before returning to Commonwealth for the home finale Nov. 16 against Samford.