From a corner spot of a Panera Bread in Bentonville, Arkansas some random notes on last night's fiasco.
– My youngest son just messaged me to ask how miserable was last night?
Between the game and the weather, extremely miserable. I have covered a couple of weather delay games before, both UK-U of L, the first involving John L. Smith back in 2000. The second involved Bobby Petrino in 2004. What is it about those guys and storms? But in my 25 years of covering UK football as beat writer or columnist, I had never covered a weather-shortened game. Until last night.
– The 49-7 romp was apparently fun for Arkansas. Quarterback Tyler Wilson said afterward, “We had a lot of guys making plays, which is fun to watch.” Head coach John L. Smith said of his team's progress, “It's fun to watch.”
– The Arkansas players awarded John L. with a game ball, by the way, thanking him for his positive attitude. John L. is one of a kind, there's no doubt about that. He is now 4-2 against Kentucky as a head coach and will have plenty to needle his buddy, UK assistant Greg Nord, about the next time the two go on a “Cowboy” camping trip.
– Arkansas led 42-0 at the half. The last time the Razorbacks led a BCS school by 42 points at the half was 1978 when the Razorbacks were on top of Texas Tech 42-0. Arkansas won that game 49-7, as well, but without a weather delay.
– Oh, yeah, the 42-point win was the second-largest SEC win since Arkansas joined the league in 1992. The Razorbacks beat Mississippi State 52-6 in 2003. They whipped Tennessee 49-7 last year. And did we mention that last night they didn't play the fourth quarter?
– The thing about a weather-shortened game — it was officially called with 5:08 left in the third quarter — is that it skews all the statistics for we numbers guys. For instance, Arkansas gained 539 yards through 40 minutes, which is what the officials stats will list in the record books, but there was still 20 minutes left to play.
It's sort of like that 71-63 seven-overtime Kentucky-Arkansas game back in the Rich Brooks-Houston Nutt Era, which the Razorbacks won. You need to throw out all the stats of that game, as well.
– Tyler Wilson did complete 23 of 31 passes for 372 yards and five touchdowns before being relieved early in the third quarter. Wilson did not throw a TD pass last week at Auburn, just the second time in his 18 starts he failed to throw a scoring pass. He made up for that early Saturday, hitting freshman running back Jonathan Williams for a 74-yard touchdown on the Razorbacks' very first play.
– Kentucky trailed an eye-popping 28-0 at the end of the first quarter and the Cats have now gone 20 consecutive games without an offensive touchdown in the first 15 minutes. That's mind-boggling.
– Yes, the Cats are riddled with injuries and youth, but they were not anywhere close to competitive on Saturday night. Not in any phase of the game. Well, except punting.
– True freshman quarterback Jalen Whitlow was just two-of-10 for 83 yards through the air. Take away his 61-yard TD pass to LaRod King, and the freshman was one-of-nine for 22 yards. This is a kid who shared quarterback duties on his high school team last year.
– Next question: If Patrick Towles can come back from his ankle injury, do you play him? There are five games left in this lost season. Do you ruin any chance of applying for a medical redshirt for Towles by playing him in a no-hope season? I say no.
– Arkansas had gained 307 yards by the end of the first quarter. At that pace, the Razorbacks would have gained 1,228 total yards.
– UK defensive coordinator Rick Minter, “We got a total beating down today.”
– In 12 SEC games over the past season and a half, UK has been outscored by a combined 262 points. The Cats were outscored by 148 points in eight league games last year. They've been outscored by 114 points in four league games so far this year. And in one of those league games, they didn't play the fourth quarter.
– Former UK coach Rich Brooks tweeted last night, “My phone is going dead. The Cats are as well. Hang in there.”
– You have to wonder what Brooks is thinking. He either initiated or approved the Joker Phillips head-coach-in-waiting plan, after all. But then Phillips replaced some of Brooks' long-time assistants. One was Steve Brown as defensive coordinator and for all the complaints about Browns' vanilla schemes, the Cats have done no better under Minter. You can make the case they have been worse.
– As I said in my column this morning, I don't envy Mitch Barnhart. I know the UK AD wants to keep Phillips, but that's going to be a lot tougher stand to take after last night's debacle. If Barnhart can stand up in the face of what would be overwhelming criticism and say he is committed to Phillips and is bringing him back for 2013, more power to him. But that's going to be difficult to do.