Kentucky Football is 5-1 After Rolling ULM with "Catch of the Day"
Patrick Towles did not crack a smile.
“I would say I expected us to be 6-0,” he said, after a reporter asked him if, at the beginning of the season, he would have expected Kentucky to be 5-1 after six games.
“For sure,” Towles continued. “No doubt.”
The Kentucky quarterback, after his sixth career start resulted in a 48-14 romp over Louisiana-Monroe, still didn’t smile. And he didn’t need to, because no part of what he said was supposed to be funny. Just the 100 percent truth from the leader of a team that suddenly is not being laughed at on a national scale.
This team did expect to be 6-0, and if Southeastern Conference officials had paid more attention to the play clock in Gainesville a few weeks ago, it would be 6-0. Instead, the Wildcats will have to settle for being 5-1 for the first time since 2007 and just the seventh time since Paul “Bear” Bryant roamed the sidelines. (Kentucky was also 5-1 in 1950, 1976, 1977, 1983 and 1984).
There were times on Saturday when fans could have easily doubted that Kentucky would win the game at all. The Wildcats got off to a horrendous start against Louisiana-Monroe, and were quickly staring at a 14-3 deficit by the end of the first quarter.
But in the midst of a sputtering offense and a porous defense, senior defensive end Bud Dupree got animated in the huddle and told the team this wasn’t who they were.
“Once you see guys holding their head down, you don’t play football like that,” Dupree said. “That’s not the team we are anymore.”
Then, thanks to one span of about 65 seconds, the Wildcats were rolling once more, and producing the kind of football that warrants their high level of confidence. Towles shook himself out of his early rut enough to complete an 83-yard touchdown pass to Javess Blue, who became the first player in UK history to have two touchdown receptions of 83 yards or more (he had an 88-yarder last year).
A minute later, the defense got itself together as well: Linebacker Josh Forrest intercepted Pete Thomas’ pass and took it to the house, giving Kentucky a 17-14 lead. Towles’ touchdown pass to Blake Bone later in the quarter added to that lead, and the romp was on. The Wildcats scored 45 straight unanswered points to win 48-14, erasing Louisiana-Monroe’s solid start.
“At the end of the day we got done what we needed to get done. We didn’t have a great week of practice,” offensive coordinator Neal Brown said. “We didn’t handle prosperity well, but with all that said, we’re 5-1 after six games. We’re 5-0 here at home. We’ve taken care of business – very easily, couple plays here, a couple plays there, from being 6-0.”
And that’s still not enough for a Kentucky team that is suddenly tied for first in the SEC East, garnering attention from national commentators and playing with a level of confidence not seen on a Kentucky football field in years.
“We’re not satisfied with five,” Towles said. “We’re not gonna be satisfied with six when we get six, whether it’s this week or the week after that or whatever. … Six is next.”
Even with a poor start against a Sun Belt team, Kentucky still found a way to get done what was expected of it. Now, it’s time to do what’s not expected of it.
Next up is a night game at LSU in Death Valley next Saturday.
“This team this year has a different vibe,” Dupree said. “A different swag.”
He wasn’t joking, either.
Ashley Scoby is a senior journalism major at the University of Kentucky. She has reported on the Wildcats for wildcathoops.com, vaughtsviews.com and kysportsreport.com as well as for newspapers in Danville and Glasgow. This article first appeared at KY Forward.
Photo: Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles wan’t kidding when he said he expected the Cats to be 5-1 this season (UK Athletics Photo/Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports)