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  • The Cats' Win At Southern Miss Enjoyable but not Pretty

    By: LONNY DEMAREE

    Winning is always good especially in an opener on the road. Especially to a team that defeated you in a opener at you place a year ago. The Golden Eagles were primed to compete and win that game having the momentum on their side. Again especially have “Uncle Mo” on their side in the fourth quarter having cut the lead to seven points.

    For the fans that made the trip to Hattiesburg, Mississippi no doubt there were mixed emotions. Happy with the win but disgruntled with the way it was achieved. One only has to be informed the Vegas point spread dropped a whole point and a half on game day to just nine points.

    There was little joy at mudville for the traveling BBN where the natives go Noodling for Catfish. On the football field they were wrangling for (Wild)cats.

    Conversely, there was joy in the Wildcats locker room sprinkled with a touch of reality. They know on some level given the fact they've got to correct some things to win against some better teams. To that end some of the joy of winning was temper when the joy-ship settled back to earth.

    Stoops refused to not be happy with the win because he remembered what happened in his inaugural game (2013) as the Kentucky Head Coach at LP Stadium in Nashville Tennessee when he suffered a 35-26 defeat to Western Kentucky University. What a punch in the gut especially after what coach Willie Taggart has accomplished the previous year at Commonwealth Stadium. A trick play on UK's two-yard line weighed heavily in the overtime WKU's 32-31 victory.

    Mark Stoops did not want a repeat of a what could have been very a similar scenario so that's why the reaction after the game. “We've got to get some things ironed out,” Stoops said. “That's what I love about it. It was a hard-fought victory. It was a thing of beauty to me.” Stoops said the overall operation of the offensive line was not smooth and those thing are fixable. This was a contributing factor of not moving the chains and led to only 55-plays in the game.

    Stoops said he was please with the team unity and unselfishness. “This is the best we've played fundamentally in the defensive line in a long time,” the coach said. “We were really aggressive and played with passion.” Stoops said they played nine guys on the interior line and all of them with very little drop off.” The burning question unfortunately is Matt Elam's performance. “He played well,” said Stoops. Thirty-percent of the tackles in the game were made by the interior defensive line.

    It was obvious the offensive brain-trust held some things back in this game. And perhaps this is the source of Stoops' joy because they won the game with defense. And defense is his bailiwick.