— I wrote my column about Will Stein’s game, the accomplishment of starting as a redshirt freshman walk-on, and winning in his first college start. I didn’t want to let the story slip by, though I know there’s a lot going on to address. So I’ll address it here.
— Attendance. 21,415. The lowest ever for a U of L game in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. The photo above was taken by C-J photographer Matt Stone at the opening kickoff. The fans sent a message tonight, without question. I’m not completely sure what the message is. I think that’s open to debate. But certainly, all but the hardest core of Cardinal fans has seen enough.
— The last regular-season game that Stein started in PJCS was in high school. The attendance was 37,750.
— U of L continuing to throw the ball instead of burning clock with an 8-point lead in the final minutes was the game’s worst managerial miscue.
— Not kicking a field goal on the last play of the first half as the second-worst. When asked why he didn’t, Kragthorpe said, “Did you see the other two field goals?” Ryan Payne missed both.
It was a rather flippant answer. Payne made all his extra point tries, and that field goal was, for all practical purposes, an extra-point try. Not kicking the field goal served to kill whatever fragile momentum the Cards built.
— Several people in the press box asked me if I’d heard the caller to Kragthorpe’s weekly radio show ask him why he didn’t go ahead and resign. It was a topic of conversation around the game, but that call was tame compared to some of the calls Rich Brooks received as UK coach, and some that Billy Gillispie fielded on his UK radio show. In general, UK doesn’t try to filter its callers to protect the coach. I’ve admired the way Brooks has handled such calls, and Kragthorpe handled his caller well.
Now, on events in Lexington . . .
— It was blackout night in Commonwealth Stadium. Unfortunately, the defense didn’t come to in time to make the game. Not sure where the run defense went, but it picked a bad night not to show.
— More end-of-game second-guessing here. Somehow, some way, you’ve got to give your best player a chance to make a play at the end. Randall Cobb, at wide receiver, is too easy to keep out of the picture. And it’s tough to put Morgan Newton in that position of winning at the end of a tight SEC game — unless you’re just building for the future. But this win would have kept alive the hope of potentially special outcome this season. And UK didn’t make the most of its chance at the end.
— I can’t help but think that not having a bye week is taking its toll on UK. And while it’s nice to have games like Louisiana-Monroe (and Arkansas State) to break up the conference play, you have to wonder if it isn’t wiser to build those into the earlier schedule to make sure you get a bye in conference. U of L, I know, didn’t intend to have a game in this slot, but had a couple of schools drop out of arrangements to play the second week of the season. Though it should be said, Kragthorpe has won on the last weekend of November in all three of his U of L seasons, so maybe it’s good for them that they played.
RADIO REPLAY: I appeared on WFPL’s “State of Affairs” in a round table with Fred Cowgill and Lachlan McClean on Friday. Listen to the replay here. Our segment is about a third of the way through the audio provided.