Darrell Bird, General Manager of Cats Pause, once again offers his insights on the Georgia-Kentucky game Saturday. We really appreciate his time, especially since Darrell was in the midst of putting out a 312-page Kentucky Basketball Preview! Darrell is an excellent writer, witty and insightful. Follow him at CatsPause.com and on twitter @DarrellBird.
Talk about last season and what it meant to the Wildcat faithful.
“Last year’s 10-win season was only the third in school history and the first in four decades so you will excuse Big Blue Nation if they treated the Citrus Bowl victory over Penn State like the Super Bowl. But it was more than that, it validated what so many hard-core UK football fans have believed for years, that there is room in Lexington for an outstanding product in basketball and football.”
The facilities upgrade in Lexington have obviously made a big difference in recruiting, can you talk about how important that has been?
“I don’t know that Kentucky has landed any new recruits because of the new facilities – a promise AD Mitch Barnhart made to coach Mark Stoops during the hiring process – but it most certainly kept the Wildcats from losing a top-notch player once they got him on campus where he could compare facilities. If you’re not keeping up with the SEC football arms race, you’ve already lost.”
How nice was it to close out last season with that win over Penn State?
“Closing the deal last season by winning the Citrus Bowl was absolutely huge. It not only secured the magical 10 wins, but it gave Kentucky a victory over one of football’s long-standing blue bloods. Plus, it gave UK a huge momentum boost into the next recruiting season.”
What does Kentucky need to do to beat Georgia?
“Kentucky is not beating Georgia in Athens. The injury to quarterback Terry Wilson, and subsequent injuries to backup Sawyer Smith, a Troy graduate transfer, has, unfortunately, put UK into a search for six wins and the continuation of postseason bowl games. You just can’t absorb those kinds of injuries and expect to topple Georgia.”
What is your take on Georgia?
“I truly believe this is the year Georgia topples Alabama, assuming Alabama gets by LSU for the West title. The Bulldogs have been good enough to topple the mighty Saban and this is the year the Student schools the Master.”
How big are the annual hoops’ expectations on the bluegrass?
“Same as every year, national title or bust (something to which Georgia football fans can relate). Only this time Kentucky, in a rarity, returns four quality players to go with an outstanding crop of freshmen which means those expectations are not outrageous. UK is preseason No. 2 and opens the 2019-20 season against No. 1 Michigan State in New York.”
What are some of the things you would like to see changed or adjusted in college football/athletics?
“Targeting. For the love of Y.A. Tittle, please change this targeting rule. If the receiver is standing still or upright when the defensive player drills him helmet to helmet, that is targeting. But this nonsense that the offensive player can move into the defender’s path after he has already committed to the spot and the penalty still be against the defense is absurd. Allow for common sense to interpret intent. Until then, at least modify the penalty to a 15-yard personal foul with more severe punishment on the second offense.”