Â By CHRISTIE LEIGH MUELLER
Copy Editor & WriterÂ
The long-awaited match-up is behind us. The Cardinals captured the Governorâ€™s Cup but not without partially disapointing their fan-base and giving the Wildcats hope that their season is not all lost.
The new surge in aspirations for a tough Kenutcky team and a still undefeated Louisville team was enough to make our beloved rival hosts exchange fire-infused opinions over whatâ€™s to come for the red and blue teams â€“ and their coaching staffs.
TONY VANETTI: I was a little off my 20-point prediction so letâ€™s give credit where credit is due. The Kentucky defense played much better than I thought they were capable of playing. The secondary specifically played very well and I thought Stoopsâ€™ defensive plan was very good. Something I did not expect from this team.
Louisville fans can say it just took a while for Teddy to wake up. On the other hand, Kentuckyâ€™s defensive line did a great job of getting pressure and pushing and not allowing the running game to get going for the University of Louisville.Â So credit where credit is due, the first half goes to the coaching staff of the University of Kentucky.
MATT JONES: Will you please stop talking? That was like eight paragraphs without interruption.Â The notion that it took Teddy a while to wake upÂ is the stupidest thing Iâ€™ve ever heard.Â Louisvilleâ€™s scheduleâ€¦ they donâ€™t play anyone all season. This was probablyâ€“along with the Cincinnati gameâ€“their biggest game of the year.Â So the notion that they werenâ€™t ready to play, thatâ€™s on them. If youâ€™re a Kentucky fan, youâ€™ve got to be pleased.Â It reminds me of the game in 2010 in Papa Johnâ€™s Stadium when Kentucky was supposed to roll over Louisville and Louisville hung around and hung around and you left that stadium going, â€˜hey, these two teams are going to be close in the years to come.â€™
VANETTI: I think there was some entitlement going on for the University of Louisville in the first half.Â Iâ€™ll be honest, I didnâ€™t like the jawing in between the plays on Louisvilleâ€™s side of the ball.Â I thought that Kentucky was playing them well.Â I mean, 3-3 in the first quarter; thatâ€™s not what Louisville fans expected.Â Again, they won by two touchdowns on the road, a new tick against their rival, and Louisville fans arenâ€™t happy. They need to get a grip.
JONES: Well no, they shouldnâ€™t be happy.Â Look, you guys have no room for error. Especially for what you want to accomplish.Â With that terrible schedule, you canâ€™t just win, you have to win convincingly. And you probably wonâ€™t have a stage like that again with the national television audience. I can understand why Louisville fans are upset.
VANETTI: There is only about a 5% chance that Louisville lands luckily in the national championship game.Â But really, I think most people are ready to concede: you run the table, go to the Orange Bowlâ€“or if you go back to the Sugar Bowl againâ€“ you just go to your BCS bowl, win all of these games and move on to the ACC next year.
JONES:Â But thatâ€™s kind of a shame, isnâ€™t it? This is the best team youâ€™ll ever have. I mean, youâ€™re going to lose Bridgewater and a fewâ€“
VANETTI:Â No. Thatâ€™s not, no…
JONES: â€“How in the world are you ever going to be better next year? You have, for the first time, probably the first pick of the draft as your quarterback, and you have a first round NFL wide receiver who are your offense. That team is not going to be better. And your schedule next year is brutal because it also includes Notre Dame in addition to those ACC teams. So, this is your year. If it doesnâ€™t happen this year, I donâ€™t know how you think it can happen next year, or any year to come.
VANETTI: Your Honor, exhibit A of Kentucky football fandom and why they continue to fail. Exactly, you want to say, â€œthis is your best chance, you can never go out and get better players, youâ€™re never going to be able to get another Bridgewaterâ€¦â€
JONES: You canâ€™t.Â Youâ€™re not going to get better than the number one pick, Tony.
VANETTI:Â Is this team better than the Brian Brohm Orange Bowl team?
JONES:Â Yes, I think so, and Iâ€™ll tell you why. The Brian Brohm Orange Bowl team was deeper, but. The thing about Bridgewater is that heâ€™s so good, itâ€™s hard to see yâ€™all getting upset the way they did with Brian Brohm at Rutgers. I donâ€™t think Louisville gets upset because heâ€™s so good; he doesnâ€™t make stupid mistakes.Â He is as good a quarterback as weâ€™ve seen in college football in a long time. The problem is, he doesnâ€™t have the people around him to contend for a title. But youâ€™re never going to ever have a quarterback as good as him again.
VANETTI:Â You want points for being nice for telling the truth. I mean, yes, Teddy is one of the best quarterbacks in the country. But you go out and get more of those guys.
JONES: But who on your roster is as good as Teddy Bridgewater?
VANETTI: This is a beginning, not an ending, Matthew.
JONES: Letâ€™s talk recruits.Â UK and UofL have gone after 11 players who all have offers from both schools.Â Even though Kentucky is coming off of a 2-11 season and UofL is coming off of a Sugar Bowl win, Kentucky has won 9 out of the 11 recruits.Â I donâ€™t know how you all of the sudden think things are going to get better.
VANETTI: Yes, because you can promise all of these kids playing time right now and that their coaches will be there in three years. Louisville, they donâ€™t lose anybody but Teddy and maybe a wide receiver. Everyone comes back the next year, and the next year. You have time to recruitâ€¦
JONES: Thatâ€™s not true, thatâ€™s not true that everyone comes back. You guys have a senior-laden defense, but regardlessâ€¦
VANETTI: Do your homework.
JONES:Â If you say it seven times, it doesnâ€™t make it any truer. Going forward, for Kentucky, this is a positive and going in the right direction. For Louisville, I thinkÂ Saturdayâ€™s game has to be a slight disappointment. Yes, you beat your rival on their home field, which is a great victory. And yes youâ€™re still ahead of Kentucky. But Kentucky trends up here. Whatever the small percentage of hope for a Louisville title game was on Friday, it was far less on Sunday.
VANETTI: Well, congratulations on the moral victory.Â The year of the Cardinals continues a little longer.
JONES: Ha. Florida in two weeks, we need to touch on this.Â I donâ€™t expect Kentucky to win, but if they did, that would probably be the end of the Will Muschamp era.Â And you know who their number one choice is going to beâ€¦ Itâ€™s going to be a strong guy who fills out his sweater at Louisville. How great would it be if Kentucky was to beat Florida and thatâ€™s what sends Charlie to Florida? I might celebrate that a little.
VANETTI: You should know more than anybody that losing to Kentucky is certainly a firing offense in the SEC.
JONES: Yes. and then Florida hires Coach Strong and everybodyâ€™s happy.Â Louisville can go back to being not cared about by anyone.