A thing of beauty…

According to an online publication entitled Idiom of the Week, it is unknown exactly from where or how the idiom Beauty is in the eye of the beholder originated. It has been used in different forms since the 3rd century BC when it first appeared in Greek. We have some idea when it first appeared in literature, however, as an author named Margaret Wolfe Hungerford included the phrase in her book Molly Bawn, in 1878. It has become the most cited idiom for the proposition of the principle that beauty is subjective. Well, to head coach Lakunta Farmer and me, Saturday’s win over Tennessee 8-6, Coach Farmer’s third consecutive win in the series, was a thing of beauty; though it may not have been fairly appreciated by everyone viewing it at Toyota Stadium on the campus of Georgetown College.

Tennessee kept Kentucky’s offense out of the end zone all day. What Tennessee’s offense forgot to do was keep Kentucky’s defense out of the end zone. Kentucky, in the first quarter, looking as if they were going for it on 4th and 5 from about the Tennessee 35 yards line, had QB Preston Agee catch the ball and quickly pooch it with Tennessee having no one back to field the punt. Agee’s pooch rolled dead close to six inches from the goal line. Tennessee, which ran the spread all afternoon, working from under center very rarely, snapped it 6 yards deep into the end zone to initiate its zone read play which is a slow developing running play and is designed for either the running back to carry it up the middle, or if the end plays fast down the line, the QB is to pull it and run around end. Now, the ball was given to the running back, but after taking the hand-off, he got re-directed outside by immediate penetration from two interior defensive linemen in Brandon Hobbs and Jacoby Thornsbury who gave the Tennessee o-line fits all day long.  The Tennessee running back, trying to skirt a charging Ben Vaughn, who took the perfect pursuit angle to keep stringing the back toward the sideline, avoided Vaughn but couldn’t avoid DB Shawn Bush who, also angling with the play, came up and made a great open-field tackle in the end zone for a safety. Kentucky led at that point 2-0.

That would be the only scoring for either team the entire first half as Kentucky took a 2-0 lead into the halftime locker room. Then in the 3rd quarter, Tennessee found the end zone for its lone score as the Tennessee receiver got off a tackle at the 3rd level and raced into the open field all the way to pay dirt. Tennessee now led 6-2. Although the Kentucky offense, most of the day, was able to run the ball on the ground effectively behind the running of Ja’waun Waun-Waun Northington (offensive MVP) and Jymarrie The Jaguar Johnson, either penalties, misses in the passing game, or negative running plays inside the red zone, always seemed to bog Kentucky down short of scoring TDs. So, the defense must have decided, well, if it is to be… In the second half, defensive MVP, Dane Key from Lexington, Kentucky, on his second pick of the afternoon, decided to take number 2 to the end zone himself, providing Kentucky the winning margin of 8-6.

There were plenty of unsung heroes in this game, just like in the 7th grade contest. First of all, the defensive front for Kentucky was nasty all afternoon and the linebacker play with Will Darragh and Ben Vaughn, but especially just the entire unit, for the second consecutive year, was outstanding. Thornsbury and Dobbs spent as much time in the backfield as the Tennessee running backs. On the offensive front kudos go out to Anthony Big Bear Johns and Landon Nokes who, between the two, bottled up Tennessee’s superstar DE, Malachi Harrison (last year’s defensive MVP for TN), whom I actually forgot was on the field at all. I would be remiss in not mentioning the outstanding play of two guards, Owen LeMaster from Johnson Central and Hopkinsville‘s William Hughes. Both of these guards, whom KPGFootball believes to be two of the top 5 guards in all of Kentucky’s 2022 class, came through late, with Kentucky needing to chew up clock and keep the ball away from Tennessee’s offense, and drove their defenders clear back to the third level, time after time. I thought I was watching the popular movie, The Blind Side. LeMaster delivered a pancake block for Kentucky in the second quarter. In the end the effort by Kentucky’s Future Stars team was just an everybody pitched in type of thing with few individual standouts and a beautiful job of winning upfront on both sides of the ball.

Tennessee, as a state, has many more players from whom to choose a team. After all, Tennessee has 6.716 million residents versus Kentucky’s rather paltry, in comparison, 4.454 million. Tennessee’s Future Stars team is always tough and loaded with talent, particularly speedy skills. For Kentucky to win the game, we have to play our game and turn the contest into more of a slugfest than a figurative exhibition of Lipizzaner stallions. Before coach Farmer took over Team Kentucky’s 8th grade fortunes, we tended too often to play a brand of football which was more suited to what Tennessee could do, instead of doing what Kentucky does best. What Kentucky does best is stand toe to toe, big to big, and engage in a slugfest. It’s slow, down, dirty, and Saturday, to the eyes of this reporter, it was a thing of beauty.

This is Fletcher Long, reporting for KPGFootball reminding you to PLAY THROUGH THE WHISTLE!

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