We tackle the best question asked by Kentucky fans every day. If you’d like to submit a question, tweet to Kyle Tucker here and Joe Mussatto here. Look for the Question of the Day every Monday through Friday.
Kentucky finished 7-5 for the second straight season. Not surprisingly, many fans were unhappy with the mark. And that brings us to the Kentucky question of the day: Was Kentucky’s season a success, failure, on par with expectations or will the bowl result decide?
In a Twitter poll conducted in the most unscientific manner possible, here’s how 384 respondents voted: 36 percent bowl game will decide, 36 percent on par with expectations, 19 percent failure and 9 percent success.
Need some help for a future @SECCountryUK question of the day. Was Kentucky's season a success, failure, on par with expectations or are you waiting on the bowl result to decide?
— Joe Mussatto (@joe_mussatto) November 27, 2017
First, 384 people aren’t representative of the entire fan base. Second, there’s no way to ensure that those who voted were Kentucky fans or have knowledge of the program. But the numbers are interesting for a few reasons. The bowl game, which can sometimes feel like an afterthought, is important to a lot of people. The Wildcats are likely to play in the Music City Bowl against Purdue, Iowa or Northwestern.
And as far as thoughts on the season, many in the poll believed 7-5 was about right. Only 9 percent labeled the season a success, and 19 percent thought it was a failure.
That’s a more level-headed approach than social media often indicates.
Kentucky is one of only two schools in the nation that has tied or improved its win total in each of the last five seasons. Mark Stoops was awarded a one-year extension for leading Kentucky to seven wins, and our own Kyle Tucker made the case that Stoops is still the man for the job.
But obviously things aren’t all positive on the football front in Lexington. Sure, 7-5 is a success in a historical context for Kentucky, but losing to a bad Florida team was a disappointment. A home loss to Ole Miss and a 44-17 blowout loss to Louisville at home didn’t make things better.
Wins at South Carolina and at home against Missouri were the biggest boosts to the résumé. And beating Tennessee, even in its current state, is always going to be a big win.
The most glaring negative was that the defense — in Year 5 under Stoops — was statistically worse compared to last season. Kentucky dropped from 85th in total defense in 2016 to 93rd this season. The Wildcats allowed an average of 426 yards per game and ranked last in the SEC in pass defense. Receivers were left uncovered for touchdowns against Florida. And against Louisville, not being able to slow Heisman winner Lamar Jackson was one thing, but Kentucky embarrassed itself in the process.
The poll probably is right. Labeling Kentucky’s season as a success or failure would be going too far in either direction. A seven-win season is on par with expectations, but the Wildcats could soothe frustrations by bringing a bowl win back to Lexington.
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