Before you start the whole “Quit whining about the refs” thought that you’re having right this moment, hear me out. I totally concede the fact that Florida has had the dominant football program for 30 plus years right now. Very few of those times, has UK had the opportunity to win football games. When the Cats do have those rare chances, a combination of silly mistakes by players, coaches, and/or bad officiating cost the Cats a chance to beat Florida. Over the past few years, UK has had 3 chances to beat Florida. While UK has had major mistakes, the officials have made blunders in those games that certainly have not gone Kentucky’s way. Let’s start with the 2014 game in the swamp as the first case in point:
Kentucky and Florida headed to overtime tied 20-20 in a tightly contested game. On the first play of overtime, Kentucky running back Boom Williams struck pay dirt as UK took a 27-20 lead. Florida was given a chance to respond and the UK defense responded. On 4th and 7 from the 9 yard line, Kentucky appeared destined to win. As you can clearly see, Florida was allowed to snap the ball with no time left on the play clock in Gainesville. Yes, Kentucky could have stopped the play, and maybe if the Gators are backed up 5 yards, they still don’t stop it. What is indisputable is this: the officials blew this call.
In 2015 in Lexington, Kentucky and Florida engaged in another hard fought battle. Facing a 4th and 22 with 40 seconds to go in the 4th quarter, Patrick Towles dropped back to pass and was looking deep for Ryan Timmons. Timmons was double covered but the Florida defensive back got his hands on Timmons chest as you can see below:
Because of the Florida defender getting his hands on Timmons, it caused him to lose his balance as you can see below:
As a result of the contact to the chest from the Florida players hands, Timmons looses his balance and falls down. Right in front of an official. I mean, directly in front of a referee. Not 15 yards away, not 10 yards away, not 5 yards away, but literally just a few feet away from this play as you can see below:
I heard on sports talk radio, from the commentators, and the folks on SEC network that the play was a good “no call”. While I’m a die hard UK fan, I had to concede the point, and pretty much agreed that Timmons should have been more aggressive in trying to get the ball. However, there is little debate that TECHNICALLY, it was indeed pass interference on Florida.
Now we get to this past weekend’s 28-27 Florida victory. Yes, I completely understand that Stoops and Matt House let UK’s defense leave Florida wide receivers uncovered twice. There is no defense of that. It’s simply unacceptable. However, at the end of the game, Stephen Johnson did what Stephen Johnson does and led the Cats’ on a game winning drive. On 4th and 11 Johnson hit Charles Walker for a first down, and on the next play Benny Snell busted a 15 yard run all the way down to the 20 yard line. That was until a holding call on Nick Haynes nullified the chip shot attempt by Austin McGinnis. Let’s take a look at the “hold” through a series of pictures:
As you can see Hayne’s hands are a little outside, but positions isn’t bad.
This photo is the strongest case for the holding penalties as the Florida defensive lineman reached for Snell as Haynes’ hands were on the outside. However, anyone that watches football on a regular basis knows that this takes place literally every play.
The next picture shows Haynes riding Bryan to the ground. Again, this is something that happens every single play.
Am I disputing that this was a hold? No. It absolutely was. However, knowing that this type of hold takes place every single down, I’m inclined to think that you don’t throw a flag with 8 seconds left in the game. Like in 2016, you let the players decide the outcome. On the previous possession, Florida was allowed to grab Denzil Ware around the waist on 4th and 1 with no flag thrown. See for yourself:
It’s not disputable. The SEC officials are NOT consistent in the UK-Florida games. And the calls or no calls always go the way of the Gators. Could UK take care of business and not need those calls to go their way? Yes, no doubt about it. However, at this level of football, especially in the SEC, I expect officiating to be as good as the level of play on the field.
The eye in the sky don’t lie. The officials have been bad in the UK-Florida series.