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An open letter to the University of Kentucky football team:
The No. 1 team in the nation came into your house and left with a win after putting up 41 points to your 7.
Another top 5 team came into your house and handed you a loss, 38 to 20.
Obviously, neither of these endings is quite what you (or your fans) hoped for — but heads up, boys. It’s only as bad as you make it.
I’ll admit, I don’t know near as much about football as you all do. But I am learning and while what I’m about to suggest won’t be the only solution, I think it will definitely help.
Guys, what we have here is an attitude problem. No, you’re not too cocky (nor should you get that way). In fact, it’s just the opposite.
It doesn’t seem like you believe in yourself — at least not enough or not for too long.
At the beginning of the game, you might rank around a seven on a scale of one to 10, but if the quarterback throws an interception or if your defense allows a touchdown or two, that number falls exponentially — and lets be honest, it won’t take long for it to hit rock bottom.
You let your mistakes get in your head. Instead of letting them get you down, learn from them.
It seems that some players, although I won’t name them, struggle with this a lot. And to those players I say:
From the fans’ perspective, it looks like you start the game feeling alright, not great, but OK. Then, when something goes the wrong way, as in not in your favor, you beat yourself up.
I imagine you focus on those errors, lose your head in the negativity clouds and take your eyes off the goal(line).
You have a lot of potential. I hear your coaches talk about it all the time on the radio. Sure, you might hear a boo or seven from the stands at Commonwealth, but don’t let that knock you off your feet. Use it to fuel your flame. Say, “Take that!” And don’t be afraid to throw the ball down the field to an open receiver.
I have a feeling that you know you’re a better player than what we’ve seen so far — so let us see it. I guarantee that if you keep your confidence up and your head in the game for a full 60 minutes, you’d turn the tables.
That goes for the whole team.
I hear you individually saying that your team has talent, enough talent, in fact, to compete with the best of the best. I agree. But talent can’t use itself.
It’s easy to talk about all the talent in the world when you’re not on the playing field. But instead of saying “we need to improve this” or “we should have done that,” build up the confidence to do it.
You are Wildcats during an important time for Wildcat football. Three bowl wins in three years? That doesn’t just happen all the time, and you have the potential to make it four.
Man up a little. Focus on the positives. Learn from your mistakes. Listen to your coaches.
Turn your capabilities into actualities and the only “boos” you’ll be hearing will be followed by “hoos” as your opponents are walking off the field.
Follow Shannon Brock at Twitter.com/ANewsSBrock