Kentucky’s defense rises to the occasion

All hail Sweet Pea. And dominating Dewayne. And Jeremy. And Otis, my man.

All hail the front four that came to the fore, that chased, and disrupted, and harassed and last night turned this Kentucky-Louisville football rivalry directly on its head.

Their names are Vincent “Sweet Pea” Burns and Dewayne Robertson and Jeremy Caudill and Otis Grigsby. They are Kentucky’s defensive line.

And before a record crowd of 42,660 at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, they were simply the difference as the Cats upset the 17th-ranked Cards, 22-17.

The front four rushed. The front four chased. The front four set up camp in the Louisville backfield. And with a few well-timed blitzes mixed in, the much-maligned UK defense took advantage of an inexperienced and overmatched Louisville offensive line to pound poor Louisville quarterback Dave Ragone all I night I long.

“They beat him to a pulp,” said U of L Coach John L. Smith.

Just when many figured it would be the Cats beaten to a pulp. Louisville had won three straight and five of eight overall since the re-birth of the in-state series back in 1994. With a dominating defense, and a Heisman Trophy-candidate quarterback in Ragone, Smith’s team was a solid two-touchdown favorite to run Cardinals rule to four in a row.

The one chink in the Cardinals’ armor was the offensive line, and yet even that was supposed to be overridden by the experienced Ragone, a pro- type quarterback. Big. Strong. Agile. Can run.

Most of last night, however, Ragone was running for his life.

“We knew we had to put heat on Ragone,” UK Coach Guy Morriss said, “and we did that.”

Heat is one thing. An inferno is another.

Leading the chase was Burns, a sophomore who sat out last year after transferring from Northern Arizona. The 6-foot-2, 258-pounder was relentless from his left end spot.

Up the middle came Caudill, a 297-pound junior from Prestonsburg who seemed to think Ragone’s chest was the best seat in the house.

There was Robertson, the bullish 311-pound defensive tackle, a monster in the middle. And then Grigsby, a senior end from Texas who did his own share of chasing.

Begley, a redshirt freshman, booted fourth-quarter field goals of 32 and 31 yards, to put the Cats over the top, and on top of this blood feud for the first time in four years.