By LARRY VAUGHT
Pam Deitchle has been to a lot of Texas A&M football games because her parents have season tickets.
But she’s a Kentucky fan — for reasons that will be clear later — and she was proud of the way UK fans showed up and supported the Cats in Saturday night’s 20-14 overtime loss.
“We sit in the north side end zone perpendicular to the Aggie band. I’ve gone to most of the big games — Texas, Alabama, LSU, Texas Tech when they were good and some duds,” said Deitchle said after Saturday night’s game. “ I can’t recall ever hearing the opposing crowd doing their chants. I was really surprised to hear very loud ‘Go Big Blue’ chants.
“The home crowd was pretty average until the big stops in the third quarter and they really ramped it up from there. But it seemed like the UK crowd tried desperately to provide a spark going into overtime, but the Cats were just duds.”
She moved from San Antonio to Lexington when she was in the fourth grade and graduated from Tates Creek High School. Even though her father was a Texas A&M graduate, he had no problem with her going to Centre College in Danville. She moved to Los Angeles after college and then moved to Austin, Texas, a few years ago to take a state job.
“I was on the sideline before the game and the team seemed loose but focused. Played much tighter,” Deitchle said.
She noted during the game that quarterback Terry Wilson played tentative — something even coach Mark Stoops admitted after the game when he said the A&M defense made his quarterback “uncomfortable” most of the game.
“I don’t know if it was the play calling or the atmosphere — I’m leaning towards the latter — but UK seemed really flat offensively. Terry didn’t seem comfortable and looked really deflated going to the bench,” she said. “Benny Snell, too. Before the game, I was on the sideline watching the big guys and tight ends warm up and they looked good — smiling, loose, ready to play. After that first early touchdown, it was like the energy deflated on the sideline.
“Kyle Field is a very unique football experience. The corps of cadets and band can be more intimidating than any home crowd I’ve seen. They’re nearly literally on top of the opposing team. The crowd is typically active, definitely not like Kentucky home crowds that seem to golf clap through games.”
Stoops and his players all praised the fans who made the trip to Texas to support the team.
“I wish that UK home games, especially basketball, would take a lesson from the fans that travel to road games, not neutral site or tournament games. They’re into the games and far more vocal. I think the players appreciate it,” Deitchle said.
“I felt like UK wanted to win tonight but didn’t have the energy. The dreadful line play was evidence of that. How much of it was caused by a unique hostile environment? Hard to say. But big-time teams need to find ways to win against big-time teams even if they are rebuilding. The Cats aren’t there yet even if the fans want it.”
She’s right. Kentucky is not there, but it might be getting closer and that’s why as disappointing as Saturday night’s loss was, remember UK is 5-1 going into a bye week and still has games with Vanderbilt, Missouri, Tennessee, Middle Tennessee and Louisville left and none of those teams will be as good as Texas A&M or have over 90,000 fans supporting them.
Deitchle said the Cats made an impression on the Texas A&M fans with their play.
“I enjoy going to A&M games because the fans are very similar to UK’s: good-natured, generally respectful of the sport that’s being played, welcoming to visiting fans, and love their team and traditions,” she said. “The official greeting at A&M is ‘howdy’ and it is a very friendly environment to visit.
“I got lots of ‘good game’ and ‘it’s nice to see Kentucky play well in football’ from Aggies on my way out of the stadium.”