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September 2nd, 2015

Scouting Report: Kentucky vs. Louisiana

Andy Lyons | Getty Images

Commonwealth Stadium will host a football game on September 5. There, we got that out of the way. To what extent the renovations will be completed is out of our hands. Let’s talk football shall we? Here are seven factors that ensure a Wildcat victory:

1. Patrick Towles completes 65% of his passes

As prior posted on KSR, Towles’ completion percentage must rise and his number of intentional rushing attempts have to fall. In this game, moving the chains is paramount. So is scoring early points. By efficient, accurate, and timely passing, Kentucky will be able to take advantage of a Louisiana defense that was ranked 85th in 2014. In searching for this opponent’s defensive weakness, pass defense jumps out both in terms of statistics and personnel.

2. Josh Forrest’s inside linebacker partner has 8 or more tackles

This position concerns. If Ryan Flannigan is unable to play, who will step up? Khalid Henderson, Nico Firios, and Eli Brown are all listed as on the two deep depth chart. One or a combination thereof will be called upon to make on-the-line of scrimmage tackles against a very good running back. Not an easy task. Josh Forrest will need inside help. An unproductive running mate will make for a long day for Josh and possibly for the Wildcat defense.

3. Louisiana RB Elijah McGuire has zero explosive plays of twenty five yards or more

All UK media will be writing about Louisiana’s Elijah McGuire this week. I’ve obsessed over him all summer probably to the point of you’re getting kind of tired of reading his name. Sorry, he’s that good. Mark Stoops described him as elite, especially in explosive plays of twenty or more yards. UK will not shut down a RB of this caliber. However, by containing his initial burst through the line of scrimmage and by fundamentally covering his down field pass routes are both non-negotiables. The McGuire-Forrest matchup intrigues and will surely lead to some nasty on-the-field collisions.

4. Kentucky scores 28 first half points

This factor also deals with McGuire. By scoring early and often, Louisiana will be forced to play catchup. This will take the visitors out of their comfort zone. The Ragin Cajuns’ starting quarterback won’t be named until its opening offensive drive. What we do know is that it won’t be the graduated All-Conference player Terrance Broadway. Most likely, Brooks Haack will be under center. Kentucky’s chances exponentially increase by forcing the visitors to place the game on his shoulders. ULL is not built to score points in bunches or through the air. A close or touchdown or less first half Kentucky lead will most likely indicate that the game will go the distance.

5. Kentucky sack total exceeds four

With linebacker issues, DJ Eliot will creatively blitz the inexperienced Louisiana quarterback. UK’s increase at the safety position will lead to the opposing quarterback holding the football longer while in the pocket. Stoops and Eliot will throw the kitchen sink at the ULL QB. Kentucky’s young but talented pass rushers could potentially have a field day.

6. UK scores a defensive touchdown or by kick/punt return

Kentucky’s punt and kickoff return has been inexistent. 2009/2010 are the last returns for touchdown. Rookie Sihiem King and veteran Ryan Timmons will have their chances against a suspect Louisiana special teams unit that surrendered big plays in 14. Defensively, creative blitz packages will force errant throws. Taking advantage of an untested quarterback could lead to a pick six. Expect to see this in the fourth quarter.

7. Wildcat rush total exceeds 150 yards

Shannon Dawson’s emphasized the physical run game from the moment he walked off the plane in Lexington. Saturday’s opener is a perfect time to test this theory given that Louisiana lost its top two defensive linemen to graduation. However, it is strong at linebacker especially in Arkansas transfer Otha Peters and Dominque Trovell.


Louisiana won’t be scared or intimidated. Head Coach Mark Hudspeth is a motivational machine and has led a Ragin Cajun resurgence to relevancy. Kentucky is the more talented team, but not by as much as you might think. Don’t let the logo fool you, Louisiana has won nine games in four consecutive years. It will put up a fight and is fully expecting to beat Kentucky in its newly renovated stadium.

Stoops says he’s looking forward to seeing Boom “rip off some big runs” Saturday

boomwithfansspringscrimmage 247

I think all of our hearts skipped a beat when we heard Boom Williams suffered a minor injury early in fall camp, but fortunately, he’s recovered and ready to roll heading into the season opener. On today’s SEC Coaches Teleconference, Kyle Tucker asked Mark Stoops about Boom, and I think you’ll like his response.

He’s been 100% full go, he’s looked good,” Stoops said. “He’s really had a solid training camp with the exception of the minor injury that set him back for a few days. Outside of that, he’s been really good.”

Stoops said he’s pleased with the depth at running back right now, especially since all of his guys are currently healthy. (Knock on wood.) That’s really awesome, but let’s get back to Boom…

“Boom has really looked good, he’s been very explosive and just making progress like you would expect from a true freshman going into his sophomore year. So we’re happy with the progress and looking forward to seeing him get out there Saturday and hopefully rip off some big runs.”

Like these?

Everything You Need to Be Prepared for The New CWS Opener


The “Vast Majority” of the Stadium Will Be Finished

The first priority for completion was satisfying the needs of the team.  It’s not just making sure the lights, turf and locker rooms are good to go, it also means the coveted recruiting room will be complete.

The common fan has second priority.  Concessions and bathrooms will be improved and operational.  Their seats should be fine, but chairbacks will NOT be in every seat.  Barnhart said they’ll get there eventually, but that will be taken care of throughout the season.

What Won’t Be Finished

The fancy shmancy amenities and the suites will be in the worst shape.  There’s new signage everywhere, but wood from Kentucky barns intended to beautify the concourse area will not be finished.  Who knows what the press box will look like or when it will be done, but there’s one certainty, Mitch’s will be the last.

The Wi-Fi has been an issue, and will not be available, but Barnhart believes AT&T and Verizon upgrades should be completed by Saturday to ensure better cell service.

Parking: “Be Early, Be Patient”

Traffic flow before the game. Click here for post game

Pre-Game Traffic Routes

Before I get to the bad news, here’s a positive twist: they found an area near the soccer stadium to add 200 additional spots.  There’s also parking garages around campus that are free – the one near the library, the one by the tennis courts, and the one by the Kentucky Clinic.  Miller transportation will also be shuttling people from downtown to the stadium (see: for details).

But let’s be real, it’s going to be a cluster.  They’ll have cops during traffic at the new round-abouts, but people will still look silly trying to figure things out.  The lots open at 8:00 am, so get there early.  Just be patient, don’t lose your cool.  Besides, after driving around the parking lots, not a whole lot has changed.  They’ve blocked off certain areas that you used to be able to cut through, so do yourself a favor and follow the directions in the map above.

Whatever you do: DON’T park on the grass.  It’ll be at least a ticket, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a tow truck ready to go.

Think Long-Term

No matter what it looks like on Saturday, finished or not, 100% of the BBN will not be satisfied.  For the fans that really care, they know the $170 million combined project is more about the long-term than the short-term.  As Freddie Maggard says on this week’s podcast, as long as they have a field, two goal posts and a scoreboard, he’ll be happy.

Mitch Barnhart echoed that sentiment today, “This is not something we’re building today, or for one game, we’re building it for generations,” Barnhart said.  “This is a 40-year facility.”

“We’re gonna have some fun,” he said with a smile.  “It’s the first time we’ve done this in 40 years.  We ought to enjoy it.”

Additional Info

Students can get a free ride with a Student ID Thursday-Saturday by calling 859-252-CATS.

If you don’t know which gate to enter, look no further than the back of your ticket.

A lot of changes will be happening for the Thursday Night Auburn game.  They have not been finalized, but you can take a look

For all other information, visit


Previewing ULL in the Second KSR College Football Podcast

There’s plenty of analysis between Freddie Maggard, Jared Lorenzen and I, but it isn’t as fun as the other stuff.  Jared and Freddie share stories from their nervous college career starts.  Tears and goosebumps may or may not be involved.

Listen here, subscribe on iTunes, and send your complaints to @RoushKSR, because I’m sure you’ll have plenty.

Watch Andy Kennedy Whip, then watch him Nae Nae

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 2.06.55 PM

You’ve gotta hand it to Andy Kennedy, the man has no shame. Today, the Ole Miss head coach resurrected his alter ego “Randy Kennedy” to promote season ticket sales. In the video, three Randys do the whip and then they do the nae nae, the latest reminder that this craze needs to end.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Randy. Earlier this summer, he promoted season tickets in a spoof of the DirecTV commercials:

Part Three of The Sporting News’ series on Calipari deals with the media haters


Earlier today, we shared Part Two of The Sporting News’ five-part series on John Calipari with you, which dealt with Cal’s success as a recruiter. With all due respect to Mike DeCourcy and TSN staff, I think Part Three is much more interesting.

Part Three, entitled “John Calipari: The Target,” dropped this afternoon, and explores Calipari’s sometimes tumultuous relationship with the media, or specifically, the haters in the media. No, Pat Forde’s name isn’t mentioned, but several others were. This quote from 2012 at the end is all sorts of Swaggy Cal:

“If I think a guy’s wrong, I’m going to tell him. If I think a guy’s being a jerk, I’m going to tell him … And he’s not going to be treated like a friend,” he told Sporting News in 2012. “The way I grew up: You come at me, I come back at you twice. If you let him come at you, he comes back at you again and he keeps coming.”

Go read it and thank me later.

[John Calipari: The Target]

2,000 tickets are left for Saturday’s game

Barry Westerman | UK Athletics

Barry Westerman | UK Athletics

Earlier this week, we heard that 4,000 tickets remained for Saturday’s opener against Louisiana Lafayette. Ready for an update? Mitch Barnhart just said that as of today, 2,000 tickets remain, putting the total sold at approximately 59,000.

“We’re close,” Barnhart said. “We need some people to jump in.”

So jump in, people. Click here to go to Ticketmaster and join the opening day party. Use the promo code ALLIN for $25 seats.

Barnhart: “Vast majority of fans will experience a finished stadium”

One more quick hitter from the Game Day press conference before Nick’s recap later this afternoon. As we expected, Mitch Barnhart told reporters that a “vast majority of fans will experience a finished stadium” on Saturday. UK EVP Eric Monday added that the only areas that still need some finishing touches are on the club level.

Barnhart also gave us this great quote to keep in mind about the stadium: “It’s not something we’re building for one game, we’re building for generations.”

In other words, be patient.

Mitch Barnhart will also be a guest on KSR tomorrow to talk about the stadium. Hopefully he can get some sleep between now and then.

Taking a bag to Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday? You better look at this


UK is currently holding a press conference to outline game day procedures like parking, security, etc. Nick Roush is on the scene and will have a full recap here in a bit, but he sent me this helpful graphic of Commonwealth’s new bag policy.

Guests are allowed one bag no larger than 13.5″ x 10″ x 7″ and must fit within the sizing bins at each entrance. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Stoops says they’ll evaluate Ryan Flannigan at 1 p.m.

The big question on everyone’s mind right now is whether or not starting linebacker Ryan Flannigan will play. Flannigan has been sidelined with a shoulder injury the past few weeks of camp, and on today’s SEC Coaches Teleconference, Mark Stoops said the training staff will evaluate Flannigan at 1 p.m. today.

“If he doesn’t practice this afternoon, he’ll have a hard time playing this weekend,” Stoops said. “I think he’s very close, we’re going to evaluate him at 1 p.m. today and see where he’s at. We’ll see, hopefully he can play, but if not, we’re moving forward with some other guys.”

One of those guys is freshman Jordan Jones, who returned to practice after an illness yesterday.

“He looked good yesterday, get him healthy, get him moving. That will help add a little depth for us as well.”

Cross your fingers for a good report in about ten minutes…

Part 2 of The Sporting News’ series on Calipari is out


Mike DeCourcy and the folks at The Sporting News are rolling out an impressive five-part series on John Calipari this week to commemorate Cal’s Hall of Fame Enshrinement on September 11. Yesterday, we were treated to Part One, which focused on Cal’s firing from the Nets, his time at Memphis, and the move to Kentucky.

Part Two, entitled “The Salesman,” just hit the net, and, as you might expect, focuses on Cal’s prowess in recruiting. In a busy basketball recruiting period, it’s fascinating stuff:

Eventually, he warms up to explaining his philosophy on selling. “You’ve got to sit on the same side of the table as them. And if you help them get what they want, you’ll get more than you need,” Calipari said. “But you’ve got to be about them; not your organization, not yourself, not your staff. You’ve got to be about them. I learned that as I went through the process.

“I used to say, ‘We’re young. People will say we’re too young, but they won’t have energy, they won’t have the relationship, they won’t be about you like I will. I am young, and I’m younger than all these guys.’ Now I’m old. Now I have to say, ‘I’m old enough that I have the experience, I can help you.’”

The piece also features an interview with Tony Barbee about Cal’s pitch to get him to UMass back in the day, and how Calipari is still committed to helping him all these years later.

Neat stuff, so go check it out. Part Three, “Target,” drops this afternoon.

[John Calipari: The Salesman]

De’Aaron Fox will visit for Big Blue Madness

Big Blue Madness just went from big to huge. According to Chris Fisher, De’Aaron Fox, the number one point guard in a loaded 2016 class, will visit UK for Big Blue Madness on October 16. Fox is considered the second best prospect in the entire 2016 class by 247 Sports.

Kobi Simmons’ official visit to Kentucky this past weekend reportedly went very well, but there are rumblings John Calipari is also extremely interested in Fox, creating a bit of a dilemma at point guard. Kentucky is considered the frontrunner for the 6’4″ Texas native, and getting him on campus for the biggest recruiting event of the year is a huge development.

If you’re keeping track, here’s the guest list for BBM so far:

  • Harry Giles
  • De’Aaron Fox
  • Malik Monk
  • Miles Bridges
  • Rawle Alkins (tentative)
  • Sacha Killeya-Jones (COMMITTED)

[247 Sports]

ULL starting cornerback Simeon Thomas ineligible for Saturday’s game

The Cats got another break earlier this week when Louisiana Lafayette head coach Mark Hudspeth announced that starting cornerback Simeon Thomas will not play in Saturday’s game. The junior is still facing academic eligibility issues that held him out all of last season.

“Simeon is not going to make the trip,” Hudspeth told reporters at practice on Monday. “He is going to be held out of this game due to some eligibility concerns dating back to last season. That’s all we can say about that.”

As a freshman, Thomas had eight tackles and two passes broken up. The 6’3″ corner was the starter throughout spring and fall camp, and JuCo transfer Savion Brown will now fill his spot. Also out for the Ragin’ Cajuns is defensive lineman LaDarrius Kidd, who is serving a one-game suspension for violating team rules.

Make ’em pay, Patrick Towles…

[The Advocate]

ESPN’s Edward Aschoff says UK will be the surprise team in the SEC

How big is SEC football? ESPN has five writers who cover the league, and this morning, they each picked one team they thought could shock some people. Edward Aschoff picked Kentucky, therefore he is our favorite. Here’s what he had to say:

Edward Aschoff: Kentucky

I like this Kentucky team. I don’t love it; it’s not a team that’s going to compete for the SEC East title, but the Wildcats will make a bowl game and pull and upset or two. Mark Stoops thinks his offense will be better with receiver Ryan Timmons heading a group of talented, yet unheralded, receivers. The secondary is getting more length from the freshmen, and the interior of the defensive line could be nasty with Melvin Lewis and Matt Elam. Watch out for Cory Johnson and Jason Hatcher on the outside. Kentucky will win seven games.

I’m not sure if Timmons is the first player that comes to mind in UK’s receiving corps, but I like Aschoff’s enthusiasm. The rest of the staff’s picks? Missouri, Texas A&M, and LSU. Check out their reasoning at the Worldwide Leader.


Almost there… (Wednesday Show Thread)

Good morning, friends, and welcome to the Wednesday edition of Kentucky Sports Radio. We’re only THREE DAYS away from the season opener against Louisiana Lafayette, which means it’s time to talk some football. Tune in to hear Matt and Ryan talk about the progress on Commonwealth Stadium, the opener, and a little bit of basketball recruiting for good measure.

Join in on the fun by calling (502) 571-1080.

Listen to Kentucky Sports Radio

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