You’ve seen a photo of every dunk in the Bahamas, now you can WATCH every →
By Duncan Cavanah on ©9:00 pm
Part eight in an eight part series previewing the 2014 Kentucky Football Wildcats.
One of many gems from the outstanding Kentucky Specialists Twitter Page.
Austin MacGinnis 5-10, 168 Fr.-RS Prattville, AL
Max Strong 5-11, 183 So. Louisville, KY (Trinity)
Landon Foster 6-1, 198 Jr. Franklin, TN
Kelly Mason 6-3, 223 Jr. Rockton, IL
Ryan Timmons, Demarco Robinson, Javess Blue
Ryan Timmons, Demarco Robinson, Javess Blue, Boom Williams, TV Williams, JD Harmon
The final installment in the 2014 Kentucky football position previews features the Wildcats’ special teams units. While this position may lack the luster of some of the higher profile positions on the roster, Kentucky’s specialists will be as critical to the success of the 2014 Wildcat season as any other position group. Think that’s an exaggeration? Ask Nick Saban, who saw arch rival Auburn leapfrog his Crimson Tide to reach the National Championship game in 2013 based on one spectacularly bizarre special teams play. Watch the opening slate of games next weekend. Games will be won with a big return or a late field goal. Games will be lost with a blocked kick or a bad snap. With little margin for error on offense and defense as Mark Stoops continues to build depth in his Wildcat program, the Cats must win the special teams battle every week to move out of the SEC basement.
There is no player more secure in his position on the Wildcat roster than punter Landon Foster. The official depth chart does not even list a backup. Foster has been Kentucky’s starting punter since his true freshman season, when he was named Freshman All American. Going into his junior season, Foster’s career punting average of 42 yards per punt ranks third all time in Kentucky football history. The starting placekicker is clear but unproven. Redshirt freshman Austin MacGinnis, regarded as a top 3 kicker nationally out of high school, may be the most highly regarded kicker the Wildcats have ever signed. Coaches are confident in his ability both as a field goal kicker and on kickoffs, but questions will remain until he actually executes the operation on the field. Assisting both the kickers and punters will be two year starting long snapper Kelly Mason. Though long snappers rarely go early in fantasy drafts, Kentucky coaches can rest easy at night knowing that Mason will deliver the ball accurately on both field goals and punts.
Kentucky football history is not loaded with moments about which Wildcat fans can brag. But one area of relatively constant success has been the return game. Dicky Lyons, Sr. ran back three punts for touchdowns in the late ’60′s. (And went on to spawn a son specifically designed to win SEC Media Day and destroy LSU’s Craig Steltz.) Craig Yeast scored three touchdowns via kickoff return in the 1990′s. And in the early part of the current millennium, Derek Abney became the nation’s all time leader in kick returns for touchdown. But the Cats’ return game has hit a lengthy dry spell. In fact, Kentucky has not scored a touchdown via return since the great Randall Cobb returned a punt for touchdown against Western Kentucky in 2010. Kentucky’s leading returners on both punt and kickoffs in 2014, Demarco Robinson and Javess Blue, both return, and will be in the mix to return kicks this Fall. But the most intriguing candidates may be sophomore Ryan Timmons and true freshman Boom Williams. Almost without exception, viewers of Kentucky practices this Fall have raved about Williams’ elite speed and natural elusiveness. With the running back depth chart relatively stacked, special teams may be the best option for Kentucky’s coaches to utilize these skills. Timmons made a cameo appearance in the return game during his freshman season, but is primed to be a force there in 2014. In fact, he is my bet for breaking the three season touchdown drought for Wildcat returners. I base that in part on one of my favorite statistics of all time. In Timmons’ senior year of high school, opposing coaches understandably kicked away from him. In fact, he only returned three kickoffs all season. In something that sounds like a Chuck Norris joke, Timmons returned all three for touchdowns.
Hope you’ve enjoyed these previews. See you at Commonwealth in just over a week. Go Cats!
By Drew Franklin on ©8:06 pm
You’ve seen a photo of every dunk in the Bahamas, now you can WATCH every dunk in the Bahamas in this new five-minute video featuring every slam, cram and jam from the Kentucky Wildcats’ six games in Paradise. Hit play below to see it all:
This is going to be a fun group, Cats fans. Good luck to the competition.
By Drew Franklin on ©7:48 pm
The conference announced its preseason All-SEC team Thursday night during the new SEC Now program on the new SEC Network and Kentucky’s Bud Dupree received honors. The UK defensive end was named Second Team All-SEC, voted on by the coaches around the league. Dupree led all SEC defensive linemen in tackles last season, earning a postseason All-SEC nod.
Florida’s Dante Fowler Jr., Mississippi’s Robert Nkemdiche, Arkansas’ Trey Flowers, and Alabama’s A’Shawn Robinson robbed Bud of a First Team selection.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©7:30 pm
A very happy birthday to Jodie Meeks, who turns 27 today. The past few years have been good to Jodie, who made a name for himself as a go-to shooter with the Lakers and signed a three-year, $19.5 million contract with the Detroit Pistons in July.
When you think of Jodie, you think of his 54-point performance against Tennessee back in 2009, one of the few bright spots of the Gillispie Era. I also think of this song, which will be stuck in my head the rest of the night:
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©7:00 pm
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson call themselves the “Splash Brothers” for their three-point prowess, combining for 484 threes last season. During Team USA practice today, DeMarcus Cousins auditioned to be the third Splash Brother, and well, I don’t think he’s going to make the cut. After Boogie bricked two threes, Curry joked that they’re “still taking applications.”
It’s okay, Boogie. We still love you.
#96 Regie Meant
– Height: 6’4”
– Weight: 286 lbs.
– Class: Freshman
– Experience: RS
– Position: Defensive Tackle
– Hometown: Cape Coral, FL.
– High School: Baker
Class of 2013 High School Ranking
How He Got Here
While taking an official visit to the University of Kentucky in January of 2013, Meant let Coach Stoops and the staff know he officially wanted to be a Wildcat. The defensive end picked the Wildcats over other offers from Kansas State, North Carolina State, Washington State, and Iowa State. It was just “meant” to be.
He was only a two-star recruit before his senior season, but the staff saw enough in his play on the field throughout his senior season to offer him a scholarship in January.
Something You Didn’t Know About Him
He has only been playing football for 4 years.
Something We Made Up About Him
After an unfortunate dodgeball accident in 3rd grade, Reggie Nicely became ridiculed by his peers until “Mean” Regie Meant stuck. “He’s too mean for two G’s!”
Unfair NFL Comparison
Corey Peters, Atlanta Falcons
Outlook for 2014
Meant is in the hunt to earn valuable minutes at the DT position, competing against vets (Mike Douglas, Christian Coleman), redshirts (Melvin Lewis, Jacob Hyde) and some new guys (Matt Elam, C.J. Johnson). He is one of the most notably improved players in the past year as pointed out by the staff, using his redshirt season to put on 30 pounds. His body change was so dramatic that his mother barely recognized him. Meant, along with Mike Douglas, will primarily clog the middle at defensive tackle but has the athleticism to play outside at defensive end in the 3-4.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©5:00 pm
This morning, the clip of John Calipari calling into Mike Francesa’s show as “John in Kentucky” to defend his coaching skills went viral. If you haven’t listened to it yet, stop right now and go do so. It’s just the latest sign that Swaggy Cal is back, and who can blame him? The Cats look really, really good and it’s only August.
Looking back, Cal’s been swaggy all summer. I spent the afternoon charting his swaggiest moments since his hip surgery back in May. It probably won’t surprise you that there are a lot.
June 30: On the SEC Coaches Summer Teleconference, Calipari took a shot at Jeff Goodman, who put Cal tenth in his rankings of coaches that best develop talent for the NBA:
“Just if you know how I am and what I’m about, if you’ve really followed, I would rather them say that, after my entire group gets drafted – ‘Yeah, I’m not really sure he develops players and he can coach’ and all that stuff; ‘they were pros’ – but they all get drafted. OK, I’m good with that. That doesn’t bother me. Say it as long as they keep continuing to get drafted. And then when they go to the league, they’re on the all-rookie teams, they’re rookie of the year, they’re on Olympic teams, one is the MVP of the NBA. They’re prepared in that sense, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Cal claims he doesn’t pay attention to what the national media is saying, but this proves he totally does, and when he’s feeling good, he’s not afraid to punch back. On that same call, he raved about UK’s “unique situation” of having a core group of veterans to go along with another batch of newcomers.
July 1: Calipari posts “20 questions every athlete should ask a prospective coach” on his website, his latest recruiting manifesto. After reading it, recruits will pretty much ask themselves one question: “Why wouldn’t I go to Kentucky?”.
July 8: Calipari flies back to Lexington after a book signing in Nashville to lead the team in their first skill instruction of the summer. Most people would enjoy a night in Nashville, or simply go to bed once they got back to Lexington after a late flight. Not Cal. As he put it on Twitter, “I am jacked.”
July 10: Cal films his practice report for CoachCal.com and raves about how his team “loooooooves” playing basketball. He gave an update on a few of the players and gave the camera this look after saying Andrew Harrison did a 360-degree dunk:
In this report, Cal talked about splitting his team into two lineups for the first time, a hint of the platoon substitutions we saw in the Bahamas. “I had a ball,” Cal said of his first workout with the team. We can tell.
July 16: Calipari goes to the ESPYS and can’t stop laughing.
He also gets a shoutout from Drake, who called him “one of the best men I’ve ever met in my life.”
July 19: Calipari returned home from a recruiting trip to find his team in the gym late at night putting in some extra work. He was so happy he had them pose for a group picture and tweeted about it:
Got off the road, go to my office & find out I've got a full team doing what it does just about every night: playing pic.twitter.com/bQhunTKe4C
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) July 20, 2014
July 20: Heading home after a charity gala, Cal tweets he is “absolutely juiced” to work with his team the next day.
July 21: We all know Cal’s best teams blend talent and experience. After one of their practices, Cal told the Big Blue Nation how happy he is to have older guys to help the freshmen transition into his system:
When you have older guys who have done this & understand what we're asking of them, it makes the transition for the freshmen so much easier.
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) July 22, 2014
August 6: In his press conference previewing the Big Blue Bahamas tour, Calipari says that his team “probably shouldn’t win any of the games,” and gives reporters this smirk:
Looking back at the Cats’ 5-1 record, we’re smirking too.
August 11: For the second game of the Big Blue Bahamas tour, Calipari let Kenny Payne coach while he watched from the stands. Cal was having such a good time that he took a break to film part of the game for ESPNU.
Yeah, I’d say he’s having fun.
August 12: During halftime of UK’s win over Puerto Rico, Calipari came on the radio with Matt, Tom Leach, and Mike Pratt to share his thoughts on his team’s performance. “This could be pretty special,” Cal said before warning fans not to let the haters sabotage the squad with concerns about too many players and not enough playing time. “Don’t listen to them,” Cal said, repeating it again for emphasis. Translation: don’t make the same mistake some of you did last season after the South Carolina loss. He’s got this.
August 12: In his ESPNU interview during the same game, a Derek Willis dunk got Cal so excited he said “hum ditty ditty” on air. He’s giddy too.
August 14: More sappy than swaggy, but still worth mention. John Calipari tweets about seeing footprints of the sand, which reminded him of the poem “Footprints in the Sand.”
Walking on the beach this morning, doing a little thinking when I saw footprints in the sand. Reminded me of the poem Footprints in the Sand
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) August 14, 2014
August 20: After his appearance on the Mike Francesa show in New York, Calipari hears Francesa say he’s not a great X’s and O’s coach, which prompts him to call into the show as “John in Kentucky,” and after hilariously disguising his voice for a few seconds, blasts Frencesa for his comments:
Cal: “Are you saying I can’t coach? Why didn’t you say that while I was sitting next to you? You said ‘he’s not great at X’s and O’s.’ That’s basically saying I can’t coach. You know what they call me? A magician. ‘Cal the magician.’”
Francesa: “Wait a second. Are there better X’s and O’s guys than you?”
Cal: “You think I believe that?”
Cal: “I will pass a lie detector test and say, ‘No.’”
Francesa: “No you won’t. No you won’t.”
Francesa then hung up on him, but Cal had already made his point.
August 21: Cal tweets about his interaction with Francesa: “You can disagree without being disagreeable. Mike Francesa and I are good. Always have been. By the way, once again he’s wrong. LOL!”
LOL! Never change, Cal. Never.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©4:30 pm
The awesome Gregg Doyel is at it again today with an outstanding piece about Pikeville University head coach Kelly Wells. While most know Wells as the man who’s led UPike to its only NAIA national title and two 30-win seasons over his eight-year reign, Doyel writes about how Wells’ medical struggles, particularly the two kidney transplants he’s had over the past ten years, have given him a new outlook on life.
One of Kelly’s dreams was to coach against Rick Pitino, and he got to do so back in November 2012; sadly, he had to be taken to the hospital immediately following the game, where he found out that he had cancer in his other kidney, prompting his most recent transplant in June. The story also includes an anecdote about Braxton Upthegrove, a young UK basketball fan with a failing kidney whom Nerlens Noel invited to come see a game in Philly. Turns out that Nerlens’ gesture may have drummed up enough publicity for Braxton’s fight that two months later, Braxton got a call saying he finally had a donor after three years on the waiting list.
Go read Doyel’s piece, and as he suggests in the last line, sign up to be an organ donor. Hopefully we’ll get to know Kelly Wells even better when UPike comes to Rupp Arena to play the Cats on November 2.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©4:00 pm
Yesterday, we told you about ESPN The Magazine’s profile of Jared Lorenzen, and now it’s online for your reading pleasure. The piece is excellent, detailing Jared’s lifelong battle with his weight and his life after football. Jared’s a valuable member of Team KSR, and our own Ryan Lemond is even quoted in the article, alongside Hal Mumme:
“Jared is a great kid,” says Hal Mumme, his former coach at Kentucky. “A tremendous guy,” says Ryan Lemond, his occasional radio co-host on the Kentucky Sports Radio network. “I want people to know how generous he is,” says his mom, Janet Hermes. “He’s the sweetest guy in the whole wide world,” says his ex-wife, Tamara, mother of their two kids.
Click on over and read it, and enjoy the video that accompanies the article above. We love you, Jared.
(By the way, thanks to The Loco Pollo for bringing the article to our attention, despite the fact that it’s been online since this morning and has been tweeted about all afternoon. Where would we be without the crazy chicken’s help??)
Mike Francesa threatens Doug Gottlieb’s producer after producer tries to get Calipari for an interview
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©3:15 pm
Well, the Mike Francesa/John Calipari story escalated quickly, didn’t it? If you missed it this morning, Cal appeared on Francesa’s show yesterday and afterwards, called in to defend himself when Francesa said he wasn’t a good X’s and O’s coach. Francesa hung up on him and the audio of the incident has since gone viral.
Turns out there’s another part to the story. This morning, Doug Gottlieb told WFAN’s “Boomer & Carlton” that Francesa threatened his producer when the producer tried to get Calipari on Gottlieb’s show yesterday. Francesa and Gottlieb are both members of the CBS Sports Radio family and tape their shows in the same building, but Francesa refused to share Calipari, telling Gottlieb’s producer “Don’t ever, ever ask for one of my guests that I send my driver to go pick up.”
Man, it’s been a bad day for Francesa, hasn’t it? Simmer down boys, plenty of Calipari to go around.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©2:50 pm
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©2:30 pm
According to the all-knowing Evan Daniels, 2015 small forward Brandon Ingram will visit Kentucky for Big Blue Madness on October 17, a week after checking out Kansas’ Late Night at the Phog. Ingram is considered the fourth best small forward in his class, and most think it’s down to Duke or North Carolina for his services, but a visit to Lexington on the program’s biggest night could change that.
So far, the BBM guest list includes Stephen Zimmerman, Carlton Brag, and Derryck Thornton (2016). Antonio Blakeney said he will probably come, and the staff is trying their hardest to get Jaylen Brown on campus as well.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©2:00 pm
Cal the magician
— Trey Lyles (@TreyMambaLyles) August 21, 2014
— Aaron Harrison (@AaronICE2) August 21, 2014
@SafariDakari44 coach is real 😂
— Aaron Harrison (@AaronICE2) August 21, 2014
The magician 😂 #showout
— Tod Lanter (@tod_lanterIII) August 21, 2014
— Devin Booker (@DevinBook) August 21, 2014
Judging from their tweets, the players have heard Cal’s call to the Mike Francesa show. Normally, nicknames you give yourself don’t stick, but “Cal the Magician” has a nice ring to it.
By C.M. Tomlin on ©1:00 pm
Where am I? pic.twitter.com/FMXCxMflwr
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) August 19, 2014
Hello, Friends. Sup brah? Are you living large? How is it twerking? Ham? How’s my bae? I’m sorry, I can’t talk like this anymore.
Friends, this week marks likely the last week of light coverage before Kentucky sports EXPLODES, beginning with a titanic showdown against UT-Martin to open the UK Football season and slowly, we can assume, segueing into October when — if what we saw over the last week and a half is to be believed — we will all be the happiest people in the college basketball world. It’s going to be wonderful, to be sure. Until then, this week is this week; and luckily for us Cal has put together some fun games to play while we wait for the sports seasons to begin. They’re all very mysterious, but he clearly seems to enjoy them. He’s like the Riddler. If you’re not a follower of Coach’s Twitter feed, we’ve been subjected to several photos with enigmatic questions posed beneath. Today, I’ve collected those photos for you in one place so you and your friends can play the Coach Cal Twitter Quiz. Get the family together and have a great time! And as always, we’ll see you next week for a little UT-Martin fun.
Q: Where am I?
Q: Who is this?
Q: Where is this?
Q: What is this?
Q: Why are we here?
Q: What is that smell?
Q: How can we be lovers if we can’t be friends?
Q: What’s eating Gilbert Grape?
Q: Are you going to finish that?
Q: Have you driven a Ford lately?
Q: What’s in the box? WHAT’S IN THE BOX?
Q: Who up orlando?
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©12:20 pm
And it’s the perfect thing to watch on your lunch break.
“Woodson from the gun, play fake, step it up, he’s throwing deep down the near sideline, HE’S GOT JOHNSON! 20, 10, 5, TOUCHDOWWWWWWWN KENTUCKY!!!!!!”