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September 3rd, 2015

Notes from the Last Time We’ll Hear from Stoops Before ULL

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–  Jordan Jones will get plenty of reps in place of Ryan Flannigan.  Even though he’s a true freshman.  Even though he’s been sidelined for almost a month because of an undisclosed illness, Mark Stoops still REALLY likes what he sees.  Jones reacts quickly, and he has what we in the biz like to call a nose for the ball, “He’s a different bird,” Stoops said.

Stoops hasn’t decided if Jones, Khalid Henderson or Eli Brown will start, but all will play.  Flannigan isn’t being held out to be saved for the future.  If Stoops could play him, he would, “That’s not even close to what I’m thinking.”

–  Today’s practice was a light walk-thru; tomorrow will be more intense.  Continuing a tradition from last year, the Cats went though their light walk-thru today, picking the tempo up tomorrow.  Stoops believes it gives them a sense of urgency, and keeps them from being lethargic on game day, “I think it helps with timing, and getting the guys moving, because when you play those night games, you’re sitting around all day Friday and all day Saturday.”

–  He feels good about his pass rushers.  They aren’t Bud and Z, but Faro (Farrington Huguenin) and Denzil Ware have been exceptional, and Josh Allen has been a pleasant surprise.  D.J. Eliot preached on the importance of pressuring the quarterbacks on Tuesday, giving them credit for causing more turnovers through the air.

–  Courtney Love will NOT be eligible to play this Fall.  Stoops heard the word earlier this week.  Don’t take the news too harshly, it was a longshot from the start.

–   Stoops believes his defense will be better this year than last year.  It could just be coach talk, but I think he truly believes those words.  His secondary has a lot more experience and Josh Forrest has learned how to stop the run by filling holes quicker.  He knows there will be growing pains, but believes there is a much better comfort level overall.

–  Stoops’ advice to Westry: keep your eyes on the prize.  He’s never played in front of this many people before; there’s going to be a lot to look at.  Stoops knows he’ll be fine once he gets settled in, but until then, he’s telling him to keep his eyes disciplined, “Young guys have a tendency to start looking at a lot of things, except the things they’re supposed to be looking at.”

You can watch all of Mark Stoops’ comments here, and while you’re watching football tonight, Tweet along with me @RoushKSR.


SI.com Ranks Anthony Davis as the…

Davis

SI.com ranked the top 100 NBA players heading into the 2015-16 season. The biggest question for most is where would Anthony Davis end up. He’s often considered the best young talent in the NBA and the next big thing, expected to take over the torch once the LeBron James’ of the world get past their prime.

Well, they ranked him third. Kind of. Here’s what was said about Davis:

The tradeoff in giving Kevin Durant the benefit of the doubt as the No. 2 player in our rankings is that it underrates Davis. Fit this one with an asterisk for upward mobility; no other player in the NBA can quite match Davis’s plausible upside as a still-growing 22-year-old MVP candidate. It seems only a matter of time until Davis becomes the consensus choice for the best in the game—a reality that could come to fruition as soon as this season. For now, we prefer LeBron James and a healthy Durant. For tomorrow, we unquestionably prefer Davis. [SI.com]

Davis is up one spot from last year’s rankings. Also making the list was Nerlens Noel (No. 97), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (No. 85), Brandon Knight (No. 79), Eric Bledsoe (No. 33), DeMarcus Cousins (No. 14) and John Wall (No. 13).


Ryan Flannigan will NOT play Saturday

Andy Lyons | Getty Images

Well crap.

Stoops announced today that senior linebacker Ryan Flannigan is out Saturday against Louisiana-Lafayette. Khalid Henderson and Jordan Jones, a true freshman, will have to fill his shoes against the Ragin’ Cajuns. A starter hasn’t been determined between those two.

When asked if there’s a mindset of holding Flannigan back to preserve him for later, Stoops said, “If he is ready to play, he would play. I don’t make those decisions and I don’t influence anybody. Doctors tell me if they can play. I don’t go anywhere near those decisions.”

So there ya go.


A High Point Response to BTI

@UKcoachbrooks

@UKcoachbrooks

BTI posted this morning about the high and low points of UK football, specific to your lifetime. Well, with games currently going on, I’m going to throw one more high point out there specific to my age (late 20’s) that truly changed the way Kentucky football was a program.

It was November 4, 2006 and Homecoming Weekend in Lexington when a Georgia team with Matthew Stafford under center came to town. The Wildcats were 4-4 and 2-3 in SEC play, losing to big name teams like LSU, Florida and South Carolina. This was viewed as a somewhat must-win game for Rich Brooks and company, trying to secure their spot in a bowl. Kentucky trailed early, but Andre Woodson threw two touchdowns to Keenan Burton and Trevard Lindley picked Stafford off on the final possession to seal the win.

It ultimately showed that Kentucky could win a big game under Brooks, before heading down to the Music City Bowl to beat Clemson. This was the first time fans in Commonwealth Stadium felt their team could truly compete with anyone and more importantly it led to an epic storming of the field. I truly believe without this win, the victory over No. 1 LSU a year later doesn’t happen.


We now have all five parts of TSN’s Calipari exclusive

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We now have “John Calipari: The Strategist,” the fifth and final piece in Mike DeCourcy’s series on John Calipari.

 

This time, DeCourcy writes about John Calipari, the coach. It begins with the story of how Cal blew UMass’s chances against Kentucky in the 1992 Sweet Sixteen, setting up the Laettner game in the Regional Final. As one of his former players tells it, Calipari took complete responsibility in the locker room after receiving a technical foul late in a close game.

“I don’t know there would have been many coaches that would have stepped up like that.”

The piece then goes on to look at Cal’s career numbers, his ability to adapt to his personnel, and something we all remember well: the tweak.

“Whether it was a marketing scheme or a tactical adjustment, it worked,” DeCourcy writes.

Read more in the final part of the series. All five parts linked here below:

John Calipari: The Success
John Calipari: The Salesman
John Calipari: The Target
John Calipari: The Citizen
John Calipari: The Strategist


Scratch directs traffic in Brad Paisley’s new music video

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Brad Paisley has a bizarre new music video with mascots from around the SEC and other parts of the country, including Oregon, for some reason. Most of the “Country Nation” video was filmed inside Vanderbilt Stadium, but Kentucky’s own Scratch is seen directing traffic midway through.

Scratch reappears near the end when a Paisley mascot lunges for a touchdown. It went in the books as a score but I think Scratch got the goal line stop.

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Has the extra point been kicked? Can we throw a challenge flag here?

Anyway, here’s the video…


UK’s starting fullback has the best nickname in football

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Pikeville’s Will Thomas Collins will make his University of Kentucky football debut this Saturday when he starts at fullback for the Wildcats.

But forget all that for now. Let’s talk about his nickname: “Taco Meat.”

“Last summer, I got done with a summer workout and went home to my uncle’s house,” Collins explained, in a story on UKAthletics.com. “He had made about two pounds of taco meat and put it in the fridge. I was starving, and looked in the fridge and saw this taco meat and thought ‘Alright’. So I took it out, microwaved it, put some cheese and taco sauce on it, and ate it with chips. He came home, I was watching TV and he said, ‘Where is all my taco meat at?’ And I said, ‘Well, I ate all your taco meat’. He said ‘That was for supper; it was for the whole family.’”

The nickname stuck and Collins often hears it shouted during practice from Vince Marrow, his position coach. Marrow also calls Taco Meat a “thumper” at fullback.

Read more about the Pikeville transfer here.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to brown up some taco meat.


Sleep Outfitters’ Thursday Recruiting Roundup

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*****

There’s not a ton of new recruiting news in either sport, but let’s hit what we can from this week…

Sacha Killeya-Jones bumped to five stars.

Rivals.com updated its 2016 class rankings yesterday and Sacha Killeya-Jones saw a huge bump up the list. The UK commit is now ranked No. 26 — up 25 spots from 51 — and earned his fifth star.

KENTUCKY EFFECT!!!!

Can we just sign the whole Big Blue Madness guest list and win it all in 2016-17?

Check out the current list of visitors:

Harry Giles
De’Aaron Fox
Malik Monk
Miles Bridges
Sacha Killeya-Jones

Give me that starting Fab 5 next year all damn day.

The Herald-Leader has a good read on Drake Jackson and Woodford’s O-line.

Take a second to learn more about UK’s next center and his teammates at Woodford County. Jackson confesses his love for Mexican food in the article, so he’s my new favorite player.

Read: Unprecedented Woodford County offensive line packs a punch

Watch UK commit Gunnar Hoak fire the pigskin in his first game as a senior.

Hoak threw for 201 yards and three touchdown on only 13 pass attempts in the win.

 

You look like you’re hurting today. You sleeping okay? You should check out that Sleep Outfitters deal for a new mattress.


We almost got the GOAT in the UK-UNC Alumni Game

The biggest name in basketball history almost accepted an invite to participate in the UK-UNC alumni game. Michael Jordan was invited to coach the Tar Heel team but had to decline the invitation due to other obligations.

“I tried to get Michael to come back and coach the team but he’s going to be out of the country or something,” Calipari told us yesterday.

The game is already loaded with stars and now has ESPN on board to televise it to the entire country, but M.J. would’ve taken things to an even higher level. I can’t really imagine what it would be like to have the GOAT coaching against all of our favorite players in Rupp Arena.

Out of the country? I say he is scared.

You scared, Mike? I think you’re scared. Aren’t you the one who said, “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”

Sounds to me like you’re not trying. Get in there, Your Airness.


Saturday’s game is SOLD OUT! (Update: Maybe not)

@ukphotogs

It looks like it will be a completely packed house for the grand opening of the New CWS this Saturday night. According to a tweet from the starting quarterback, Big Blue Nation answered the call and bought up all the tickets to see the season opener against Louisiana-Lafayette.

Can’t. Wait.

(UPDATE)

It looks like there are still a few available on Ticketmaster.com. The UK Ticket Office announced a complete sellout for students tickets, which might’ve confused my news source, Patrick Towles’ Twitter.

Buy up the few that are left!


A Whole Lot of New on Saturday

Saturday will unveil Commonwealth Stadium upgrades. On the new artificial playing surface, several Wildcats will be making their initial run in game action. From a player’s perspective, there is very little more exciting than their initial game week experience. Throughout the hours leading up to kickoff, newcomers will be facing the uptick of seriousness as the high stakes game of college football translates from a dream to reality.

Below is a by position breakdown of Wildcats that will play in their first college football snap against Louisiana-Lafayette. (True freshmen/first-year guys in bold)

OFFENSE

Coordinator- Coach Shannon Dawson

TE- CJ Conrad and Darryl Long

RT- George Asafo-Adjei

LG- Bunchy Stallings

RG- Jarrett LaRubbio

WR- Thaddeus Snodgrass

QB- Drew Barker

FB- Will Tom Collins and Tanner Fink

RB/KR- Sihiem King

DEFENSE

DE- Courtney Miggins and Alvonte Bell

DT- Adrian Middleton

DE/OLB- Denzil Ware and Kengera Daniel

Sam LB- Josh Allen

Mike LB- Nico Firios

Will LB- Eli Brown

CB- Chris Westry and Derrick Baity

Safety- Mike Edwards and Darius West

By my count, that’s 22 Wildcats. Three position groups are completely comprised with newcomers: tight end, fullback and defensive end/outside linebacker.

Nerves and excitement will be plentiful. Prior to my first offensive series, a sledgehammer couldn’t have pried out my mouthpiece. It’s scary and an experience of sensory overload. Again, it’s ok to be nervous. Means that you care. This group won’t be scared. Mark Stoops addressed this at his Monday press conference and said he would “rather say whoa! than getty-up!

For those listed above, an unspoken concern is that first time players will need to monitored during warmups.  Rookies can expend excessive energy before the football is kicked off. These are exciting times. Saturday will be fun. Young players make mistakes. However, this group will make those expected errors at 100 mph.


The Sporting News released Part 4 this morning

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While you were listening to Mitch Barnhart and purchasing UK Alumni Game tickets this morning, Mike DeCourcy released the fourth piece of his five-part series on John Calipari.

This one is called: John Calipari: The Citizen.

Maybe my favorite of the first four parts, “The Citizen” focuses on Calipari the man, and his charity and goodwill around Kentucky and beyond.

One local business owner said, “There’s never been a coach in the history of Kentucky that’s leveraged that position for the greater good of more people than John Calipari.”

And that’s pretty accurate.

Read more on Citizen Cal in DeCourcy’s latest release here.

Check out the others below:

John Calipari: The Success
John Calipari: The Salesman
John Calipari: The Target


Mitch Barnhart tells KSR the new UK logo is here to stay

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The new UK logo isn’t going anywhere, Big Blue Nation. So get used to it.

Though many fans are very against it, the new look is permanent and it is too late to do anything about it. Mitch Barnhart confirmed to KSR today that UK is moving forward and focusing on bigger and better things than the shape of the K.

Barnhart told us this morning, “My take on it is: that’s where we are, so we can stop talking about it. Because that’s where we’re going to be.”

Here, read his entire explanation:

“We’ve invested in it. We worked closely with our university folks and the Nike folks, and it’s part of trying to have the K be a little more prominent and be out front a little bit more. From a graphics perspective, there are some things we are trying to do as we move our program forward. If that’s our conversation spot in all that we do, then we’ve got other issues. We’ve got to get past that and start talking about the things that are the most important in our program.

The logo’s important, but we want to make sure that we understand that, you know, we’ve made the decision to move on and we’ve invested a lot of energy and a lot of folks put a lot of time in it.”

Barnhart likened the new logo to music, saying opinions vary across the board. “You may like country, I may like Christian,” he explained. “People look at things differently through a different lens.”

Well, in the last hour I’ve listened to Jay Z, Justin Timberlake, Rick Ross, Sam Smith and Taylor Swift — and I still don’t like the logo. But I, like everyone else, will get over it. Let’s just win football games.

You can listen to Mitch Barnhart’s interview with KSR around the halfway mark of Hour 1 below:


About 200-300 tickets left for Saturday’s game

During his interview with Kentucky Sports Radio radio this morning, Mitch Barnhart announced that only a couple hundred spots remain for Saturday’s game in the New CWS. He said he was told a little earlier today that there were about 200-300 available, and that number has likely gone down since then.

So if you’re still considering going to the game, you may want to get on it before it sells out.

Buy your tickets here and use promo code ALLIN for the discounted price in the upper level.

LESSSSSSSSSGGGGGOOOOOOOOOOOOO!


More lower bowl tickets on sale RIGHT NOW for alumni game

John Calipari announced that he opened up more seats for fans to purchase for the UK Alumni game. There are now 1,000 more lower bowl tickets for sale, plus courtside seating for those who would like to be Spiked out.

Go to Ticketmaster.com to get yours because they will go fast. That game is going to be awesome.

Ticketmaster: UK Alumni Charity Game