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August 31st, 2015

Louisiana Lafayette’s last SEC road game was ugly

Last season, the Ragin Cajuns took their show on the road to Oxford, Mississippi. I’m fairly certain that tailgating was enjoyable and the Grove was welcoming. But in terms of the actual football game, well it got ugly. Mississippi’s consistently inconsistent quarterback Bo Wallace was nearly perfect by completing 23/28 passes for 316 yards and 4 touchdowns. His numbers reflected ULL’s 2014 pass defense woes.

Midway through the second quarter, Ole Miss’s lead grew to 28-0. Before the third quarter ended, ULL fell behind 49-6. Final score ended up being 56-15. What does all this mean? Let’s take a look at some numbers:

Total yards: ULL-322, Ole Miss-554

Passing yards: ULL-129, Ole Miss 340

Rushing yards: ULL-193, Ole Miss 214

3rd down efficiency: ULL 4/14, Ole Miss 7/12

Time of possession: ULL 31:19, Ole Miss 28:41

Summary

The home team scored by big plays and exploited ULL’s suspect pass defense. From that 2014 defense, Lafayette has lost its primary pass rushers and linebacker. I look for Kentucky to come out firing to put the Ragin Cajuns in a must-pass scenario and take RB Elijah McGuire out of the equation. ULL’s only bright spot was it rushed for 193 yards, a number that concerns.

Time of possession was advantageous for ULL which is consistent with its intent to run the football. However, with a new starting quarterback, I suspect the Cats will blitz from multiple positions to force the issue and take the run game out of the equation. Kentucky taking a significant early lead is paramount. On September 5th, first quarter points are vital for Shannon Dawson.


Five Takeaways from Mark Stoops’ Monday Press Conference

When you're trying to stay serious, but you're too excited because it's game week

When you’re trying to stay serious, but you’re too excited because it’s game week!

It’s officially game week and the excitement around Lexington cannot be missed. Let’s begin this exciting week with five takeaways from Stoops’ weekly press conference.

Kentucky could see a change in the return game

It seems like forever since we’ve seen a kickoff or punt returned for a touchdown. Randall Cobb was the last to return a punt back in 2011 and Derrick Lock was the last to return a kickoff back in 2009. Thankfully, true freshman, Sihiem King could fix that. King has proven to be the playmaker Kentucky needs to return kickoffs. Stoops noted that King has been explosive, protected the football well and made big plays, which has put him ahead of Ryan Timmons.

Wide receiver is one of the most improved positions

Mark Stoops and his staff have worked very hard at improving the wide receiver position since beginning here just three years ago. The hard work has finally paid off this season. Fans are going to see some of the best wide receivers this season that Kentucky has had in a long time. The inside wide receiver spot is one of the deepest on the team according. Two star freshman wide receivers, Tavin Richardson and Jabari Greenwood, are in a position to get red shirted because there are too many good players ahead of them. If that isn’t a sign we are improving, I don’t know what is.

Veteran leadership is going to come from second year guys

Any experience that Kentucky has is going to help them win games. However, most of the experience and leadership is going to come from second year guys. Kentucky is playing nine true freshman and 10 redshirt freshman. Last season Kentucky had to rely on a lot of freshmen to make plays on both the offense and defense. That experience from last season, especially from the offense, will only help the team.

Success is going to come from improvement

Improvement across the board will be key to the success of this football team. More consistency in each game will be the reason this team is  successful. As we know the players want a bowl game, however Stoops does not want them to get ahead of themselves. Stoops philosophy for this season is to just take each game one at a time.

Stoops is anxious for the first game

The first game of the college football season is one of the most exciting games on the schedule. After a long offseason, the players and coaches are anxious to get back on the field and finally begin the season. However, for any opener coaches are finally able to see the kind of players they have. In Stoops’ third season as a head coach, he knows that playing in a real game will be true test for a lot of players. Stoops is confident in his team and is anxious to finally watch them play.


My Favorite Moment of 2014 UK Football

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As we get ready for the start of UK Football season (and by the way, please get tickets if you don’t have them yet), a quick reminder of what I thought was the coolest moment of last season. One can’t quite describe just how loud Commonwealth was at this moment during the South Carolina game. The new uniforms, the night atmosphere, the upset in the air, made the place special and when the Special Teams began to dance…well the place was unreal. I hope we see similar moments during the three home games in September…I believe we will:


Marques Bolden now visiting Wednesday

Five-star center Marques Bolden was scheduled to visit Kentucky starting on Friday, but he’s now moved that visit up to Wednesday. The 6’10” 235 lbs. Texas native is considered the second best center in the 2016 class, and just cut his list to eight: Duke, Kentucky, Baylor, Oklahoma, TCU, Alabama, Wake Forest and Kansas. He’s already visited Wake, Duke, and Alabama, and after visiting Kentucky, will take another trip to Duke on September 18 and Kansas on September 25.

Duke and Kansas are considered the favorites for Bolden, but there is a Kentucky connection. His AAU coach Jeff Webster worked with former Cat Julius Randle; however, he also worked with current Dukie Matt Jones, so probably best not to read too much into that.

Let’s watch him work:


Pictures of the new Ring of Honor

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One of the new features at the renovated Commonwealth Stadium is the Ring of Honor, which used to circle the inside of the stadium until it was replaced by new LED ribbon boards a few years back.

The media got a sneak peek at the new Ring of Honor today, which circles the concourse and features the names and playing years of famous former Cats, and pictures of those who play in the NFL. Check it out:

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6 quick hitters from Stoops’ first weekly press conference

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Mark Stoops just wrapped up his first weekly press conference of the season in the Wildcat Den, and had plenty to tell reporters about the team heading into Saturday’s opener. I already posted the unfortunate news about Kyle Meadows and CJ Johnson being suspended, but here are some quick notes before Kindsey has a full recap for you later.

— The biggest injury we’re keeping an eye on right now is starting weakside linebacker Ryan Flannigan. Stoops sounded hopeful Flannigan will be back soon. “We’ll see,” Stoops said. “He’s getting better, I think he’s very close. If he can practice Tuesday or Wednesday, he’ll play. If he can’t practice by Wednesday, he won’t play.”

— Freshmen, both true and redshirt, were all over this week’s depth chart, and Stoops said he expects nine true and ten redshirt freshman to play this year. Heading into year three, that’s a telling sign of the talent still coming into the program, and Stoops is clearly letting talent win some position battles even if means sacrificing experience. He singled out running back/kick returner Sihiem King and cornerback Chris Westry as two true freshmen that really turned heads in camp, calling King an explosive playmaker.

— Speaking of redshirt freshmen, Stoops said the depth at wide receiver is so good that the staff is hoping to redshirt Tavin Richardson and Jabari Greenwood. “If we stay healthy, we’ll protect them if we can. But if we need them to win football games, we’ll play them.”

— Alexander Montgomery not being on the depth chart raised some eyebrows this morning, and Stoops admitted the sophomore has had some setbacks with his injuries, but will play on Saturday.

— You’ve heard Freddie talk a lot about ULL’s star RB Elijah McGuire. Stoops called him a “very dynamic” and “fantastic player” that will create problems for the Cats. How is he feeling about his run defense? “It comes down to just getting more stops,” he said. “We need to get better in a lot of areas, and run defense is one of them. But I anticipate we will be improved.”

— A reporter brought Matt Elam’s tweet about going undefeated to Stoops’ attention, to which Stoops joked, “I didn’t even know he said it. Well, he needs to lose a few pounds, so I’ll get him after practice.”

Similarly, Stoops said he likes the players’ confidence, but “if that’s what motivates you, then put your money where your mouth is.”

A replay, if you missed it:


Kyle Meadows and CJ Johnson suspended one game

Offensive tackle Kyle Meadows and defensive tackle CJ Johnson were notably absent from this morning’s depth chart, and now we know why. Mark Stoops just told reporters during his press conference that both are suspended one game for a violation of team rules. He did not go into the matter any further.

Disappointing news, especially since CJ is a senior. More on this as the story develops.


Watch Mark Stoops’ weekly press conference


Want $25 tickets to Saturday’s game?

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We are five days away from the season opener, and according to our sources, about 4,000 tickets are still left.

Want to help christen the new Commonwealth Stadium? UK is offering upper level tickets for $25 each on Ticketmaster. To get yours, use the promo code “ALLIN” on Ticketmaster.

Do it. No excuses.

 


The first depth chart of the season is out

Read it and weep for joy that football is back.

Quick notes:

  • Four true freshmen are starting: CB Chris Westry, RT George Asafo-Adjei, RB Sihiem King on special teams, and TE CJ Conrad. Redshirt freshman Denzil Ware is also getting his first start at defensive end/linebacker.
  • Eight true freshmen are listed in the two-deep, 12 redshirt freshmen
  • No Kyle Meadows, Alex Montgomery, or CJ Johnson. Transfer Courtney Love is also not listed (UK is still appealing his hardship waiver)

More coming from Stoops at noon…


The back of the scoreboard is done

The back of the video board facing Nicholasville Road is now finished, featuring a mural of former players and the new UK logo.

The original design had “‘Til the Battle is Won” in block letters, but after Chester led a coup against it, UK went back to the drawing board, offering four designs for fans to vote on. The one above narrowly beat out the mural of the players with the Kentucky state outline, which may grace the back of the other video board facing the Nutter Field House.

Thoughts? Crooked K and all, I like it.

UPDATE: Here’s a picture of the other video board, courtesy of Freddie Maggard.

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Freddie Maggard is joining UK’s pregame radio coverage

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Ready to start your Monday with some good news? Because I’ve got some. Congratulations to our own Freddie Maggard, who will join Christi Thomas on a special 30-minute show that will be part of the UK Radio Network’s expanded “Countdown to Kickoff” pregame show.

The show will start two hours before kickoff each week, so 5 p.m. this Saturday, and bridge the KSR Pregame Show and Tom Leach’s 90-minute pregame show. You can hear it on all the UK Radio Network affiliates as well as stream video live on UKAthletics.com. The KSR Pregame Show will now starts FOUR HOURS prior to kickoff.

Here’s the radio schedule for Saturday:

  • 3 PM: KSR Pregame Show with Matt, Drew, Ryan, and Jared
  • 5 PM: Countdown to Kickoff with Freddie Maggard and Christi Thomas
  • 5:30 PM: Countdown to Kickoff with Tom Leach, Oscar Combs, and Jeff Piecoro
  • 7 PM: Kickoff

Congrats to both Christi and Freddie, and kudos to the UK Radio Network for giving the people what they want. Here’s a preview:


It’s GAME WEEK! (Monday Show Thread)

Good morning, friends, and welcome to the Monday edition of Kentucky Sports Radio. It’s GAME WEEK, so get ready to hear some football talk. Tune in to hear Matt and Ryan break down Saturday’s game, as well as recap a fun weekend.

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

Listen to Kentucky Sports Radio

KSR Affiliate List

WCBL (1290am): Benton
WBGN (1340am): Bowling Green
WTCO (1450am): Campbellsville
WAIN (1270am): Columbia
WCYN (102.3fm) Cynthiana
WHIR (1230am): Danville
WTHX (101.5fm) Elizabethtown
WCLU (1490am): Glasgow
WGOH (1370am): Grayson
WTUK (105.1fm): Harlan
WHOP (95.3fm): Hopkinsville
WJKY (1060am): Jamestown
WLAP (630am): Lexington
WFTG (1400am): London
WKJK (1080am): Louisville
WFMW (730am): Madisonville
WWXL (1450am): Manchester
WFTM (1240am): Maysville
WKYM (101.7fm): Monticello
WMSK (1550am): Morganfield
WLME (102.7fm):Owensboro
WPAD (1560am): Paducah
WKYH (600am): Paintsville
WLSI (900am) Pikeville
WPRT (960am): Prestonsburg
WSFC (1240am): Somerset
WTCW (920am): Whitesburg
WHAY (98.3fm): Whitley City
WBTH (1400am): Williamson
PRTC TV Channels 209 & 409: Jackson & Owlsey Counties (Replayed at 1 and 6)

On Delay (ALL TIMES LISTED EASTERN)…

WVHI (1330am): Evansville, IN, 5-7pm
WMTL (870am): Leitchfield, 11am-1pm
WLBQ (1570am): Morgantown, 3-5pm
WRIL (106.3fm): Middlesboro, Thur 8-10pm
WWTF (1580am): Lexington, 4-6pm


Monday Morning Wakeup

We did it, folks. The long national nightmare is finally over. Football is here.

It’s game week, and I don’t think I’ve been this excited for the oblong ball since Papa Brooks was in office. Expectations are high for Stoops and company in year three, with a few brave media souls predicting the Cats to go bowling for the first time since 2011.

First things first. Louisiana Lafayette comes to town Saturday to help christen the new Commonwealth Stadium, and we’ll have all the coverage you could dream of on the site this week, including a new podcast that will be taped on Tuesday night (Roush swears he has the audio figured out now).

Until then, here’s the agenda…

Mark Stoops will talk to the media at noon

Stoops’ first weekly news conference of the season is today at noon, so stay tuned to hear his thoughts on the Cats and the Ragin Cajuns. I’ll post breaking news as it happens and Nick will have a full recap this afternoon.

The depth chart will be released a little before then, so check in around 11:30 to analyze and over analyze.

We won’t know who Louisiana Lafayette’s QB is until the game

On Friday, Mark Hudsepth and his terrifying pectoral muscles told reporters that although he’s picked a starting quarterback, he’s not announcing it publicly. That means the Cats will have to prepare for both Brooks Haack and Jalen Nixon, as well as the Ragin Cajun’s star running back Elijah McGuire. The speedy junior rushed for 1,264 yards and 14 touchdowns last year, and will be an immediate test for the Cats’ run defense.

This picture of Commonwealth Stadium is awesome

This tweet from Matt Elam is even better

Can we all agree Miley Cyrus is terrible?

For some reason, I watched the MTV VMAs last night and have never felt older. Not only did I not know who half the people were, I couldn’t get over how terrible Miley Cyrus was. Miley hosted the show and spent 89.9% of it swearing and telling the audience how much pot she smokes. I know the majority of child stars are doomed from the start, but Miley’s transformation is still jarring. As @Calipartytime put it on Twitter, she looks like she belongs at a Louisville tailgate. Poor Billy Ray.

Team Nicki all the way:

It looks like Kobi Simmons enjoyed himself

The five-star combo guard took his official visit to UK this weekend, and after testing out the rims in the Joe Craft Center, posted this tweet about his trip:

Simmons will take visits to UNLV and Ohio State before announcing his decision on September 19. Georgia’s also in the mix.

Randall Cobb’s okay

Saturday night was all about the KSR 10th Anniversary party, so I didn’t hear about Randall Cobb’s shoulder injury until Sunday morning, and at first, I thought my husband was playing a cruel joke on me. Thankfully, the Packers said yesterday that Cobb only sprained his AC joint and could be back in time for the season opener on September 13. He’s pretty much the only player I like on my fantasy football team, so that’s very good news.

KSR starts in two hours

Grab your squad and get ready.


BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: 2nd Year Starters, What’s the Improvement?

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Patrick Towles is actually doing something this year that hasn’t been done many times in UK football over the last 25 years, starting a 2nd full year at quarterback.  In fact, there have really only been 4 full-time starters: Couch, Lorenzen, Woodson, and Hartline.  In Lorenzen’s case, he started his entire freshman year, split time his sophomore year and then started his final 2 years.  So in his case his 2 years were split up.  But for the other 3, what was the improvement from Year 1 to Year 2?  I think if I was a Patrick Towles fan, I would like what I see below.

MIKE HARTLINE (2008, 2010) *Hartline was injured in 2009
Passing Yards: 1666 to 3178 (UP 90.8%)
Passing TD’s: 9 to 23 (UP 155.6%)
Completions: 172 to 268 (UP 55.8%)

ANDRE WOODSON (2005-2006)
Passing Yards: 1644 to 3515 (up 114.4%)
Passing TD’s: 6 to 31 (UP 416.7%)
Completions: 146 to 264 (UP 80.8%)

TIM COUCH (1997-1998)
Passing Yards: 3884 to 4611 (UP 18.7%)
Passing TD’s: 37 to 38 (UP 2.7%)
Completions: 363 to 430 (UP 21.2%)

Even Tim Couch, who put up numbers that have still not been seen in UK history, saw significant increase in his passing yards and completions from his 1st year to his 2nd year.  Woodson saw the biggest jump as his skills really took off in his junior season and even Mike Hartline, after an injury plagued year, saw huge jumps in his 2nd full year as QB.

Towles had pretty good numbers last year, so I don’t expect a 75% jump in yards or anything.  But I would be very surprised in a 2nd full year in this program as starter, that we don’t see increases in the 3 categories listed above.  What about you?  What kind of season do you anticipate Patty Ice having this year statistically?