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October 6th, 2015

Bye Week Reflections From A Very Satisfied UK Football Fan


Kentucky football is on a bye this week, so we have plenty of time to take a breath, rest our tailgating legs, collect our thoughts, and look ahead to the next (little over) half of the season. It has been an up-and-down ride through the first five games of 2015, but I think Big Blue Nation is pretty satisfied, collectively. I know I am, and tonight I would like to share some of my favorite moments and positive opinions from the 4-1 start.


The new Commonwealth Stadium opened with a Boom.

It was a perfect opening to the new Commonwealth Stadium and the 2015 season of Kentucky Wildcats football. Boom Williams took it straight up the gut for a 75-yard rush for a score. Lexington erupted:

“We wanted to score on the first play of the game,” said Williams. “Kind of set the tone and get some momentum going our way. When you believe and visualize something all week, it’s kind of in tune to happen.”


Patrick Towles silenced his critics against Missouri.

Leading up to Kentucky’s home contest with No. 25 Missouri, a large portion of the UK football fan base was stirring up a quarterback controversy. Towles’ 8-for-24, two-interception performance against Florida the week before was heavily scrutinized, and many fans raised doubts he could win in the SEC.

Towles responded with his best game as a Wildcat in the win over the Tigers, UK’s first top-25 win since 2010.  He completed 22 of his 27 pass attempts for 249 yards and two touchdowns, plus another score on the ground. There was a pivotal stretch in the game when he completed 11 consecutive passes.

As a huge fan and proponent of Towles, I was not only relieved to see him play well in the biggest game of his career, but happy for him, personally. He solidified his spot as Kentucky’s starting quarterback and proved his biggest critics wrong when his back was against the wall.

Dorian Baker put the team on his back and saved the program.

Is it too far to say Dorian Baker saved the program last weekend against Eastern Kentucky? Not at all. If he doesn’t will the Wildcats to a late, come-from-behind victory, the wheels fall completely off UK football. All of this excitement, gone. Mark Stoops has done an outstanding job getting things moving in the right direction and there is momentum behind the Cats like never before, but a loss to EKU would’ve derailed everything.

So when Dorian Baker hauled in a 50/50 ball on 4th-and-2 in the corner of the end zone, then mauled over EKU defenders for the game-winning score in overtime, it kept the entire ship afloat. Not to mention, it was a hell of a performance, no matter the circumstances.

Prior to the game-tying fade route in regulation, Patrick Towles told his offensive coordinator, “If Dorian has a 1-on-1, I’m going to him.”

Baker said afterward, “There wasn’t a chance I was going to let (the defender) beat me.”

It was a close one, but as I like to say: “Big time players make big time plays in big time games.”


And his second touchdown, the game-winner in overtime, Baker demanded the football. It was his third catch in overtime and he ran through four EKU defenders for the score.

Shannon Dawson said Baker told him, “Gimme the ball.”

The defense has been much better than expected.

I will openly admit I had very little confidence in Kentucky’s defense entering the season. With so much youth and inexperience called on to fill holes on that side of the ball, the defense, I thought, would be what held the Cats back through the first four games.

Boy, was I wrong. It was quite the opposite, actually.

I’ll have another helping of crow as I commend D.J. Eliot and his players for an impressive start to the season. The Cats gave up only 17 points per game in the first three SEC contests  and they rank among the best in the nation in red zone defense.

Veterans like J.D. Harmon, Jabari Johnson, Cody Quinn and Khalid Henderson, who many us had given up on, have been vital components of the D all season. You could argue Harmon has been its biggest playmaker, to much surprise.

The preseason talk was Kentucky will have to score a lot of points on offense to make up for what the defense allows. That preseason talk couldn’t have been more inaccurate. The D has come up huge in key moments, and outside of a few winded stretches, has been consistent throughout.

Denzil Ware’s fumble return was the first sign of the new UK football.

When Denzil Ware, playing in only his second college football game, returned a two-point conversion fumble 98 yards for a defensive PAT in Columbia, we knew the tides had turned for Kentucky football.

That is a play that, for centuries, has happened against UK, not for it. And to follow it up with a game-sealing interception by Chris Westry, also in his second game? You mean to tell me we get the big plays now? Get out of here.

Kentucky is 4-1 entering the Auburn game.

Yes, Patrick Towles’ inconsistency is troublesome. Boom Williams’ recent attitude problem is concerning, though it appears to be in the past. Kentucky needed late heroics against Louisiana-Lafayette and Eastern Kentucky, two teams it was supposed to handle rather easily. The D gives up far too many yards on the ground. Play calling can be questionable at times. The list goes on.

However, Kentucky is 4-1 entering the Auburn game. Kentucky is FOUR and ONE entering the Auburn game. Any of us would’ve taken that record through five games if it was offered before the start of the season. All day long.

We can sit here and complain about this and gripe about that, but sitting at 4-1 and 2-1 in the conference is a pretty damn good feeling entering a bye week followed by what was labeled as the biggest game of year. The bowl hopes look promising and the only loss of the year was by a single possesion to one of the four or five best teams in the SEC.

Auburn is more than beatable.

Once the sixth-ranked team in the preseason poll, Auburn is now an unranked and very vulnerable opponent on Kentucky’s schedule. The Thursday night game we labeled as a loss when the schedule was announced is now looking more like a potential win for the Cats. UK will likely be favored.

Auburn just isn’t very good this year, nowhere near what everyone expected. The Tigers don’t have a quarterback, and to make matters worse, it dismissed its star wide receiver today. Only South Carolina and Vanderbilt rank lower in the SEC Power Rankings.

So a win is not out of the question when Kentucky returns to the field for its sixth game. In fact, it’s expected. Take care of business in that one and then there are five wins on the board through six games, a very improbable scenario two months ago.


All things considered, this UK fan is very satisfied through the first leg of the 2015 season.


Wendy’s KSR Top 10 Tweets of the Day


Wendy’s® BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich and Pulled Pork Cheese Fries feature premium pork shoulder smoked for hours with real hickory chips and topped with your choice of smoky, spicy or sweet barbecue sauce. Try it today on a brioche bun with crunchy slaw or atop our natural-cut cheese fries.

You can be a part of Wendy’s KSR Top 10 Tweets by using hashtags like #KSR #BBN or #KSRtop10. You can also nominate tweets by mentioning them with the hashtag. If we like what we see, it could be posted the next day. Now. On to the tweets:

#10 Belmont Basketball

Oh, Honey. no.



#9 Rick Maynard

This explains it all in one very clean picture.



#8 EJ and Blake Shelton

Wait. EJ is a country fan?


#7 John Southworth

That’s exactly what she meant. Exactly.




I don’t know if I am excited or scared.



#5 Landon Foster

You should give him some signed memorabilia next time.



#4 Jeff Pile

Aw. He must have felt really sorry after those ratings came out.



#3 Harrison Spires

+1 for Dad.



#2 Paul R Stephens

Maybe Louisville should have taken a page from that. Pizza gives such more happiness than….well…..



#1 Holly Thompson

So nice of Louisville to teach us something for once.


Luke Bryan has caused a Traffic Disaster on Tates Creek Road



I think any logical person had a hunch that the Luke Bryan Concert wasn’t going to go smoothly.  The outdoor venue at Talon Winery was postponed because of weather, but a traffic logjam has continued the delay.  The show was supposed to start at 7:00, but the traffic forced Bryan to wait an extra two-and-a-half hours before getting the show started.  Even with the delay, I’m sure many did not make it in.

With only a two-lane road to the winery, traffic on Tates Creek Road was backed up 8 miles, all the way to Alumni Drive.  Let me repeat: ALL THE WAY BACK TO ALUMNI DRIVE.  I’ve been in some bad Lexginton traffic jams, but that is a new kind of insanity.



People were just parking their cars and walking to the show.



Those pictures make it look bad, until you see the atrocity from above with Officer Don.

Here’s a look at the traffic back-up on Tates Creek Road from Officer Don in WKYT’s SKYFIRST. We’re told Luke Bryan’s people have just announced they are still holding off the start of the concert for some of those stuck in traffic to get to the venue. .

Posted by WKYT on Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Kentucky Holds Steady In The Ranking Round-Up

Mark Zerof, USA TODAY

Tuesday of a bye-week gives us a moment to catch our breath after 5 pulse-pounding, blood pressure pumping, stress filled weeks of football. The Cats sit at 4-1 heading into next week’s Thursday night game against Auburn which is something we would have all signed up for when the season began. So what does the national media think of the upstart Cats? Here’s your weekly round-up of the where the pundits have Kentucky placed:

[Bleacher Report: College Football Power Rankings for Week 6]

17. Georgia (4-1), down 14

32. Mississippi State (3-2), down 9

43. Tennessee (2-3), down 3

46. Auburn (3-2), down 3

47. Kentucky (4-1), down 1

Kentucky narrowly avoided a disastrous loss to an FCS opponent, scoring two touchdowns in the final 4:59 of regulation and then winning it on Patrick Towles’ three-yard TD pass to Dorian Baker in overtime.

It was the fourth career 300-yard passing game for Towles, and it gave the Wildcats their fourth single-digit win of the season. Kentucky’s last six games have been decided by eight or fewer points.

52. Louisville (2-3), up 5

72. Vanderbilt (2-3), up 7

128. Charlotte (2-3), down 2

[ESPN’s Football Power Index]

The worldwide leader’s football power index has the Cats ranked 55th  and projects an overall record of 7-5.  Despite two more wins, the only team remaining on the schedule that Kentucky is projected to be the victor is against Charlotte which their model says we win 96% of the time. Vandy (47%), Louisville (44%), and Auburn (44%) follow as the other games that the Cats have a real chance of winning. Good thing these games are played on the field and not in a stats lab.

[USA Today: 1-128 Re-rank, Week 5]

After the folks at ESPN put that downer on the back half of the season, the good guys of USA Today have Kentucky ranked the highest out of anybody. The Cats come in at #40 according to Paul Myerberg but not only are the Cats ranked higher than the other polls but their opponents are much lower.

17. Georgia

39. Mississippi State

52. Louisville

59. Tennessee

61. Auburn

93. Vanderbilt

123. Charlotte

[The Coach’s Poll]

Earlier this season UK received eight votes in the Coach’s poll which equated to  about 38th. This week they were back with 6 votes but that breaks out to 36th. Moving on up.


What do you think of Kentucky’s place on these rankings?


What A Difference Four Years Can Make

Mark Zerof-US Presswire

Mark Zerof-US Presswire

Many are understandably upset and frustrated with Saturday night’s game against Eastern Kentucky.  Losing to an FCS team simply doesn’t cut it.  The Cats did NOT (thankfully), but it wasn’t that long ago that we were losing on the same field (well, the grass version) to the state’s other directional school.

In 2012, WKU was two-years removed from a 26-game losing streak upon entering the FBS.  Andrew Jackson was a pro-caliber linebacker that was eventually drafted, but still a step down from EKU’s explosive defensive end, Noah Spence.  EKU’s Dyshawn Mobley and WKU’s Antonio Andrews are comparable, with a caveat that Andrews almost broke Barry Sanders single-season all-purpose yardage record, twice.

The climate around the UK program was different each time.  Entering the WKU game, people were beginning to question Joker Phillips.  The loss would be the first strike in his downfall.  Before the EKU game, the program was at a new high with a new coach in a new stadium.  Completely different scenarios, producing ALMOST the same results.

Both games eventually came down to one play.  Both opponents ran (practically) the same play.

Look at all of the Kentucky defenders ready for WKU’s overtime throwback.

This year produced different results.

Needless to say, they were prepared.



Even though Saturday’s game was a muddled mess throughout, when it came down to crunch time, good habits reflected good coaching. Most importantly, the Cats won.

Bye Week Practice Notes

monty closeup

—  One guy ruined all the fun for the offense.  It was never the same guy, but it was always an important person that led to a failure in execution.  The team is most consistent at being inconsistent, “We’re either really good or really bad.” Shannon would like a little more in-between.

— “We gotta do a better job to motivate our guys, and that’s the bottom line.”  Shannon Dawson thanked the Lord that his team’s learning lesson was on a win.  He didn’t see an edge from his players and Stoops didn’t see the effort.  They didn’t have the mentality needed to win necessary one-on-one battles.

—  Boom called last week “one of the longest weeks of my life.”  He didn’t elaborate on his personal issues, but he was thankful for the support from his teammates.  He wished that he could’ve been out there last Saturday – it killed him – but he should be ready and good to go for Auburn.

He said all of the right things and was a good teammate on Saturday.  Hopefully it’s the last we’ll hear of Boom’s melodrama.

—  Stoops has never seen anything like C.J. Johnson’s past two performances.  He’s been around plenty of elite defensive linemen, but nothing can stack up to the 30 tackles from C.J. in the last two games.  He wasn’t trying to say that C.J. is in that same next-level talent group, but he is saying that it takes a special person to do what he’s done.  He isn’t simply cleaning up the trash or making up for another person’s poor performance, he’s making amazing plays.

—  Dorian Baker was a stone cold killer.  He had the right mentality, the right body language; it was pretty much all that Shannon needed to see on the sideline to know that his guys had enough to comeback and get the win.

On a side note, Patrick Towles talked about Dorian’s greatest catches.  Now, he makes the tough stuff look routine, but when Dorian first arrived he made the greatest catch Patrick has ever seen.  During 7-on-7, Dorian caught a post route over pretty much the entire defense.  It’s something Patrick won’t forget anytime soon.

—  Shannon Dawson is an optimist when it comes to examining the quarterback.  While many want to look at the bad, Shannon cannot let the bad linger when analyzing the QB.  Some incompletions were because Patrick was pressured and needed to throw it away.  He blames his impatience for some of the bad play-calling early on.  Patrick’s to blame for a few bad throws, but he also made some great ones, like the fade to win the game and the running throw to Blake Bone, “I haven’t been around too many people that can make that throw.

I couldn’t tell you about all of the things Stoops said in his defense of Towles, but the stern words sent a chill down my spine.

Volleyball Cats battle Arkansas for top SEC spot tomorrow

(h/t @KentuckyVB)

Can I take back any doubt I had for this volleyball team earlier in the season? Because Kentucky is currently killing it in conference play.

After barely holding on to a ranking, the No. 20 Cats  (11-5, 4-0) are now coming off of seven-straight victories and will host the No. 22 Arkansas Razorbacks (13-2, 3-0) tomorrow at 8 p.m. in Memorial Coliseum. Both teams are sitting undefeated as top teams in the SEC and will be fighting for the top spot in the league.

The match will broadcast live on the SEC Network. Also, all student’s in attendance will get free pizza for attending the match. That alone sounds worth it.


Catching up 

Kentucky moved to seven straight wins and a perfect 4-0 SEC record after wins over Mississippi State and Alabama over the weekend. The Cats swept the Bulldogs 3-0 (25-17, 25-20, 25-20) Friday and took down Alabama in four Sunday, 3-1 (25-19, 27-25, 24-26, 25-20). Sunday’s win over Alabama was the Cat’s 400th in Memorial.

Morgan Bergren moved to sixth all-time on Kentucky’s career assists leaderboard after Friday’s 32 assist performance. Kaz Brown is also getting attention by being among the national leaders in blocks per set. Brown is currently averaging 1.45 blocks per set, coming in at No.16 in the nation.



Chris Bosh says Kentucky life is “good livin'”

The Miami Heat play an exhibition game against Orlando Magic in the Yum Center tomorrow night, and in a media opportunity this afternoon, Heat star Chris Bosh may have endeared himself to the entire Bluegrass state. According to Heat beat writer Jason Lieser, when asked about Louisville, Bosh said it’s nice, he thinks.

“You know what? Louisville has some good stuff. I think. I don’t know much about Louisville.”

But he apparently does know about the state of Kentucky.

In Kentucky, there’s nothing to do but cook and watch basketball. And drink bourbon. That’s good livin’.

Yes, it is. You, sir, just gained a fan.

Dominique Hawkins gives the BBN a thumbs-up in post-surgery pic

IG: dhawk_25

IG: dhawk_25

Last night, we found that Dominique Hawkins broke his hand in practice over the weekend, and it appears his surgery went just fine. Hawkins posted this post-surgery pic on Instagram this afternoon with the caption “Just wanted to thank everyone for your prayers, support, and love. I’ll be back SOON!”.

Love the choice of cast color and the big thumbs-up. From Dominique, would you expect any less?

Sleep Outfitters’ Tuesday Recruiting Roundup

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It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time to go over the latest recruiting news and convince you to buy a mattress. Let’s get on it!

  Edrice “Bam” Adebayo will be on campus this weekend

The biggest recruiting development this week is news that five-star power forward Edrice “Bam” Adebayo will take an official visit to Kentucky this weekend. The North Carolina native is considered an NC State lean, but Calipari has been putting on the press lately, visiting him twice in eight days last month. Getting him on campus this weekend is huge, especially with ESPN in town to film UK’s practice Sunday night.

  Calipari visited Marques Bolden today

Ben Roberts is reporting that Cal visited the nation’s top center again today in advance of his visit to Kentucky next week for Big Blue Madness. Cal and Tony Barbee went to see Bolden on September 17. This weekend, the 6’10” Texas native will visit Kansas for Late Night in the Phog.

  Here’s the guest list for Big Blue Madness as we know it

Big Blue Madness is next Friday, and over the past several days, the guest list has grown. Here’s the latest list of recruits who’ll be in town to hopefully rock that Kentucky blue:

  • Marques Bolden
  • Harry Giles
  • De’Aaron Fox
  • Malik Monk
  • Sacha Killeya-Jones (commit)
  • Trae Young (2017)
  • Kris Wilkes (2017)

Bolden announced a few days ago he’ll be making the trip, and gave Rivals’ TJ Walker this encouraging quote about his latest visit with Cal:

“Coach Calipari came and he really just preached to me the way he does things and the way he helps his players. He told me he really wants to coach me and we’d go from there. It was a strong message he sent out, all the success he’s had and all the players he’s coached. It’s great to hear that from him.”

Nice to hear. Hopefully he’ll enjoy seeing that message hammered home during Madness.


  Stoops is spending his bye week on the recruiting trail

Don’t worry, Stoops isn’t slacking during the bye week. Last night, he told Tom Leach and his call-in show listeners that he’ll spend the bye week recruiting. Last week, he watched Kash Daniel in Paintsville and Davonte Robinson and Henry Clay play at Pulaski County. He told a hilarious story about how DJ Eliot wrecked his car when they were headed to one of the games last week.

“We don’t get out of the parking lot before he gets in a wreck. Ray, you’ll be glad to know it was in the Ford, not the Mercedes,” Stoops said. “He goes up on a curb and comes down and my whole running board falls off on my Ford. I said ‘get out,’ and he gets out and gets in the passenger seat and I have to drive there and back. I’m worried about my own safety.”

Something tells me Stoops will be driving to the games this Friday as well.

  In case you missed it on Friday, here’s Kash Daniel’s awesome pregame speech

Kash is the gift that keeps on giving. What will he do this week?

MKG will have his shoulder surgery tonight

Earlier this afternoon, the Charlotte Hornets announced that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will undergo surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder tonight. Hornets team orthopedist Dr. Marcus Cook will perform the surgery at Novant Health Orthopedic Hospital in Charlotte.

The Hornets did NOT say how long MKG will be out. Yesterday, Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski cited a source who said MKG is likely to miss the entire season. 

Send some good vibes to the Queen City this evening.

Pitino doesn’t deny allegations in another bizarre interview

Rick Pitino taped an interview with John Ramsey and Mike Rutherford this afternoon, and well, it was bizarre. Once again, Pitino didn’t come out and deny any of the allegations surrounding his program, insisting that the only person who knows for sure what happened is Andre McGee, and he’s not talking.

“None of us — right now — can see any reference to what was written because only Andre McGee knows those questions right now, and obviously he hasn’t talked,” Pitino said.

When discussing how the alleged activities could have taken place for four years and the coaches not known about it, Pitino oddly brought up Roy Williams.

“Think about this. I’m a big Roy Williams fan. I know Roy Williams. He has never cheated in the game since he’s been a coach. You mean to tell me that for 20 years, 2-3,000 students went by and not one student after they took the course wrote in to the university anonymously saying ‘this was a bogus course’? So if something goes on for 20 years and nobody finds out, if there’s something wrong here — which we don’t know — then that doesn’t necessarily mean that nobody knows or doesn’t know. Until you investigate everything that’s said, you don’t have the answers to things. And I certainly don’t have any answers right now to any of this. I have no knowledge of what went on, what didn’t go on, if anything went on.”

Huh? After comparing himself to Roy Williams — I think — he compared himself to the Pope:

“You know what I love about the Pope? The Pope is probably the most popular in some time because when they ask him about things, whatever it may be, he said ‘I’m spreading our doctrine, but I’m going to let God judge. I’m not the judge. I’m going to let God judge.’ And that’s the way I feel about this tough game of life. I’m going to let God judge my integrity.”

From there, Pitino talked about how upsetting it was that all of these things allegedly went down in the dorm named after his brother-in-law, who died on 9/11.

“When I heard all of this and it took — it allegedly took place in the dorm I named after him, quite honestly guys, I cried myself to sleep that night hoping that it wasn’t true because it was Minardi Hall. It still bothers me. I have not slept because the allegations are it took place in Billy Minardi Hall. That’s really a knife in my heart.”

Next, Pitino brought up the “Kentucky’s Shame” Sports Illustrated cover as proof he can keep his program successful amidst scandal:

“Many, many years ago when I took over at Kentucky, there was a little boy on a cover called, and the cover read, I remember it cause I had it hanging in my basement, and the little boy and it said something like, um, Kentucky Shame. That was the title: Kentucky Shame. And I went in there and said, you know what? I didn’t focus on the shame part, I focused on the solution to the problem. Two years later, we had the largest crowd ever, we were on two years without television and Jamal Mashburn chooses the University of Louisville (sic),” Pitino said, obviously misspeaking.

“No NCAA, no television, the first year we had record crowds and we had the largest crowds in the history of Rupp, and then the second year we win the conference and it’s turned around. We found the solution to the problem. I didn’t dwell on whatever went on, I didn’t want to know the problems. Right now, we’ve got to find the solutions to what’s true and what’s now true. Right now there’s only one person who knows the answers and he’s not talking.”

I’ll give Pitino this: he repeatedly said that if it comes out that the allegations are true, he and his program will own up to it. In listening to this interview, he sounds more convinced than ever that’s the case.

De’Aaron Fox really wants to know if the UofL stripper allegations are true

Kentucky seems to be in the driver’s seat for De’Aaron Fox, but Louisville is also his list. The nation’s top point guard told reporters over the weekend that, after taking his official visit to Louisville on September 26, he’d like to know whether or not the allegations surrounding the Cards are true.

“No coach has been in contact with me about it, or players,” Fox said of the UofL scandal. “Of course fans are gonna … things get blown out of proportion, but fans are going to be the first ones you hear from, honestly. I’ve heard it from fans of Louisville, saying it didn’t happen; fans of other schools, saying it did happen, so I don’t really know what happened. But I’m nosy, so I’ll try to find out. I really want to know.

Me too. De’Aaron, if you find anything out, let us know.

In addition to Kentucky and Louisville, Fox is considering LSU, Kansas, and Arizona, according to ESPN’s Jeff Borzello. On Thursday, he’ll be at Kansas, and next Friday, Lexington for Big Blue Madness. Maybe we can all meet up to go over our notes on the investigation. After an official visit to Arizona, Fox says he wants to wrap up his recruitment.


To see a video of Fox’s remarks, click here.

[ESPN Insider]

Single-game tickets to the first four basketball games go on sale at 5 p.m.

Are you ready for some basketball? Tickets for UK’s first four home games go on sale tonight at 5 p.m. on Ticketmaster. That includes UK’s two exhibition games vs. Ottawa (Nov. 2) and Kentucky State (Nov. 6), and the first two regular-season home games against Albany (Nov. 13) and NJIT (Nov. 14). Prices range from $27 upper/$50 lower for the exhibition games and $47 upper/$60 lower for the regular season games.

Tickets will only be available online at, by calling Ticketmaster at 800.745.3000 or at statewide Ticketmaster outlets. Tickets for the Blue-White Scrimmage at Rupp Arena on Oct. 27 are still available. Lower-level tickets (singles only) are $10 and upper-level tickets are $5.


Happy Ticketmaster hunting.

The Eye in the Sky Don’t Lie: UK vs. EKU

© Mark Zerof | Getty

© Mark Zerof | Getty

Have to be honest, normally I start to re-watch UK games on Sunday evening. Given UK’s lackluster 53-minute effort, procrastination and dread-triumphed routine, Monday afternoon was spent with pad and pen in hand and remote control at the ready to relive a nerve-wracking Saturday evening. The following are observations broken down by quarters:


— First series started the same as against Missouri. Easy completion to a running back followed by another confidence boosting pitch and catch to Garrett Johnson.

— 3rd play of the game, Jeff Badet was stripped of the football. Result was Kentucky’s first 2015 fumble.

— In the first quarter, UK defense effectively played within the system. This would not be the case for the next 37 and half minutes.

— A dangerous trend began on the second drive. EKU presented UK offensive line all kinds of problems as it pressured, hurried, and sacked Patrick Towles. The Colonels did so by winning line of scrimmage one on one matchups with its elite DE Noah Spence, a disruptive linebacker corps, and interior DL that provided inside disruptive penetration.

— Chris Westry missed a pick-6 opportunity.

— Eastern Kentucky’s first of five quarterback sacks, DE Noah Spence moved inside to beat Zach West as a blitzing LB Chris Kelly combined to bring down Towles. EKU blitz packages weren’t creative but highly productive. Concerning.

— UK’s first scoring drive was highlighted by Patrick Towles hitting Blake Bone on 2nd and 9 scramble drill completion. Bone found the void in the Colonel’s secondary. Perfectly executed by Bone, excellent throw by Towles. UK eventually scored on a quarterback sneak.


— Kentucky defense answered on 3rd and 5 when Josh Forrest forced a Benny Coney fumble, Farrington Huguennin recovered.

— Interception number one ensued. On 2nd and 1, on a play action pass, Patrick Towles was influenced by DE Noah Spence. Towles then underthrew Dorian Baker on a vertical route during which CB Stanley Absannon outdueled Baker in the 50/50 ball. Football happens. Saturday’s Baker-Absannon matchup won’t be their last. Both are Sunday players.

— The above play was a critical turning point in the game. Up 7-0, following a turnover on 2nd and 1, the Cats didn’t take advantage of momentum or situation.

— EKU offense became reliant upon a successful inside zone run play in which it repeatedly ran for positive yardage. An undersized OL got under UK DL to provide enough push for EKU RBs to break the line of scrimmage.

— Ryan Flannigan missed on a sack, EKU took advantage and started its scoring drive. Kentucky’s defense missed tackles, was penalized for illegal substitution, as the Colonels eventually scored on a 3rd and 6 fade route. 6’6″ receiver Borders versus 6’4″ CB Westry were locked up 1-on-1. Borders won. Football happens but fundamental breakdowns and substation penalties indicated a lack or regard. UK 7 EKU 6.

— Kentucky’s next two offensive drives resulted in a sack and interception. EKU’s QB sack was simple in nature: DE Noah Spence beat Cole Mosier on an edge speed rush. Towles’ second pick of the night was a QB judgment error. EKU’s cover 2 safety broke on a vertical route intended for Dorian Baker. A veteran QB should recognize the coverage and either go elsewhere or drive the ball to Baker.

Fortunately for Kentucky, halftime. UK 7 EKU 6.


— Third quarter opened with a Stanley Absannon 47 yard kickoff return. Heck of a football player.

— The return gave EKU a short field. 2nd quarter defensive incompetence led to Dean Hood going for it on 4th and 6. Onions. Josh Forrest missed Coney in the backfield for a sack, then Coney proceeded to make Jason Hatcher as well as Jabari Johnson miss to gain 7 yards and a first down. This play summarized UK’s defensive effort.

— Kentucky followed with another illegal substitution penalty for 12 men on the field, EKU eventually scored on a Coney zone read option run. 13-7 Colonels. Atrocious sequence of events.

— Cats answered with a scoring drive after converting a 4th and 2 on a Patrick Towles bootleg run. The touchdown came from a perfectly executed play action 36-yard pass to Jeff Badet on a post route. Then, and typical for the evening, reserve kicker Miles Butler missed the PAT. UK 13 EKU 13.

— UK benefitted from an offensive pass interference call to force EKU to punt. The Cats quickly punted the football back to the Colonels following another 3rd down QB sack. At this point in the game, EKU was dominating both sides of the line of scrimmage at an alarming rate.


— Last drive of the 3rd quarter into the beginning of the 4th saw more of the same. EKU pressured Patrick Towles that led to hurries, scrambles and eventually a sack. Noah Spence proved to be unblockable. That was expected from the former Buckeye and All-Big 10 player, but for Eastern linebackers and defensive linemen to achieve line of scrimmage superiority were unexpected happenings. EFFORT advantage EKU.

— Kentucky backup punter Bryan Kirshe booted a 21-yard line drive punt to Stanley Absanon that led to a 34-yard return deep into UK territory. Theme from Sunday post, “it could have been worse, but barely.”

— Eastern Kentucky went back to the inside zone run which consistently gashed the middle of the Wildcat defense. Majority of Colonel 1st down runs led to 2nd and 5 or less situations. A powerful 6-yard TD run by Dy’Shawn Mobley appropriately finished the drive. EKU 20 UK 13.

— Most troubling defensive note was how Eastern continued to run the inside zone play with very little UK resistance. In multiple drives, OC Dane Damron called the same play up to five times with every attempt achieving positive yards. Wildcat interior defensive line did not adapt to tempo or scheme. Linebackers missed tackles. Only CJ Johnson answered the bell for the majority of the game.

— UK’s special teams answered EKU punt return explosion play with an illegal block in the back that reversed the Cats to half the distance to the goal line. On 3rd and 1, JoJo Kemp attempted an inside run where he was met in the backfield by five EKU defensive players. Forced to bounce outside, loss of 2 occurred. Punt. Troubling.

— Colonels followed by another efficient scoring drive that featured a heavy dose of more between the tackles runs and play action passing. WR Devin Borders beat Cody Quinn on a slant, touchdown visitors. Unimaginably, and painful to watch, EKU 27-13.