We’ve analyzed how the team did on the field Saturday, now it’s time to turn →
By Drew Franklin on ©11:04 pm
Hello there, sports fans. Drew here, coming to you live from bed at the Waldorf where we’ve been living for what feels like four months. Matt and I are still on the tennis beat in New York City but the end is in sight. A Friday afternoon flight will have us back in Lexington for dinner and ready for Saturday’s pregame show outside Commonwealth Stadium. Until then, we’ll continue pretending to know about tennis, eating street meat and trying to blend in on the Queens-bound 7-train.
Tonight I have some football talk and a couple basketball recruiting tidbits before it’s lights out. We’ll be back on the KSR airwaves in the morning from the same studio that gives you the CBS Morning News and whatever show Queen Latifah is on.
Let’s do it…
Mark Stoops sees several things that need improvement.
During his weekly press conference on Monday, Mark Stoops, at times, sounded like a head coach coming off a loss, not a 45-point victory. Though he is very pleased by his team’s energy and attitude in the season opener, there is still plenty of room for improvement across the board.
The second team defense drew a lot of criticism from Stoops; he was disappointed to see that unit give up two fourth quarter touchdowns after the Wildcats held UT Martin scoreless through the first 45 minutes of the game. “We need to get some depth and we need some guys to step up and compete,” he said of the defensive reserves. “To give up two touchdowns and a bunch of yards the last four possessions is something that we can’t do and we won’t do.”
Fundamentally, the first team defense has some work to do. Even the stars of the starting 11, defensive ends Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith, had their faults. “I saw a couple instances when they were trying to do too much,” Stoops said of Dupree and Smith. “They’re very unselfish players. You have to be to play defensive line. I think that’s not going to be an issue. I think they just wanted to do some good things, and fundamentally got a little bit irresponsible.”
“There’s certainly areas we need to improve. And our depth is an issue. We need to put it all together, do some things. In this game I wanted to play very fundamental. I didn’t want to have to scheme a million different ways to stop them. Our guys need to learn how to play football, learn how to play blocks, learn how to have proper fits, learn how to do tackles and do the fundamental things.”
Neal Brown gets a thumbs up for the Week 1 gameplan.
Stoops believes his offensive coordinator did a very good job with the playbook in Week 1. He said, “What we’ve got to continue to watch is kind of zeroing in on what we’re doing because we got a lot of young guys. Not so much Patrick. I think he can handle more. He’s been around for a while. With playing that many freshmen wide receivers, some young guys on the O‑line, you got to be careful about doing too much. I thought he did a very good job of putting together a nice game plan, something they were able to execute.”
Brown will work new things in each week while still keeping it simple enough for all of the new guys. It’s a process, as Coach Cal would say.
Javess Blue and Braylon Heard may or may not play in Week 2.
Two of UK’s best offensive playmakers are still TBD for Saturday after suffering minor ankle injuries against UT Martin. The team’s athletic trainer likes to give ankle injuries two days before making a call, giving players a little time to respond. Heard’s is still lingering; Stoops said he is the one still feeling soreness, while the others with tweaked ankles felt better on Monday.
A decision on their playing statuses will be made in the coming days.
Lots of Vegas money going toward UK early in the week.
The Cats opened as a six-point favorite over Ohio in the sportsbooks. Now, heavy action on UK has the line sitting at -10 for Kentucky. Gamble responsibly.
Jon Toth is your SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week.
Toth has been quite a surprise since taking over the starting center job as a redshirt freshman last season. He opened up some big holes for Kentucky’s run game, including the key block that sent Braylon Heard to the house on a 73-yard run.
He got some help from redshirt freshmen Kyle Meadows and Ramsey Meyers, too. Stoops was impressed by both of the first-timers’ debuts on the line.
Damien Harris gave his unofficial visit a perfect 10.
On a scale of 1 to 10, Harris rated his Saturday visit to Lexington a “definite 10.”
“I always have a great time when I’m on campus at UK. Its always a great atmosphere,” added Harris. “Especially being an in-state kid. They show me a lot of love from the fans, coaches and players. My favorite part other than the game is being with Coach (Mark) Stoops and Coach (Chad) Scott. I love trying to develop a closer relationship with them.” [Bleacher Report]
Harris will take his first official visit to Ohio State this coming weekend.
Three basketball recruiting nuggets:
– Jayson Tatum named his top ten and, yup, UK is still in the hunt. The class of 2016 shooting guard is down to Arizona, Duke, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Mizzou, North Carolina, Saint Louis, UConn and Wake Forest.
– Kentucky made Carlton Bragg’s final five schools. The Cats join Kansas, Illinois, Arizona and UCLA in the mix for the five-star power forward.
– Brandon Ingram is down to six schools and plans to attend Big Blue Madness. Jaylen Brown is the priority at small forward, but Ingram is still getting love from Kentucky, one of the six schools he announced as his finalists on Monday.
By Andrew Cassady on ©10:00 pm
Monday is a day for moving on to the next week at hand and as such it’s time to turn our attention to the Ohio Bobcats. This past weekend Kentucky basically nailed the best case scenario against the Skyhawks. How will they fare this Saturday? Let’s break down the best case and worst case scenarios:
The best case for the Cats would obviously be another crushing victory. Ohio is on another level from UT-Martin but they don’t appear to have the firepower to combat UK’s potent playmakers. The offense looks sharp once again as Patrick Towles completes 65% of his passes and delivers yet another 300 yard game. Ryan Timmons demonstrates his explosiveness by breaking loose for his first touchdown as a Wildcats.
Against Kent State on Saturday, Ohio fumbled the ball 4 times and against Kentucky they have a similar result. A such the Cats continue to lead the nation in Turnover Margin heading into Week 3. Bud and Za’Darius notch their first sacks of the season when Coach Stoops opens up the playbook and calls some blitzes for week 2.
Kentucky is ready and waiting for all the MACtion Ohio can muster as they win 24-3.
The worst case scenario this Saturday would be the Cats picking up a loss from a mid-major program for the third straight season. Since taking over the Bobcat program in 2005, former Nebraska coach Frank Solich has gotten the program rolling. He’s amassed a 66-50 record and even had Ohio ranked in the top 25 for a brief period in 2012. Under Solich Ohio is nothing if not consistent as they’ve been to 5 straight bowl games. Kentucky will be seeing a major step up in competition from UT-Martin and as such this is a potential trap game.
If Ohio wins the game they would do so behind the strength of their defense. Kentucky’s running game was one of the many highlights from this weekend but Ohio’s line will be much more formidable. The Bobcat line was instrumental in holding Kent State to just 31 yards on 22 carries. They kept the Flashes to just 6-14 third down conversions which allowed them to stay in a close game and win on a last second field goal. The boys in Blue need to make sure they get by Ohio’s defense and have this game put away before the fourth quarter.
The Likely Scenario
Ohio has done well against the MAC in recent years but have struggled outside of the conference. Louisville beat the Bobcats last season 49-7 but that was with their best offense/defense ever. Expect the Cats to win but the game should be much closer than this past weekend’s rout.
How do you think the game will go against Ohio?
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©9:30 pm
His name is Christian Kirksey, and according to the Madden ’15 video game, he’s 14″ inches of fury and plays for the Tennessee Titans. Except, in reality, he’s 6’2″, 233 lbs. and plays for the Browns. This hilarious glitch in the video game is by far the best thing you’ll see tonight.
Look at him go!
He’s got the ball!
By BrandonRamsey on ©9:00 pm
2015 Small Forward Brandon Ingram tweeted out his final 6 schools last evening. The two hometown teams, Duke and North Carolina made the list, along with Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina State, and UCLA. The 6’8’’, 180 pound Ingram is ranked as the #17 overall prospect in the 247 Composite rankings and is the #4 Small Forward.
Ingram grew up as a Duke fan, but is coached by fellow Kinston, North Carolina product and former UNC standout Jerry Stackhouse in AAU. The 247 Crystal Ball rankings have the Blue Devils holding a 58% to 39% advantage over the Tar Heels. That obviously leaves little room for hope for Coach Calipari to get him to Kentucky, but we should know by now not to count Cal out.
Ingram has scheduled an official visit to Lexington for Big Blue Madness on October 17th, so that serves as a good opportunity to show the talented wingman what UK has to offer. As of now that is his final official visit as well, he has already visited Duke and North Carolina, he took an unofficial out to UCLA in early August, and is scheduled to officially visit Kansas on October 10th. I suppose he may look into using his fifth and final official visit on North Carolina State, but no date has been set yet.
If Kentucky can get a commitment from #2 overall prospect Jaylen Brown, then getting more involved with Ingram isn’t as big of a deal, but he is still a great talent and it is always nice to steal one away from Tobacco Road. He is still only 16 years old and has a 7’4’’ wing span that would make Duke graduate Jay Bilas drool. Ingram actually went head-to-head with Jaylen Brown at the Adidas Unrivaled event in Chicago in early July and won the match-up hands down according to multiple reports.
While I wouldn’t count on Kentucky receiving the services of Brandon Ingram, we certainly have a puncher’s chance with him making a trip to Big Blue Madness. Ingram has talked in the past about wanting to make a decision at the end of October, so having him on campus right before he decides could be a good thing if Coach Calipari can work his magic.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©8:00 pm
We’ve analyzed how the team did on the field Saturday, now it’s time to turn our attention to the gameday atmosphere, which the UK Marketing Department has worked very hard to improve. How did they fare? Here are my grades.
There is no more polarizing topic than music. I don’t envy the UK Marketing Department with this task, because you truly can’t please everybody, especially with a crowd that spans all ages and musical preferences. I thought the music was VERY MUCH improved on Saturday, with a nice mix of hip-hop, rock, and even a little country. Braylon Heard won the Kickoff Playoff bracket this summer, and his “Who Run It” selection proved to be particularly appropriate. Drew Franklin’s “Into the Jungle” played while the team ran out on to the field, and Jared Lorenzen’s “Hells Bells” had an appearance as well. The two songs they played most often were “Welcome to the Jungle” and “Turn Down for What,” but UK’s partnership with local radio stations for the “Fans Choice” selections made sure there was some variety. From what I remember, the winners were Lee Brice’s “Parking Lot Party” (country), The Black Keys’ “Gold on the Ceiling” (rock), Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” (pop), and the aforementioned “Turn Down For What” (hip-hop). Some songs, like “Bang on the drum all day,” seems to have a permanent spot on the playlist, but I was happy to hear some old school hip-hop like Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It,” which got Team KSR dancing in the press box. Kudos to the UK Marketing staff for listening to the fans and giving fans the music they want.
I also enjoyed how they played “Bad Boys” when the defense took the field, and “Here Comes the BOOM!” when Boom Williams was back to return kicks. Nice touch.
The SEC changed the rules to allow music and videos to be played between downs, which KyWildcatsTV capitalized on, creating videos featuring different players telling the fans to get up and cheer. Here are the ones I remember: Patrick Towles cueing up the Air Raid siren pregame; Steven Borden doing his dad and Ric Flair’s trademark “WOOOO!”; and Bud Dupree telling fans to get on their feet for a third down. The intro video was awesome too, and after it played, they showed Mark Stoops and the team bust through the locker room doors, which gave me chills.
Mandatory Boring Stuff: A+
Remember all those boring in-game introductions of the science department or math department we had to sit through? Earlier this summer, Nathan Schwake hinted that that those introductions are part of an agreement between the athletic department and the university, therefore, they’re pretty much mandatory. However, the marketing department wisely moved the introductions to the pregame festivities this year, a win-win for all parties involved. Happy for the Joe Schmo from the Ag School on his prize-winning pestacide, but I’m even happier that I don’t have to politely clap for it during a big defensive series.
Fourth quarter tradition: B-
UK debuted a new tradition between the third and fourth quarter on Saturday: Jared Lorenzen walked to midfield with the UK drum line behind him and led the crowd in a Blue/White cheer. Each week, a different famous UK alum or fan will have the honors, and considering it was the first time they did it on Saturday, I thought it went okay. As with anything new, it took the crowd a few minutes to catch on and figure out what was going on, but once the Blue/White cheer got rolling, it was cool. I like the effort, but I do think there is room for improvement. Maybe in addition to the drum line, a video can introduce the guest of honor each week? For those of you who keep calling it lame, let’s hear your suggestions. The marketing department is in listening mode right now, so speak up.
Literally, incomplete. The announced attendance was 50,398, which is still well below the current capacity of 62,093. I know it was early, hot, and a holiday weekend, but come on, people. Aside from the UT-Martin section, the lower bowl was mostly full, but the upper corners were bare. Given the excitement surrounding the program right now, I expected more. Hopefully, UK’s impressive performance will inspire more people to come see them take on a tougher opponent this Saturday.
Student section: B+
We’ve given the student section a lot of grief over the years, but they showed up in force on Saturday, filling their section for at least the first half. The basketball team came out to enjoy the game and invited Damien Harris to come join them, which caused the nation’s best running back to geek just a little. In the second half, the section thinned out considerably, but so did the whole stadium. Keep it up, kids.
Wildcat Pushup Form: C
It was hotter than all get out at Commonwealth on Saturday and the Wildcat had a LOT of pushups to do in a very heavy costume, but I’ll admit that I was a little disappointed in his form. Committing to the one-handed pushup early on was a mistake, and by the Cats’ third touchdown, the Wildcat was basically just bobbing his head. Later on, he got smart and went back to the standard two-handed pushup and did much better. I was in the press box Saturday, so I wasn’t able to do the pushups along with him, but I’ll be watching from home Saturday, so hopefully there’s some muscle memory left from all those pushups I had to do during the Bahamas trip.
I feel like I’ve watched the Catwalk grow up over the years. When UK first played Western at LP Field in 2011, the Catwalk was pretty much only players’ families and the loyalest of fans, and the gathering couldn’t have gotten the team that excited. Now, it’s one of the program’s best traditions, and a can’t-miss event before the game. Za’Darius Smith, aka Mr. Catwalk, said it’s one of the reasons he chose to come back to Kentucky instead of going to the NFL Draft, and in fitting fashion, he brought up the rear Saturday, holding Baby Z in his arms. It was very smart of UK to make sure Damien Harris had a front row spot, and he had to be impressed by love flowing between the players and the fans. The crowd could have been a little bigger for the Catwalk on Saturday, but hey, it was 9:45 in the morning. I’ll let this one slide.
Overall grade: B+
So far, so good. What changes would you suggest for next week?
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©7:13 pm
Congrats to UK center Jon Toth, who was named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week for his performance against UT-Martin. Toth was instrumental on both of Braylon Heard’s touchdowns, and Stoops raved about him on his call-in show this evening. Patrick Towles also got some love as Gene Chizik’s “Unsung Player of the Week.”
By Kindsey Bernhard on ©6:30 pm
Dropped passes have always haunted this Kentucky offense, but Saturday we finally might have broken that curse. Players like Demarco Robinson, Javess Blue and Ryan Timmons who have been plagued by this curse caught the ball with such ease that makes the entire Commonwealth very happy.
Practice reports over the summer stated that Coach Stoops brought in a tennis ball machine in order to decrease the number of dropped passes. Except for the fact that some injuries occurred (Jeff Badet), I would say the machine was a success.
Stoops stated earlier in the week that some of the tennis balls would hit the guys in the face, which motivated them to work harder at keep their eye on the ball.
Saturday the receivers dropped far less passes than we have seen in a long time. With much of the receiving core being true freshman, I was very impressed with their ability to make plays and hold onto the ball.
In the first quarter, Kentucky only accounted for four incomplete passes, one of those being a defensive interference penalty. The second quarter looked about the same with only five incomplete passes, one being defensive pass interference on T.V. Williams. With the help of our defense in the 3rd quarter, the Cats only totaled for two incomplete passes. The offense lead by backup quarterback, Reese Phillips, only had had two incomplete passes.
A total of 10 players caught passes from either Towles or Phillips. Timmons lead the team with three receptions for 75 yards. True freshman Blake Bone scored the only touchdown for the receiving squad. He had two catches for 65 yards.
We can’t give all the credit to the receivers, without giving some credit to our quarterback’s on point passes. Patrick’s poise and ability to put the ball in the right spot added to the success of the receivers’ ability to hold onto the ball.
Keep that tennis ball machine charged and ready to go and those tennis balls flying.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©5:45 pm
This morning, 2016 shooting guard Jayson Tatum put the Cats in his top ten, and this afternoon, 2015 power forward Carlton Bragg announced that Kentucky is in his top five, along with Kansas, Illinois, Arizona, and UCLA. The 6’8″, 205 lbs. Bragg is considered the fifth best power forward and the fourteenth overall player in the 2015 class.
Bragg will take an official visit to Kentucky for Big Blue Madness on October 17, a week after taking an official to Kansas for Late Night at the Phog.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©5:00 pm
Damien Harris took yet another unofficial visit to Kentucky on Saturday, and afterwards, he told Bleacher Report that he’d rate his visit “a definite 10″ on a scale of 1-10.
“I always have a great time when I’m on campus at UK. Its always a great atmosphere,” added Harris. “Especially being an in-state kid. They show me a lot of love from the fans, coaches and players. My favorite part other than the game is being with Coach (Mark) Stoops and Coach (Chad) Scott. I love trying to develop a closer relationship with them.”
Damien will take his first official visit to Ohio State this weekend to watch the Buckeyes play Virginia Tech. Let’s go Hokies.
By Matt Jones on ©4:09 pm
I was intrigued to learn what the opening line would be for the UK/Ohio game on Saturday in Vegas, in large part because the Cats exceeded expectations in their first game. I guessed that it would be Kentucky -10, as it would factor in UK’s strong performance and Ohio’s win on the road versus Kent State. Vegas ended up giving UK little respect early, opening the Cats as just a 6 point favorite on the morning line, but then the money came in from bettors and now, the Cats have moved up to a 10 point favorite and that might even grow. It is clear the betting public favors the Cats to roll more than the experts in Vegas and we will see which is correct.
By my tally, the four point swing is the largest of any of the Week 2 lines…interesting indeed.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©3:30 pm
2016 shooting guard Jayson Tatum released his top ten today, and, not surprisingly, the Cats made the cut:
In alphabetical order Arizona Duke Illinois Kansas Kentucky Mizzou North Carolina Saint Louis University UConn Wake Forest
— Jayson Tatum (@Im_that_dude22) September 1, 2014
Tatum has talked about a possible three-way package deal with fellow five-stars Harry Giles (power forward) and Dennis Smith (point guard), but as we all know, package deals rarely come into fruition. Right now, Tatum’s Crystal Ball sits at 47% Duke, 24% Kentucky, 18% Kansas, 6% Memphis, and 6% Saint Louis.
Be lazy on your Labor Day and watch Tatum work:
By Nick Roush on ©2:00 pm
Keep it simple, stupid. After breaking down the film, Coach Stoops found many areas needing improvement on the defensive side of the ball, “Anytime you go 8-9 possessions with 150 yards and zero points, you’ll take it, but there were still some things we need to get a lot better at.”
Part of it is simple fundamentals, “Just not striking people, being as violent as we need to be.” The biggest mistakes occurred when players were trying to do too much. Bud and Za’Darius were anxious to get that first sack, but trying too hard kept them from making that big play.
“I saw a couple instances where they were trying to do too much. And that’s bound to happen when you’ve got guys that want to be playmakers. They want to do what they can do, and that’s make big plays, but you have to do that within the scheme.“
AJ Stamps does things you can’t teach. In his first game as a Wildcat, AJ Stamps showed the BBN his versatile playmaking ability. He’s comfortable making big plays in the air and coming up for the big hit on the run. His decision-making ability gives him an advantage that you can’t teach.
“I think what impresses me most is that comfort level, the instincts he has,” Stoops said. “Sitting there when you have to read in a run/pass conflict, and you’re darn near 100% on when you’re ‘pulling the pin’ and playing the run or pass. Those things are very difficult to coach, all of those little minute little points.”
Stoops wasn’t pleased with 2nd D, except for one guy. After holding UT-Martin to next to nothing for 3 quarters, Stoops was upset on how much offense was allowed late in the game. One guy that didn’t disappoint was Kendall Randolph.
Stoops has not been able to use depth in the secondary, but Randolph brings explosive energy every time he takes the field. It didn’t take long for him to prove that he’s a playmaker, “That was the 9th play he played when he came in on the sideline and caused that fumble for a touchdown. He has great energy, he plays fast, he’s fearless, so we need to get him in the mix.”
Big plays bring big relief. You don’t have to be a football guru to notice the difference in this year’s playmakers and the ones from years past. Blake Bone wowed with a big catch, Braylon Heard made people miss, and AJ Stamps’ made the most athletically impressive play we’ve seen in awhile. Coach Stoops even got caught up in it on the sidelines, “(I was) Very relieved to know there are some playmakers coming up.”
Ohio is a well coached squad. Ohio’s coach Frank Solich has been around the game of football for a long time, taking Nebraska to the National Championship in 2001 (he lost to Stoops’ Canes). At Ohio, they’ve been in five straight bowl games. You can’t be that successful without teaching great fundamentals, “They’re a team that’s not going to beat themselves. They’re just good and sound.”
Increasing the competition from FCS to the MAC will be more challenging, but he doesn’t expect any of his players to get a big head after one win, “We definitely can’t take anyone for granted.”
Thank you for e-mailing/calling/faxing/paging our website kentuckysportsradio.com/pop-culture. We are currently out of the office right now, enjoying the Labor Day holiday in various ways. CM Tomlin is still trying to figure out how his HydroFlask is this frakkin’ awesome (PS they come in growlers!).
Richmond is, I’m sure, watching the most time-honored Labor Day tradition, WRASSLE on the LAKE ’14. This is where a stage is put on inner-tubes and floated on a lake while the audience floats on their own tubes around… the… wait, what? This isn’t a thing yet? Richmond… I have a business proposition for you.
Matt Shorr is 100% going to be at [an undisclosed location] where he will undoubtedly be [fiercely guarding his privacy] with his best friends and closest acquaintances [General Grant, A Cat, and a Pizza Place]. He probably doesn’t mind that I’m telling people, right?
Brennan is busy working for you, the people, scoping out Lexington’s hottest club, Neigh. Located in the inner circle of the drum circle at Woodland Park this club is the brain-child of Squab Marley, Jah Pigeon. This club has everything: Squirtles, Bortles, Jingles, Jangles, the toupee of Donald Trunk–elephant mogul–and Low Blow bath towels. That’s where, like, a group of midgets in smelting aprons use miniature bellows to dry you off.
SE Shepard is busy trying to talk himself out of drafting all Broncos for his Fantasy Draft on Tuesday night.
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