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November 24th, 2014

Stoops confident losing streak won’t hurt recruiting

Darrell Bird |

Darrell Bird |

After starting the season out 5-1, the Cats lost five straight, which has pretty much killed all of the momentum headed into the season finale against Louisville. Has the losing streak affected recruiting? Earlier today, Mark Stoops said not at all.

“No, not at all. I feel very good about where we’re at and where we’re going recruiting,” Stoops told reporters. When asked, he said he doesn’t believe the losing streak has put doubts in his current players’ heads either. “No, I don’t worry about that one bit. We have a good group of players that enjoy playing here and have really worked hard and done the right things. I think you could ask them, I think they have full trust in what we’re doing. So I don’t worry about that at all on the recruiting front.”

Meanwhile, Damien Harris had this reaction to the news Dorian Baker will be out the rest of the season with a knee injury:

Emojipedia (yes, there is such a thing) describes that as the “weary face.” Weary because he’s sad about his future teammate’s injury, amirite??

UK giving out individual player posters at each home game starting Sunday

Did you love this poster that was distributed at Big Blue Madness? Then you’ll love to hear that UK will distribute individual versions featuring each player at each home game, starting with freshman Devin Booker’s poster for the Providence game on Sunday. The first 5,000 fans at Rupp Arena for each game will receive one poster for free.

Here’s the schedule:

Providence – Devin Booker (Nov. 30)
Texas – Trey Lyles (Dec. 5)
Eastern Kentucky – Karl-Anthony Towns (Dec. 7)
Columbia – Tyler Ulis (Dec. 10)
North Carolina – Alex Poythress (Dec. 13)
Ole Miss – Aaron Harrison (Jan. 6)
Missouri – Andrew Harrison (Jan. 13)
Vanderbilt – Willie Cauley-Stein (Jan. 20)
Alabama – Dakari Johnson (Jan. 31)
Georgia – Marcus Lee (Feb. 3)
South Carolina – Derek Willis (Feb. 14)
Auburn – Dominique Hawkins (Feb. 21)
Arkansas – EJ Floreal (Feb. 28)
Florida – Sam Malone, Tod Lanter and Brian Long (Senior Day, March 7)

Posters will be distributed in the main concourse at Rupp Arena. Doors open 90 minutes prior to tipoff and fans are encouraged to arrive early and proceed to the table where posters are being distributed after entering the arena.

Watch Mark Stoops preview Louisville

Transcript after the jump.


It’s a good thing there was a Bye Week, and other takeaways from Stoops’ Press Conference

Mark Zerof/USA Today

Mark Zerof/USA Today

–  Tyler has kept you well-informed of the injury situation, but it should be said again: this team REALLY needed a break.  “You can’t help but feel better,” Stoops said.  “It was nice to have one day off.”

Even so, a week might not have been enough.  Dorian Baker is done for the year, Kyle Meadows probably is too, Towles’ ankle is tweaked, and those are just the people we know about.  The ‘banged up’ qualification probably applies to more than not.  Hopefully the Bye Week gave them enough mental rest to overcome the physical pains for just one more week.

–  Get Reggie Rattled.  When it was announced the Reggie Bonnafon would be Louisville’s starting QB for the final two games of the season, UK fans became optimistic that the defensive line could rattle the true freshman in a big game.  That changed last week when a composed Bonnafon went to Notre Dame Stadium and threw for 180 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 35 yards and two scores.  “I’ve been impressed.  [He’s] very cool.  He’s just been very poised back there, making good decisions.”

–  About the play-actions.  Stoops may have only briefly mentioned Petrino’s play-action passes, but it was enough for me to exhale.  There isn’t one thing that could disappoint me more than if the Cats gave up a deep ball to Devante Parker off a play-action on the first play of the game.  They did it against Florida State.  Petrino did it at WKU against the Cats and I can name at least a handful of personal memories from Petrino’s last tour at Louisville, with Urrutia’s stiffarm against Miami the most memorable.

The bad news: the corners were pretty banged up after Tennessee.  It also doesn’t help that stopping the run will be the #1 priority this week on defense, making them even more susceptible to the play-action.  “Any offense that has the balance that can run and pass, they put you in that situation where they can get him (Parker) in some one-on-ones because they can run the ball.”

Stoops is going to add some wrinkles to apply additional pressure on Parker in underneath coverage, but if UK’s corners are stuck in one-on-ones I do not like our chances.

–  Patrick Towles could enter the NCAA record books, for the wrong reason.  If you haven’t been paying attention, Louisville has the best defensive back in America.  Gerod Holliman has recorded 13 interceptions this season, one shy of tying an NCAA record that has stood since 1968.  To give the stat some perspective, 17 UK players have caught passes this season: Holliman has more catches on defense than half of them do on offense.  To make things even more difficult, he isn’t a corner you can throw away from, he plays centerfield of the defense as safety, “The other safety, #2, is just as good.  He doesn’t have the numbers, but very good football players, both of them.”

–  At the end of the day, it’s either win or go home for the Cats.  Despite the obstacles that lie ahead and everything that’s at stake in this game, Stoops is confident his team’s effort will not be lacking, “I think we all know what we’re playing for.  They know that.  There’s no point in hiding it from them.” 

UK still #1 in both polls

Photo by Darrell Bird, 247Sports

Photo by Darrell Bird, 247Sports

In news that will surprise no one, the Cat are on top of the polls once again this week, slowly stealing first place votes from just about every other team. In the AP poll, UK had 62 of the 65 first place votes, and 29 of the 32 first place votes in the USA Today Coaches poll:

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 12.10.01 PM

Go Cats.

4-star Vandy commit will take an official visit to Kentucky

Good news in football recruiting: 4-star linebacker Josh Smith told Rivals’ Woody Womack that he’s planning to take an official visit to Kentucky sometime soon. The Murfreesboro, Tennessee native is considered the 7th best inside linebacker and the 283rd overall player in the 2015 class and committed to Vanderbilt back in July, but has now decided to take official visits to Kentucky and Ole Miss, along with one to Vanderbilt in January.

“Everything’s going well with Vanderbilt, still sticking strong,” Smith said of his commitment to Vandy. Smith’s brother plays for the Commodores, which could make flipping him especially difficult; however, getting him on campus can’t hurt, especially if it happens on December 13, a huge recruiting weekend in which almost all of UK’s current commits and top targets are set to take their officials.

Come on down and let Vince Marrow entertain you.


So, about Patrick Towles’ ankle…

Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

Patrick Towles sprained his ankle during the loss at Tennessee, but was able to come back in. Today, Mark Stoops hinted that Patrick’s still not at 100%, and the staff is anxious to see how he performs in practice this afternoon. “We’ll see how he is today. Hopefully he’ll be out there full strength today,” Stoops said. “I’d just like to see him really put it all on the line this week and go play. Really be the leader he’s shown at times.”

A rough slide of SEC losses caused morale to dip considerably, but that can all change with a win over the Cards. Stoops called the opportunity to beat Louisville and become bowl eligible a “beautiful thing” and he expects his team to be ready for it. “I think we all know what we’re playing for. They know that. There’s no point in hiding from it,” Stoops said. “I think a win this weekend would mean an awful lot to these players. I think they deserve it, and that’s what I’ve said to them.”

Nick Roush will be by with more notes here in a bit. #BeatLouisville.

Dorian Baker injured his knee last week, needs surgery

Andy Lyon/Getty

Andy Lyon/Getty

Unfortunate news for one of Kentucky’s most promising wide receivers: Mark Stoops told reporters that freshman Dorian Baker injured a knee in practice last week and will need surgery. He’ll be out for the rest of the season.

Watch Mark Stoops preview Louisville on WatchESPN


Mark Stoops is in the Wildcat Den for his weekly Kentucky football press conference. Tune in via WatchESPN to hear his comments about UK’s final chance to become bowl eligible against Louisville this weekend.

If you can’t access WatchESPN or are too busy at work to sneak away, Nick Roush will be by with a rundown of Stoops comments later this afternoon and our friends at Kentucky Wildcats TV will have the entire video online for your viewing pleasure.

No Dorian Baker on the #BeatLouisville depth chart

With bowl eligibility on the line, it’s time to go balls to the walls against the Cards this weekend. Here’s the latest depth chart heading into Saturday’s huge rivalry showdown…


Tight end
85 Steven Borden, 6-3, 246, Sr-1L
80 Ronnie Shields, 6-5, 254, Sr-3L

Left tackle

77 Darrian Miller, 6-5, 292, Sr-3L
76 Teven Eatmon-Nared, 6-7, 339, Sr-2L

Left guard
75 Zach West, 6-4, 318, Jr-2L
68 Nick Haynes, 6-5, 319, Fr-RS

72 Jon Toth, 6-5, 301, So-1L
57 Zach Myers, 6-3, 287, So-Sq

Right guard
69 Ramsey Meyers, 6-5, 300, Fr-RS
74 Cole Mosier, 6-6, 348, Fr-RS

Right tackle
70 Jordan Swindle, 6-7, 306, Jr-2L
73 Kyle Meadows, 6-5, 294, Fr-RS

Wide receiver
9 Demarco Robinson, 5-10, 158, Sr-3L
6 Blake Bone, 6-5, 198, Fr-HS

Wide receiver
87 Joey Herrick, 6-1, 197, Jr-1L
1 Ryan Timmons, 5-10, 195, So-1L

Wide receiver
8 Javess Blue, 6-0, 191, Sr-1L

Wide receiver
19 Garrett Johnson, 5-11, 176, Fr-HS
81 Rashad Cunningham, 6-4, 225, Jr-1L

14 Patrick Towles, 6-5, 238, So-1L
12 Reese Phillips, 6-2, 218, Fr-RS


39 D.J. Warren, 6-0, 251, Sr-3L
10 Jeff Witthuhn, 6-3, 246, So-Sq

Running back
5 Braylon Heard, 5-11, 189, Jr-Tr
18 Stanley “Boom” Williams, 5-9, 200, Fr-HS
4 Mikel Horton 6-1, 230, Fr-HS
3 Jojo Kemp, 5-10, 194, So-1L


Defensive end
94 Za’Darius Smith, 6-6, 263, Sr-1L
91 Farrington Huguenin, 6-4, 275, Jr-2L

Defensive tackle
90 Melvin Lewis, 6-4, 320, Jr-JC
69 Matt Elam, 6-7, 375, Fr-HS

Defensive tackle

50 Mike Douglas, 6-4, 288, Sr-3L
67 Cory “C.J.” Johnson, 6-3, 299, Jr-JC or 96 Regie Meant, 6-4, 286, Fr-RS

Defensive end/Linebacker
6 Jason Hatcher, 6-3, 242, So-1L
47 Jabari Johnson, 6-1, 276, Jr-1L

Defensive end/Linebacker
2 Alvin “Bud” Dupree, 6-4, 264, Sr-3L
41 TraVaughn Paschal, 6-4, 257, Sr-2L

Middle linebacker
45 Josh Forrest, 6-3, 236, Jr-2L
41 TraVaughn Paschal, 6-4, 257, Sr-2L

Weak-side linebacker
33 Ryan Flannigan, 6-2, 225, Jr-JC
22 Khalid Henderson, 6-1, 228, Jr-2L

24 Blake McClain, 5-11, 194, So-1L
29 Kendall Randolph, 6-0, 168, Fr-HS

3 Fred Tiller, 6-0, 170, Jr-2L
11 J.D. Harmon, 6-2, 201, So-1L

5 Ashely Lowery, 6-1, 220, Sr-3L
15 Marcus McWilson, 6-0, 210, So-1L

1 A.J. Stamps, 6-0, 199, Jr-JC
28 Eric Dixon, 5-11, 193, Sr-3L

16 Cody Quinn, 5-10, 172, Jr-2L
21 Nate Willis, 6-0, 168, Sr-1L

Special teams

Long snapper
59 Kelly Mason, 6-3, 223, Jr-2L
56 Matt Howard, 5-10, 208, Fr-RS

13 Jared Leet, 6-3, 196, Jr-2L
12 Reese Phillips, 6-2, 218, Fr-RS

99 Austin MacGinnis, 5-10, 168, Fr-RS
95 Miles Butler, 5-9, 160, Fr-HS

9 Landon Foster, 6-1, 198, Jr-2L
93 Bryan Kirshe, 6-0, 155, Fr-HS

Kickoff returner

18 Stanley “Boom” Williams, 5-9, 200, Fr-HS or 11 J.D. Harmon, 6-2, 201, So-1L or 5 Braylon Heard, 5-11, 189, Jr-Tr or 9 Demarco Robinson, 5-10, 158, Sr-3L

Punt returner
9 Demarco Robinson, 5-10, 158, Sr-3L
1 Ryan Timmons, 5-10, 195, So-1L

Of note:

  • No Dorian Baker
  • Steven Borden is listed as the starting tight end after returning to action vs. Tennessee
  • Joey Herrick is listed ahead of Ryan Timmons at wide receiver
  • Braylon Heard is your starting running back.

We’ll hear more from Mark Stoops at noon.

Louisville opens as a 14-point favorite for Saturday’s game


But their fans still look like this, so it’s okay.


The Walking Dead: ‘Crossed’


Good morning friends and fellow Walking Dead aficionados!  I was writing this recap last night when I realized that I had seen a prophecy enacted.  It’s not only me though, you too have seen this very prophecy.

Now, some people might say, “this isn’t a prophecy, you’re just just using something that happens to vaguely line up with the plot.  I mean, not even that really.”  To those people I say, Shut Up.  You.  You’re.  It’s.  Just Shhh.

Because we–you and I reader–we know.  We, the humble, lowly masses, might not have realized what we saw but after last night’s episode it’s clear that we had been spoken to.  I mean really spoken to.  We assumed that The Walking Dead had, again (and again!), lost what was a fast moving story line to go backwards, to revisit tired themes and locals.  Listen, though, to the words of the prophet:

Amigos, if that isn’t the most apt description of the plot of The Walking Dead, I don’t know what is!

We’ve moved back, and back, and back and here we are in Atlanta again.  Certainly the circumstances are different, but like the prophet says, (cooly sips on a Lone Star while starin’ off into the infinite star lit cosmos) sometimes you gotta go back, to actually move forward.  To the ‘Cap!

PS.  Thanks as always to my 3-5 #BBWD buddies (Dave Scott, Nick Nafpliotis, and Tara)!  You guys are doing great work!  If you want to get in on the fun, just tweet during next week’s season finale with that hashtag and we can all discuss what happens together in the Recap!

(PSS.  I’ll be on the road next weekend, starin’ down Ol’ Cyrus.  Unfortunately, this is going to delay next week’s Recap until late Monday night or Tuesday morning, probably.  I’ll update on Twitter later in the week as to the exact time!)


Montana State’s coach says UK is the best team he’s seen in his career

You have to give it to Montana State head coach Brian Fish. His team got absolutely embarrassed, but Fish was very gracious in his postgame remarks, telling reporters that Kentucky’s relentless attack left his team feeling helpless at times. Fish seemed to take some pride in John Calipari’s comments that last night was UK’s second best game so far this season, and Fish later told Jeff Goodman that “Kentucky is the best team I’ve seen in my 25 years of coaching.” 

The praise doesn’t get old.

HEY! Wake up, it’s time for Kentucky Sports Radio! (Monday Show Thread)

Photo by Matt McCarty,

Good morning, friends. Shake off that sleep because it’s time for the Monday edition of Kentucky Sports Radio. Today, Matt and Ryan will discuss UK’s wins over the weekend and look ahead to Saturday’s big football game and the short Thanksgiving week. Tune in to hear their thoughts on the Cats and much, much more.

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

Listen to Kentucky Sports Radio

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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Just How Rare was UK’s romp over Kansas?

Look, Kentucky is going to smash many opponents this year, as evidenced by yesterday’s almost absurd result.  But I still want to go back to last week and recap the historic romp over Kansas.  I did the research and looked back at every Top 5 matchups since the year 2000.  In total, there have been 48 total games between Top 5 teams in the regular season or conference tournament.  No NCAA Tournament games were counted.  Surprisingly, there have been quite a few blowouts in the mix.  Of the 48 games, 22 were decided by 10 points or more.  Five were decided by 20 points or more.  And Duke’s smashing of Texas in 2005 was by 31 points, which means UK actually has a little company.  But still, the 32 point margin is the biggest since 2000 in Top 5 matchups.  A look at the group:

32 Points, 2014: #1 Kentucky 72-#5 Kansas 40
31 Points, 2005: #1 Duke 97-#2 Texas 66
26 Points, 2006: #5 Florida 86-#3 Ohio St 60
22 Points, 2011: #2 Ohio St 85-#3 Duke 63
21 Points, 2002: #1 Duke 99-#3 Maryland 78
18 Points, 2004: #5 Illinois 91-#1 Wake Forest 73
17 Points, 2007: #1 Ohio St 66-#3 Wisconsin 49, 2009: #1 UCONN 68-#5 Louisville 51, 2010: #2 Kansas 82-#5 Kansas St 65
14 Points, 2002: #3 Maryland 87-#1 Duke 73, 2004: #5 Oklahoma St 74-#4 Syracuse 60, 2006: #3 UCONN 89-#2 Villanova 75, 2007: #2 Memphis 85-#5 Georgetown 71, 2010: #1 Duke 82-#4 Kansas St 68
13 Points, 2001: #5 Maryland 76-#2 Illinois 63, 2005: #4 Wake Forest 95-#3 North Carolina 82
12 Points, 2004: #2 Duke 84-#4 Wake Forest 72
11 Points, 2005: #4 Villanova 85-#5 Oklahoma 74, 2008: #2 Duke 89-#3 North Carolina 78, 2013: #5 Kansas 94-#4 Duke 83
10 Points, 2004: #4 Stanford 82-#3 Arizona 72, 2009: #3 Pittsburgh 70-#1 UCONN 60
9 Points, 2002: #4 Oklahoma 64-#1 Kansas 55
8 Points, 2009: #4 Pittsburgh 76-#1 UCONN 68, 2011: #5 Pittsburgh 74, #3 Syracuse 68, 2013: #3 Indiana 81-#1 Michigan 73
7 Points, 2002: #4 Kansas 74-#5 Oklahoma 67, 2004: #4 Pittsburgh 75-#5 UCONN 68, 2008: #5 UCLA 81-#4 Washington St 74, 2010: #4 Villanova 82-#5 West Virginia 75, 2011: #3 Kentucky 69- #4 Louisville 62
6 Points, 2014: #5 Duke 66-#1 Syracuse 60
5 Points, 2003: #4 Texas 76-#5 Oklahoma 71, 2006: #4 Villanova 69-#1 UCONN 64, 2012: #5 Duke 76-#2 Louisville 71, 2012: #2 Duke 73-#4 Ohio St 68
4 Points, 2008: #2 Tennessee 66-#1 Memphis 62, 2013: #1 Indiana 72-#3 Michigan St 68, 2013: #2 Michigan St 78-#1 Kentucky 74, 2014: #5 Michigan St 72-#3 Ohio St 68
3 Points, 2007: #3 Wisconsin 72-#5 Ohio St 69, 2009: #4 Wake Forest 92-#3 North Carolina 89, 2013: #3 Duke 79-#5 Miami 76
2 Points, 2003: #2 Kentucky 69-#3 Florida 67
1 Point, 2007: #2 Ohio St 49-#1 Wisconsin 48, 2011: #1 Kentucky 73-#5 North Carolina 72, 2012: #5 Missouri 89-#3 Baylor 88, 2012: #4 Kansas 87-#3 Missouri 86

Now you might ask who has been involved in the most Top 5 matchups since 2000.  A list of the top performers:

Duke (12 appearances): 9-3
Ohio State (7 appearances): 3-4
Kansas (6 appearances): 4-2
UCONN (6 appearances): 2-4
Kentucky (5 appearances): 4-1
North Carolina (4 appearances): 0-4
Michigan State (3 appearances): 2-1
Louisville (3 appearances): 0-3
Indiana (2 appearances): 2-0