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November 12th, 2018

KSR Football Podcast: A Painful Tennessee Loss Before Senior Day

Well, that sucked.

The Cats could not win at Rocky Top. Nick Roush, Drew Franklin, Jack Pilgrim and Adam Luckett try to explain what went wrong and diagnose the problems with UK’s offense before they share their favorite memories of the Senior Class that will leave UK with more SEC wins than any other group in school history. Highlights:

— The moment the offensive line started to decline.

— Is there a disconnect between Gran and Stoops?

— Neyland stinks

— An emotional up and down season.

— Bobby Gone.

— Takes so hot, two firetrucks had to come.

— Jack apologizes on behalf of Chris Westry.

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Kentucky’s title odds have changed

I hope you didn’t jump on Kentucky’s title odds too early because you can get a better value today after the Cats’ disappointing first week of the season.

Bovada lists Kentucky at 7/1 odds to win it all in its updated odds for college basketball’s championship. The odds were 5/1 this time last week.

Duke is still the favorite, now at 2/1, which is a stupid bet.

TEAM

ODDS

TEAM

ODDS

Duke 2/1 Kentucky 7/1
Kansas 8/1 Gonzaga 12/1
Nevada 12/1 North Carolina 12/1
Virginia 12/1 Villanova 18/1
Tennessee 30/1 Oregon 35/1
Michigan State 40/1 Indiana 45/1
Syracuse 45/1 UCLA 45/1
Auburn 50/1 Wichita State 55/1
Florida 60/1 Michigan 60/1
West Virginia 60/1 Cincinnati 90/1
Florida State 90/1 Purdue 90/1
Virginia Tech 90/1 Kansas State 100/1
Marquette 100/1 Mississippi State 100/1
Wisconsin 100/1 Arizona State 125/1
Clemson 125/1 Iowa State 125/1
LSU 125/1 Maryland 125/1
Miami 125/1 NC State 125/1
Notre Dame 125/1 Ohio State 125/1
Penn State 125/1 St. John’s 125/1
Texas 125/1 TCU 125/1
Texas Tech 125/1 Vanderbilt 175/1
Washington 175/1 Arizona 200/1
Butler 200/1 Louisville 200/1
Loyola Chicago 300/1 Texas A&M 300/1 

You can also bet on whether or not Duke will go 40-0. It’s 8/1 odds for YES and 1/16 for NO.


Q&A: Everything Mark Stoops said at his Pre-Senior Day Press Conference

Opening Statement…

“As I mentioned Saturday night after the game, feel the same way today. We obviously didn’t play good enough. I didn’t have them prepared well enough and we need to do a better job. That’s a very important game that we did not put forth our best effort, and that can’t happen. It’s inexcusable and we need to do a better job. With that being said, that’s one game and we have to move on and get ready to prepare for a victory here this week. We’ve got to do whatever we’ve got to do to get ready to play this game against Middle (Tennessee) to get our eighth victory. Again, it’s very important. Doesn’t diminish all the good things our team has done throughout this year, and appreciate their effort throughout this season. Again, as I mentioned Saturday, I didn’t do a good enough job getting them motivated and getting them prepared to play last week, and that’s what we have to do. We’ll get back at it here this week.”

On if he thinks it’s time to re-think the entire offensive scheme…

“That wouldn’t be a very good idea. We got two opportunities to get the most victories we’ve had in a regular season since 1977. I don’t think that’d be very wise. We did a lot of good things to win seven games, and we plan on trying to get to eight and nine. I appreciate all the good things that they did to put us in that position. That would be called panic mode.”

On if he considers this to be somewhat of a breather game…

“There’s no team that we can say that’s a breather. You see it again, you see it in college football, and you see it all the time. You saw Tennessee score seven points on Charlotte the week before, and come out and play lights out against us. These are college kids, there’s going to be ups and downs. You’ve have to be good enough to win when you don’t play your best. It’s very difficult to play at your peak for 12 straight weeks and some of the teams that are competing for 13, so it’s difficult. You’ve got to be good enough to overcome them when you don’t play well. Sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t.  I think there are three teams in this league, we’ve got a pretty good league don’t we? 14 teams in this league that have pretty good programs, and I think three of them have a better record than us. I don’t think it’s time to scrap everything.”

On if the film showed that some guys were just going through the motions Saturday like Benny (Snell Jr.) mentioned…

“Definitely. I said it after the game, I was the first one to say it. I said it to the team prior to them talking to you. I didn’t do a very good job because we weren’t ready to play at the level that we needed to play at. I think you could see Tennessee, where maybe they played that way the week before, and they got straightened out and came out and played with a lot of passion and energy. Our team has done that throughout this year. We didn’t Saturday and that’s on me. I appreciate Benny (Snell Jr.) pointing those things out, and that’s what leaders should do. I don’t think he’s pointing at any one person, just in general, I told them that we didn’t do a good enough job.”

(more…)


Kentucky is not Pressing Panic Button after Second Straight Loss

After a disappointing 24-7  loss to Tennessee in Knoxville, Mark Stoops will not scrap the scheme and start from scratch.  Kentucky’s head coach is not panicking.  After all, they are still 7-3.

“I don’t think that’d be very wise,” Stoops said at his weekly press conference. “We did a lot of good things to win seven games.  We plan on trying to get the eighth and ninth.  I appreciate all the good things that they did to put us in that position.  That would be called panic mode.”

Most of the panic in the BBN revolves around Kentucky’s dismal offense.  The Cats have not scored more than 17 points in a game since September.  That’s just one of the many stats that highlights Kentucky’s poor production.

Even though the unit has struggled to score points, Stoops doesn’t think they are so far off that drastic changes must be made.  From afar, the problems appear to be complicated.  Stoops sees the problem plainly: every time the offense is prepared to finish a long drive with a score, they make a critical mistake.

In the Georgia game, a third and short near the goal line turned into third and long after a pre-snap penalty.  On the first drive against Tennessee, Benny Snell missed a hole on a second down that made it third and short, then a lineman missed a block.  One drive later, Kentucky advanced the ball all the way down to the 26 before a snap flew over Terry Wilson’s head.  One play later a receiver dropped a pass.

“Those are things that we can’t overcome. That’s where we have to put it all together and play clean,” Stoops said.

“We have to make long drives.  In our victories throughout the season, we’ve had 12-13 play drives because we’re not overly explosive, but you have to be very good and you have to be very precise and you can’t have a missed assignment here, a missed assignment there.”

The numbers reinforce that statement.  In two relatively high-scoring wins against South Carolina and Mississippi State, Kentucky produced just over 300 yards of offense.  In the five games since, UK has not surpassed 20 points, yet the offensive production is on par with MSU and SCAR.

Opponent

Total Yards

Total Points

Miss. State

300

28

South Carolina

327

24

Texas A&M

178

14

Vanderbilt

298

14

Missouri

385

15

Georgia

310

17

Tennessee

262

7

At Tennessee Kentucky gained four or more yards on 17 of their 27 runs.  That’s good enough to score points if you have an explosive offense, but the Cats simply don’t have enough playmakers.

“We need to be very precise.  The complete game changers, we don’t have a lot of them on offense.  We’ve gotta make sure that we execute and we’re very efficient in what we do,” said Stoops.

Finding the right recipe for offensive success follows mistake-free football.  This team cannot play perfect.  That’s asking too much.  However, they have been good enough in previous games to play through their own shortcomings.

“You got to be good enough to overcome them when you don’t play well.  Sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t.”

On Saturday, Kentucky did not have it in them to beat Tennessee.  The Cats appeared to be emotionally drained from the roller coaster season of highs and lows.  Instead of attacking the Vols with a ferocious physicality, Tennessee was the aggressor.

“We haven’t been very good when we’ve been the hunted. We’re a much better football team when we’re the hunter. We’ve gotta understand what level you’ve gotta play with all the time.”

Kentucky must flip the switch and re-inject energy back into the team for Senior Day.  If not, it might be time to take a second look at the panic button.


Kentucky’s bowl projections after loss to Tennessee

Barring a major surprise in tomorrow night’s playoff rankings, Kentucky’s loss to Tennessee knocked them out of contention for a New Year’s Six bowl. At 7-3 with two winnable games left, where do college football experts believe the Cats will end up this postseason? The Citrus Bowl in Orlando on January 1 (1 p.m., ABC).

ESPN: Outback Bowl vs. Michigan State OR Citrus Bowl vs. Northwestern

Sports Illustrated: Belk Bowl vs. NC State

The Sporting News: TaxSlayer Bowl vs. Michigan State

CBS Sports: Citrus Bowl vs. Penn State

SB Nation: Citrus Bowl vs. Penn State

247 Sports: Citrus Bowl vs. Northwestern

Brett McMurphy: Fiesta Bowl vs. UCF

McMurphy is the only major prognosticator to still have the Cats in a New Year’s Six Bowl, which he says is dependent on them winning out and beating Florida out for the spot (currently, he has the Gators in the Citrus Bowl). Tomorrow’s updated playoff rankings will tell us a lot.

Don’t forget, Citrus Bowl reps have already visited Kentucky this season. There are far worse things than Orlando in January…just please let Northwestern end up somewhere else.


Aaron Torres Sports Podcast Ep. 95: Bobby Petrino is Fired + Evan Daniels

It’s been nearly a week since the last Aaron Torres Sports Podcast, but there are no shortage of topics to discuss, as Nick Coffey joins to discuss the dismissal of Bobby Petrino and 247 Sports’ Evan Daniels talks more Champions Classic and college basketball recruiting.
Bobby Petrino is Out at Louisville: What many had been waiting for became official on Sunday as morning. Coffey discusses what went wrong for Petrino in his second act at the school and why maybe it always destined to end like this for Petrino.
Is Jeff Brohm THE Guy?  Nick tells us why Jeff Brohm will inevitably be the guy at Louisville and what he would mean to the program. Is Louisville’s administration even planning for the possibility he turns down the job? The guys also talk a little weekend college football, and Aaron discusses whether we’ve finally seen a flaw in Alabama’s armor.
Next up, 247 Sports’ Evan Daniels joins the show to discuss all things hoops. He and Aaron go in-depth on:
The Champions Classic: Evan was in the building in Indianapolis; what did he see? As the recruiting expert who has seen all of these players dozens of times, he admits why even he was surprised at how good Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett looked. Evan and Aaron then debate whether we’ve already seen Duke’s best game, and also, where does Kentucky go from here?
Recruiting talk: The guys wrap up by talking recruiting. When will James Wiseman announce the next step in his recruitment and is a decision on the horizon? What about Vernon Carey and Jaden McDaniels? Finally, what is Cole Anthony looking for in a school and just how long will his decision take?

Get the podcast delivered directly to your phone by subscribing to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.  You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise.  Don’t forget to follow the show Instagram too.


Insider Notes: Here’s the latest with Wiseman, Carey, McDaniels as we enter signing week

Photo via Endless Motor

Hey, folks. I hope everyone had a good weekend. There have been better sports weeks for Kentucky fans, but the basketball team is still going to be a contender come March and the football team is still having a great season despite a bad month. The Cats will have two five-star players sign in the coming days for next season’s basketball team and another incredibly talented four-star in-state wing will sign on Friday. It’s not all bad news despite things seemingly not going UK’s way as of late.

Five-star wing/forward Jaden McDaniels visited UK on Friday and there’s more smoke in the Wiseman recruitment. Let’s get to the notes.

McDaniels:

The visit was GREAT (drink, drink, drink!). Despite Kentucky struggling against Southern Illinois I’m told that McDaniels and his family really enjoyed Lexington and they thought the atmosphere at Rupp Arena was impressive. Yes, really. I did hear from a friend that the second half atmosphere was solid, so while we always joke about the lower level at Rupp supposedly they did their job on Friday for the final 15-20 minutes. In that first half I was worried McDaniels may pull a Lonnie Walker and fall asleep.

I’m not sure if I’m ready to say UK leads for McDaniels, but all that I’ve heard throughout his recruitment is that his dad is the one that actively involved in the decision making process and after this weekend the biggest piece of information I have is that the dad prefers UK. Is that Jaden’s choice? I have no clue, but the relationship between UK’s staff and McDaniels’ dad is strong enough to land a commitment. Also, I don’t have confirmation from anyone I trust that the dad is pulling the strings in this recruitment, but that’s the scuttlebutt among recruiting experts. But, I do trust that the dad prefers UK. I’m told if not UK then he’d like McDaniels to stay home at Washington.

Now the big question is when will McDaniels decide? Two trusted sources told me they don’t think he signs in the fall, but one thought he would commit in the next few weeks. The other thought he would wait until January or February. He has one official left on the table and could go to UCLA, but there are currently no plans. His final five includes UK, Texas, Washington, San Diego State and UCLA. He’s officially visited the first four schools. Both guys I spoke with said they like UK’s chances regardless (one thought Washington was right there, too), but if we hear of a decision in the next week or two then UK would be the landing spot. People close to UK are unsure when he plans on committing.

Supposedly it wasn’t just the visit that pushed UK to the top, but instead all the work Kentucky’s staff has put in behind the scenes for the last two months. John Calipari visited twice and the Cats have been in constant contact. One source said this was like the Kevin Knox recruitment where no one gave UK a great chance at landing him, but in reality the Cats were putting in more work than anyone.

So, as of today (and I’m surprised typing this), UK seems to be in a great spot. I’m not sure McDaniels would be the frontcourt piece people were expecting/hoping for, but it’d give UK plenty of options for next season. Rebounding may be an issue but scoring wouldn’t.

Wiseman:

Did you all see all the reports about how Memphis’ staff is telling boosters and media members that Wiseman is a lock to stay home? Well, it’s what we said last week. Memphis’ coaching staff is talking and talking a lot. Sometimes we’ve seen some staffs spread misinformation to try and have the public momentum push the kid in a certain direction, but I’m told this is 100 percent genuine. Memphis’ staff has reason to believe that Wiseman is staying home and playing for Memphis, per people close to Memphis’ staff.

Wiseman’s family has told me that it’s not true. They have told other reporters that it’s not true. They’re telling anyone that can listen that he’s not committed anywhere and he’s still undecided. Maybe they’re telling the truth. They probably are being honest when they say that no final decision has been made, but what else are they supposed to say? “Yup, James is going to Memphis, we’re just figuring out a commitment date?” “Yup, something crazy would have to happen for him to go elsewhere.” “Stop paying attention because this thing is over.” I did find it interesting that Wiseman’s sister went out of her way to reach out to me to tell me that a decision hasn’t been made.

I think Wiseman ends up at Memphis but the family aspect is interesting and UK doesn’t feel they have lost. They don’t think there’s been a silent commitment and they still feel like they have a chance to land Wiseman. So, if you’re looking for some optimism, there you go. Also, Evan Daniels of 247 Sports spoke directly with Wiseman’s mom about the Memphis buzz and he is still currently predicting UK.

So, I lean towards Memphis but never say never.

Carey:

He officially visited Michigan State and I have no new updates on that official visit, but I did speak with someone on Friday that told me it will be Duke, Michigan State or UK. I feel like I’ve been saying that for a few weeks, but here we are. Again, like Wiseman, there’s not much of a UK buzz in this recruitment but people close to UK haven’t conceded.

In those two recruitments the Cats don’t have a lot of momentum, so if you want to give up on them no one would blame you. Obviously there’s not a great deal of information on Carey’s recruitment and I’m hoping to learn more after touching base after the MSU visit. Let’s touch back with Carey later this week.

Duke Game:

I’ve had a few people ask me if a beatdown like that can hurt recruiting. It doesn’t help, but it doesn’t hurt. What will hurt more is that Duke will be the college basketball sweethearts all season and constantly featured on ESPN. That won’t really hurt UK until maybe next year but more likely 2021 and later, but Wiseman isn’t picking Memphis because UK was smacked by Duke. Carey isn’t picking Duke over UK because the Blue Devils beat them in Indy. If those players go elsewhere that game had nothing to do with it.

Duke is the cool school again, and that will plant a seed in younger kids, but that stuff constantly changes. The Cats are still licking their wounds from Tuesday but it won’t hurt UK on the recruiting trail.

Other Options:

If UK were to miss on Wiseman, Carey and Stewart (I don’t see him ending up at Kentucky but I don’t have a great feel/connection to this recruitment) you’re probably wondering where Kentucky goes from there. Last week I mentioned that there would either be a grad-transfer or a 2020 reclassification (one UK fan Twitter follower mentioned/suggested Hunter Dickinson in 2020. He’d be physically ready) and I’m very confident in one of those two things happening. I’ve been asked if UK will get involved with Precious Achiuwa, C.J. Walker or Kofi Cockburn. I don’t believe that happens. Maybe Kentucky will send out a feeler to one of the three, or reconnect with Walker, but I doubt the Cats will be able to do enough to get into the picture.

Walker waiting until the spring was somewhat of a surprise, so maybe that means a shift in the recruitment, but the Cats were never heavily involved and my guess is that doesn’t change.

I still think UK gets Hurt.  If you get Hurt along with McDaniels then you would need to find a bruising grad-transfer big and you’d be ready to roll. I’m not sure you could find a better offensive frontcourt, but there clearly would be some questions rebounding and defensively.

In the intermediate be on the lookout for commitment decisions. The sky isn’t falling just yet and never count out Calipari.

 


BBNBA: Kanter and Knox outscore all Knicks starters, still lose by 26

Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Recap:

  • Enes Kanter’s 16 points and Kevin Knox’s 17 points, both off the bench yesterday, outpaced the New York Knicks starters by a total of 33 to 20. The Knicks seem to have moved into full-on tank mode early this year, as they didn’t have a single starter score double-figures in the 115-89 loss to Orlando.
  • Conversely, Eric Bledsoe was the only Milwaukee Bucks starter to not score 20 or more points in their win over the Denver Nuggets yesterday. Bledsoe’s 12 points and 8 rebounds were enough to help lead the Bucks to victory. In the loss, Jamal Murray scored 14, and Trey Lyles had 16 off the bench.
  • Michael Kidd-Gilchrist went down early during the Hornets 113-103 win over the Pistons yesterday. MKG played just 5 minutes before suffering what Charlotte is calling a right ankle sprain. He was seen in a walking boot after the game, but there is no timeline for his return as of right now. Malik Monk also went down hard after a cheap shot from Blake Griffin. Griffin was ejected for the play and Monk was able to return to the game (you can see the play below).

Stats:

PlayerResult PointsFG (3FG)Reb.Ast.StealsBlocksTOs+/-Mins.
Enes Kanter115-89 loss to Magic167-15 (0-1)151001-2026
Kevin Knox115-89 loss to Magic174-11 (2-6)30002-1326
Isaiah Briscoe115-89 win over Knicks00-0 (0-000000+0DNP - Coach's Decision
Eric Bledsoe121-114 win over Nuggets124-10 (1-3)83311+1430
Trey Lyles121-114 loss to Bucks167-11 (2-5)50000+720
Jamal Murray121-114 loss to Bucks147-16 (0-1)52203-434
Malik Monk113-103 win over Pistons40-5 (0-3)52001+718
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist113-103 win over Pistons52-3 (0-1)00020-35
Rajon Rondo107-106 win over Hawks21-4 (0-1)65001-1716
Alex Poythress107-106 loss to Lakers00-1 (0-1)00000-93

 

Highlights:

Schedule:

  • Orlando Magic (Isaiah Briscoe) at Washington Wizards (John Wall), 7pm ET
  • Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat (Bam Adebayo), 7:30pm ET
  • New Orleans Pelicans (Anthony Davis, Darius Miller, Julius Randle) at Toronto Raptors, 7:30pm ET
  • Brooklynn Nets at Minnesota Timberwolves (Karl-Anthony Towns), 8pm ET
  • Dallas Mavericks at Chicago Bulls, 8pm ET
  • Utah Jazz at Memphis Grizzlies, 8pm ET
  • Phoenix Suns (Devin Booker) at Oklahoma City Thunder (Patrick Patterson, Nerlens Noel, Hamidou Diallo), 8pm ET
  • San Antonio Spurs at Sacramento Kings (Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere, De’Aaron Fox), 10pm ET
  • Golden State Warriors (DeMarcus Cousins) at Los Angeles Clippers (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander), 10:30pm ET

@BrettBibbinsKSR


Stoops won’t let you forget the Senior Class’ Accomplishments

Saturday will be the final send-off for 16 seniors at Kroger Field.  The game against Middle Tennessee State will serve as a celebration, especially if and when the Cats snap a two-game losing streak, the first losing streak of the season.

The last two weeks of football have been disheartening, to say the least.  Still, Stoops won’t let the seniors’ accomplishments get overlooked by a bump in the road.

During the head coach’s weekly press conference, the Courier Journal’s Jon Hale asked Stoops, “The senior class that’s playing in their last home game on Saturday is going to go out with as many wins as any Kentucky senior class in a long time.  What has that group meant to your program?”

Stoops responded: “I appreciate that Jon.  I’d like you to rephrase that a little bit louder so everybody can hear that.”

It was not just a tongue in cheek remark.  Stoops made Hale say it louder so the folks in the back could hear that this group of seniors has won more SEC games over the last three years than any team in the history of University of Kentucky football.

“The most in school history as far as SEC victories.  I think they deserve a little credit for that.  I think we all, I’m the first one, you always want to hang onto things.  What can you do better?  That’s what drives us everyday, it’s what drives me everyday and that’s what I wanna do.  But I also wanna give recognition to that senior class, what they’ve done and what they’ve meant to this program and how much I greatly appreciate them and I think the Big Blue Nation appreciates them.  They will, it’s a fact; over the last three years they’ve won the most SEC games as anybody in the history of this school.  That’s a long time folks.  I appreciate what they’ve done.”

Kentucky has won 13 SEC games in the three-year span, largely thanks to contributions from the senior class.  This season has been an historic success, even with the recent shortcomings, ones that will not be overlooked as they prepare for MTSU.

“That can’t happen, it’s in excusable and we need to do a better job.  With that being said, it’s one game.  We have to move on and prepare for a victory this week,” Stoop said. “It doesn’t diminish all the good things our team has done throughout this year.”

If the Cats can move past the Tennessee loss and finish the season with two more wins, it will be the most by a Kentucky team in 41 years.  That’s incredible.  Don’t forget that (or Stoops will send you a reminder).


Cats and Cards to kick off at night

The game time for Kentucky’s regular season finale at Louisville was announced Monday afternoon and it’s a night game for the first time in a long time.

Normally a nooner, this year the Cats and Cards will kick off at 7 p.m. on November 24. The game will be televised on ESPN 2.

It’s the Mark Stoops-Lorenzo Ward coaching showdown we’ve all been waiting for. Cats and Cards. Governor’s Cup. Let’s go.


LIVE: Mark Stoops’ Monday press conference

Tune in now to hear what Mark Stoops has to say about the loss to Tennessee and what’s ahead for Middle Tennessee State week.