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October 22nd, 2018

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

“Just like I said after the game, proud of our team for finding a way to win. Really great defensive effort. I thought the offensive line, Benny (Snell Jr.), tight ends just showed a lot of guts and determination and physicality to get the ball in the end zone to score the game-winning touchdown. There are obviously quite a few things we need to improve on. We’re excited to get back to work here this week and get better. We need to improve as we go this week and go play Missouri on the road.”

On how you are addressing the passing game…

“We need to address it in a lot of areas. From what we’re doing to set them up for success and set the team up for success. It starts with us and coaching and what we’re doing, the position we’re putting them in to be successful. Also, getting the quarterback to pull the pin and make accurate throws, and to trust himself. He has done that this year. He has been successful. He’s put us in a position to get to the spot we’re in right now. But, he’s also not played his best the past couple games. We have to look at that. That’s all of our responsibility; it always is, starting with the coaching staff. Certainly Terry (Wilson) will take his part, on down to protection, the receivers and so on. We’re always in this together. It’s never any one person’s fault, but certainly we need to play better at that position.”

On if Wilson has a confidence issue…

“I don’t know. I don’t think so. I talked to Terry today, before this, and he doesn’t see it that way. We need to watch the film and get some things corrected and get back on the field. Certainly we have to look at all options, again like we always have. I’ve always said that Terry is our starting quarterback. He’s going to start this week. We certainly need to look at the other guys and see if they could get an opportunity to get in there and play and help us. We’ll have a plan, and we’ll work Gunnar (Hoak) pretty extensively this week and have him ready to play as well.”

(more…)


It’s OK to be a Georgia fan this weekend

In addition to your regular rooting interests in Kentucky, it is OK to be a Georgia fan this coming weekend, too. Just this one time, though.

You see, Georgia will meet Florida in Jacksonville with some very serious SEC implications on the line. If Florida were to win that one, the Gators would then become the favorite to represent the East in Atlanta on December 1, and may not lose another game all year. (South Carolina and Missouri are its two remaining SEC games and both are in Gainesville.) Kentucky holds the tiebreaker over Florida with its head-to-head win earlier this year, but the Cats would likely need to run the table to match Florida at 7-1 in league play. That’s a tough task.

But if Georgia hands Florida a second loss on Saturday, Kentucky can still lose one of the Missouri and Tennessee road trips, and still win the division by beating Georgia at home. Georgia and Florida would each have two losses in this ideal scenario, and Kentucky would have the tiebreaker over both with a 2-0 record among the three two-loss teams in the East. One more loss — at Missouri or at Tennessee — would not change anything for UK, so long as it beats Georgia at home.

A Georgia win on Saturday will also help Kentucky in its efforts against Georgia the following week. If both Georgia and Kentucky win their upcoming games, the following Saturday’s game between the two schools will almost certainly earn CBS’s prime 3:30 time slot for the game in Lexington. Ideally, a night game would be best for Kentucky, but an under-the-lights game is out of the question after the league announced today it will be in one of three spots: noon on ESPN; 4:00 p.m. on SEC Network; or the CBS game at 3:30 p.m. We don’t want to see a noon kick if we want the home crowd to play a factor in the game.

So when you’re digesting all the Week 9 action college football throws your way this coming Saturday, don’t be afraid to pump your fists with the Georgia Bulldogs in the 3:30 CBS game. Big Blue Nation should be pulling for a 7-1 Kentucky versus a 7-1 Georgia in Lexington the following weekend with the SEC East title up for grabs.

Go Bulldogs (this one time) and always Go Cats.


UK Hoops’ Dorie Harrison out indefinitely

Some unfortunate news to pass along from the women’s basketball program: sophomore center Dorie Harrison is out indefinitely for personal health reasons.

“Dorie needs to step away from the basketball court to address her personal health. We will give her the time she needs to get healthy and she has our full support. We look forward to her return to the court. We ask everyone to respect her privacy during this time,” Matthew Mitchell said in a release.

Harrison played in 32 games last year, starting eight. She averaged 6.7 points and 3.8 rebounds per game and was named SEC Freshman of the Week twice.

Matthew Mitchell’s squad starts the season with an exhibition vs. Lincoln Memorial on Friday, Nov. 2 at Memorial Coliseum. They’ll host Alabama State for the season opener on Wednesday, Nov. 7.


UK Fan of the Day Wants the Latest Bowl Projections

Kentucky is officially bowl eligible after beating Vanderbilt, and in turn, it’s time to review the latest projections on where the Cats will play this postseason. As has been the trend the past few weeks, most of the national media has Kentucky in Florida for a New Year’s Day Bowl.

ESPN: Outback Bowl vs. Purdue or Citrus Bowl vs. Iowa

Brett McMurphy: Citrus Bowl vs. Wisconsin

CBS Sports: Peach Bowl vs. Texas

The Sporting News: Citrus Bowl vs. Iowa

Sports Illustrated: Outback Bowl vs. Michigan State

SB Nation: Citrus Bowl vs. Penn State

247 Sports: Citrus Bowl vs. Wisconsin

In case you’re curious, Camping World Stadium in Orlando is only 15 miles from Walt Disney World. Or, if you’d rather celebrate with butterbeer, nine miles from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.


A Chance Poore Appearance is Possible vs. Missouri

While most focus on controversy surrounding UK’s starting quarterback, another is swirling at placekicker.

Miles Butler missed a 39-yarder on Saturday.  The senior and former walk-on is now just 3-of-7 on the season.  If the Cats had another field goal opportunity on Saturday, Mark Stoops was prepared to play the freshman, Chance Poore.

“I told you after the game, he was going in on the next kick,” Stoops said.  “Miles was the starter.  I believed in him, I still do, but he was going in to kick.”

The initial plan was to play Poore in only four games.  By limiting Poore to long field goals, UK could give the former four-star recruit an extra year of eligibility.  After seeing Butler struggle, the plan might be scrapped, although Stoops did not say who will kick Kentucky’s next field goal.

“We’ll see how the week goes. We’ll see.”

Stoops also was hesitant to provide an update on Josh Paschal.  The defensive end who was diagnosed with malignant melanoma over the summer was seen working out on the sideline before Saturday night’s game against Vanderbilt.

“He’s been working with Coach Ed and he’s been strength training for a long time,” said Stoops.  “Now he’s getting on his feet.  The wound is healing.  Then there’s the matter of just getting into shape, getting into football shape and controlling the other factors that go into it, not just the wound itself.”

Reading between the lines, unless the game is already well in-hand, I’m confident you’ll see Poore trot out for the Cats’ first field goal against Missouri.  As for Paschal, I believe he’ll be ready to play in a limited pass-rushing capacity near the end of the season.  The four-game redshirt rule might have set Poore back, but it could benefit Paschal.


Aaron Torres Sports Podcast Ep. 89: College Football Week 8 + G-League

A new episode of the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast is LIVE. Today Aaron is joined by his good friend Nick Coffey to recap college football’s Week 8 and talk about the G-League offering $125,000 contracts to rookies. Plus, they prepare you for the program’s biggest guest EVER who will appear on Thursday’s show. First up though is college football, as the guys break down:
Purdue’s Stunning Win against Ohio State: The guys react to Purdue’s shocking and dominating win Saturday against Ohio State. Aaron explains why he saw this one coming, and wasn’t shocked by the result. The guys also ask how this could shake up the playoff picture in the Big Ten and is Michigan now the favorite to win the conference? Finally, Nick weighs in on what Purdue’s victory means for Louisville – and their potential pursuit of Jeff Brohm as the school’s next head coach.
The Rest of Week 8 in College Football + UCF talk: The guys react to the rest of the Week 8 college football chatter, including an in-depth conversation on Central Florida. Yes, the competition isn’t good. But after 20 straight wins dating back to last season, is it finally time to consider Central Florida as a legitimate playoff contender?
G-League Select Contract: Finally, the guys react to the G-League’s new $125k contract to high school players who don’t want to go to college, news which broke right after the guys taped the last episode. Coffey and Torres get into why this is a risky move for all high school basketball players, and why, at least for the time being, it probably won’t have a major impact on college basketball. Will a player be willing to risk his draft stock to play against grown men? What about the travel in the G-league? For the time being, college is still a better opportunity for most players.

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: Keion Brooks visits, UK misses on Oscar Tshiebwe and a Matthew Hurt theory

(Photo: Lopez/Nike)

Happy Monday, folks! I hope you all had a great weekend because today’s Monday Insider Notes may not be the most optimistic we’ve had here at KSR. It’s not overly negative but as crunch time rolls around the Cats are still scratching at options for the frontcourt. Keion Brooks visited over the weekend, so we’ll lead with that, but also info on Oscar Tshiebwe picking West Virginia, James Wiseman visiting Florida State and Vernon Carey checking out Duke.

Let’s get to it.

Brooks shouldn’t rush:

Hoosier native Keion Brooks Jr. checked out Lexington over the weekend and it went… you guessed it! Well! (drink). There was surprisingly some minor momentum for UK with Brooks heading into the visit as ESPN’s Jeff Borzello thought the Cats had the best chances with Brooks. I’ve said for a few weeks I thought Indiana is the leader and sadly nothing I’ve heard initially from the official visit is making me change my mind. I don’t believe the Cats are the team to beat in this recruitment, but supposedly the family was impressed with UK’s plan to get Brooks to the NBA “sooner and more prepared than other schools”.

That’s one advantage UK has in a lot of recruitments that is pretty tough for nearly any other college to top. If a player really, really cares about the NBA, then UK’s pitch resonates and can be a deciding factor for those kids. Every kid cares about the NBA and they’d be lying if they say otherwise, but some don’t allow their NBA dreams to dictate their recruitments. Some do. I’m unsure just how important that pitch is for Brooks and his family, and hopefully we’ll find out more over time, but if Brooks picks UK it will probably be because of the NBA pitch. UK has also done an underrated job building relationships with Brooks and his family. I still think being a “priority” for nearly every other school on his list will win out, especially the Hoosiers, but if I’m a Kentucky fan I’m rooting for this recruitment to go long. He will officially visit UNC (Nov. 2) and Michigan State (Nov. 16) and it’s unclear if he will rush a decision shortly after those visits or if he will wait until the spring.

As of today I’m not picking the Cats to be the landing spot, but if he waits and watches how the rosters shakeout the Cats may have a better chance in a couple months.

Wiseman visits FSU:

James Wiseman finished his official visit to Florida State over the weekend. For a couple weeks I’ve felt that Florida State is third in his recruitment and if he shocked the world and didn’t end up at UK or Memphis it would FSU. Nothing I’ve heard over the weekend is making me change my mind but if I want to listen to one of the my Nike EYBL guys then I should believe that FSU is a very serious contender. I’ve been saying for months and months that it’s between UK and Memphis but there is a serious FSU buzz and it’s been there going back to the in-home visits. I’m stubborn so I’m not backing off my Memphis/UK or bust prediction (sorry EYBL guy). I’ll eat crow if I’m wrong but despite the Seminoles making an impression this weekend I still lean towards UK slightly ahead of Memphis.

We have to remember that Wiseman himself probably doesn’t “know” where he wants to go. I think deep down he probably knows it will be Memphis or UK, but it’s my opinion that he truly believes that every school has a chance and he probably doesn’t like everyone dismissing the other schools on his list. I said in the summer that Wiseman seemed so annoyed with the “he’s going to go to UK or Memphis” narrative that I thought he may purposely try to show other schools more love. I think that’s what he’s been doing on some of his other visits.

He will officially visit Memphis this weekend and that’s it for official visits. The plan is for a November or December decision. Wiseman isn’t planning on signing in the fall, but he wants to get his decision over with sooner than later. The news where he backed off the spring decision definitely favored Memphis, but people I talk with close to UK are still liking their chances so I like the Cats’ chances, too.

And while we may be a month or two away from a decision there will be plenty of drama over the next several weeks.

The Duke buzz is back:

Ugh. For a long time in Vernon Carey’s recruitment the Blue Devils had the most buzz. Everyone knew that a decision was a ways away and other schools would rise and fall depending on the momentum, but Duke is back to having most of the buzz according to AAU folks I talk with. The visit went really, really well (drink) and while as of today I’m still leaning towards UK, I don’t feel nearly as confident as I did. The reason I’m not backing off UK right now is because I know how high emotions can run after official visits, but I’m officially nervous about Duke again after things were quiet with the Blue Devils for a few weeks. UK fans are freaking out about the Cats’ 2019 class, but Duke fans are really panicking. Kentucky is running out of options and Duke doesn’t have too many options left on the table, too.

I do think this will be another Duke vs. UK battle, but he also has officials to Miami this weekend and North Carolina the following week. Another area where I’m a little concerned is supposedly Carey is set on a fall decision and this was made clear to me last night while he was fresh off the Duke visit. Connecting the dots can be concerning in that situation, but at least Carey has said even before the Duke visit that he will look at a fall decision.

Supposedly Miami and Michigan State still feel like they have a good chance to land Carey. Carey has said he wants to play with another elite big and mentioned James Wiseman and Isaiah Stewart. If it were Wiseman it’d be UK. If it were Stewart it’d be MSU. It will be wild seeing how all of this plays out, but UK is pitching both Wiseman and Carey playing together. I think Carey is slightly more open to the idea, but Wiseman supposedly isn’t against it.

As for Stewart, I hinted at it last week but it wasn’t a good fit for UK and both parties have moved on. Maybe there’s a change of thought and things pick back up, but I highly doubt it.

Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

UK finished 2nd:

Not that it matters, but UK was the runner-up in Tshiebwe’s recruitment. I know there were some Illinois insiders that said it was between West Virginia and Illinois, but that wasn’t the case. It was truly between UK and WVU and I still believe Tshiebwe himself slightly preferred UK while nearly everyone else around him were strongly pushing the Mountaineers. But, I know that Tshiebwe really liked WVU, so to say he maybe slightly leaned UK doesn’t really mean too much. It was no secret that his host parents were strongly pushing WVU and maybe that’s what won out, but WVU had been recruiting Tshiebwe for years and in a head vs. heart decision, the heart won.

UK did a good job in this recruitment but just weren’t recruiting him long enough to win out. And before we get into a “Cal should offer guys earlier” debate, Tshiebwe blew-up over the summer and UK moved quickly once he showcased himself as a great big.

I think besides the host family, Tshiebwe had some minor concerns about not being the guy on UK’s frontline. There were folks telling him he would come off the bench and maybe not play as much as he would at WVU and I think that mattered to him. I remember someone I spoke with that knew his recruitment better than I do and right after his official visit to UK I asked how things went and he said “Really, really good (drink), but they seem to be in a really good spot with (other centers).” That was a negative for Tshiebwe in my opinion.

Scott Jacobson / Post Bulletin

Is something going on here:

I have no current or new inside information on Matthew Hurt’s recruitment, but I’ve been covering recruiting in some capacity since 2011 and have witnessed pretty much every type of recruitment. There are some recruitments where it’s clear UK leads the entire time, there’s some where UK swoops in late and lands a kid, but there have been a few rare commitments where there’s not a lot of UK buzz but the Cats win out in the end. It seems like in those recruitments the kid says “I’ve always loved UK” or some quote that would lead us to believe that UK was the team to beat throughout the recruitment and everyone just missed.

I’m starting to wonder if that is what’s going on here with Hurt. UK is running out of big options and Calipari is no dummy. Does Calipari know something about Hurt’s recruitment that we don’t know? Someone close to UK did tell me they’ve been recruiting Hurt as hard as anyone else in the class. UK is still looking at Jaden McDaniels and Brooks as wing options, but it’s really Hurt, Carey and Wiseman left on the frontline. With Bill Self and Kansas dealing with potential major NCAA violations I’m not so sure the Jayhawks are the leader anymore. Hurt seems like a smart kid and I respect the way they’re running their recruitment, there’s just no way you can look at UK’s frontcourt situation and not see the potential to shine.

No inside info, but something seems fishy in that recruitment and I think it may be good news for UK.

Quick Hitters:

  • Look for UK to get involved with 2020 five-star guard Kyree Walker, who recently backed off his Arizona State pledge.
  • I’m told if UK needs to add another grad-transfer for 2019-2020 they will, but Calipari doesn’t want to take a grad-transfer from a mid-major (reading between the lines I think he would if he had to).
  • Zion Harmon is still ineligible to play KHSAA and I don’t think that’s going to change, sadly.
  • I still think we have a reclassifcation from the 2020 class. I don’t have any specific names (Dante was mentioned earlier this summer but haven’t heard his name in a bit), but I’m also curious if a guard could potentially jump classes, too. I’ve always just assumed bigs for UK. It could be a guard, or it could be both.


Kentucky vs. Georgia Game Time Still TBD

(Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)

If you were hoping to make plans for Kentucky vs. Georgia on November 3, you’re going to have to wait a little while longer. The SEC just announced that the game will either be at Noon on ESPN, 3:30 PM on CBS, or 4 p.m. on the SEC Network. The game time and network will be determined after this weekend’s games.

SEC Television Schedule for Saturday, November 3, 2018:

  • South Carolina at Ole Miss, Noon ET/11 am CT on SEC Network
  • Texas A&M at Auburn, Noon ET/11 am CT on ESPN or 4 pm ET/3 pm CT on SEC Network*
  • Missouri at Florida, Noon ET/11 am CT on ESPN or 3:30 pm ET/2:30 pm CT on CBS or 4 pm ET/3 pm CT on SEC Network*
  • Georgia at Kentucky, Noon ET/11 am CT on ESPN or 3:30 pm ET/2:30 pm CT on CBS or 4 pm ET/3 pm CT on SEC Network*
  • UNC-Charlotte at Tennessee, 4 pm ET/3 pm CT on SEC Network Alternate
  • Louisiana Tech at Mississippi State, 7:30 pm ET/6:30 pm CT on SEC Network
  • Alabama at LSU, 8 pm ET/7 pm CT on CBS

*denotes game times and networks will be determined after games of October 27

Just put it on CBS, guys. Ridiculous.