By Drew Franklin on ©October 14th, 2019 @ 9:00am
You are struggling right now. You had a busy weekend and your brain isn’t quite ready to achieve greatness on this Monday morning. Your coffee tastes weak, your body feels weaker and that to-do list is staring you in the face. I can’t help you be great, but I can give you something to read as you prolong doing actual work just a little bit longer. It’s a new feature I made up like an hour ago — Monday Morning Things To Know (MMTTK for short) — and this first edition will summarize the entire weekend in one place for convenience so you can move on with your life and get back on the right track. Thank me next time you see me.
Lynn Bowden was awesome in Kentucky’s come-from-behind win over Arkansas on Saturday. Playing quarterback for the first time since his high school days, Bowden rushed the ball 24 times for 196 yards and two touchdowns, but also threw for 78 yards and another touchdown on 7-of-11 passing. When asked how he was able to pull off the amazing performance at a new position on such short notice, Bowden told the SEC Network, “Big time players make big time plays in big time games.”
Other notes from the game:
— Bowden’s 196 yards on the ground are the second-most by a QB in school history. Sadly, it ended his streak of 19 straight games with a catch.
— Kentucky’s 330 rushing yards were the most in a home SEC game since 2010. Fun fact: the Cats are 34-0 in games with 250+ rushing yards since 1985. Are we sure we want an Air Raid?
— Did you know Kentucky has one of the longest streaks in the entire nation? It’s true: After surrendering only 20 points to Arkansas, Kentucky has now played 20 straight games without giving up 35 or more points, the second-longest active streak of its kind
— It was the 10th time Mark Stoops led his team to victory after trailing by 10 or more points. That’s a school record for double-digit comebacks among head coaches on the UK sideline.
— With the win, Mark Stoops moved up to fifth on Kentucky’s all-time wins list, in a tie with Rich Brooks at 39 wins apiece. With two more wins, Stoops will tie Blanton Collier and Jerry Claiborne for third all-time; he needs eight to match Fran Curci’s second-best 47 career wins; and maybe one day he can match (and pass) Bear Bryant at the top of the list with 60 career wins as the head coach of the Wildcats.
Big Blue Madness
Big Blue Madness was Friday night and it was a good time. You can read “KSR’s Favorite Moments From Big Blue Madness 2019” for a complete recap of the evening. Or this video will do the trick:
For complete coverage from Big Blue Madness 2019, click right here to get all the way caught up.
Jack Pilgrim summarized all you need to know in his latest Insider Notes right here. If you prefer the condensed version, here are some of the major things to know:
— Evan Daniels logged a pick for Kentucky in Cade Cunningham’s Crystal Ball predictions. Cunningham is the top target on UK’s board, a potential superstar in college basketball, and the momentum has shifted in Kentucky’s favor. Cunningham plans to commit, announce and sign somewhere this fall.
— 2020 five-star forward Scottie Barnes will take his official visit to Kentucky this upcoming weekend. Barnes will be in for the Blue/White game Friday night, as well as all of the fun around John Calipari’s Fantasy Camp weekend. He will probably make a Keeneland appearance too.
— It appears 2021 five-star guard Devin Askew is still leaning toward skipping his senior season of high school and still leaning toward picking Kentucky.
— Sunday night was Benny Snell’s breakout night with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Snell got bumped up to RB2 due to an injury to Jaylen Samuels, the Steelers’ regular backup behind starter James Conner in the backfield. The former Wildcat seized the big opportunity by carrying the ball 17 times (one more than Conner) for a team-high 75 yards on the ground. Snell played the entire fourth quarter in the win while Conner dealt with a nagging quad injury.
— Former Kentucky linebacker Avery Williamson is out for the season with a torn ACL. His New York Jets hosted the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday — do you think he misses playing?
Williamson’s Jets upset the Cowboys, 24-22.
— New Green Bay superstar Za’Darius Smith will be on Monday Night Football tonight as the Packers host the Lions. Smith’s popularity has grown with his new over-the-top sack celebrations; he’s done five of them so far this year.
— The Titans suck.
Congratulations to KSR’s own Maggie Davis, UK’s Homecoming Queen 2019!
Maggie is only a little over a month into her senior year of college and her resume already kicks your resume’s ass. She’s had this sweet gig here at KSR since high school (Maria and I interviewed a young Maggie Davis on UK’s campus and she was hired in my brain before the interview ended); she interned at WLEX on Hey Kentucky!, both on camera and off; this past summer she moved to Los Angeles for a summer internship at ESPN (I’m sure you’ve heard of it); she seems to be involved in everything on campus; and now she can add Queen to the list.
I just hope she remembers the little people when life carries her on to even bigger and better things!
TV & Film
— The Succession finale was soooooooooo good, yet the show is now two full seasons in and I still don’t know more than two people who watch it. I think last night’s finale (and the entire second season) has it in the conversation with some of the best shows ever. It’s so well written are the characters are so unlikeable they’re likable. And that boat last night was ridiculous.
— I fell asleep watching El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie last night. Can’t wait to get back to it after work today. I shouldn’t start good movies I’m dying to see at 2 a.m.
According to this NPR story, five dead bulls were mysteriously found on a ranch in Oregon, mutilated and drained of their blood. The county’s sheriff’s deputy said, “A lot of people lean toward the aliens.”
HELP: Wedding planning is a lot. The lady and I are still venue hunting in the Lexington area and I’d love to hear any suggestions you may have because I can then take your suggestions and pretend I found them on my own and it’ll look like I’m doing a really good job. For real though — if you know of any good venues, or if you have a huge plot of land you’ll loan me for two days, do tell. This is an overwhelming process.
Did You Know?
It is National Dessert Day in the United States of America. Yes, the diet always starts on Monday, but not this Monday because you owe it to our country to eat dessert today.
— Mark Stoops will meet with the media at noon for his regular Monday press conference. As always, you can follow along via UK’s live stream that we will share here on Kentucky-Sports-Radio-dot-com. Stoops will have a lot to say about Lynn Bowden’s offense getting it done and what the hell they’re going to do with Georgia up next on the schedule.
— A new KSR Football Podcast will be available tonight before you go to bedtime. I recommend turning it on in the bedroom with your significant other. Under candlelight.
— Ryan Lemond answered the bell when jury duty called this morning. Will he make it to KSR for the show at 10 a.m.? I’m on standby just in case he goes to trial.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©October 13th, 2019 @ 11:15pm
Good evening, BBN! Welcome back to another edition of Pilgrim’s Insider Notes.
This weekend was a massive one in the world of Kentucky basketball recruiting, as UK hosted ten elite prospects for Big Blue Madness ranging from the best of the best in the senior class to unranked, high-potential athletes in the 2022 class.
The big names? 2020 five-star guard Cade Cunningham, 2020 commitments Terrence Clarke and Lance Ware, and 2021 five-star forward Paolo Banchero, among others.
So how did things go with the top targets, you ask?
Let’s dive right in and find out.
As I wrote in my Insider Notes post last week, the Kentucky coaching staff followed up Devin Askew’s official visit to Lexington by immediately preparing for Cunningham’s visit.
“Next week is the big one,” one source close to the situation told KSR last weekend. “[They are] not playing around, going for the kill.”
Sources told KSR that Kentucky head coach John Calipari took a visit to Cunningham’s school to talk things over and preview his upcoming official to UK.
Going into the trip, sources told KSR that Cunningham was never going to be sold by the lights, pyrotechnics, and smoke of Big Blue Madness. He also wasn’t looking for a pitch that only highlighted his abilities or the opportunity to take as many shots as he wanted like some other top recruits have and continue to do. With UK already picking up commitments from Terrence Clarke and BJ Boston, Cunningham was interested in learning how they would all work together as the most dynamic backcourt in college basketball next season and build their collective NBA Draft stock together.
Ask and you shall receive.
Sources tell KSR that outside the normal impressive official visit techniques the UK coaching staff held a film study session with Cunningham that resonated extremely well with the five-star guard. During this time, the staff broke down his game and how he would be utilized in Calipari’s system next year alongside numerous other elite prospects in what is looking to be one of the UK head coach’s best recruiting classes ever. Clarke – who I’m told (and as evident on his social media pages) has been “relentless” in recruiting Cunningham on his own – was also there during the film session, with all three parties (Cunningham, Clarke, and the UK staff) talking about how well the two star guards would work together. Cunningham had an idea of what he was looking for in this regard and the overall style of coaching, and the Kentucky staff blew him away.
— Terrence Clarke (@terrenceclarke_) October 13, 2019
Outside of the film work, Cunningham explored the facilities, watched practice, visited Keeneland, went to the Kentucky vs. Arkansas football game, and ate dinner at Jeff Ruby’s, among other UK visit regularities. All major boxes checked in terms of learning about the program and what everyday life would be as a potential future Wildcat.
I said on the Sources Say Podcast last week that for the first time since Cannen Cunningham, Cade’s brother, was hired on at Oklahoma State, I felt Kentucky had a legitimate shot at landing the elite five-star guard. The Wildcats were picking up significant momentum going into the visit, and the UK coaching staff went out of their way to go above and beyond to shatter those expectations. It takes a lot to screw up an official visit – seriously, when is the last time you heard of an official visit going wrong? It’s not often – but it also takes a lot to be a difference-maker in a top-five prospect’s recruitment. Kentucky did a phenomenal job making sure the latter came to fruition.
So where do things stand now?
As you guys are well aware by now, 247Sports Director of Recruiting Evan Daniels submitted a Crystal Ball pick in favor of the Wildcats this afternoon, a massive development. Daniels is 42/42 on recruiting predictions in 2019, as the recruiting insider never submits a pick until he’s pretty darn certain. He originally had a pick in for Oklahoma State this summer (when Cunningham was almost certainly going to follow his brother to Stillwater), then changed it to “foggy” when it became apparent he was not tied down to OSU and strongly considering a commitment elsewhere. Even when North Carolina buzz picked up, the popular recruiting held off on an official prediction. The fact that the recruiting insider – who has correctly predicted 94.4% of all-time picks – opted for Kentucky this afternoon immediately following Cunningham’s official visit is quite significant.
To provide some background, Kentucky feels it has done enough to secure a commitment from the 6-foot-7 guard when it comes time for a decision. To take it a step further, those in the Arlington/DFW area – Cunningham’s hometown – believe Kentucky is the firm leader at this point. There are also rumblings that North Carolina is no longer confident in landing the five-star guard, as they are aware of UK’s recent surge and Oklahoma State’s longtime status as the clubhouse leader. Another individual told KSR this evening that those around the UNC program now feel they are running third behind the Cowboys and Wildcats and will likely not land their prized guard target. As for the Cowboys, I can’t get too far into detail here, but there are some other rumblings that the current OSU administration – including his brother – won’t even be there by the time Cunningham ends up on a college campus. I’m not certain how much the five-star guard is factoring this into his decision, but it obviously can’t hurt Kentucky’s chances.
OSU is not losing hope quite yet, but UK’s internal confidence is growing louder. As it should.
Sources tell KSR that despite the UK buzz, Cunningham is still planning on taking his official visit to Washington next weekend, with the five-star guard planning on setting an announcement date not long after. There is strong speculation that Cunningham will then make his decision around Thanksgiving next month and sign during the fall signing period.
Kentucky was tasked with making a jump to the top spot in the 6-foot-7 guard’s recruitment this weekend, and I believe they did just that. It’s not over quite yet, as Oklahoma State will try its best to throw a counterpunch to UK’s momentum, but it cannot be discounted just how promising things look for the top guard in the nation.
A lot of people asked last week about how Kentucky’s positive momentum with Cunningham and potential commitment would affect the team’s pursuit of 2021 five-star guard Devin Askew.
In short, it doesn’t hurt in the slightest. In fact, it only helps.
Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader – who has done phenomenal work this weekend in Colorado Springs at the Team USA Minicamp – asked both Askew and his father what they thought of Cunningham’s potential addition, and they had nothing but high praise for the five-star guard and the idea of suiting up next to him in Lexington.
I talked about UK making certain both parties were okay with the idea of playing together on the podcast last week, so this confirmation straight from Askew today is certainly a good sign.
To take it a step further, I reached out to one source extremely familiar with Askew’s official visit to UK last week, and I continue to hear only positive news regarding Kentucky’s chances. In fact, this same individual told KSR on Sunday afternoon that it’s not a secret within the UK program that Askew is expected to become a Wildcat in the coming weeks, with a reclassification to 2020 likely to follow.
“Just go on and pencil him in to Kentucky [for the class of 2020] at this point,” the source said.
As crazy as it sounds for UK to land both Askew and Cunningham in the same class, it’s looking more and likely to be reality. With or without Cunningham, I would be shocked at this point if the Santa Ana, CA native ended up anywhere other than UK.
This week, Ben Roberts reported from Colorado Springs that 2020 top-ten prospect Scottie Barnes had scheduled an official visit for Kentucky next weekend for the school’s annual Blue-White Scrimmage. Around the same time, it was reported that Barnes would no longer be visiting Miami (FL) and cutting the Hurricanes from his list, leaving just Florida State, Oregon, and Kentucky in contention.
Oddly enough, both sets of news came not long after Kentucky commit BJ Boston went on Hey Kentucky and hinted at UK having a major silent commitment in the frontcourt.
Coincidence? Strangely enough – especially when you factor in Barnes’ hectic recruitment and the schools long seen as the strongest contenders – it actually might not be.
On Thursday evening, a source told KSR that despite the obvious Barnes may actually be the individual Boston was referring to, with the UK staff looking to utilize the 6-foot-9, 215-pound forward as a small ball four alongside Cunningham, Clarke, and Boston.
On the outside, it admittedly sounds ridiculous. After including Kentucky in his list of final eight schools (Miami, Oregon, Ohio State, Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, California, and Florida State) back in February, he later told reporters at Peach Jam that Oregon, Kansas, Ohio State, Miami and Florida State were the five schools he was most strongly involved with. Kentucky’s chances with the top-ten prospect seemed non-existent, with sources telling KSR that mutual interest between UK and Barnes was lukewarm, at best. In fact, one source close to Barnes told KSR back in the spring that he simply didn’t see a scenario where he would “ever” end up in Lexington.
In terms of the schools in the best position to land Barnes, Oregon has long been seen as the favorite, though Florida State has emerged in recent weeks as a major contender.
Admittedly, I have to see it to believe it simply based on the strong rumblings surrounding both the Seminoles and the Ducks and the longtime absence of UK buzz. That being said, the Kentucky coaching staff likes to move in silence and work behind the scenes. You just never know with Calipari.
I don’t feel strongly enough to stand behind the rumors – correct in the end or not – but it’s at least worth passing along given the five-star forward’s upcoming official visit to Kentucky. It’s also worth noting that the pro-UK buzz was out there before the visit was scheduled this weekend, it that means anything.
We’ll have more on Barnes following his trip to Lexington next week.
This past summer, a high-major Division I assistant coach recruiting 2021 five-star forward Paolo Banchero told KSR at Peach Jam that there was “no way” he ended up anywhere other than Washington.
Since then, though, Banchero has told everyone that will listen to him that the Huskies are not his leader, with one source telling KSR a few weeks back that he would be fairly surprised if the five-star forward ended up at Washington.
So where will the consensus top-four prospect in the class of 2021 land?
After his official visit to Kentucky weekend, I feel strongly that the Wildcats are one of Banchero’s top options, if not the firm leader in his recruitment. Things went extremely well this weekend, as sources tell KSR that the 6-foot-10 forward’s family was “in love” with the UK staff’s approach both on and off the floor. It’s not easy to send your child almost 2,000 miles away, but Calipari and his assistants did a phenomenal job making sure Banchero’s parents were comfortable in doing so, should he ultimately decide to sign with Kentucky.
On another note, despite telling various outlets that he is no longer considering a reclassification, sources in various recruiting circles (both nationally and locally) believe he will ultimately wind up in the class of 2020 when it’s all said and done.
If anyone were to be silently committed to UK for 2020, I’d venture to say Banchero certainly feels more likely than Barnes. After all, he did mesh well together with Clarke, Lance Ware, and Cunningham this weekend…
Calipari casually flaunting that national championship ring in front of Terrence Clarke, Paolo Banchero, and Lance Ware, who seem amused. pic.twitter.com/PlYOpWMVpI
— Tyler Thompson (@MrsTylerKSR) October 12, 2019
I try to stay levelheaded on these notes and try to avoid hyping things up, but it’s fairly obvious that this weekend was a massive success for Kentucky on the recruiting front.
By Maggie Davis on ©October 13th, 2019 @ 11:00pm
Are you already missing the excitement that is Big Blue Madness? Well you’re in luck, because KSR’s own Bradley McKee has put together the perfect recap video so the BBN can continue to relive the night.
If you want to see the scene from the blue carpet or the UK cheerleaders’ championship-winning performance, we’ve got you. If you’re more interested in Matthew Mitchell’s dance moves or the team’s individual introductions, we’ve got that too. Check it out!
Make sure you’re subscribing to the KSR Youtube page for all of our latest video content.
By Maggie Davis on ©October 13th, 2019 @ 10:00pm
The California “pay-to-play” act has been a major talking point across the country for several weeks now. John Calipari’s women’s clinic was no exception.
During Sunday’s clinic, the women in attendance were given the chance to participate in a question-and-answer session with three of UK’s assistant basketball coaches – you can read my full recap from the clinic here. Tony Barbee, Kenny Payne and Joel Justus fielded questions from the ladies of the BBN, including one about a collegiate athlete’s chance to profit off his or her own likeness. Specifically, the woman who asked the question wanted to know the affect such a bill might have in the state of Kentucky.
“Anytime players can benefit from their likeness, obviously is a huge advantage for who? Us. Huge advantage when you talk about the guys and the autograph tours they’re able to do across the state once their eligibility is up, and then that’d be something they’d be able to profit off of while they’re here. That’s a huge advantage,” Barbee said.
— KSBar and Grille (@KSBarAndGrille) May 2, 2019
He’s right. Kentucky has one of the best markets for student athletes, especially for the men’s basketball team, to make a profit under a similar act. We’ve all seen the lines at KSBar in Lexington and in malls and sporting good stores across the state when former UK athletes go on their autograph tours. Throw in a few local commercials, a signature clothing line and a few Instagram advertisements, and the potential dollar signs should start popping up in your head. Coach Barbee is right when he says new NCAA guidelines would serve as a “huge advantage” for UK basketball recruiting.
But, for Barbee at least, it’s still not enough.
“We’re for it; it’s about time. But I don’t think it addresses the main issue of the student athletes being compensated for the amount of money they earn for all of these colleges and universities. Being able to profit off their own likeness and image, the money wouldn’t be coming from the money that comes in to the university. It’s kind of an in-around to the main problem, but it’s something. I guess it’s a start.”
By Brandon Ramsey on ©October 13th, 2019 @ 9:00pm
The injury bug continues to run rampant among the former Kentucky Wildcats in the NFL. However, there was still plenty of action through the day today to report on. Here’s how your Cats in the NFL did this week.
Josh Allen (Jacksonville Jaguars):
The rising NFL star and former Wildcat finished the game with two tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss and two quarterback hits. Allen’s performance wasn’t enough for the Jaguars, and Jacksonville lost to the Saints 13-6. New Orleans may have had a little help from this guy:
Today we give thanks to the Lord for our new #Saints. They walked by faith and now we invoke their intercession.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) October 13, 2019
Corey Peters (Arizona Cardinals):
Peters finished with five tackles, 0.5 sack and one QB hit. Arizona beat the Falcons 34-33.
Wesley Woodyard (Tennessee Titans):
The Titans may have gotten shutout by the Broncos 16-0, but Woodyard was still able to record six tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss and one QB hit.
Lonnie Johnson (Houston Texans):
Johnson finished with two tackles and one pass defended. The Texans beat the Chiefs 31-24.
Larry Warford (New Orleans Saints):
The Saints won 13-6.
Randall Cobb (Dallas Cowboys):
The wide receiver was inactive against the Jets and the Cowboys lost, 24-22.
George Asafo-Adjei (New York Giants):
Injury Reserve. The Giants lost to the Patriots 35-14.
Mike Edwards (Tampa Bay Buccaneers):
Edwards was also hit by the injury bug, and he missed the game with hamstring injury. The Bucs lost to the Panthers 37-26.
Avery Williamson (New York Jets):
Williamson is also battling an injury, so he did not see any action. The Jets beat the Cowboys, 24-22.
Benny Snell (Pittsburgh Steelers):
Snell, Yeah!!! Benny made the most of his opportunity for some increased playing time on the national stage and went for 75 yards on 17 carries and also caught a pass for a 14 yard gain. I would expect to see him continue to get some opportunities moving forward after his performance this evening as Pittsburgh took down the Chargers 24-17.
Bud Dupree (Pittsburgh Steelers):
Dupree collected 2 tackles including a big hit for a loss early in the game as the Steelers upset the Chargers 24-17.
Danny Trevathon (Chicago Bears):
Trevathon and his team got the week off this time around, as the Bears had a Bye Week.
Zadarius Smith (Green Bay Packers):
Smith and the Packers will return to action Monday evening for Monday Night Football.
By Maggie Davis on ©October 13th, 2019 @ 8:00pm
It was another wonderful day in the land of Kentucky basketball, as I had the opportunity to spend my Sunday afternoon with the Caliparis, the 2019-20 men’s team and, most importantly, the ladies of BBN. For the first time in a couple of years, the John Calipari (soon to be renamed the Ellen Calipari) women’s basketball clinic returned to Rupp Arena, and from what I saw, it was a big hit. Previous clinics have been held inside Memorial Coliseum, but this year’s venue allowed the women to get a real inside look into basketball’s most-famous building.
The day started with pictures and autographs, which means Ashton Hagans had to jump on Instagram Live at least a few times, of course. The ladies loved it.
Ashton Hagans (the king of Instagram live!) had to take a few videos during the autograph line with the ladies: pic.twitter.com/db9G8tNalO
— Maggie Davis (@MaggieDavisKSR) October 13, 2019
Next, the players got to be re-introduced to the women, which was especially nice for those who weren’t able to attend Big Blue Madness. Don’t worry, Immanuel Quickley still stole the show:
Didn’t see enough dancing? Don’t worry, the women at the clinic didn’t either. One attendee requested a dance off, and what do you know, the Cats come through with a dance off.
Quickley is the easy pick for best moves, but I think EJ Montgomery and Keion Brooks are sleepers in this competition.
And yes, before you ask, Coach Calipari did call Nate Sestina “white Nick” when he asked if he can dance. I also really appreciated the amount of John Wall dances that were included. Who’s your pick for the team’s best dancer?
The dancing was fun, but my personal favorite part of the event each year comes during the assistant coaches’ question-and-answer session with the women. For nearly an hour, the ladies had the chance to put the assistants on the hot seat and, for the most part, the coaches were pretty transparent. Here are some of the best moments from the Q-and-A.
Joel Justus began by explaining the sport’s latest rule changes, including the deeper three-point line, the 20-second shot clock following an offensive rebound, the ability to review goal tending (with an LSU game joke, of course) and the way officials can call unsportsmanlike conduct fouls. That last one led to a conversation about flopping, which gave Coach Justus the perfect opportunity to get in a Louisville dig.
He discussed the team’s annual preparation before the rivalry game, saying they had to teach the freshmen each year how to react when opposing players would flop and try to draw a charge. He’s referencing this, right?
Either way, he says things should be different now: “There’s a new coach at Louisville though, so they’re not teaching that anymore.”
Coach Kenny Payne was asked about the most-improved returning player, and he gave the honor to Immanual Quickley.
“The way he’s mentally approaching it is very different. Last year, he was second-guessing everything he was doing,” Payne said. “The biggest growth is when you see guys not worried about what we’re thinking; it’s hard to please coaches.”
Coach Payne also weighed in on arguably his favorite player, his son. Zan Payne is still coming off an injury, and his dad said he’s not where he wants to be shooting-wise just yet, but that’s not all his father wants for him.
“Brad [Calipari] was an example to my son of how you earn respect from your teammates; it’s your work ethic and your discipline. If he can walk away from this and earn his own place, I’m proud.”
Speaking of Brad Calipari, Coach Payne says he still checks in with the youngest Cal. Apparently, the last text he received from Brad read: “I didn’t realize how much I would miss being at Kentucky.”
And speaking of family ties, Coach Justus also weighed in on the idea behind a basketball “family.” Despite the one-and-done era, Justus discussed Kentucky’s ability to hold people together in the long-term, not just while everyone is still wearing their UK uniform. It’s certainly not just for social media: “It’s a real family and not just a hashtag.”
Coach Payne took it a step further.
“We’ve had guys like Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight, then it went to Anthony [Davis] and Michael Kidd Gilchrist. You’re in their life and they still call you and tell you how they’re doing,” Payne said. “Sometimes, we as fans… say ‘this year’s team is going to be just as good.’ But it’s not just an input. Each person coming into this program has to earn that, and we take it for granted sometimes just how good the players were the year before. We’ve had a hell of a basketball [program] here.”
And finally, there was this quote on Nick Richards’ shooting, which was pretty impressive during Friday’s Big Blue Madness.
“If we have seven guys that are good three-point shooters, do we need eight? I would say I’m ok with him shooting threes once or twice, but this team is going to need post play very bad,” Payne said. “His behind better be giving us some post play, even though he can shoot.”
Finally, the women got the chance to interact with the team’s strength and conditioning staff, who challenged them to a plank-off. Ellen Calipari and LEX18’s Jennifer Palumbo went head-to-head, and both put up strong performances.
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) October 13, 2019
Put that on Instagram!
All in all, it was a fun day with the team and the women of the BBN. The annual event is just another great reminder of how special this program is, and how lucky we all are to be part of the BBN. For those in attendance, feel free to comment about your experience or tweet me, @MaggieDavisKSR. And for those of you who weren’t in attendance, we’ll see you next year!
By Maggie Davis on ©October 13th, 2019 @ 7:00pm
After a busy couple of weeks covering the Cats, the ladies of KSR had the opportunity to unwind and try out one of Kentucky’s newest luxuries: the spa at the Kentucky Castle, which just opened over the summer. Our fabulous Editor-in-Chief Tyler Thompson, our incredible business manager Maria Taustine and myself were treated like royalty by the staff, and we’ll definitely be making a return trip soon. Here’s a quick recap of our relaxing day, and some information about how you can experience it all for yourself.
When I say it was one of the coolest days of my life, I’m speaking literally. In other words, I decided to subject myself to -220 degree temperatures (in the name of self care and journalism, of course).
Behold, the magic of cryotherapy.
Before my three-minute session, I had no idea what cryotherapy is or what the benefits could possibly be to merit freezing yourself. But the staff at the spa were wonderful and explained everything: after you get out from the cold, your body sends oxygenated blood throughout your body, which leads to quicker healing. This science is similar to athletes using ice baths for recovery. A lot of athletes have taken to cryotherapy for post-workout or injury recovery, but it’s also beneficial for us non-athletes, as it can also help with insomnia, arthritis, general soreness and weak immune systems.
They also assured me it would be a different kind of cold – it’s not the same kind of cold you experience at a late November football game or on your walk from the parking lot into Rupp Arena in February. The tank uses nitrogen to cool your body, so it’s more of a “dry” cold. I’m a baby when it comes to the cool temperatures, so if I can do it, anyone can.
Plus, you get to wear these fun socks and slippers (no Antonio Brown feet here!)
We were also each treated to massages by Rachel, and we all agree it was the best massage any of us have ever had. Not to be dramatic, but Rachel may have changed my life; she found and fixed knots in my back I didn’t even know existed. We all spend a lot of time hunched over our computers for our jobs, and Rachel’s magic hands and lavender oils were the perfect remedy.
Next up on our itineraries were customized facials by the fabulous Twana. As a rookie spa visitor, I had no idea what I was in for, but my expectations were definitely exceeded. Twana used a combination of steam and serums and creams and warm towels and more, all of which left my skin feeling great. Mrs. Tyler even decided to buy a few of the skincare products to take home with her. Meanwhile, I also tried a fancy light that zapped the bacteria found under my skin.
If you’re going to let someone pick at your face, you better trust them as much as you trust Tyler Herro at the free throw line. Trust me when I say Twana went 3-for-3 from the charity stripe.
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Spent the morning being absolutely pampered at @thekentuckycastlespa. What a treat! Try it yourself and mention “podcast deal” to receive 20% off your first treatment. #TheOTTPodcast #wellnesswednesday #selfcare #treatyoself #castle
A post shared by Tyler Thompson (@mrstylerksr) on
You can learn more about the amazing spa by checking out their website HERE. When you book your appointment online, use promo code KSRSPA for 20 percent off your services and products. If you book over the phone, just mention KSR or the “podcast deal” to get your discount.
Remember the Kentucky Castle also has a delicious restaurant with seasonal, local offerings, as well as plenty of fun, community events. You can also contact me on Twitter @MaggieDavisKSR with any questions. Happy spa-ing!
By Maggie Davis on ©October 13th, 2019 @ 6:00pm
I’m spending my Sunday afternoon with the ladies of the BBN at John Calipari’s annual women’s clinic (more to come on that later!), and I already received some exciting scoop. The notorious Blue Coats are seeking new membership. For the first time in their long and storied history, the exclusive club is no longer just a “brotherhood.” They’re also accepting women.
I spoke with the president of the blue coats, Charlie Higginbotham, who gave me some insight into the legendary group of volunteers. Higginbotham also discussed the importance of accepting women in the prestigious group, saying the group is finally “joining the 20th century.” He says there are approximately 12 women already working as blue coats, but he’s hoping to add more before the start of basketball season.
Currently, there are around 200 blue coats, and they’re looking for approximately 25-30 new members. It’s an impressive but busy life for those in the club. For every home football game, Higginbotham says they need approximately 200 volunteers; for basketball games, the number is closer to 130. You can find them at various UK Athletics events, and they help with the boys’ and girls’ high school Sweet 16 inside Rupp Arena. You can also find them at “specialty” events related to the university, such as Sunday’s women’s clinic.
The Blue Coats pay $90 in annual dues, which includes the name tag and tie (you’ll have to get the actual blue coat separately!).
How excited is Higginbotham to grow the group? He said I could put his personal email address on this post for those interested in joining the legendary group. Send an email to [email protected] for more information and an application to wear the most famous blazer in the Bluegrass.
By John Reecer on ©October 13th, 2019 @ 5:30pm
Another week has come and gone in the college football season. The SEC consistently gives the sport amazing games, moments, and players. Here are my five biggest takeaways in the conference from week six.
1. The First Big Upset
Just when we all thought this college football season was becoming too boring and too predictable, South Carolina made us remember why this sport is so special.
Their double-overtime victory over No. 3 Georgia sent shockwaves throughout the entirety FBS football. Make no mistake here: this was a monumental loss for the Bulldogs. Remember Ohio State’s only loss last season to a not-so-great Purdue team which kept them out of the playoff? Well, that should be the exact same situation here.
Yes, its great for the Gamecocks that they won, but they still aren’t a good team. In fact, they may be worse than Purdue was last season. What I am saying here is that unless a decent amount of chaos happens in front of them, this loss will keep the Bulldogs out of the playoffs.
Man, Georgia players’ Twitter accounts are gonna be LIT during the Playoff this year. Again.
— Matt Fortuna (@Matt_Fortuna) October 12, 2019
However, Georgia's chances to reach the Playoff have dropped to 16 percent, according to the Allstate Playoff Predictor. https://t.co/DE7ML3DElf
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 12, 2019
All signs point to LSU and Alabama being the two teams from the conference who will get in, and there is no earthly way the committee lets three SEC teams in. I honestly think Georgia is already missing the playoffs. It will take a massive upset from the Tigers or the Crimson Tide to get Georgia back into the picture.
Meanwhile, this does throw the SEC East into a bit of an interesting situation now. Florida and Missouri have a legitimate chance to win the division if they just beat Georgia head-to-head. Time will tell how it all plays out, but I will hammer home my Missouri opinion: they will sneak up on people. This loss now leaves the door wide open for them.
2. LSU Proves Its Worth Again
Another almost-perfect performance from Joe Burrow gives the Tigers another victory over a top-10 team. This time, it came over a Florida squad that actually played one of its best games of the season. Losing by just two touchdowns in Death Valley isn’t all that bad.
But the real story here is the Tigers. They have the best two victories out of anyone in college football (Texas, Florida) and they should absolutely be the No. 1 ranked team in the country right now.
My @AP_Top25 ballot for @Stadium this week. My new No. 1: LSU. Three Big Ten teams in my Top 7. Four new teams ranked this week: Minnesota, Cincinnati, Appalachian State & Tulane https://t.co/iRnyDH9fTU
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) October 13, 2019
Of course, the good ole’ Alabama love affair that so many still have with Crimson Tide is strong as they are still ranked No. 1 this week. Don’t get me wrong, they are of course really good. But their wins don’t even begin to compare with LSU’s.
Anyways, LSU will be truly put to the test over the next three weeks as they play Auburn and Alabama back-to-back. I believe in Burrow and company this year, but that stretch will define how far the Tigers will go this season.
3. Bowden Saves Kentucky
All of Big Blue Nation owes a sincere “thank you” to Lynn Bowden.
He came in and played quarterback for the majority of the last night’s game with Arkansas, and basically won the contest for the Wildcats.
Kentucky's leading WR Lynn Bowden Jr. made his first start at QB. All he did was:
196 rush yards
1 conference win
— ESPN (@espn) October 13, 2019
If Kentucky had lost the game, there would’ve been a very good chance that the Wildcats were not going to make a bowl game. However, you can put those worries away for the moment.
Standing at 3-3 overall and 1-3 in SEC play, Kentucky has to get three wins out of Georgia/Missouri/Tennessee/Vanderbilt/UT-Martin/Louisville. UT-Martin and Vanderbilt should give UK five wins while Georgia and Missouri will probably put them at five losses.
How far the Wildcats go this season will depend on their performances against Tennessee and Louisville. Considering that both of those teams got big wins on Saturday, Kentucky still needs to further improve to get that sixth win.
4. Alabama Rolls On
The Crimson Tide won in typical fashion on Saturday over Texas A&M — Tua Tagovailoa threw four touchdowns in what was a great day for his offense.
Another big game from Tua as Alabama scores 45+ points for the 5th straight game ? pic.twitter.com/gfCaJ8oo52
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) October 12, 2019
However, I’m still concerned about Alabama’s defense. They look considerably worse than last year, and they had another questionable day against the Aggies.
While a team like Clemson can completely shutdown Kellen Mond, he can still get over 350 yards of offense and three total touchdowns on the Crimson Tide.
Look, Tua will keep Alabama in any game it will play. But if they go up against the likes of Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Joe Burrow, and yes, Jalen Hurts, I don’t see it going well for the Crimson Tide.
Time will tell how much the defense improves, but I still think they have a long way to go.
5. Tennessee Finally Finds Some Success
For this week’s most underrated takeaway, I’m going with Tennessee’s big win over Mississippi State. The Volunteers have finally learned how to win a football game, and yes, it is surprising.
All jokes aside, they controlled their game with the Bulldogs which is not great news for Kentucky. Tennessee still has talent on their team. I had them pegged for seven wins this season which admittedly doesn’t look like a great prediction now.
Let’s check in on the locker room … pic.twitter.com/XEcXoom0BG
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) October 12, 2019
However, I still think they can absolutely make a bowl game. Still left on their schedule is South Carolina, UAB, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt. Quite frankly, those are all winnable games for the Volunteers.
If Jarrett Guarantano can play like he did yesterday against Mississippi State (6/7, 106 yards), then I think those four wins could very likely happen for Tennessee. Despite how they started out, the length of the college football season may prove to be the Volunteers’ saving grace.
By Maggie Davis on ©October 13th, 2019 @ 5:00pm
Kentucky’s victory over Arkansas was vital for the Wildcats’ bowl dreams, the team’s morale and the fanbase’s commitment to the remainder of the season. That’s what really mattered Saturday night. However, Kentucky’s win also gave Coach Mark Stoops some extra “cred.” Saturday’s victory was Stoops’ 39th ‘W’ as UK’s head coach.
With the win, Stoops ties Coach Rich Brooks for the No. 5 spot on Kentucky’s all-time winningest coaches list. Bear Bryant leads the list with 60 wins, followed by Blanton Collier and Jerry Claiborne, who are tied with 41 wins each. The victory also gave Stoops his 29th home win with the Wildcats, tying him with Coach Collier and Fran Curci for third place in school history.
Stoops’ win-loss record at Kentucky is now hovering near 50 percent – he’s currently sitting at 39-42 (48.1 percent). Could we see Mark Stoops also become only the third coach in UK football history to surpass a .500 win coaching record? Bear Bryant did it (60-23 for 72 percent), as did Blanton Collier (41-36 for 53 percent). Coach Curci was close (47-51), but he didn’t quite get there before the end of his tenure; Mark Stoops could.
With just six games left on the schedule, Stoops would have to win five of those outings to claim the accomplishment this season. That’d be tough, but it makes it clear just how close Coach Stoops is to actually breaking the .500 line. If the Cats can grab another handful of wins this season, Stoops will be set up to break 50 percent next year.
His 39 wins already puts Coach Stoops ahead of Coach Charlie Bradshaw (1962-68), John Ray (1969-72), Bill Curry (1990-96), Hal Mumme (1997-2000), Guy Morriss (2001-02), and Joker Phillips (2010-12).
By Sam Gormley on ©October 13th, 2019 @ 4:00pm
Lynn Bowden ran wild and the Cats picked up an exciting victory over Arkansas last night at Kroger Field. With Arkansas scoring on the second play of the game and the offense starting slow, social media began to buzz about this being another “letdown.”
A win over a 2-3 Arkansas is not necessarily “sexy,” but considering the circumstances, this is was a win that was completely needed.
Here is what people were saying on social media after the win:
On Lynn Bowden
— Paul Washington Jr (@PJWashington) October 13, 2019
ESPN TOTAL QBR WEEK 7
1 Malcolm Perry/NAVY 99.4
2 Evan Conley/LOU 99.2
3 Tyler Huntley/UTAH 98.9
4 Joe Burrow/LSU 98.1
5 Jack Coan/WIS 96.6
6 Trevor Lawrence/CLEM 96.4
7 Lynn Bowden Jr/UK 95.7
8 Chase Cord/BSU 94.6
9 Jack Plummer/PUR 91.9
10 Tua Tagovailoa/BAMA 91.8#CFB150
— CFB Focus ? (@cffmwachsman) October 13, 2019
I sat next to an Arkansas media member last night who didn't know a lot about Lynn Bowden. He said "Your QB can return punts? What can this guy not do?" pic.twitter.com/ZaXKFvjZje
— Adam Griggs (@businessraptor) October 13, 2019
Lynn Bowden on playing QB on the day UK honored Jared Lorenzen: "It’s very special. All the film they showed us throughout the week, I feel sorry for his family. He was a great guy, he was a legend here. I don’t want to talk about it, I might start tearing up. Too many cameras."
— Tyler Thompson (@MrsTylerKSR) October 13, 2019
— Darius West (@D_1west25) October 13, 2019
I L O V E you #BBN ? hell of a team win all glory to God
— Lynn Bo (@LynnBowden_1) October 13, 2019
By Jack Pilgrim on ©October 13th, 2019 @ 3:03pm
2020 No. 2 prospect Cade Cunningham just finished up his official visit to Kentucky, and things apparently went very well for the Wildcats.
Over at 247Sports, recruiting insider Evan Daniels just submitted a Crystal Ball pick for the 6-foot-7 superstar in favor of Kentucky.
Long seen as a strong Oklahoma State lean following the hiring of his brother, Cannen Cunningham, to the Cowboy coaching staff, momentum for both North Carolina and Kentucky has picked up over the last several weeks. After the Tar Heels picked up steam as the brief co-favorite with OSU back in late September prior to his official visit to the school, Kentucky has since surpassed UNC, with the Wildcats and Cowboys seen as the top contenders during the home stretch of Cunningham’s recruitment.
This weekend, Cunningham spent much of his official visit to Lexington with Kentucky commits Terrence Clarke and Lance Ware, along with 2021 top-three forward and reclassification candidate Paolo Banchero.
After the visit, Clarke took to social media to tell the Big Blue Nation to “talk to (his) boy.”
— Terrence Clarke (@terrenceclarke_) October 13, 2019
Cunningham is expected to make a decision in the coming weeks and sign during the early signing period in November.
This is big. Really big.
By Brandon Ramsey on ©October 13th, 2019 @ 3:00pm
After two Top 10 teams suffered their first loss of the season there was a little extra shake up in this week’s Coaches Poll. However, the top remained unchanged with Alabama and Clemson holding down the #1 and #2 spots respectively. LSU made the jump to #3 after their very impressive 42-28 victory over Florida. The loss dropped the Gators down only two spots to #9 while Georgia dropped 7 positions to #10 after being upset by South Carolina.
Wake Forest, Virginia, Memphis, and Texas A&M dropped out of the Top 25 this week while Cincinnati (#21), Washington (#23), Appalachian State (#24), and Temple (#25) made new appearances. The Southeastern Conference features 5 teams in the top 11 of this week’s Coaches Poll. To see the full Top 25 you can click HERE.
By Sam Gormley on ©October 13th, 2019 @ 2:30pm
The opening line for Kentucky’s game against Georgia has been set. The Cats will open as 27-point underdogs to the defending SEC East Champions.
Georgia is coming off of an embarrassing home loss to South Carolina so it is safe to say they will be fired up in between the hedges to be sure it doesn’t turn into two. In that game, kicking sensation Rodrigo Blankenship missed two field goals, including the game winner, and quarterback Jake Fromm threw three interceptions. In the most recent AP Top 25 poll, Georgia fell from #3 to #10.
Kentucky is coming off an exciting victory over Arkansas. Behind wide receiver Lynn Bowden at quarterback, the Cats ran down the Razorbacks’ throat en route to a home victory.
On the season, the Cats are 4-2 against the spread while the ‘Dawgs come in at 3-3.
Now I would be the first person to admit that I am probably the last person to give you betting advice, but I think this line is pretty dead on. It is still presumed that Sawyer Smith needs time to heel and I am not sure the Bowden schtick at quarterback can work against a defense as talented as Georgia’s. This all goes without mentioning that Georgia is coming off of an embarrassing loss at home. It doesn’t feel right for the Cats.
For more informed betting advice, definitely listen to Matt and Drew’s “Free Money Podcast.” If you’re like me and not a huge gambler, still check it out, because you always get more than just football talk.
Bet responsibly and Go Cats!
By Maggie Davis on ©October 13th, 2019 @ 1:30pm
Kash Daniel served as one of Kentucky’s captains during the Cats’ matchup against Arkansas, and he certainly brought the energy before the game had even officially started.
In this video, captured and tweeted by Lacy Robinson, you can see Daniel clearly playing the air guitar before the coin flip. It’s hard to tell what music was playing, but Daniel was definitely feeling it.
— Lacy Robinson (@LacyNFDA) October 12, 2019
On the night, Daniel totaled five tackles – four by himself and two that were tackles for loss.
By Maggie Davis on ©October 13th, 2019 @ 1:15pm
It’s official: the Kentucky Wildcats will face-off against the Georgia Bulldogs at 6:00 p.m. in Athens next Saturday. The game will be broadcast on ESPN. The selected time slot was one of two options for the Wildcats’ fight against Georgia; the other option was a 3:30 kickoff on CBS.
The SEC also announced the kickoff times for two other conference match-ups next week:
Final TV selections for games of Oct. 19:
Florida at South Carolina, 12pm ET/11am CT on ESPN
LSU at Mississippi State, 3:30pm ET/2:30pm CT on CBS
Kentucky at Georgia, 6pm ET/5pm CT on ESPN
Other game times and networks were previously announced.
— Southeastern Conference (@SEC) October 13, 2019
In case you missed it, No. 3 Georgia fell to South Carolina 20-17 at home last night in an absolute stunner of a game that went to double overtime. Georgia kicker Rodrigo Blankenship ended the game with a miss on a 42-yard attempt.
One thing is certain: the Bulldogs will be angry come next Saturday at 6 p.m.
By Adam Luckett on ©October 13th, 2019 @ 1:00pm
There was no hiding from the fact that this was a monster game for the Kentucky football program. The team was fresh off embarrassing road losses to both Mississippi State and South Carolina after blowing a double-digit lead against Florida. Dealing with all kinds of quarterback injuries, the Wildcats had to figure out some type of spark in the bye week.
The decision was to move Lynn Bowden, Jr. to full-time quarterback and the gamble paid off after two weeks of preparation. The Youngstown, Ohio native was exhilarating in his first career start and Wildcats went on a 24-7 blitz in the final 35 minutes to win the football game.
Behind a unique offensive performance and a defense that made some timely stops, the Wildcats gave Mark Stoops his first SEC West win over a school not named Mississippi State and set UK up to have a nice finish in the last six games.
The Wildcats collected 418 yards (330 rushing, 88 passing) on 66 plays and put up 6.3 yards per snap. That was the offense’s second highest output of the season and their highest in an SEC game since the road win at Florida. The chunk play returned with the Wildcats collecting six plays of 20-plus yards with four of them occurring in the final quarter.
Lynn Bowden’s 51-yard run didn’t ice the game, but his 15-yard sprint on the next snap certainly did. The dual-threat quarterback finished with 196 rushing yards on 24 carries and he would have certainly got to the 200-yard mark if Kentucky doesn’t go to the victory formation on the final two plays. He provided the juice, but UK needed their running backs to do some heavy lifting.
A.J. Rose and Kavosiey Smoke combined for 135 yards on 27 carries to help power this ground game in between attempts from Bowden. Each provided a big play in the fourth quarter as Kentucky pulled away from the Hogs. The Wildcats are still struggling with their short-yardage offense, but when you rush for over 300 yards you are going to win a lot of football games. It was the sixth time they’ve reached that feat under Eddie Gran and the Wildcats are 5-1 when they hit that number.
It was a run heavy attack, but you still have prove you can throw the football. While this is never going to be an offense that goes all in on the pass with Bowden behind center, the future NFL wide receiver showed he can make some necessary throws to move the chains. The most impressive happened on a third-and-long in the red zone.
The star player can deliver the fade and also made some nice throws to Justin Rigg across the middle. He missed Christopher Rodriguez, Jr. on a beautifully designed throwback in the third quarter but otherwise did what he was asked. He’s limited as a passer, but can make more throws than you would think.
Whenever you have that big of day on the ground, your guys in the trenches have to be putting some work in. Again, the short-yardage offense needs work, but UK was moving people in the run game. The group gave up just one sack in limited in pass pro snaps, but also got some help from the tight ends. Keaton Upshaw had a beautiful downfield block to spring Lynn Bowden, Jr. on a 24-yard touchdown to put UK up for good in the final quarter. However, the Wildcats lost Landon Young to injury in the final quarter and his status will be something to monitor closely moving forward.
The performance by the offense was huge boost for the program for a lot of reasons. There was no denying that this group stunk up the last two games and Kentucky’s season would have been headed for a disaster if they didn’t fix things fast. With two weeks to prepare, they went all in on the Lynn Bowden, Jr. experience and it paid off.
UK established the run, converted third downs, scored on red zone trips, and created splash plays. This success allowed them to establish the tempo and make Arkansas play on their terms. That hasn’t happened the last two games and that will have to remain a trend if Kentucky hopes to continue winning football games.
Kentucky allowed 305 yards (183 rushing, 122 passing) on 57 plays and that was a yards per play total of 5.4. For the third time this season, UK held its opponent to 5.5 yards per less and that should win you some football games. With Nick Starkel struggling, the pass defense excelled while the run defense still needs a lot of work.
Rakeem Boyd entered tonight as the SEC’s second leading rusher and he showed why on the second play from scrimmage. The slasher can house it when given a crease and UK got stretched thin immediately out of the gate. After settling in, the Wildcats gave up 6.1 yards per carry and it was the second time this season an opponent put up that large a number. However, thinks to the style of a Chad Morris offense, the Hogs only attempted 27 non-sack rushes and that was a good thing because they put up over 201 yards in a small amount of attempts. This is a huge concern going into Athens next week.
There’s no hiding from the fact that the Wildcats are extremely young in the secondary and that youth is getting thrown to the fire. Brad White is playing a ton of freshman and sophomores in the backend and with that comes some growing pains. There were multiple coverage penalties, but other than that this group continues to grow.
Tonight might have been that group’s best work as they held a pass happy offense to less than 50 percent completions and just 4.5 yards per pass. This was the lowest total of the season for the Hogs and it was clear UK was ready for the challenge. After Nick Starkel was pulled, Ben Hicks had some success but the pass rush delivered when it was needed most.
Calvin Taylor, Jr. continues to play excellent football and the redshirt senior collected a huge third down sack to take Arkansas out of the red zone down just four. T.J Carter followed it up with a pressure on the next play that created a turnover on downs. Quinton Bohanna recorded the second sack of his career on a third down earlier in the fourth quarter and Boogie Watson continues to answer the bell by recording a sack fumble in the first quarter.
The Wildcats gave up too many third down conversions (6-of-13), but they did get some timely stops against the SEC’s worst red zone offense. Outside of the long run to begin the game, the last two Arkansas scoring drives were a product of possession that started inside the UK 35. The defense was put in some bad spots and they answered the challenge while showing some growth along the way.
Grant McKinniss continues to be a great kickoff specialist and the former punter now has a touchback rate of 82.1 percent as he is helping to eliminate any return opportunities. Max Duffy continues to do his thing with two punts downed inside the 20 with another one going 50-plus yards. However, Duffy punted out of his endzone and outkicked his coverage a bit and that setup Arkansas with a very short field that would result in a touchdown. However, Matt Ruffolo was the story of the night.
The walk-on missed a 47-yard attempt in the second quarter, but drilled one from 51 yards on UK’s first possession of the third quarter. After a sack and false start killed a promising drive, UK’s new kicked saved the team with a big kick to help keep the momentum building. UK should feel good about their kicking situation moving forward.
There were some issues in punt return and they were mainly due to a muff by Josh Ali on the first punt by Arkansas. UK was fortunate to recover and if they didn’t it could have been a totally different game. In the kick return department, Zach Johnson was very serviceable in putting up 48 yards in two returns.
There is no hiding from how big this game was for Kentucky. A loss likely meant a 5-7 season at best with your bowl streak ending while a win still gives you a legit chance at a 7-5 record and some momentum moving forward. With major quarterback issues and a hangover after the Florida loss that lasted two weeks, the Wildcats needed some juice. They got that from the best player on the team.
After a couple games of getting impatient with establishing the run, UK had to stick with the game plan this week after a slow start and it paid off. With some nifty option plays and some creation from a dynamic playmaker, Kentucky had their best offensive night of the season and gained some swagger that was lost in that fourth quarter loss to Florida.
The Wildcats are at their best under Eddie Gran when they are able to run the ball at will and throw no more than 20 times. This is where the coaching staff is most comfortable and that was easy to see in the win. The Wildcats were able to keep their defense fresh while riding an offensive line that led the way to over 300 yards being recorded on the ground. The result was exactly what the program needed and doing it after being down 13-0 makes it even more impressive.
Big picture moving forward is that Kentucky should have won that game. The Wildcats have a better roster than Arkansas at the moment and with an extra week to prepare, they should have been able to scheme up some things for Lynn Bowden, Jr. to have success at quarterback. Sometimes that can be easier said than done and we got to see some proof of concept on Saturday.
Moving forward, the Wildcats need to build on all the positives. The dominant ground game appears to be back and we should see a group that plays confident in the final six games. After the win, the staff now knows what Bowden is most comfortable with on the ground game and can now work to build the passing attack. A young defense continues to grow and now must figure out how to start fast. There’s plenty more things to grow with four home games remaining and a very winnable road trip to Nashville.
On to Georgia.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©October 13th, 2019 @ 12:30pm
Kentucky basketball will host one of the nation’s top forwards next weekend.
According to Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader, 2020 five-star forward Scottie Barnes will take an official visit to Kentucky for the school’s annual Blue-White Scrimmage.
NEW: Top 10 recruit Scottie Barnes told me that he’s planning to take an official visit to Kentucky this weekend. More on Barnes, his recruitment and his thoughts on UK … https://t.co/uQWxSCiOYL
— Ben Roberts (@BenRobertsHL) October 13, 2019
In an interview with Roberts at the Team USA Minicamp this weekend in Colorado Springs, CO, Barnes said that Kentucky is a legitimate option for him as his recruitment comes to a close in the coming months.
“The goals I really want, Kentucky really brings to that table,” Barnes told the Herald-Leader. “I want to be a one-and-done, get to the league. And not just be in the league for a few years — they proved that they really get people to the league and they stay 10, 15 years. I want to be like that in the future.”
As we have heard John Calipari preach over the last several weeks, Kentucky’s massive financial success in terms of its NBA talent is resonating with elite high school talent like Barnes.
“He really talked to me about what he can do for me as a player,” Barnes said. “He talks to me about my goals and dreams, and how he can really make those come true.”
Barnes, who cut his official list down to eight back in February, recently said he would focus on four schools moving forward: Oregon, Florida State, Kentucky, and Miami (FL).
This weekend, however, Adam Zagoria reported that the top-ten prospect has cancelled his upcoming visit to Miami and will no longer consider the Hurricanes.
Scottie Barnes will no longer visit Miami the weekend of 10/18 and isn't expected to visit at all, per sources. FSU and Oregon are the clubhouse leaders.
— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) October 12, 2019
Jerry Meyer of 247Sports compares Barnes to former Kentucky forward Jared Vanderbilt, highlighting the 6-foot-9, 215-pound prospect’s elite motor and rebounding skill.
“(Barnes is a) top-level athlete with tremendous length for a combo forward,” Meyer said of the five-star forward on his official player scouting report. “Elite-level motor and competes at a top-of-the-charts level. Can defend any position on the court. Rebounds outside of his area. High-level passing ability. Extremely dangerous starting the break after a defensive rebound. Also, a lethal finisher. Scores very well off the dribble inside 15 feet. Has a lot of room to improve as a shooter. Projects as a one-and-done and possible top-five pick.”
Check out some of his most recent highlights below:
Watch this one closely, BBN…
By Zack Geoghegan on ©October 13th, 2019 @ 12:00pm
The Queen of KSR is now the Queen of UK.
Congratulations to the brilliant and talented Maggie Davis as she was named the University of Kentucky Homecoming queen during halftime of the Wildcats Saturday night win over Arkansas.
Standing next to the elected king, Jonathan Thomas, Davis was named the winner after a talent show and a student voting poll that was open throughout the week.
If you didn’t already know, Davis, who graduates this May, spent the summer of 2019 as an intern for ESPN in Los Angeles and has also served as an intern for Hey Kentucky! She’s been a writer here at KSR for over three years, covering everything from men’s and women’s basketball, to football, to off-campus issues, and everything in between. On top of majoring in broadcast journalism (while minoring in political science and digital media and design), Davis is also a Singletary Scholar in the Lewis Honors College and is an active participant in the Chi Omega sorority, where she has held leadership positions such as New Member Educator. After she graduates, Davis plans on pursuing a career in sports broadcasting.
Fun fact, Davis was brought on to KSR as a senior in high school, making her the youngest hire in KSR history.
Here is her official response when I told her I would do the honor of writing up this humble brag post: “I’m so weak hahahha”
We are singing “One Shining Moment” in the press box pic.twitter.com/39F1MVAu3E
— Tyler Thompson (@MrsTylerKSR) October 13, 2019
Congratulations to Maggie! I hope you know that Jack and I only make fun of you out of love and a serious case of jealousy.
We stan the KSR Queen.
By Eli Mitchell on ©October 13th, 2019 @ 11:00am
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Mike Edwards) vs. Carolina Panthers
Mike Edwards is across the pond as two division foes match up in London. Edwards has a tough challenge ahead of him with Christian McCaffery playing at an unreal level.
New Orleans Saints (Larry Warford) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (Josh Allen)
Following a tough loss in Carolina the Jags are back in Duval to play the Teddy Bridgewater led Saints. Josh Allen is off to a solid start, totaling 17 tackles and 3 sacks in just five games.
Houston Texans (Lonnie Johnson Jr.) @ Kansas City Chiefs
The Texans defense has its hands full today as Pat Mahomes tries to bounce back from a tough loss last week. Johnson must be ready to play as Tyreek Hill returns from injury to provide even more explosiveness for the Chiefs.
Atlanta Falcons @ Arizona Cardinals (Corey Peters)
The Cardinals finally got their first win of the year last week, and Kliff Kingsbury has the offense playing at a high level. The Falcons are fighting for their life as they are in the midst of a three game losing streak.
Tenneesee Titans (Wesley Woodyard) @ Denver Broncos
Wesley Woodyard is excited to face some old teammates as he spent the first seven years of his career in Denver.
Dallas Cowboys (Randall Cobb) @ New York Jets
The Cowboys are looking to bounce back after dropping two straight. Cobb had three catches for 53 yards last week, and should see more targets against a beat-up Jets secondary.
Pittsburgh Steelers (Benny Snell Jr., Bud Dupree) @ LA Chargers
A huge week for Benny Snell Jr. as he is officially RB2 for the Steelers due to the injury of Jaylen Samuels. An increased workload on Sunday Night Football is exactly what Snell has been waiting for.
Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers (Za’Darius Smith)
The Packers may be the most improved team in the NFL, and much of that has to do with the production from Za’Darius Smith. The former Kentucky star is tearing the league up with five sacks through five games.