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Why Kentucky Will Win: Missouri Edition

Why Kentucky Will Win: Missouri Edition

why-uk-mizzou

Kentucky is one game away from clinching its first bowl berth since 2010 and this is the week they’re going to do it. After Wednesday’s practice, Bud Dupree told reporters he and his teammates are anxious to get that sixth win to relieve the pressure of chasing it. In order to do so, Dupree, a senior, will have to win his first career road game. There’s a stat for ya.

Quarterback Patrick Towles is confident the Wildcats will escape Columbia with a W. He said, “We expect to win.”

And win, they will. This is the week UK punches its ticket to the postseason, wherever that may be. Let me tell you why in this week’s edition of “Why Kentucky Will Win.”

#BeatMizzou

*****

Because Maty Mauk struggles to throw TDs in the SEC.

Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk has 16 touchdown tosses on the season, but only two of those came against league competition. Before last week, when he threw two against Vanderbilt, Mauk had zero TD passes and five interceptions in his three games against the SEC. He padded his stats early in the year with 14 against South Dakota State, Toledo, Central Florida and Indiana.

UK’s defense ranks 15th nationally in passing yards allowed, fifth in interceptions and 10th in passing efficiency defense.

Because Dorial Green-Beckham isn’t walking through that door.

The former Tiger receiver who torched Kentucky for four touchdowns last season is now an Oklahoma Sooner after a string of trouble at Mizzou. Arguably the best wide receiver in college football, DGB’s presence will not be missed on Kentucky’s end.

Because Missouri hasn’t played well at home.

Mizzou is 1-4 against the spread at home this season with two losses, against Indiana and Georgia. The Tigers were a 23-point favorite last week against Vanderbilt and won by only 10. They’re currently a 6.5-point favorite against Kentucky.

Because this ended up being fake.

It was rumored Mizzou would attempt a ‘Stripe-Out’ for the UK game (seen above) but it ended up being a concept created by a fan for fun. Had Mizzou actually pulled that off, there’s no doubt the Tigers would’ve won. They would deserve to win if the athletic department coordinated that awesomeness.

Because Gary Pinkel may or may not be drunk.

Mauk, too.

Because Missouri’s receivers coach was the Kentucky receivers coach in 2012.

Pat Washington, in his second season at Missouri, left Lexington as the Joker Phillips dynasty crumbled. Washington coached the wide receivers for Joker in 2012, a year that UK ranked 102nd in passing, nationally.

Because Missouri’s offense isn’t good.

The Tigers average 331 yards per game, the eighth-worst output in all of college football. 116 other teams are better, with only Michigan, Central Florida, South Florida, Kent State, Florida International, Eastern Michigan and Texas-San Antonio falling behind Mizzou.

Because THIS…

mizzou

This is me right now…

Go Cats.

 


Fundamental Practice Notes From Wednesday

Fundamental Practice Notes From Wednesday

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–  The Cats aren’t putting the “Fun” in fundamentals this week.  It’s no fun losing, especially when most of it comes down to basic problems.  Fundamentals have been preached week in and week out, but they’re becoming particularly picky this week, taking their teachings one step further, “(Even) If your shoe strings aren’t tied a fundamental way,” Bud Dupree said today.

Yesterday, Neal Brown mentioned that the offensive linemen were leaning too much.  Something you wouldn’t normally think is an enormous problem.  Where you noticed the enormous problem was the defense’s tackling.  Some of the mistakes were simple execution errors, like failing to wrap the guy up until he’s on the ground or a teammates piles on.  Some of them were more mental, “The first person that makes the tackle can’t strip the ball,” said Dupree.

The little brain farts add up.  DJ Eliot has added more hitting and tackling to this week’s work in team drills in addition to their normal routine.

–  With four games to go, getting win #6 is creating a little anxiety on the team, Bud Dupree said today.  The win would lift a weight off their shoulders, but Bud’s reasons for getting to #6 are not selfish:

“It would mean a whole lot for the program, for the state and for the coaches.  It would mean a lot for the team just to give back to the coaches and all of the hard work they’ve put into it trying to turn this program around.  The University invested a lot of money into the football program this year.  And we’ve just got to show them that we really are working hard.”

–  Bud doesn’t pay too much attention to the accolades.  Today Mel Kiper’s first round big board placed Dupree at #21 overall in the 2015 NFL Draft.  Bud might take a peek on Twitter, but he’s waiting to worry about himself until after season, “It’s all about my team and not about me.”  Bud’s also only a few sacks away from owning the UK sack record, but even that claim would not mean as much as a bowl game.

–  The Cats haven’t won on the road in a LONG time.  It can sometimes be brutal to watch, but for the players, the worst part might be the somber plane ride home.  Bud is hoping this week’s hour plane trip back to Lexington will be the most cheerful flight he’s been on.

–  When looking ahead to the future, many people pay attention to the success of the true freshmen on this year’s team but forget about the talent that is busting their butts in the weight room during a redshirt season.

Melvin Lewis has been forceful in the middle following his redshirt season.  He would not be the same player without it, “That redshirt year for me worked out in my favor.  A lot of guys either get better during their redshirt year or get worse.  I truly believe I got better because of that redshirt year.  I give all the credit to that redshirt year.  All that success I’m having is because of that redshirt year.”


Mel Kiper ranks Bud Dupree the 21st best NFL draft prospect

Photo via 247Sports

Bud Dupree turned down the NFL after last season to return to school, and so far this year, he’s living up to the hype, with 45 tackles, 25 of those solo. His name has popped up on several lists for college football “freakiest” athlete, and today, Dupree made his debut on ESPN’s Mel Kiper’s NFL Draft Big Board at #21.

Kiper dedicated the intro of his Big Board update to Dupree, whom he says he’s been following since his freshman year at Kentucky.

“He’s the kind of kid who can be really intriguing to follow because he’s such a phenomenal athlete. You never know what he’ll become.

A two-way player in high school, Dupree was a good tight end and pass-rusher, and he has settled in at defensive end for the Wildcats. At 6-foot-4 and 260-plus pounds with exceptional athleticism, he has improved a little each year. While he’s never put up eye-popping stats, when I talk to SEC coaches, I hear about a player they don’t look forward to blocking, and you can see it play out, with extra blocking help often in Dupree’s path to the quarterback.”

Not too shabby. Here’s his individual profile:

21. Alvin “Bud” Dupree, OLB, Kentucky Wildcats

A big-time athlete at 6-4 and 260-plus pounds, Dupree is going to test well at the combine, where he will run in the 4.68 range. He has explosive quickness off the snap and the ability to turn that into power and drive tackles back. I think how he’s valued will be in part based on how NFL teams see him as a fit and how well he shows he can play in space. But the guy is a tremendous kid, a tremendous worker and a special athlete, so I’m betting teams will be excited to get him in.

Bud was a Joker recruit, but I can’t think of a player who’s benefitted more from Stoops’ coaching and Erik Korem’s high performance training program.

[ESPN]


Has Patrick Towles exceeded expectations this season?

© Kim Klement

© Kim Klement

Yes, according to Mark Stoops, who was asked that question on today’s SEC Coaches Teleconference. “I think at times, I really feel like he has. I just think he gets in the flow of the game sometimes and has really made some quality throws in difficult situations. I’ve been impressed with that and I think its fair to say that he’s possibly exceeded my expectations in certain situations. I felt very comfortable going with him going into the year, we knew he had an awful lot of talent and I’ve been very encouraged with his progress.”

However, Stoops said there are areas in which Towles can improve, like decision making. “There are times when he’s rushing things and or when he’s guessing from time to time. But as the game goes on and there are certain ebb and flows throughout the game where you can see him being very comfortable and making terrific decisions, and having the talent to execute. And then there are times when he struggles with that.”

I think Towles has definitely exceeded expectations so far. His numbers are the best we’ve seen since Mike Hartline, but I’ve been even more impressed by his leadership. A lifelong UK fan himself, you can tell Towles considers the job of starting quarterback not just a responsibility but a privilege. One win away from taking his program to its first bowl in four seasons, you can’t ask for more than that.


Gary Pinkel has nothing but nice things to say about the Cats

Gary Pinkel’s time on the SEC Coaches Teleconference this morning was brief, but he spent most of it praising Kentucky and the job Mark Stoops has done so far. “Mark Stoops has done a tremendous job with his team, and we’re very, very impressed,” Pinkel said. “They’ve got a lot of things going, they’re good and athletic, and their quarterback is playing at a high level. They’re playing good defense, and they’re a very, very good football team.”

Missouri is still a 6.5-point favorite for Saturday’s game. We’ll hear what Mark Stoops has to say here in about 20 minutes.


Georgia’s Todd Gurley reinstated, but will have to sit out the Kentucky game

This morning, the NCAA announced that Georgia running back Todd Gurley has been reinstated following his autograph scandal, but he must sit a total of four games (30% of the season) for accepting more than $3,000 in cash from multiple individuals for autographed memorabilia over two years.

Gurley has already missed two games, so he’ll have to sit out two more, which means he won’t be allowed to play until November 15, which means he’ll miss the Kentucky game on November 8. That is great news, because our run defense had no shot of containing him.


Best-Case, Worst-Case For Missouri

When Missouri joined the ranks of the SEC many viewed them as a team that would add some credibility in basketball while struggling in football. In year 1 that was certainly the case as the Tigers went 2-6 in the conference and failed to make a bowl. However, in year 2 the Tigers flipped the script and surprised everyone by winning the SEC east. Since, that magical run the Tigers have lost senior QB James Franklin, SEC co-defensive POY Michael Sam, and sensational sophmore receiver Dorial Green-Beckam to slide back into the mid-tier of the SEC. This Saturday the Cats will have a real chance to pick up their first win in our new border battle. Here are my picks for the best and worst ways the game could play out:

Best-Case Scenario

Kentucky is ready to roll in Columbia as they coast to a 10-point victory for their first road win since 2010. The defensive pressure forces Matty Mauk into several bad throws early and AJ Stamps capitalizes with a pick six to give the Cats the lead. Patrick Towles, confident from his outing against Miss St, connects on his reads early and Kentucky is able to control from start to finish. Timmons breaks the big catch slump and racks up yet another 100 yard game.

The sixth win moves the Cats into bowl eligibility while also setting up a showdown with Georgia that could be the deciding game for the SEC east. The Cats go on to finish 4-3 for their first winning conference record since 1977.

Worst-Case Scenario

Missouri is currently tied for first in the SEC despite not looking impressive at any point in the season. The Tigers have compiled a 3-1 SEC record thanks to a fourth quarter collapse by South Carolina and a four quarter, full system error by Florida. The same luck continues against Kentucky as Missouri takes advantage of Wildcat miscues and they win 24-17.

Last season Kentucky mad Matty Mauk look like a superstar as he threw for 5 touchdowns to tie a Missouri record. This year he has another breakout game against the Cats. Mauk’s passing allows the Tigers to utilize their one-man rushing attack known as Russell Hansbrough and Missouri is able to grind out a victory against the hapless Wildcats. Kentucky falls to 2-4 in the SEC and the pressure is on for the rest of the season to find that elusive 6th win.

 

With Missouri as just a 7-point favorite this game is a real toss up. Missouri is more than capable of laying an egg at home which they displayed against Indiana. Or the could show up and play like the team leading the SEC east and find themselves on their way to another trip to Atlanta. Which scenario do you expect to see play out this Saturday?

 


Boom is Back to Being Boom and More in Today’s Practice Notes

Boom is Back to Being Boom and More in Today’s Practice Notes

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The monsoon I ran into on my way to the practice facility isn’t letting my quote-filled-phone work, but what would KSR be without technical difficulties?  Today’s edition of KSR Practice Notes is brought to you by the word, “Paraphrase.”

–  “Boom being Boom” is how running backs coach Chad Scott described Stanley Williams following his return to the field after a concussion against LSU.  Neal Brown said it was a tough decision between him, Stoops and the medical staff, but considering he’s only a freshman it was a responsible decision to sit him last Saturday.

–  There will be fewer running backs getting carries.  Part of the problem with the running game is that backs aren’t finding their rhythm.  “Put Me in Cold” is a wonderful song, but it’s tough to do as an SEC back, with Brown comparing it to a shooter in basketball.  The only way for shooters to get out of a slump is to keep shooting.  It’s the same philosophy for running backs.  Brown wants to get them more carries, but will not be giving them out to everyone, forcing them to earn it in practice.

Who is that going forward?  Boom’s playmaking ability sets him apart, but other than that, it’s anyone’s game.

–  Towles can take a hit.  He actually kind of likes it.  Part of the reason you saw so many drives started with a QB draw is because getting hit early in the game/drive helps him get comfortable.  Many times fans will get worried he’s taking too many hits, but he isn’t afraid to lower his shoulder for some extra yards, “The more you give them, the less they can give you.  That’s what my dad always taught me.”  Terry Towles is a wise man.

–  Towles learned a lot about not turning the ball over after the Vanderbilt game.  Through 8 games, Patrick Towles has done an exceptional job taking care of the ball, only throwing 4 interceptions so far (a pick every two games).  The Vanderbilt game was the exception; Towles dropped the ball in the pocket three times.  Needless to say, Neal Brown made him learn his lesson by “ingraining” it in him with some “verbiage” after the game.  I’m sure that I would not be allowed to publish what most of that verbiage was.

–  After failing the test against MSU, the Oline has another big one this week.  The Oline got their butts whipped pretty consistently by a great Miss. State Dline.  Their Dline deserves a lot of credit, but it isn’t getting much easier this week.  Mizzou’s Shane Ray might be the best defensive end in the league.  The Cats had some fundamental errors last week, often “leaning” too much before the snap, but Brown was encouraged by their play today calling it their best performance upfront in the last couple of weeks.


Jared Lorenzen is one of ESPN’s 10 “Most Colorful Characters In College Football”

@JaredLorenzen22

@JaredLorenzen22

In honor of the Brian Bosworth’s 30 for 30 documentary airing tonight, ESPN ranked the 10 Most Colorful Characters In College Football. Our own Jared Lorenzen made the cut:

8. Jared Lorenzen, Kentucky

At 6-4, 270 pounds, Lorenzen looked like an offensive lineman, but was lined behind them … as a quarterback. In 2000, as a redshirt freshman, he blew away then-head coach Hal Mumme when he showed up at practice running 4.8 40-yard dashes and slinging 80-yard passes. As UK shuffled through head coaches, Lorenzen shuffled through positions, tucking and running for a dozen TDs on the ground and hauling two more at … wide receiver? Now over 300 pounds, he’s still slinging it, earning a Super Bowl XLII ring as Eli Manning’s backup in New York and doing indoor football time with Kentucky Horsemen, Owensboro Rage, and currently with the Northern Kentucky River Monsters. Just last weekend he tweeted congrats to 6-5, 350-pound Arkansas offensive lineman Sebastian Tretola after his TD pass vs. UAB: “Congrats to the Arkansas OL that threw the TD. That’s one record I’m happy to give up. #fatmanthrowingtd #BBN”

Johnny Football and Deion Sanders also made the list.


Patrick Towles: “We expect to win.”

Andy Lyons | Getty Images

Andy Lyons | Getty Images

Kentucky may be a one-touchdown underdog in the sports books, but starting quarterback Patrick Towles ain’t having that underdog talk. After today’s practice, he told reporters, “We expect to win.”

Towles, who spoke about his own week-to-week improvement, believes the upcoming game at Mizzou is winnable for Kentucky. He is coming off a very strong performance against the nation’s No. 1 team and he’s looking to continue progressing as a QB while walking away with a W this time around.

Fans watching the game on the SEC Network will have the pleasure of Brent Musburger calling him Patrick “Towels” all night. Hopefully we hear that a lot after big plays from No. 14.

More from Nick Roush at practice in a bit…


The Backstreet Boy magic will be back for the Georgia game

Backstreet Boy and Kentucky football fan Kevin Richardson was in the house when Kentucky upset South Carolina earlier this season and he will make his return to Commonwealth for the home finale against Georgia in a week and a half.

Richardson, who was one of the most enthusiastic fans in the stadium during the South Carolina game, will sing the national anthem on Senior Day. Let’s hope he brings that winning spirit again, too.


Kentucky has 253 points, already more than any of the past three seasons

Mark Zerof | US Presswire

Mark Zerof | US Presswire

It doesn’t take a football guru to see Kentucky’s offense is infinitely better than it’s been in quite some time. Things are rolling with an SEC caliber quarterback surrounded by talented young skill players. It has been a while since Kentucky’s been able to say that, a long while.

For a little perspective, the Cats have scored 253 points through eight games this season, more than any of the past three season totals:

TOTAL POINTS BY SEASON
2014: 253 pts. (Four games remaining)
2013: 246 pts.
2012: 215 pts.
2011: 190 pts.

Furthermore, Kentucky’s total yards and points currently rank in the top 50 in the country, despite playing against the defenses of the Southeastern Conference.

And that SEC caliber quarterback? Dan Wolken, college football writer for USA Today, called him the best NFL quarterback prospect in the SEC.

Now let’s beat Mizzou and clinch this bowl game. Cats.


Cats in the NFL: Week 8

Cats in the NFL: Week 8

clorox

@rcobb18

Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers

— The New Orleans Saints took down the Packers 44-23

— Cobb had five receptions for 126 yards

— Randall scored his 9th touchdown on a 70-yard pass from Aaron Rogers in the first three minutes of the game

Cobb signed an endorsement with Clorox this past week after the Lambeau Leap ketchup incident

Corey Peters, Atlanta Falcons

— The Detroit Lions defeated the Falcons 22-21, after scoring 22 unanswered points in the second half

— Peters had one tackle

tamme

Denver Broncos- Associated Press

Jacob Tamme, Denver Broncos

— In the Thursday night game of the week, the Broncos defeated the San Diego Chargers 35-21

— Tamme had one reception for four yards

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detroitlions.com

Larry Warford, Detroit Lions

— In Detroit’s huge game-winning comeback, the offensive line did not allow any sacks

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Photo: Donn Jones, AP

Avery Williamson, Tennessee Titans

— The Houston Texans defeated the Titans 30-16

— Williamson had a career/team high of 10 tackles; eight solo and two assists

— Avery recorded his first quarterback sack of his career; sacked Fitzpatrick for a loss of seven yards

Watch Williamson talk to reporters following the Titans’ loss

Wesley Woodyard, Tennessee Titans

— Woodyard combined for a total of six tackles; four solo and two assists

 


SDS says Commonwealth Stadium was the 4th best environment in college football on Saturday

Photo by Elliott Hess | UK Athletics

Commonwealth Stadium was rocking on Saturday for UK’s showdown with #1 Mississippi State. Although the Cats’ upset bid fell short, it was one of the best atmospheres we’ve seen in the stadium in years. In fact, Saturday Down South’s Jordan Cox said Commonwealth Stadium was the fourth best environment in college football on Saturday, behind only LSU’s Tiger Stadium for their win over Ole Miss, Spartan Stadium for Michigan State vs. Michigan, and Beaver Stadium for Penn State vs. Ohio State.

@DHeimerdinger1

4. Commonwealth Stadium, Kentucky Despite the construction, Wildcat fans showed up Saturday afternoon as the nation’s top-ranked team in the country came calling. It was the first time since 2007 that a No. 1 team made a trip to the Bluegrass State, and Kentucky responded with a sell-out of over 62,000 fans. When the renovations are completed, Commonwealth Stadium will be as beautiful a venue as there will be in the SEC, but this view on Saturday afternoon was pretty good.

Let’s follow that up with a sell out for Senior Day vs. Georgia on November 8, okay?

[SDS]


Six Takeaways from Mark Stoops’ Monday Press Conference

StoopsMediaDay

1.  The Struggle with Fundamentals Continues

An easy way to sum up Saturday is simply saying the Cats got beat.  If you want to point to a reason, it all comes down to fundamentals.  Stoops is starting to feel redundant, but many of the errors are correctable mistakes.  Some are getting fixed, but some are REALLY costing them.

“I think the main thing we need to do is the same thing I talk about week after week.  A lot of things come down to fundamentally getting better.  And that’s something that really bothers me because it’s something that I take great pride in.  As we push forward, we need to be a better fundamental football team.  The errors in execution, missed assignments, technique, they’re all rooted in discipline.”

2.  Stoops isn’t down on the Special Teams

The backwards hat and wristbands have been the punchline of many jokes around the BBN, criticizing Craig Naivar’s Special Teams unit.  It was a disaster against LSU, only to be matched with an onside kick that could not have gone worse to close the Mississippi State game.  Despite an unfavorable kick, “I though we played outstanding on Special Teams,” Stoops said today.

Across the board they were much improved, citing exceptional punt and kickoff coverage, as well as a few good returns.  It’s just tough for people to forget the onside kick, “I don’t like those odds whoever’s kicking it.  It’s difficult and the ball didn’t bounce our way on that one.  That’s our fault for being in that situation.”

3.  Don’t be quick to judge Mizzou.

Missouri is sitting pretty in the SEC East standings, but the Tigers have lost twice at home.  Once was to Indiana (!) and they were held scoreless against Georgia.  Stoops believes their ups and downs are similar to the Cats, “I don’t think any of us want to be judged off one or two games.”  The Georgia game was like the Cats’ game against LSU, and they were a few miscues away from a win against Indiana.

4.  Getting to #6

Neal Brown spoke after the game about getting to win #6, but Coach Stoops doesn’t want that to be the team’s only remaining goal in the season, “Because we’re sitting on five.  Six is big because it’s the next one.  That’s always my message, ‘let’s go get that next victory.’  It just so happens to be the sixth.”

With one win needed, the elusive #6 could hang over the team’s head but, “I think it’s too soon to talk about that.”

5.  Running the ball better and stopping the run

The offensive running game never got going Saturday outside of Patrick Towles.  Give the MSU front 7 credit, they wouldn’t let the Cats get away with anything they wanted to.  They planned some schemes to get Mikel Horton the ball more, but after fumbling it on his first play, the coaches lost their confidence in the freshman, “We can’t let it.  We need to get him back in there and get him playing, and we will.”

Stoops was obviously upset by the yards his defense allowed on the ground over the last two weeks, but he doesn’t want to be too hard on his team.  Both MSU and LSU are both some of the best rushing teams in the country.  Once again, it all comes down to executing the fundamentals.

6.  Winning on the road.

The Cats have played well on the road at times for Mark Stoops – 3 OTs against Florida and at Miss. State last year – but Kentucky has not won a true road game since winning at Louisville to start the 2010 season.  Stoops believes the team’s mentality will dictate how they respond on the road this week, “There’s no excuse, there’s no reason NOT to go play our very best,” Stoops said.  “Nobody’s going to hand you over any victories.  You got to go earn em.  You got to go win em.  And you’ve got to go on the road and get on that plane with a tough mentality about ya, and our players have to play at the highest level they can.  That was the message to our players yesterday.”