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Football Season Coverage

The Only Stat that Matters in the Governor’s Cup

With the Governor’s Cup moved to the season finale, there’s approximately eleventy-thousand ways to analyze the Cats and Cards’ previous 11 games.  No matter how much people talk about the importance Louisville’s win at Notre Dame or UK’s 5-game losing streak, there’s only one thing that matters: the rushing game.

For 18 consecutive years, whoever has tallied the most rush yards has won the game.

A game that has featured Tim Couch, Jared Lorenzen, Chris Redman, Brian Brohm, Andre Woodson and Teddy Bridgewater is not defined by the play of quarterbacks.  It’s all on the ground.  It doesn’t matter where they play or the conditions, if you can play smashmouth football and control the ball in the run game, you will win.

During the losing streak, the BBN does what every fan base does when the offense sucks: blame the play-caller (the defense has been worse, but people don’t question Stoops/Eliot’s decisions).  Patrick Towles has been good, not great, but good enough for people to dream of “Tim Couch 2.”  There are times when I agree – the trap play up the middle for a yard can gray the hairs on the head – but to completely abandon the run game would be to completely abandon any hopes at beating Louisville.

Before looking at the numbers, it’s safe to assume the Louisville’s rush offense and defense is MUCH better than Kentucky’s.  The Cards have had four rushers with 100+ yard games and their defense is third in the nation at stopping the run.  Michael Dyer is as large as most Mack trucks, and he’s just one of three power-backs.

If you recall, Kentucky hasn’t done very well against power backs: Florida’s Matt Jones, South Carolina’s Mike Davis, LSU’s Terrance Magee, MSU’s Josh Robinson and Georgia’s Nick Chubb combined for 9 touchdowns and 834 yards (averaging 166.8 yards per game and almost 2 TDs).  A Bye Week can help you get healthy and improve on fundamentals, but completely flipping the switch to stop Dyer, Brown and Co. seems out of the question.

But I’m still saying there’s a chance.  The facade of Louisville’s rushing attack appears fierce, but they only average two more yards per game than the Cats.  That’s right BBN, Neal Brown’s stubbornness has paid off, averaging 153.4 yards a game compared to the Cards’ 155.5.

The greatest concern for the Cats’ run game is in Patrick Towles’ ankle.  Boom Williams is ‘banged up’ but you can still expect a big BOOM or two from the playmaker in the traditional run game.  However, Louisville’s defense works best against that style of play.  Needing versatility in the run game, Towles’ feet are the best option – IF his ankle is good to go.

Even though many expect the Cards to run away with it, Kentucky can too if they get it done on the ground.


(James Crisp/AP)

Thanksgiving Eve’s Practice Notes

(James Crisp/AP)

Jason Hatcher knows a thing or two about the rivalry. (James Crisp/AP)

–  The Kentucky-Louisville rivalry brings out the best and worst of both schools and their fan bases.  The heart of the rivalry lies in Louisville, where Jason Hatcher grew up on the other side.  A former fan of “the other school,” Hatcher originally planned on donning the disgusting red and white for the rest of his life, but was smart enough to be persuaded to UK by Stoops and Co.

The decision to switch allegiances wasn’t easy: he had to convince his mother, a Louisville fan, that UK was the place to be.  Not only did he sell her that UK was the place to be, she’s completely abandoned ship on the Cards, “[I] Can’t get her out of a UK jersey now.  She wears it to church and everything.” 

–  To contain the Cards’ offense, the Cats must make Reggie Bonnafon beat them.  It’s easy to lose in this series without a run game.  They can’t afford to give up any more yards to the Quarterback.  DJ Eliot said today that the key against Bonnafon is to keep him in the pocket, forcing him to make decisions to throw the ball down the field.

–  Stoops showed the team some more footage of the rivalry today.  I doubt getting the team hyped will be a problem this week, “It’s pretty self-explanatory: if we win, we’re going to play another game.  I’ve told them they deserve it, they’ve worked hard.”

–  Plumbers might make some more money off the Stoops’.  The team will be spending the holiday morning together, with practice followed by a Thanksgiving feast.  The players will have the evening off to spend the time as they please, but he’s leaving his door open for players to celebrate at their house.  The last time they had the team over, the toilets took a beating.  Maybe their open-door policy shouldn’t apply to the bathrooms.


Neal Brown is a finalist for the Troy job

According to the always-informed FootballScoop.com, Neal Brown is a finalist for the head coaching job at Troy University. Brown was an assistant at Troy from 2006 to 2009 and his name has been tossed around as a potential candidate there over the past few weeks.

Football Scoop expects the new coach to be named by Monday. The site mentions Brown as one of two “significant real candidates,” along with LSU running backs coach Frank Wilson.

[FootballScoop.com]


No red allowed! (@JohnWDRB)

A Few Football Practice Notes from Yesterday

No red allowed! (@JohnWDRB)

No red allowed! (@JohnWDRB)

–  Every time UK plays UL in anything now a days, we talk about how the rivalry has lost its luster with this generation of kids, for a variety of reasons.  I can assure you that will not be the case for this football team.  Neal Brown said they’ve been taking some extra time out of team meetings to educate the young guys about the significance off the rivalry, one that Brown played in, as well as John Schlarman and Chad Scott.

–  Patrick Towles doesn’t need to be told about the significance of the rivalry.  Opting out of the red practice jersey for QBs is just the tip of the hate Towles has for the dirty birds.  Jordan Swindle told Kyle Tucker, “I don’t know if there’s a guy on this team that dislikes Louisville more than Pat Towles.  I love that guy.”  That’s the spirit!

–  Win or go home.  In college football, you rarely get ‘win or go home’ opportunities, but that’s exactly what’s at stake this weekend.  Brown hopes that’s more than enough to fuel the fire of his offense, “Listen, I want a hungry outfit. I want a hungry group that’s practicing today,” is what Brown told his group before starting the week of practice.  After getting a Bye to let the batteries recharge, he’s accepting no excuses from his squad.

–  A season-defining game.  It really all comes down to this.  There’s been good and bad, but how they end the year will determine how they’re remembered by the BBN.  Towles is not shying away from the challenge.

“We win on Saturday, it’s a successful season, we go play in a bowl game and everybody forgets about the last five or six.  So we’re looking forward to this one.  We’re excited about a good opportunity.”

 


BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Any UK-UL Records to be Broken?

This year marks the 21st anniversary of the modern Governor’s Cup and we have seen some amazing performances from both sides over the years.  Below you will find some of the individual and team records since the series renewed.  And my question is fairly simple: Which of these records is most likely to be broken on Saturday?

I think the Louisville records are pretty safe, as those are some pretty absurd stats.  But I don’t think the UK rushing and receiving records are totally out of the question.  Can Boom Williams not rush for 124 yards?  Can Javess Blue not have 151 yards receiving?  I think if the offense is clicking that 1 of those 2 records could be broken.  And for UL?  If any of their records are broken, that will mean a very long day for the Cats.

SCORING
Louisville: 59 (2006)
Kentucky: 68 (1998)

MARGIN OF VICTORY
Louisville: 31 (2006)
Kentucky: 34 (1998)

RUSHING
Louisville: Frank Moreau (181 yards, 1999)
Kentucky: Derrick Homer (123 yards, 1998)

PASSING
Louisville: Chris Redman (368 yards, 1998)
Kentucky: Tim Couch (498 yards, 1998)

RECEIVING
Louisville: Zeke Parker (184 yards, 2001)
Kentucky: Craig Yeast (150 yards, 1998)

FIELD GOALS
Louisville: Chris Philpott (3, 2010)
Kentucky: Taylor Begley (3, 2002)


Patrick Towles says no red jerseys at the facility this week

@JohnWDRB

A short football note before we get back to basketball: Patrick Towles just finished up his comments to the media at the Nutter Field House, and came in wearing his blue #14 jersey rather than the traditional red non-contact jersey he sports during practice.

Why? Towles said the quarterbacks decided to ban red jerseys from the facility leading up to Saturday’s showdown with the dirty birds. “No red in the building this week,” Towles said.

Just another reason to love this kid. Get ‘em, Patrick.


Best-Case, Worst-Case Scenarios for Louisville

The match-up that everyone anticipated at the start of the season is finally upon us. The Cats sit with 5 wins and need to beat their rival to go bowling. Louisville is eying a trip to Orlando for the Russell Athletic bowl with a chance for another year of bragging rights. For Kentucky, there is a lot more on the line and it’s as much of a must-win as any game ever played in the series. Here are my picks for the best and worst possible outcomes from this Saturday’s contest.

Best-Case Scenario

Coming off the bye week and focused on getting the sixth win, the Cats fire on all cylinders inside Papa Johns stadium. Some rest was exactly what the defense needed as they are finally able to wrap up some guys in the open field. Bud and Big Z get to freshman QB Reggie Bonnafon a early and force him into some bad throws. AJ Stamps comes up with a big time takeaway to put the Cats in the drivers seat for the rest of the game.

With the game at noon, Louisville already bowl eligible, and a three game win streak in the series the Cards and the crowd show up lackadaisical. Patrick Towles is back in early season form as he stands in the pocket poised and connects with Ryan Timmons for major yardage. The offensive line is able to open up some holes for the run game and Kentucky eats up some clock to nurse their lead. Louisville ties the game late but Austin Macginnis sends the Cats on to the postseason with a big-time boot from 40 yards out.

The Cats head on to Birmingham. Damien Harris commits 3 weeks later and the recruiting momentum keeps on rolling. Kentucky beats Bobby Petrino at Louisville for the first time. Couches burn on State. Bedlam in the Bluegrass.

Worst-Case Scenario

Bobby Petrino runs the score up as he pushes his record against the Cats to 6-1. Petrino didn’t even get a glance, for good reason, during Kentucky’s coaching search and for that he makes the most of the Cards’ run game. Bonnafon doesn’t have many completions but thanks to Michael Dyer and Brandon Radcliff  Louisville is able to bruise their way to 6 yards per carry. That allows the Cards to stay in short yard situations for most of the game and Devante Parker to act as a safety valve for the freshman QB to find in space and make a play.

Kentucky’s tackling woes continue as they miss on simple plays and can’t keep the Cards covered. Louisville’s defense is as good as advertised which keeps Patrick Towles from getting into rhythm. Kentucky falls into an big deficit and that proves too much to overcome. Cards win 38- 17.

 

What are your best case and worst case scenarios for this Saturday?

 


Dorian Baker says he tore his LCL

Dorian Baker says he tore his LCL

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 2.44.46 PM

Earlier today, Mark Stoops announced that Dorian Baker injured his knee in practice last week and will be out the rest of the season. Stoops didn’t give specifics other than Baker will need surgery, but today, Baker posted on Instagram that he has torn his lateral collateral ligament (LCL).

According to ye olde internets, the LCL supports the outer side of the knee and is responsible for the elasticity of the knee when it bows out or rotates. It’s the least likely knee ligament to be sprained because most LCL injuries are caused by a blow to the inside of the knee, and that area usually is shielded by the opposite leg. We don’t know the severity of Baker’s tear, but the recovery time can take anywhere from 3-9 months.

Get well soon, Dorian.


Watch Mark Stoops preview Louisville

Transcript after the jump.

(more…)


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

Mark Zerof/USA Today

Mark Zerof/USA Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


So, about Patrick Towles’ ankle…

Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

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

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

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


Dorian Baker injured his knee last week, needs surgery

Andy Lyon/Getty

Andy Lyon/Getty

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


No Dorian Baker on the #BeatLouisville depth chart

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

Offense

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

Left tackle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fullback

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

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

Defense

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

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

Defensive tackle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Special teams

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

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

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

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

Kickoff returner

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

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

Of note:

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

We’ll hear more from Mark Stoops at noon.


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

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

cardsfan1

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

#BeatLouisville


Cats in the NFL: Sunday, November 23

It’s another busy day for the former Kentucky Wildcats in the NFL. Let’s see what’s going on this sports-packed Sunday.

Randall Cobb & Tim Masthay – Green Bay Packers

The Packers hit the road against divisional rival Minnesota this afternoon at 1. The Pack are winners of six of their last seven games and look to continue that against the lowly Vikings. Minnesota also has former Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater leading their team so that hast to give Masthay and Cobb some extra incentive, right?

Avery Williamson & Wesley Woodyard – Tennessee Titans

It’s been a tough year for the Titans so far, but individually, former Wildcats Williamson and Woodyard have shined in Nashville. Tennessee travels to Philadelphia this week for a matchup with the Eagles, and with rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger yet to pick up his first win leading the Titans, it could be a long day for the boys in blue. Williamson was praised this week in an article written by the Associated Press after his two sacks against Ben Roethlisberger. Keep it up big guy.

Stevie Johnson – San Francisco 49ers

Johnson has proven himself as a steady receiver everywhere he plays as his first year in San Francisco has gone well. Johnson has 32 receptions on the year for 407 yards and three TDs. The 49ers will need him at home this afternoon in the 4:00 game against the Redskins of Washington.

Jacob Tamme & Danny Trevathan – Denver Broncos

Tamme has done well for himself in Denver under the spotlight of Peyton Manning. Tamme has 10 receptions on the year in the tight end position for two TDs. The Broncos play in Mile High Stadium this afternoon against the up and coming Miami Dolphins in an AFC showdown.

Corey Peters – Atlanta Falcons

Corey Peters is in his fifth season in the NFL and the Falcons somehow find themselves atop the AFC South despite having a losing record. He has 16 tackles on the year and one sack, but it’ll be a tough challenge for Atlanta as they host the much improved Browns this afternoon at 1.

@WilderTreadKSR