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Why Kentucky Will Not Sell 40,000 Season Tickets

UK Athletics is making a final push to sell more than Kentucky football 40,000 season tickets, a mark last surpassed in Mark Stoops’ first season that will be extremely difficult to reach.

The athletic department launched a Yahtzee! campaign in July to help get to 40,000.  If enough tickets are sold, one section of fans will play Yahtzee! at each home game for a chance to win two free 2018 season tickets.  As of today, there have only been 33,553 season tickets sold according to Joe Mussato.

There’s still more than two and a half weeks until UK opens Kroger Field against Eastern Kentucky, but there are two reasons why UK will not sell 40,000 season tickets in 2017.

Better, Cheaper Options

Season ticket sales have dipped nationwide over the last five years, thanks to expansive TV deals that make almost every game available in HD.  That’s not the better option I’m talking about.

Launched last year, UK now offers a “Pocket Pass.”  Instead of spending $310 for upper level season tickets, you can by a virtual pocket pass for all seven home games for just $205.  The only catch: your seats change before every game.  Some may see that as a negative, but at times you can get lucky enough to sit in the lower level.  The Pocket Pass does not count toward UK’s season ticket sales total.

The best deal is the flex pack.  You can have lower level tickets for three games at just $174.  The three games aren’t bad, and you have options.

Fans can get good seats for big games, then buy tickets for the rest on the day of the game.  Choosing either of these packages over an expensive season ticket commitment is a no-brainer.

The Move

My family had season tickets for UK football games every of Commonwealth Stadium’s existence, until last year.  One reason why that’s no longer the case: my parents now spend most of their Saturdays watching my brother play at WKU.  Still, through his first two years of college football, my parents held onto their seats, attended a few games each year and gave the rest away to friends.  Why get rid of them now?  The seats.

Our seats were not great seats.  They were halfway up the upper deck on the 40-yard line.  In the move, they were actually able to move to a better location closer to the field.  That doesn’t mean the seats were better.

My parents were moved away from people they had befriended and set next to for decades.  Those people were replaced by obnoxious jerks.  It was so bad, one guy in the row in front of them wore a UofL jersey to every game.  Why pay to be annoyed the entire game?

That person is an exception to the rule, but my family’s story is a microcosm of the larger problem created when fans were forced to move their seats.  Fans liked where they were and who they were with at Commonwealth Stadium.  While the upper class received luxurious benefits, the lower class of fans received no benefit and were forced away from the place they used to call home seven Saturdays a year.


When changes happen, you can’t please everybody.  Unfortunately, this change displeased enough people for the common fan to discard their season tickets to pursue other, more affordable options.

More wins and postseason play have inspired fans to purchase more season tickets, but less than you’d expect.  UK is still 125 season tickets short of surpassing last year’s total and 6,467 short of its ultimate goal.  Yahtzee! has helped brought more talent to campus, but it will not bring in more than 40,000 season-ticket holders.

If you’d like to prove me wrong, you can buy season, single game, Pocket Pass or the three-game Flex Pack tickets here.  


Why the South Carolina game is the most important of Kentucky’s season

Why the South Carolina game is the most important of Kentucky’s season

Last season, Kentucky made some noise with an upset over No. 11 Louisville and its first bowl game since 2010. This season, a favorable schedule gives the Cats a chance to take the next step; however, that all hinges on the September 16 showdown with South Carolina in Columbia.

The Cats have beaten the Gamecocks three years in a row, but with one of the most promising quarterbacks in the league in Jake Bentley, Will Muschamp has started to turn things around in his second season. Every game on the schedule is important, but here’s why Kentucky’s trip to Columbia could make or break a breakthrough season for Mark Stoops.

A win would further establish Kentucky’s position in the East

Not only has Kentucky beaten South Carolina three years straight, they’ve finished ahead of them in the SEC East standings two years in a row. The end of the Steve Spurrier era and start of the Will Muschamp era made for rocky times in Columbia, which Kentucky was able to capitalize on to get its first taste of SEC success. The Cats’ win over the Gamecocks in 2014 was the first defining victory of the Mark Stoops era, and the win in Columbia in 2015 was Stoops’ first on the road. Last year’s seven-point win in Commonwealth Stadium had some scary moments, but the Cats survived thanks to a crucial tackle by Denzil Ware on 4th down of the Gamecocks’ last drive. After a disastrous season-opening loss to Southern Miss, the win over South Carolina helped Kentucky steady the ship.

Conditions won’t be as favorable this go around. Not only will the game take place under the lights at a blacked-out Williams-Brice Stadium, the Gamecocks have sophomore quarterback Jake Bentley, considered one of the best young quarterbacks in the conference. Bentley didn’t play vs. Kentucky last year, but after winning the starting job midseason, he helped the Gamecocks finish strong and go to a bowl. Did I mention the part about South Carolina fans losing their minds to “Sandstorm”?

The last time UK beat an SEC opponent four years in a row other than Vandy? Florida back in 1948, 49, 50, and 51. For the Cats to continue to push forward in the SEC East, they need to continue their dominance of the Gamecocks.

A win could mean a 3-0 record heading into the Florida game

Say Kentucky wins its first two games over Southern Miss and Eastern Kentucky. A win over South Carolina would not only get them halfway to bowl eligibility, it would give them a serious boost of momentum heading into a home game vs. Florida. I don’t need to remind you that the Gators’ winning streak over the Cats now sits at 30. Kentucky has come close to knocking off Florida in recent years (damn you, 2014 play clock!), but last year’s blowout in Gainesville proves that the streak is definitely in Kentucky’s head. Beat South Carolina and you roll into the game on a freight train of momentum; lose to South Carolina, and any fear or doubts are that much easier to reach for.

A win could be the secret to 8-4

When looking at the schedule, I break it down into “Should win,” “Should lose,” and “Toss Up” games:

September 2 at Southern Miss Should win
September 9 EASTERN KENTUCKY Should win
September 16 at South Carolina Toss Up
September 23 FLORIDA Should lose
September 30 EASTERN MICHIGAN Should win
October 7 MISSOURI Should win
October 21 at Mississippi State Should lose
October 28 TENNESSEE Toss Up
November 4 MISSISSIPPI Should win
November 11 at Vanderbilt Should win
November 18 at Georgia Should lose
November 25 LOUISVILLE Toss Up

Per that line of thinking, Kentucky has three “Toss Up” games this season: at South Carolina, vs. Tennessee, and vs. Louisville. (Louisville’s probably more of a “Should Lose” game, but after last season, I couldn’t help but put it into the “Toss Up” category, especially since it’s at home.) Win at South Carolina and you allow yourself a slip up in the other Toss Up games to get to 8-4. Lose and you have to beat both Tennessee and Louisville (or one of the two and Florida), which seems like a daunting task.

It can be a scary thought as a Kentucky fan, but the Cats have a chance to do something really special this season. In order for that to happen, they have to beat South Carolina in Columbia on September 16.


Six Wildcats named All-SEC by league coaches

Six Wildcats named All-SEC by league coaches

Six of Mark Stoops’ Kentucky Wildcats have been named Preseason All-SEC by the coaches of the Southeastern Conference.

Leading the way for the Cats, defensive end/linebacker Denzil Ware and linebacker Jordan Jones earned second-team defense selections. Jones led the SEC in solo tackles in 2016, while Ware ranked second on the team in sacks and tackles for a loss.

Tight end C.J. Conrad and running back Benny Snell were named to the third team, as well as safety Mike Edwards for his defense and kicker Austin MacGinnis on special teams.

Check out the complete All-SEC teams:


First Team Preseason All-SEC

OFFENSE

TE Hayden Hurst, South Carolina

OL Braden Smith, Auburn
OLMartez Ivey, Florida
OL Jonah Williams, Alabama
OL Ross Pierschbacher, Alabama

C Frank Ragnow, Arkansas

WR Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama

QB Jalen Hurts, Alabama

RB Derrius Guice, LSU
RB Nick Chubb, Georgia

AP Christian Kirk, Texas A&M

DEFENSE

DL Da’Shawn Hand, Alabama
DL Da’Ron Payne, Alabama
DL Marquis Haynes, Ole Miss
DL Trenton Thompson, Georgia

LB Arden Key, LSU
LB Skai Moore, South Carolina
LB Roquan Smith, Georgia

DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
DBArmani Watts, Texas A&M
DB Duke Dawson, Florida
DB Ronnie Harrison, Alabama

SPECIAL TEAMS

PK Daniel Carlson, Auburn

P JK Scott, Alabama

RS Christian Kirk, Texas A&M

Second Team Preseason All-SEC

OFFENSE

TE Isaac Nauta, Georgia

OL Martinas Rankin, Mississippi State
OL K.J. Malone, LSU
OL Koda Martin, Texas A&M
OL Paul Adams, Missouri*
OL Greg Little, Ole Miss
OL Isaiah Wynn, Georgia*

C Will Clapp, LSU

WR J’Mon Moore, Missouri
WR Antonio Callaway, Florida

QB Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State

RB Kamryn Pettway, Auburn
RB Bo Scarbrough, Alabama

AP Derrius Guice, LSU

DEFENSE

DL Cece Jefferson, Florida
DL Marlon Davidson, Auburn
DL Jabari Zuniga, Florida
DL Denzil Ware, Kentucky*
DL Dontavius Russell, Auburn*

LB Jordan Jones, Kentucky
LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama
LB Tre’ Williams, Auburn

DB Donte Jackson, LSU
DB Dominick Sanders, Georgia
DB Carlton Davis, Auburn
DB Tray Matthews, Auburn

SPECIAL TEAMS

PK Gary Wunderlich, Ole Miss

P Johnny Townsend, Florida

RS Evan Berry, Tennessee

Third Team Preseason All-SEC

OFFENSE

TE C.J. Conrad, Kentucky*
TE DeAndre Goolsby, Florida*

OL Jashon Robertson, Tennessee
OL Jawaan Taylor, Florida
OL Zack Bailey, South Carolina
OL Hjalte Froholdt, Arkansas

C Bradley Bozeman, Alabama

WR Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
WR Jauan Jennings, Tennessee

QB Austin Allen, Arkansas

RB Ralph Webb, Vanderbilt
RB Benny Snell, Kentucky

AP Brandon Powell, Florida*
AP Deebo Samuel, South Carolina*
AP Kerryon Johnson, Auburn*
AP Trevon Diggs, Alabama*

DEFENSE

DL Terry Beckner, Jr., Missouri
DL Jonathan Ledbetter, Georgia
DL Christian LaCouture, LSU
DL Marcell Frazier, Missouri

LB Oren Burks, Vanderbilt
LB Shaun Dion Hamilton, Alabama
LB Lorenzo Carter, Georgia

DB Anthony Averett, Alabama
DB Mike Edwards, Kentucky
DB Chauncey Gardner, Florida
DB Ryan Pulley, Arkansas

SPECIAL TEAMS

PK Austin MacGinnis, Kentucky*
PK Eddy Piniero, Florida*

P Trevor Daniel, Tennessee

RS Antonio Callaway, Florida

(* – denotes ties)


Go Cats.


2017 Kentucky Football Position Previews: Offensive Line

KSR’s preseason position previews series continues with John Schlarman’s offensive line.  Don’t miss earlier previews of the Wide ReceiversRunning Backs and Quarterbacks.

The Personnel 

The Leader: Following the loss of Cole Mosier, there’s no denying the leader in the offensive line’s meeting room is Nick Haynes.  A consummate professional, Haynes has played every position on UK’s offensive line.  That experience gives him credibility to provide praise and critique to underclassmen across the entire line.  When Haynes speaks, everybody listens.  Now in his fifth year as a redshirt senior, where he will play remains a mystery, but the most likely destination for an All-SEC performer is right guard.

Mobile Interior Linemen:  Each player knows a variety of positions on the offensive line, so it’s easier to group them together than by each specific position.  The interior linemen are the most versatile.  It starts in the middle with three centers that can also play guard: Bunchy Stallings, Drake Jackson and Haynes.  Stallings will be tasked to replace Jon Toth.  More powerful and athletic than his predecessor, I do not foresee Bunchy rotating out of his position often to ensure a clean, comfortable and consistent exchange between quarterback and center.

The guy you need to keep an eye on is Logan Stenberg.  The trash-talking, nasty “big dude with a ponytail” is always prepared to pop somebody in the mouth.  An All-SEC freshman in 2016, the mauler will make a few pancakes this year you can’t miss from any corner of Kroger Field.  Stenberg will play Haynes’ former position at left guard, while Haynes commands the right guard position.

The Tackles: Following Cole Mosier’s injury, former five-star high school All-American Landon Young has been thrust into the role as Kentucky’s primary left tackle.  The 6’7″ 305-pounder was thrown into the fire a year ago and excelled; he actually received more reps at left tackle than Mosier did by the season’s end.

As the line currently stands, if Young needs a break, senior Kyle Meadows will be bumped from the right side to the left.  In Meadows’ stead will be “Big” George Asafo-Adjei.  Big George is one of the rare instances where a lineman plays tackle and guard, but the junior has received significant snaps at both spots on the right side of the line.

Rising NewcomersThe most talked about young offensive lineman at training camp was Mason Wolfe.  The Henderson, Kentucky native spent his redshirt season learning offensive tackle.  This year they pumped him down to guard and center.  Following Mosier’s injury, Wolfe’s received more reps at tackle, making him arguably the most versatile man on the line behind Haynes.

Luke Fortner, Tate Leavitt and Drake Jackson all received shout outs from Schlarman at one point during camp, but the name that might shock you is true freshman Naasir Watkins.  The 6’5″ 300 pound left tackle from Laurel, Maryland has received rave reviews from the entire offensive coaching staff, who like to compare Watkins to where Landon Young was a year ago.  There’s usually a rule against playing true freshmen, but Watkins might be an exception to that rule.

The Storylines 

ColeMosier71 | IG

Who will replace Mosier? — Obviously, it’s Landon Young.  The bigger question is who will become the No. 2 left tackle and can they be trusted as much as Young was trusted last year?  Just from watching Watkins practice, it’s possible, but it might be wise to give him a redshirt, putting two years between the two left tackles instead of just one.

If the Cats opt to use Meadows as UK’s second left tackle option, Big George will play more tackle than guard, putting him out of position.  He can do it, but his best fit is at guard.  Regardless, of what Schlarman decides, there will be a lot of moving parts.

How Deep is UK’s Rotation? — As of right now, Schlarman trusts eight guys.  That’s a solid rotation, but that doesn’t replicate the nine-man platoon system Kentucky operated in 2016.  He wants to have ten reliable bodies on the travel squad, but that doesn’t necessarily mean all ten have to play regularly.  Young and Stallings will play the majority of the snaps while the other three positions rotate more frequently.

Nick Haynes has Diabetes — People are wasting their time talking about this.  If you think it’s a big deal, I’m willing to throw fisticuffs.

Haynes has had Type I Diabetes for three years.  Throughout that time he’s played the best football of his career.  Now people are wondering if he can maintain his weight because they found out he has a health issue.

STOP IT!

He played at 260 last year in the bowl game and was the highest-graded offensive lineman on one of the best offensive lines in the country.  This is an issue he’s always dealt with and handled appropriately.  Just because we know about it now will not change how he handles it during his senior season.

On a personal note, Haynes is a great guy.  A respectful young man from a military family who’s bowled multiple 300 games, he’s much more than an offensive lineman.  Kentucky fans should be proud to have Haynes represent their team.

The Prediction 

John Schlarman can’t remember the last time there was a fumble on a snap, thanks to Jon Toth’s four years of service.  That will change in 2017.  That’s not a knock on Bunchy Stallings.  In fact, Stallings is a superior athlete to Toth and has a year of full-time experience bullying SEC opponents at guard.  However, he’s new and mistakes happen.  They didn’t happen under Toth, but there will be at least one timely bad snap that will frustrate fans this year.

The player behind Bunchy on the depth chart, Drake Jackson, will not see much action in his redshirt season.  Stenberg, Stallings and Haynes are arguably the best on the offensive linemen and he is behind them on the depth chart.

Landon Young will receive all of the left tackle reps to start the season, but midway through the season Watkins’ name will be called.  Injuries and fatigue will force the Cats from saving him from using a redshirt, unless Mason Wolfe exceeds expectations.

Overall, it will be difficult to replicate last season’s success in the trenches.  The Cats lost experience at the two most important positions: center (Toth) and left tackle (Mosier).  The line’s play will not be a problem for fans to worry about, but I’ll be surprised if Schlarman’s group dominates like they did in the final nine games of the 2016 season.


Five Observations from an Open Kentucky Football Practice

On the final day of preseason training camp, the Kentucky football team opened its doors to the media.  I was only able to see the first 30-45 minutes that primarily featured drills in individual groups, but there were still a few enlightening moments worth sharing.

1. Tons of Teaching on the Defensive Line

The individual portion of practice is focused on fundamentals.  It’s usually not as entertaining as the scheme you see in group/team period.  Working on fundamentals is detail-oriented.  That can be mundane for a veteran or an observer, but not for young players.

To help bring along his young defensive line faster, Derrick LeBlanc split up every defensive line position during individuals.  LeBlanc worked with the nose guards, while the tackles and ends each had their own graduate assistant.  Instead of working in a large group and waiting around to receive individual attention, there were no more than five players per coach.  The players received more reps and more feedback (especially freshman nose Quinton Bohanna).

Things move fast on the D-line.  If your hands and feet aren’t where they need to be, you’ll get crushed.  These extremely small group sessions will reward Kentucky’s young players with improvements throughout the season.

2. A Completed Hitch

I’ve seen the Kentucky offense make big plays.  They’re exciting.  I love that s*it as much as Stephen Johnson.  Unfortunately, you can’t throw a deep post on every down (unless you’re a ten-year old playing Madden).

In order to grow, the Kentucky offense must prove they can consistently make routine plays.  UK has jokingly been “2nd and 10 U” because they drop easy, short passes that would normally get them 5-7 yards.  They aren’t third down highlight-makers, but they play an integral role in expanding the offense.  Today I saw that when Johnson completed a hitch to Tavin Richardson who was defended tightly by Derrick Baity.

“Keep it simple stupid,” is an idiom for a reason: it works.

3. Naasir Watkins is an Incredible Athlete

The freshman left tackle is fits the role “offensive lineman of the future.”  The best offensive linemen aren’t built like traditional offensive lineman.  It’s difficult to describe, so I’ll make a comparison.  Charles Barkley’s do not play in the NBA.  Now when players quit growing, they bulk up and become offensive linemen.

Watkins has the traits of basketball players I used to gawk at on the AAU circuit.  He has incredibly long arms, broad shoulders and a thick trunk.  Even though he tips the scale at 300-pounds, he doesn’t look that heavy because of his explosiveness and lateral mobility.  A player that’s drawn comparisons to Landon Young, Watkins is an elite athlete that’s going to be an absolute stud.

4. The Cats Didn’t Lose all Their Leaders

While many dwell on the recent injuries to senior leaders, there’s still plenty of veterans keeping the underclassmen in check.  Nick Haynes can be heard giving praise and criticism, almost as much as a coach.  Juice is the man all of the receivers look to for advice.  On defense Courtney Love is there for the linebackers to lean on, while Derrick Baity provides similar aid to the defensive backs.  The injuries stink, but Mark Stoops has enough weapons and leaders in his arsenal to continue moving forward.

5. Wildcat Quarterback

Benny Snell is happy to add some new trickery to the Wildcat package, but that could not be revealed to the public, just like I’m not supposed to reveal who else received reps as the Wildcat quarterback.  I have a feeling you know who it is.  I can neither confirm nor deny.


Benny Snell is “Ready to be Unleashed”

Benny Snell is “Ready to be Unleashed”

Benny Snell believes he made the most out of his time at UK’s 2017 preseason training camp. “I feel like I got better everyday,” he told KSR.

“Better” than his freshman campaign will be awfully difficult to top.  He shattered just about every UK freshman rushing record with 1,091 yards and 13 touchdowns.

He accumulated those impressive numbers in just ten games.  One of the opponents he didn’t get to play against was Southern Miss.  He’s prepared to show the Golden Eagles what they were lucky enough to miss last year.

 

“I definitely got a chip on my shoulder about this one (against Southern Miss), only because the team took a loss and I had nothing to do.  Nothing to contribute.  None.  I definitely got some making up to do for my team.  I got a job to do.”

His job: unleash fury on Southern Miss and every opponent on Kentucky’s schedule.

“I’m ready to be unleashed.  I dream about it every night.  I watch extra film.  It’s all I live.  I’m ready to go all out.”


End UK Football Training Camp with The KSR Football Podcast

The KSR Football Podcast will go by a new name next week, but for now, it’s the same football and fun you learned to love.  The gang previews each position ahead of the 207 Kentucky football season before things become a little unhinged.  Enjoy the hilarity that’s highlighted by…

—  A few dated takes because this was recorded prior to Drew’s eclipse excursion to Hop-Town.

—  Memorable moments from school.

—  A few members of the D-Line who have exceeded expectations.

—  Sophomore slump for Snell?

—  What made Freddie change his mind about Nashville.

—  Stories from Chattanooga to New Orleans.

You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play.  Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise.  You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.


Southern Miss RB T’Rod Daniels is Really, Really Fast

Southern Miss RB T’Rod Daniels is Really, Really Fast

Picture by Hattiesburg American

Southern Miss running back T’Rod Daniels supposedly sports a 4.27-40 time. In a recent interview with the Hattiesburg American’s Jason Munz, USM running back coach Lytrel Pollard said, He’s the fastest person I’ve ever coached. He can get the edge even when someone is sitting on the edge and end up going the distance. I’ve seen a lot of fast guys but they’re usually taller and a little longer. With his height and how fast he is, he’s special.”

Daniels is from Bassfield, Mississippi; population 228. He is argued to be the fastest football player in Mississippi. Daniels helped Bassfield High School win a 2A state championship as a junior but was injured prior to his senior campaign. He later signed with Mississippi Gulf Coast CC where he totaled 1215 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. He also accumulated 212 kick return yards in his final season at the school. Daniels’ highlights can be seen in this video:

I recently wrote a KSR post that outlined the Southern Miss running back situation titled “Southern Miss is not Ito Smith and a Bunch of Dudes.”

This article did not include newcomer T’Rod Daniels. Smith’s primary backup George Payne rushed for over 100-yards against the Cats a year ago but has yet to participate in fall camp due to a hip injury. Tez Parks has moved to the number two position on the depth chart and is first to relieve the all-everything Smith. But, offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson now has an element of elite speed in Daniels. 

KSR friend Jason Munz of the Hattiesburg American wrote an excellent piece on Daniels that you can read here:

[Blessed with uncommon speed, Southern Miss’ T’Rod Daniels driven by daughters]

What does all this mean?

4.27 is fast. Like really, really fast. I’ve personally witnessed just one legitimate sub-4.3 time in all my years around the game of football. T’Rod Daniels adds a dangerous component to the Southern Miss game plan. While Ito Smith will get the bulk of carries, Daniels will most likely factor in the return game and as a situational running back. Matt House and the Cats will have to prepare for a new edge threat.


Eddie Gran Evaluates Kentucky’s 2017 Preseason Football Training Camp

Tomorrow is the first day of school on the University of Kentucky’s campus, effectively ending the football team’s 2017 preseason training camp.  As the team shifts away from schematic installation and fundamental work toward Southern Miss prep, offensive coordinator Eddie Gran is satisfied with what his offense was able to accomplish.

“We went more quicker,” Gran said.  “We had a lot we threw at them and we were able to do that because it is the second year in the offense.  I thought that they did a pretty good job.  Our mental assignments were a lot less in terms of busting, so yeah, we definitely got what we needed to get accomplished.”

Unlike previous years, NCAA rules removed two-a-days from preseason camp and replaced them with walk-throughs.  To make up for lost time in helmets and shoulder pads, camp started a week earlier.  The change did not deter Gran from teaching all that he needed to.

“I think when you get 29 practices, as much as they work now all year round, I think one-a-days is fine. We’re getting a lot of work in our walkthroughs.  You can really teach, slow it down.  I’ll tell you where that really helps is it helps with the young guys.  I’m a fan of it.”

The extra time allowed Gran to teach more and add extra wrinkles to offensive packages.  You’ll see this biggest difference in the Wildcat package.

“We’ve extended that tremendously,” said Gran.  “There’s a lot more there that we’ve been able to do and being able to be in the second year and knowing the base offense, we were able to get into that package a lot earlier than we did last year.”

Benny Snell likes what he sees in the new Wildcat.

“He’s adding a lot more things.  A lot more tricks, things that are going to keep the defense on their toes for us to attack.  It’s very exciting.”

At the conclusion of preseason camp, all of the pieces are in place for an exciting year of Kentucky football.  We just have to wait 11 more days to see it all unfold in Hattiesburg.


Sihiem King is Kentucky’s No. 2 Running Back

Sihiem King is Kentucky’s No. 2 Running Back

Mark Zerof

This fall Benny Snell’s righthand man will be Sihiem King.  “There’s no doubt about that right now, he’s No. 2,” Eddie Gran said following today’s practice, the final practice before school starts tomorrow to end preseason training camp.

King, a former three-star prospect from Colquitt County, Georgia, will bring the speed out of the backfield to accompany Snell’s power.  King will be tasked to fill the void left by Boom Williams who rushed for 1,170 yards in 2016.  Snell believes King is up for the challenge.

“I’ve seen him be more focused,” Snell said.  “He’s asking a lot more questions.  He’s just giving that fourth effort, that fourth effort at the end of runs, just bursting, doing the extra things.  It’s been noticed.  I’ve seen it myself.  I’m glad.”

A redshirt junior, in his career King has accounted for 208 rushing yards on 22 carries (9.45 yards per carry) and two touchdowns.  He’s caught 7 passes for 20 yards and also played a role as returner in special teams.

King showed promise last year at Tennessee.  Even though the Vols had a significant lead, King continued to play hard.  In one drive he accounted for 75 yards in just 6 attempts, and finished it with this impressive touchdown.

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Views from the Kentucky Football Practice Field

Views from the Kentucky Football Practice Field

The Kentucky football team opened the gates of the practice field for the media to take a look at the first 30 minutes of practice.

The first thing I noticed were the No. 2s.  Today Dorian Baker is having surgery to repair a fracture/dislocation in his left ankle.  On the practice field, wide receiver Garrett “Juice” Johnson wore his fellow senior’s blue jersey.  On the defensive side of the ball, the man Baker matched up with most frequently in practice, Derrick Baity, paid tribute to his fallen combatant with a white No. 2 jersey.

The practice began with a team stretch to the tune of DMX’s Ruff Ryders’ Anthem.

The stretch ended with a C-A-T-S, CATS, CATS, CATS.

It got physical in the trenches.

Kash Daniel got physical with a dummy or two.

The QBs got smacked at for a little while to practice ball security.

And Stephen Johnson still has great helmet hair.

I’ll have more from practice after interviews with players and assistant coaches.


Today on KSR: Regrouping after Dorian Baker’s injury

Today on KSR: Regrouping after Dorian Baker’s injury

Good morning, everyone. All we all over the eclipse yet? Good. Shoutout to these Kentucky and KSR fans in Costa Rica. Now that we’re all sufficiently jealous of your pura vida, let’s move on to today’s agenda.

Dorian Baker undergoes surgery

After suffering an ankle injury during Saturday’s scrimmage, senior wideout Dorian Baker will undergo surgery today at the UK Chandler Medical Center. Yesterday, UK sent out a press release saying that Baker suffered a fracture-dislocation in his left ankle and will miss significant time and possibly the entire 2017 season. Mark Stoops also released these remarks:

“We’re very disappointed for Dorian, as he had a good offseason and was helping lead our receivers during preseason camp; however, we are hopeful for a full recovery and look forward to his eventual return to the field.”

Last night, Baker took to Twitter to thank everyone for their support:

The offense regroups

What now? Eddie Gran and the offense will address reporters after practice today, and with Baker out, Kayaune Ross, Tavin Richardson, and Josh Ali are all expected to get more snaps. Check the site after lunch for a full recap.

New episode of “Kentucky Thrones Radio”

Nick and TJ Walker were up bright and early yesterday to recap Sunday night’s episode of Game of Thrones, so if you’re not over the episode yet, refresh your KSR feed to check it out.

Eclipse Traffic Horror Story of the Day

That easily belongs to Ryan, Drew, Chris Tomlin, and Daniel, who were among the thousands stranded in Eclipse traffic yesterday. It took the group almost nine hours to make a trip that normally takes three. Apparently the junction near Elizabethtown was one of the main causes of all the issues, and, insanely, Matt managed to avoid the major pile up because he left 15 minutes earlier than they did. Something tells me we’ll hear plenty about this in about an hour.

Pick-Up Game Snap of the Day

Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo, and Darius Miller brought the entire Pelicans squad to town to train ahead of Friday’s Alumni Game, which means pickup games will be going down all week. We can’t be there (until Friday at least), so until then, we will live vicariously through the players’ SnapChats. Oh to be a fly on those walls…

Summer Tour Stop of the Day: Kentucky State Fair

Today, the gang will be at the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville, where you can potentially see Ryan Lemond in a UK basketball jersey and short shorts. If that doesn’t strike your fancy, catch the gang on the last few stops of the 2017 summer tour:

  • Tue 8/22 –Louisville – KY State Fair
  • Wed 8/23 – Northern KY – Dickman’s
  • Thu 8/24 – Mt. Sterling – Mann Chrysler
  • Fri 8/25 – Louisville – KSR Golf Scramble @ Oxmoor Country Club

Dorian Baker to have surgery on his ankle tomorrow; will miss “significant time”

On Saturday, senior wide receiver Dorian Baker suffered an ankle injury; minutes ago, we finally heard official word from UK about it.

According to a press release sent out by Mark Stoops, Baker suffered a fracture-dislocation in his left ankle during Saturday’s scrimmage and will miss significant time and possibly the entire 2017 season. Baker is scheduled for surgery tomorrow; it will be performed by Dr. Darren Johnson at the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center.

“We’re very disappointed for Dorian, as he had a good offseason and was helping lead our receivers during preseason camp,” Stoops said. “However, we are hopeful for a full recovery and look forward to his eventual return to the field.”

Baker started in 23 of 32 games in his first three seasons at Kentucky. In 2016, he missed the first three games due to a preseason hamstring injury but returned to catch 14 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns. By the end of the year, Baker became just the 27th player in school history to compile 1,000 career receiving yards with 1,015.

As UK points out, Baker has a redshirt year available and could return in 2018 if he does not play this season.

Get well soon, Dorian.


How Josh Paschal got to Kentucky

UKFootball | IG

The second-highest ranked prospect in Kentucky’s 2017 recruiting class did not have the Cats in his Top Ten, but four-star edge rusher Josh Paschal still chose to leave the DMV area to play college football in Lexington.

After just three weeks of practice, he’s already living up to lofty expectations.  Mark Stoops said during Saturday’s scrimmage, “He made a play or two that really stood out to me, WOWed me.”

A year after UK wasn’t on his radar, Paschal is wowing the head coach in practice.  Why the sudden change?

The safe assumption is to give all the credit to his older brother.  TreVaughn Paschal played for the Cats from 2011-15 and is currently a graduate assistant, but Josh told KSR at UK Media Day that his brother was hands off during the recruiting process.

“My brother tried to recruit me and stuff like that, but he really wanted me to do my own thing,” Josh Paschal said.  “He knew it was going to be a personal decision and I was going to have to spend the next four years where ever I wanted to choose.  He really put it on me and gave me everything I needed to know about Kentucky.”

His brother gave him what he needed to know, except the sales pitch.  That came from Vince Marrow.

“He really opened my eyes to how the culture around here was changing,” Paschal said.

After he hear the sales pitch from the Big Dog, Paschal was convinced Kentucky was the place to be after attending the Georgia game.

When I took a visit up here to the Georgia game, that’s when I finally knew that it was a whole different type of atmosphere.”

Paschal picked UK even though his position was filled with All-SEC outside linebacker, Denzil Ware.  Without a promise for immediate playing time, Paschal is competing to take Ware’s position.  That goal was set by Ware, not by Paschal.  The encouragement from the vet has inspired Paschal.

“They’re all role models,” Paschal said.  “They really give us all the tools to be better than them because that’s what they want us to do.  At the end of the day they’re like brothers to us.”

With the right tools, Paschal is destined to wow Kentucky fans in the near future at Kroger Field.


@LSU

LSU has a new tiger mascot and it’s adorable

@LSU

Last October, LSU lost its live tiger mascot, Mike VI, to cancer. This morning, they unveiled his replacement, Mike VII, aka Harvey, a beautiful 11-month old Siberian-Bengal male tiger. Mike VII arrived on campus last week and seems to be settling into his new home just fine:

@LSUpix

@LSUpix

@LSUpix

@LSUpix

Those photos are guaranteed to be better than 98% of the eclipse pics you see today.