Football Season Coverage
By Jack Pilgrim on ©December 17th, 2018 @ 9:00pm
As fun as it has been to watch this group of seniors on the football team develop and play over the years, Kentucky fans will only have one more opportunity to see them take the field as Wildcats.
But don’t think it’s just the Big Blue Nation getting emotional about the upcoming departures.
During his weekly radio show, Kentucky football head coach Mark Stoops was asked about getting to coach this group of seniors one last time, and Stoops couldn’t help but get choked up about having to say goodbye following the Citrus Bowl.
“That senior group there, they are definitely special,” Stoops said. “There’s no doubt. … If you really want to get sentimental and think about these guys, think about not having them here anymore, it’s going to be tough.”
Josh Allen, Mike Edwards, CJ Conrad, Bunchy Stallings, Derrick Baity Jr., Chris Westry, Lonnie Johnson, Dorian Baker, and David Bouvier, among others, will all be playing their final games as Wildcats in just 15 days. In Stoops’ eyes, that group of players laid the building blocks for the success of this program both now and in the future.
“They set the tone,” he said. “You have to believe, what they’ve done, they laid the foundation. They’re just… remarkable.”
Already choked up telling the story, Stoops said the seniors all made fun of him for potentially crying during Senior Day festivities. He was quick to tell them there wasn’t a chance he’d cry, but the head coach admitted it’s easy to get emotional about this group.
“They were definitely busting my chops before Senior Day about whether or not I was going to cry,” he said. “I had to play it off like “nah, nah, not at all.”
15 days and one game left with this special group of players, BBN. 15 days.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©December 17th, 2018 @ 8:00pm
Kentucky pulled off the biggest transfer on the market in basketball, could they do the same in football?
This evening, USA Today released a report that Georgia quarterback Justin Fields has told the team he intends to transfer from the program after just one season.
Highly touted quarterback Justin Fields has notified Georgia he intends to transfer, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports.
Fields, a 6-foot-3 dual-threat quarterback out of Kennesaw, GA, was considered the No. 2 overall prospect in the nation in the class of 2018. He was also considered the No. 1 dual-threat recruit and No. 2 overall quarterback in the class, behind only Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence.
In his lone season at Georgia, Fields completed 27 of 39 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns, to go with 42 rushing attempts for 266 yards on the ground. With Jake Fromm leading the team to the College Football Playoff title game last season, Fields’ decision to sign with the Bulldogs in the first place was a bit of a head-scratcher. Fromm had to return to school for a junior season, and after solidifying his spot as the team’s starting quarterback, it was no secret Fields would have to come off the bench his first year with the team.
USA Today reports Fields will appeal to the NCAA to be eligible this season, making him the most highly-coveted prospect in all of college football.
Could this be the transfer Matt has been hinting at for a few weeks?
By Jack Pilgrim on ©December 17th, 2018 @ 7:30pm
A new Malibu Jack’s location opened up in Lexington back in June, and the Kentucky football team couldn’t help but utilize it as part of a team bonding experience.
Before taking off to Orlando for the Citrus Bowl, the football team closed out the fall semester by riding roller coasters, racing Go-Karts, playing pop-a-shot, and competing in air hockey, among other arcade games.
The UK Football social media accounts sent out the a few pictures of the night of fun, starting with Brendan Bates and Landon Young on a coaster:
Defensive coordinator Matt House racing Go-Karts:
George Asafo-Adjei holding tight to the coaster:
Calvin Taylor shooting jumpers (with Kavosiey Smoke absolutely judging his form):
Grant McKinniss riding a coaster:
Big George and Darius West playing air hockey:
The UK Football Twitter account released a video of the entire event, and it’s pretty hilarious.
Check it out:
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) December 18, 2018
Pretty cool (and yes I’m jealous).
By Drew Franklin on ©December 17th, 2018 @ 5:00pm
Mark Stoops did not win AP Coach of the Year today. That honor went to Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly. But Big Blue Nation should be proud to see its coach’s place among the top candidates after the Wildcats’ 9-3 regular season.
Stoops finished sixth overall in the Coach of the Year voting, behind only Kelly, Nick Saban, Central Florida’s Josh Heupel, Washington State’s Mike Leach and Syracuse’s Dino Babers.
Stoops did manage to collect three first-place votes, though. That’s pretty cool.
|Brian Kelly, Notre Dame||16||13||7||81|
|Nick Saban, Alabama||16||6||6||66|
|Josh Heupel, UCF||5||6||6||33|
|Mike Leach, Washington State||3||6||5||26|
|Dino Babers, Syracuse||5||3||4||25|
|Mark Stoops, Kentucky||3||5||5||24|
|Dabo Swinney, Clemson||1||8||5||24|
|Bill Clark, UAB||3||3||4||19|
|Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma||3||1||3||14|
|Jeff Monken, Army||1||1||3||8|
|Jeff Tedford, Fresno State||–||2||4||8|
|Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern||1||–||1||4|
|Dan Mullen, Florida||1||–||1||4|
|Ed Orgeron, LSU||–||2||–||4|
|Matt Rhule, Baylor||–||1||1||3|
|Chris Petersen, Washington||–||1||–||2|
|Luke Fickell, Cincinnati||–||–||1||1|
|Joe Moorhead, Mississippi State||–||–||1||1|
|Scott Satterfield, Appalachian State||–||–||1||1|
Stoops was named SEC Coach of the Year by the AP two weeks ago, despite finishing behind Saban in the national voting.
He’s Kentucky’s first SEC Coach of the Year since Jerry Claiborne in 1983.
By Nick Roush on ©December 17th, 2018 @ 3:00pm
For the third straight season, Kentucky will get 15 extra practices in the month of December. An integral aspect of program development, it’s the perfect opportunity for young players to make significant improvements.
Before he was elected a team captain, Kash Daniel spent the last two bowl practices earning his teammates’ trust.
“I looked at them as an opportunity, an opportunity that I get 15 more chances in front of my coaches to make a good impression, to build that trust with them and my teammates to know that if they choose to put me out there that I can go out there and make plays,” Daniel said. “A lot of guys can benefit from this.”
Two players in particular have already stood out: Chris Rodriguez and Kavosiey Smoke.
“Those two dudes right there, those are two powerful running backs,” Kash said.
“Smoke makes real good cuts to get to open space.” Benny Snell said, “Chris is a lot like me. He can make you miss, or he can run through you. When he hits the hole, he’s running full speed and falling forward.”
While Smoke and Rodriguez use the reps Snell normally gets, he’s coaching them from the sideline. The man who can become UK’s all-time leading rusher shares quite a bit of advice with the redshirt freshmen.
“They listen to me and they pay attention to the little things I say to them. I try to get them as technique-sound as possible. Always finish runs, always run hard, never let one guy tackle you, fall forward and just play the game. Don’t try to make things happen. When you try to make things happen, it falls out of place.”
Benny added: “They’re both good. I look forward to seeing both of those guys.”
Smoke and Rodriguez are just a few players will have to help fill significant holes next season. Mark Stoops expects about a dozen players to be taken in the NFL Draft, the majority on the defensive side of the ball. How players like Stanley Garner, Cedrick Dort and Yusuf Corker use the extra practices will determine the secondary’s success in 2019.
“There’s a lot of guys that have worked their tails off to get to where they are now,” Daniel said. “I think with these guys, like you said, the seniors kind of moving on, other guys will step up and you’ll get to see them a lot, too.”
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 17th, 2018 @ 1:00pm
Oh, you thought Josh Allen award season was over? Today, Allen was named the winner of the Jack Lambert Award, given annually to the top linebacker in college football by the Touchdown Club of Columbus, Ohio.
Allen is the first Kentucky player to win the award, which is named after Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Famer Jack Lambert. Past recipients include current NFL stars Khalil Mack, Luke Kuechly and Von Miller. He will be presented with the honor on February 9 at the annual Touchdown Club of Columbus awards banquet.
- Bronko Nagurski Award, National Defensive Player of the Year
- Chuck Bednarik Award, National Defensive Player of the Year
- Ronnie Lott IMPACT Trophy, National Defensive Player of the Year
- Jack Lambert Award, National Linebacker of the Year
- First-Team All-America by Walter Camp Football Foundation, Sports Illustrated, TheAthletic.com, ESPN, Associated Press, College Football News, Football Writers Association of America, Sporting News, USA Today, CBS, American Football Coaches Association, Athlon Sports
Oddly, the only major award Allen didn’t win was the Butkus Award for top linebacker, which went to LSU’s Devin White. White’s a great player, but, to me, the fact that Allen won this award today proves the Butkus Award voting was a little bogus.
Anyways, congrats to Josh!
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) December 15, 2018
Behind that ferocious defense the Chicago Bears have clinched the NFC North with a 24-17 win over the Green Bay Packers.
That means former Kentucky star Danny Trevathan is back in the playoffs for the first time since he won the Super Bowl in 2016.
Trevathan has been an anchor for a Bears defense that has been the highest rated unit in the NFL this season, and they proved that again today with an impressive performance against Aaron Rodgers.
With four tackles Trevathan pushed his season totals to 91 tackles, 6 tackles for a loss, and one INT. That’s a pro-bowl caliber year for the former Kentucky legend.
On the other side of things, Randall Cobb had a quiet day with 3 catches for 30 yards. It has been a tough year for Cobb in what may be his last season with the Green Bay Packers as they are officially eliminated from playoff contention.
Following today’s victory the Bears still have a slim shot at a first-round bye if the Saints or Rams slip up in the last two games of the regular season.
BBN, let’s help Danny out & send one of our one to Orlando for the Pro Bowl.
— Danny Trevathan (@Grindin_59) December 13, 2018
By Sam Gormley on ©December 16th, 2018 @ 10:00am
I’m not sure I have ever been happier to have a Kentucky basketball game on a Saturday afternoon. Take out the fact that I was able to make my first trip to a game in over two years with my dad; it was nice to get the bad taste out of our mouths from the Seton Hall game last weekend.
Yesterday’s game was arguably the Cats’ best performance of the entire season. After Utah started the game on a 10-2 run, it was all Kentucky in a game that had great offense from players like Keldon Johnson, Tyler Herro and Reid Travis while also forcing turnovers, and more importantly, capitalizing on those turnovers on the opposite end.
Now for the stories you need to know to start your day.
Jemarl Baker CAN Shoot
In a game where Keldon Johnson was 6 of 7 from three, his performance was overshadowed by Jemarl Baker in the closing minutes. When he checked in the game, I felt like I was cheering on Brad Calipari or Jonny David, chanting with the crowd for him to “SHOOOOOOOOT,” and shoot did he ever.
Baker could turn into an X factor on this team. He obviously isn’t going to shoot 100% from beyond the arc every game (wouldn’t that be awesome if he did though?!), but he could turn into a legitimate spark for the offense.
Keldon Johnson was the Man
I was talking with a colleague earlier this week about how this team will go as far as Keldon Johnson carries them. You’ve heard Matt talk about it on the radio show all year long, every great UK team has an elite player. Johnson has the opportunity to be this team’s elite player and turn them into the great team everyone expected them to be.
The Kentucky freshman started off the game red hot from three. He started 5-5 before finally missing one which turned out to be his only miss of the night. Keldon must play well for this team to be great and last night might have been his best performance yet.
The ’93 Final Four Team was Honored at Halftime
The 1993 Final Four team was honored at halftime of the game. While they were before my time, I recognized almost every name from the team. Not surprisingly, Rick Pitino did not make the trip for the reunion with the team, but John Calipari said that he did ask him to come.
Whether Pitino should have or not is another story, but I think it was perfect for UK to honor a team that doesn’t get the same amount of love as other teams over the history of the program.
Josh Allen serves as the “Y;” Football Team Honored during Timeout
Quite possibly the loudest part of the game was when representatives from this year’s Kentucky team came onto the court to be recognized. No cheers were louder than for Josh Allen and Benny Snell.
Allen later returned to the court to serve as the honorary “Y” for the game. The linebacker will go down as quite possibly the greatest defensive player to ever suit up for the Blue and White and yesterday was just the first time that Allen will be recognized by Kentucky fans for his recent accomplishments.
Kentucky Women get by MTSU
As a WKU alum, I have a special dislike for Middle Tennessee so it was nice to see the Cats knock them off yesterday in a game at Memorial Coliseum.
Kentucky was led by Maci Morris, Taylor Murray and Blair Green who all scored in double figures in the 72-55 win over the Lady Raiders.
You’ll have two opportunities to see the Cats at home this week with Western Carolina coming to town on Tuesday and Murray State making the trip across the state on Friday morning.
Cats in the NFL Schedule
- Packers at Bears (Danny Trevathan)– 1pm
- Bucs at Ravens (Za’Darius Smith)– 1pm
- Cardinals (Corey Peters) at Falcons– 1pm
- Titans (Wesley Woodyard) at Giants– 1pm
- Patriots at Steelers (Bud Dupree)– 4:25pm
Last night, Avery Williamson has 4 total tackles in the Jets loss to the Texans.
That wraps up your news for today! Hope you have a great day! It is officially UNC hate week. Go Cats!
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 15th, 2018 @ 9:00pm
The basketball team got back on track at Rupp tonight, but the football team also got some of the spotlight. With some very important recruits in the stands, the team’s stars and Mark Stoops brought the Governor’s Cup to midcourt during a timeout in the first half, earning a standing ovation from the crowd:
Standing ovation from the Rupp Arena crowd, biggest cheers (obviously) came for Snell and Allen: pic.twitter.com/2Psq1xHx3n
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) December 15, 2018
In the second half, Josh Allen, Kentucky’s first consensus All-American since 2002, was the honorary Y:
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) December 15, 2018
Thanks for an amazing year, guys. Let’s go beat Penn State.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©December 14th, 2018 @ 11:00pm
I’ll never forget hearing a story back in the summer of 2016 about an incoming freshman that must have had a few screws loose. It was the only explanation for his actions on the practice field, in the weight room, and while studying film.
“There’s one new running back on the team, this kid is crazy,” one individual within the Kentucky football program told me at the time. “We tease him for it, but something feels off. He’s just different.”
He’d break tackles and yell at the upperclassmen for not being able to take him down. He’d sprint an additional thirty yards after the play had been blown dead. Even with multiple defenders snagging and yanking at him, he’d keep trekking.
He took practice “too seriously.”
All young players want to make a name for themselves, make a dent in the rotation from the minute they first put on a uniform. No one wants to sit the bench, and they especially don’t want to hear the phrases “it’s a process” or “your time will come.” Whether they actually admit it or not, they want that time to be right now.
Snell didn’t accept the waiting game, even with a talented stable of running backs ahead of him on the depth chart in Boom Williams, Jojo Kemp, Mikel Horton, and Sihiem King. He understood they all wanted (and deserved) touches, he just set out to prove he wanted it more.
During post-practice media sessions, Benny Snell was always one of the first names brought up when the inevitable “instant-impact freshmen” question would arise. Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops, offensive coordinator Eddie Gran, and various players mentioned him by name on numerous occasions.
“He’s really trying to make a move (up the depth chart),” Gran said in August of 2016, praising Snell’s work ethic not only on the field, but while studying the playbook and watching film.
Just three games into his college football career, the legend of Benny Snell Jr. was born.
On just 17 touches, the Kentucky freshman accumulated 136 yards and four touchdowns to help give Kentucky their first victory of the season. He became just the fifth player in program history to finish with four scores in a single game, tying the all-time record.
“I was finally glad I got my opportunity, so I just made the most of it. It was amazing. Amazing,” Snell said after his record-setting performance. “As soon as I got my chance, you know I just tried to go as hard as I could.”
It was just the first of many records we’d see Snell shatter over the course of his three-year career at Kentucky.
He’d go on to break the all-time touchdown record at Kentucky with 46 total scores, single-season scoring record with 116 points (2017), and single-season touchdown record with 19 (2017). He has also added 18 career 100-yard games, which is tied for school record.
This season, the Kentucky star running back became just the second player in SEC history to rush for at least 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns in his first three season. Only Herschel Walker has accomplished that feat. He is also tied for third in SEC history in career rushing touchdowns, behind just Tim Tebow (57) and Walker (49).
With 3,729 career yards, Snell needs just 107 in the Citrus Bowl to break Sonny Collins’ all-time rushing record at Kentucky. He’s had that record circled since he first arrived on campus.
Today, that “crazy” freshman announced he would be suiting up in a Kentucky uniform one last time, making the decision to put his name in the NFL Draft. It was expected (and encouraged), as we’ve been preparing for this moment since he started shattering records his freshman season.
But I’ll be damned if my heart didn’t sink watching his announcement video.
— Mr SNELL YA LATER?? (@benny_snell) December 14, 2018
Numbers and records aside, Snell brought something else to the table in his time at Kentucky that couldn’t be counted in any boxscore.
When Mark Stoops first signed on to coach at Kentucky back in 2012, he promised to bring a winning culture to Lexington. He had coaches, players, recruits, and fans shouting “Why not Kentucky?” at the top of their lungs.
Stoops laid the winning foundation down with superb coaching, recruiting, and developing, and Snell took it a step further by breaking the national barrier. As a no-name three-star prospect with a chip on his shoulder the size of a mountain, Snell was a product of the “us against the world” mentality. The national media took it and ran with it, using the Wildcat junior in countless features aired and published week after week.
For the average college football viewer, Kentucky quickly became a fan-favorite, and Snell was the anchor of it all. He had all the entertaining interviews, head-turning quotes, and that contagious smile fans couldn’t help but fall for.
Benny Snell was the final product of that “Why not Kentucky?” mindset. He helped make Kentucky football “cool” again, all while watching the wins stack higher and higher.
With Snell in the backfield, the Wildcats managed to win 23 of 36 games and reach bowl eligibility in three consecutive seasons. He could help make it 24 on January 1 with Kentucky’s first bowl victory since 2009.
In each of those 36 games, it didn’t matter if everyone in the stadium knew Benny was going to get the ball, fans just knew he could make something happen with it. He could have three defenders make contact with him at the line of scrimmage, you just knew he was going to find a way to get the first down. At the goal line, you just knew he would find his way into the end zone, regardless of the scenario.
With the ball in Benny’s hands, the Big Blue Nation felt Kentucky had a chance to win the game, no matter the opponent. That’s a mindset we haven’t seen in decades.
And as heartbreaking as it may be, that journey is coming to a close here in a little over two weeks.
Kentucky fans have one more opportunity to watch Benny Snell in a Kentucky uniform. One more time to see the hurdles, the stiff arms, and the touchdowns. One more time to see him (somehow) find the television cameras in the middle of a game.
You’ll likely even witness one final broken record, and it’ll be the biggest of all. Already considered the greatest running back in Kentucky football history, he’ll have the official rushing record in his back pocket to erase any doubt.
We already knew it would be the last time we’d see Josh Allen, Mike Edwards, CJ Conrad, Bunchy Stallings, and the rest of the Kentucky seniors in blue and white. That in itself is tough.
Now that we know we only have one more opportunity to see Benny Snell suit up as a Kentucky Wildcat? The pressure is on for the Big Blue Nation to return the favor.
For all the blood, sweat, and tears we’ve seen this special group of football players put in over the last three to four years, the favor must be returned by painting Camping World Stadium Kentucky blue on New Year’s Day.
If anyone deserves to go out with a bang, it’s Benny and his Cats.
By Nick Roush on ©December 14th, 2018 @ 8:00pm
After a week of finals, the Kentucky football team got back to work to prepare for the Citrus Bowl.
The Cats are slowly breaking into Penn State preparation. The team is still pitting the first teamers against each other to focus on personal improvements, while slipping in some Penn State scheme from time to time. It’s not so different than what they faced earlier this season against Mississippi State (probably because MSU is coached by PSU’s former offensive coordinator, Joe Moorhead).
Stoops revealed Clevan Thomas has been working on the defensive side of the ball throughout his redshirt season. He shed a little light on how underclassmen can break through during Citrus Bowl prep, how they’ve adapted their preparation throughout the year and much more.
By Nick Roush on ©December 14th, 2018 @ 7:00pm
After announcing an incredibly important decision, Benny Snell kept it light. Wearing Tony Neely’s feathered hat after a Citrus Bowl practice, the UK running back explained what went into his decision to declare for the NFL Draft.
“Really what it was, was me accepting the fact that it was time, that my life was going to change. Things are going to be different. I’m not going to be doing the same things,” he said. “It’s emotional really, but it’s what had to be done.”
Like many other underclassmen, Snell could have opted to sit out of the bowl game to prepare for the draft. He never really considered it.
“I want to go out like I came in, with my brothers,” Snell said.
As the junior prepares for his final game as a Kentucky Wildcat, the decorated running back has one goal remaining. He’s 107 yards away from breaking Sonny Collins’ all-time rushing record. He wants to check off the final box on the list of goals that’s hanging over his bed, but he is not letting the record consume him.
“I don’t focus on it. I understand you’re the media, you gotta to ask. But I really want to stay as far away from that, because Benny will handle that. There’s no need to talk about it. It’s done. It is what it is.”
Benny Snell doesn’t want to talk about breaking the all-time rushing record anymore. pic.twitter.com/3aMGPLAUgQ
— Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) December 14, 2018
One of the greatest to ever wear a Kentucky uniform will play one more game January 1 in Orlando. Enjoy history, Big Blue Nation.
See Benny’s entire appearance with the media where he shared what’s on his Christmas list, his favorite moments as a Wildcat and more.
Zy’Aire Hughes is not currently with the Kentucky football team.
Following Friday afternoon bowl practice, Mark Stoops announced the redshirt sophomore wide receiver from Paducah has been suspended from all team activities.
The McCracken County product was arrested at 4:19 a.m. December 2 for “intentionally causing physical injury to his girlfriend,“ who had bruising and fresh scratches. He was charged with fourth-degree assault.
Hughes has plead not guilty. His next court appearance is January 16.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 14th, 2018 @ 3:01pm
You’ll get one more chance to see Benny Snell play in a Kentucky uniform. The junior running back just announced he will enter the 2019 NFL Draft, foregoing his senior year of college. He will play in the Citrus Bowl on January 1.
“To the BBN, you’ve become a part of my family and took a kid in from Ohio and made Kentucky feel like home,” Benny said in a video from UK. “But there comes a time you have to leave home to build a life of your own. That’s what I’m about to do.”
— Mr SNELL YA LATER?? (@benny_snell) December 14, 2018
Benny needs only 107 yards to break Sonny Collins’ all-time rushing record. Let’s get this!