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The Best Football is Mascot Football

mascot

With limited football options today, enjoy two minutes of de-cleating awesomeness from your favorite mascots.  The agony of defeat is bittersweet for these children.


If there’s an award for “Parent of the Year,” it should go to every parent that let their child participate in this tomfoolery.


(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Previewing the Heisman Ceremony

(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

The Heisman Trophy has been Lamar Jackson’s since the first week of the season. But the four players headed to NYC with him was up for grabs all season. Last week, DeShaun Watson, Baker Mayfield, Jabrill Peppers, and Dede Westbrook were the four players chosen as finalists alongside Jackson. For the first year in awhile, the voters left off deserving players as finalists for the Heisman. Peppers doesn’t deserve to be a finalist, I don’t care if teams stopped kicking to him or if he played 75 different positions, he doesn’t deserve the honor. Outside of Watson and Jackson, you could argue that the other three finalists are interchangeable. Here are the three players I think deserved a shot to be in NYC tonight. 

Jake Browning, Washington- The Huskies wouldn’t be in the college football playoff if it weren’t for Browning. The Washington QB dropped in 42 touchdowns in the air and four on the ground to lead the Huskies to an 12-1 season and a spot in the playoff. Browning has only thrown seven picks, which is less than Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson, and Baker Mayfield. The sophomore is third among P5 quarterbacks in yards per attempt and has the fifth highest QBR in the country. Browning has dominated the west coast in his second year as a starter. A major issue is Browning plays late at night, when most fans are done watching games. The power five’s leader in TD passes will have to wait until his junior season to make the trip to NYC.

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State- Pumphrey is less than 200 yards away from being the all-time leading rusher in NCAA history, and he was never a finalist for the Heisman. Granted the competition isn’t as strong in the Mountain West, Pumphrey still deserved the recognition. The senior back was a finalist for the Doak Walker Award after rushing for 2,018 yards and 16 touchdowns. Pumphrey and SDSU finished 10-3 and won the Mountain West Title over Wyoming last week. Make sure to watch Pumphrey next Saturday against Houston in the Las Vegas Bowl.

D’Onta Foreman, Texas- Very rarely are two 2,000 yard rushers left out of the Heisman Ceremony. But both Foreman and Pumphrey will be at home instead of in NYC tonight. Foreman led the NCAA in rushing yards and won the Doak Walker Award on Thursday. The Longhorns did not qualify for a bowl game, but Foreman still showed out on a terrible team. In 11 games, Foreman ran for 15 touchdowns and averaged 6.3 yards per carry for the Horns.

I’m guessing Lamar will collect at least 80% of the first place votes. Here is what the final ballot will probably look like.

  1. Lamar Jackson
  2. DeShaun Watson
  3. Baker Mayfield
  4. Dede Westbrook
  5. Jabrill Peppers

I don’t have a vote, but if I did, this would be my ballot.

  1. Lamar Jackson
  2. DeShaun Watson
  3. Jake Browning
  4. D’Onta Foreman
  5. Baker Mayfield

For more college football news, follow @TreyHuntsmanKSR.


The Four Best Things Mark Stoops Said Today

© Mark Zerof

© Mark Zerof

Practice Went Surprisingly Well

Even though they’ve been off for two weeks, Stoops was pleased what he saw from his team in their first two bowl practices.  “I was surprised honestly.  We were relatively clean,” he said.

Recruiting Never Stops

Even if they’re committed to another school, it isn’t over until papers are signed.

“You know we never stop,” Stoops said.  “We’re never gonna stop. We’re going to make it very difficult for somebody to tell us no.”

If you think he’s referring to Jedrick Wills, you’d be correct.

Bowl Practices a “Big Benefit” for Redshirts

Earlier today I shared a list of some of the players who have redshirted this season.  Now it’s their time to shine in the extra bowl practices.

“When we work them throughout the year they’re simulating the other team’s offense or defense, and then when we scrimmage it’s really basics.  We want to see who can play and do the basics when we work them throughout the year.  Then as you get into this preparation, it’s good to push them a little bit, see who mentally can handle things.”

Stoops didn’t name names, but he started by saying he was pleased with the improvement from the big guys in the trenches.

A Thank You to the Fans

Stoops was happy to hear the news that the BBN quickly bought the initial allotment of TaxSlayer Bowl tickets.

“I’m very pleased that are fans are excited to go there,” Stoops said.  “That’s a good feeling to know that our fans are buying those tickets and selling out our initial allotment.  We need as many folks there as we can get.”

BONUS

Kentucky’s Honey Badger, Mike Edwards, wore a honey badger shirt to today’s interviews.  Tony Neely approves.

@Joe_Mussato

@Joe_Mussatto


Jordan Jones and Kash Daniel Interview as a Team

Jordan Jones and Kash Daniel Interview as a Team

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Jordan Jones is not a big fan of interviews with the media.  Excluding media day, he’s only been interviewed twice — following the Florida and Louisville games.  Today he was ready to be interviewed for a third time, with a twist.

Jones was interviewed by the media, but only spoke through his interpreter, Kash Daniel.  Kash is fluent in English, Appalachian American and apparently, Youngstownian.  Watch the funny interaction below, courtesy of Curtis Burch.

The best interview as a team since Dale Doback and Brennan Huff.

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Injury Forced Tight End Justin Rigg to Redshirt

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Justin Rigg was a freshman that caught the coaches’ eyes in early practices.  Once the season started, Rigg didn’t get the chance to prove it in front of the fans because of an unusual injury.

In the second game of the season against Florida, Rigg suffered kidney lacerations while playing on special teams.  A UK official confirmed the injury to Jen Smith last night.  UK will request a media redshirt for Rigg.

Vince Marrow told Smith that Rigg would have been a valuable option at tight end if he was healthy.

“C.J. (Conrad) and Greg (Hart) have been banged up this season,” Marrow said. “He would’ve been playing a lot. He’s going to be a guy who is going to play a lot next year. Big guy that can run and block. He’s going to be a good one.”

Rigg will be limited in drills leading up to the TaxSlayer Bowl.  Other redshirt freshman should receive tons of reps in the bowl practices.  Here’s who spent the year improving on the practice field and in the weight room:

  • A.J. Rose, running back
  • Davonte Robinson, cornerback
  • Drake Jackson, center
  • Dakota Holtzclaw, wide receiver
  • Zy’Aire Hughes, wide receiver
  • Gunnar Hoak, quarterback
  • Tate Leavitt, offensive tackle
  • Luke Fortner, offensive guard
  • Jaylin Bannerman, outside linebacker
  • Jamar “Boogie” Watson, outside linebacker
  • Tobias “Cash” Gilliam, safety
  • Roland Walder, outside linebacker
  • Kordell Looney, defensive tackle
  • Ja’Quize Cross, defensive tackle

[Herald-Leader]


Ten Doors Mark Stoops Knocked Down in 2016

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

A season filled with surprises has a surprise ending.  Kentucky is heading to the Gator TaxSlayer Bowl.

“We were the only school in the SEC that has not participated in this bowl,” Mark Stoops said at Monday’s press conference.  “It will be fun for us.  Just trying to knock down another door.

Stoops isn’t a demolition man, he’s just a fan of using that metaphor to say, “we’re doing things that haven’t been done here in a long time.”   Here’s a list of some of the doors Stoops’ troops have busted through in 2016.

1.  Kentucky is bowl eligible for the first time since 2010.

2.  The Cats won the Governor’s Cup for the first time since 2010.  It was UK’s first win over a ranked opponent on the road since 2002.

3. UK has two 1,000 rushers for the first time in program history, the only Power 5 school to accomplish that feat in 2016.

4. UK set a record for yards per carry at 5.5, breaking the record of 4.94 per carry in 1974.

5. UK’s 2,895 rushing yards are the third-most in program history, only 65 behind the 1976 Peach Bowl Champs.  If UK rushes for 230 yards against Georgia Tech (11 yards short of their average), it will be the new UK record for most rushing yards in a season.

6. Kentucky finished .500 in the SEC for the first time since 2006.

7. This happened, if only for a moment:

8.  The Cats won on a field goals in the last minute, not once, but twice.  Only one other player has hit two game-winning field goals in the final minute: Doug Pelphrey.

9.  The Kentucky offense racked up more than 581 yards of offense four times this season, a new record.

10. The Cats finished the regular season with seven wins for the first time since 2009, also the last time UK finished with a winning record.

There are probably more.  Pardon me for missing one or two, but there’s too many to keep track of; it was that kind of a year for the Kentucky football team.


VIDEO: Eddie Gran, Lamar Thomas, Benny Snell, Stephen Johnson, and Juice Johnson speak after practice

VIDEO: Eddie Gran, Lamar Thomas, Benny Snell, Stephen Johnson, and Juice Johnson speak after practice

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Bowl preparation has officially begun, as the Kentucky Wildcats kicked off their first practice leading up to Georgia Tech this afternoon. According to Eddie Gran, the players had an excellent practice with “not a lot of rust,” despite this being the first time they’ve thrown on pads since the Thanksgiving holiday. “It was a great practice. I thought the tempo was fantastic,” he said. “We got in and out. It was fast. We were ahead in every single period, and that’s a good thing. So, I think they kind of enjoyed it. They hadn’t seen us in two weeks, so not a lot of butt-chewings. They were ready for it.

Both Juice and Stephen Johnson mentioned the atmosphere at practice was impressive, with the players dancing to the music and everyone being dialed in and ready to get to work. “Nobody was really slacking off. Everyone was pumped up,” Stephen said. “(We were) ready to get back to do some more football stuff.”

Gran mentioned it was “good against good” today, as both sides of the ball had their first units on the field, each giving the opposing side fits throughout the day. Freshman RB Benny Snell was quick to agree, saying “It was the ones versus the ones today, so you know, guys were out there competing and having fun. It was a really good day today.”

Lamar Thomas wasn’t as bouncy as usual, dealing with illness from being on the road recruiting since the Louisville game, but he did manage to touch on the incredible momentum surrounding the program right now. “A lot of people watched that Louisville game. A lot,” he said. “There’s just a lot of excitement, and we’re really trying to build on it. I think this program has been starving for a football team to win games consistently.

Juice Johnson mentioned the team is excited to get down to Florida, especially considering the cold front that has moved into the Lexington area as of late. “When we’re down there this whole week, I’m soaking up all the warmth,” he said. “My backpack, pockets, whatever (laughs)… We have a great opportunity to go down there and play in the TaxSlayer Bowl, compete against a great team. We have a great opportunity, we just have to go down there and seize that.”

Hear what all of the coaches and players had to say here:

Cats.


Boom Williams considering NFL Draft

Boom Williams considering NFL Draft

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Though it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, Boom Williams told the media following practice today that he was considering the NFL Draft, and will talk things over with his family following the TaxSlayer Bowl on New Year’s Eve.

He said, “Conversations and things have started. That’s something I have to think about as well. Right now my main focus is the bowl game, but after the bowl game, me and the family will talk some more and will handle that situation.”

We knew it was a possibility going into the year, and that only went up as the year progressed. Injury problems still remain a concern, but that likely won’t stop NFL teams from lighting up Boom’s phone when the time comes.

Should he decide to return, Kentucky would easily possess one of the best backfields in the country next season, led by Boom, Benny Snell, and RS freshman AJ Rose likely taking third-team reps.


The Depth Chart Podcast’s All-Opponent Team

The Depth Chart Podcast’s All-Opponent Team

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The Depth Chart Podcast All-Opponent team will most likely have a different look than the tidal wave of All-SEC teams that have flooded headlines as of late. Criteria for securing a spot on this prestigious list is simple: best opposing players at each position during specific competition against the Wildcats.

Let’s get started:

OFFENSE

Unit: Tennessee

Receiver: Antonio Calloway-Florida, Calvin Ridley-Alabama

Quarterback: Lamar Jackson, Louisville

Running Back: Alvin Kamara-Tennessee, Ito Smith-Southern Miss

Tackle: Jonah Williams, Alabama, David Sharpe-Florida

Guard: Zack Bailey-South Carolina, Martez Ivey-Florida

Center: Cameron Tom, Southern Miss

Tight End: Cole Hikutini, Louisville


PIC BY Hattiesburg American

PIC BY Hattiesburg American

DEFENSE

Unit: Alabama

Defensive Line: Jonathon Allen-Alabama, Dylan Bradley-Southern Miss, Darius English-South Carolina, Derek Barnett-Tennessee

Edge: Jonathon Calvin, Mississippi State, Corey Vereen-Tennessee

Linebacker: Zach Cunningham-Vanderbilt, Stacy Thomas-Louisville, Rashaan Evans-Alabama

Cornerback: Jalen Tabor-Florida, Malkom Parrish-Georgia

Safety: Ryan White-Vanderbilt, Eddie Jackson-Alabama


Pic by Scout.com

Pic by Scout.com

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker: Rodrigo Blankenship, Georgia

Punter: Mason King, Louisville

Kick Returner: Kente Williams, Austin Peay

Punt Returner: Johnathon Johnson, Missouri


UK’s first bowl practice is this afternoon

UKStoopsTroops | IG

UKStoopsTroops | IG

Practice? Yeah, we talking about practice again. This afternoon, the football team will have its first bowl practice of the postseason, which means we’ll have a practice update on this here website sometime this evening. Keep an eye out for it.

Until then, enjoy this slow-mo montage of the players putting on their gear, which isn’t nearly as creepy as it sounds:


South Florida reportedly nearing a deal with Charlie Strong (and why that’s good for us)

Earlier this week, Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran was mentioned as a potential candidate for the South Florida job, which makes the news I’m about to share very welcome. Several news outlets are reporting that South Florida is nearing a deal with former Louisville and Texas coach Charlie Strong. It’s not clear if Gran was a finalist or not, but given his connections in the South Florida area, particularly in recruiting, there was some reason to worry.

In other coaching carousel news, Houston hired Major Applewhite even though it appeared Lane Kiffin had the job locked up yesterday. Les Miles was another finalist for the job, but there’s another report this morning that ESPN is interested in hiring Miles as an analyst, which would be the smartest thing the Worldwide Leader’s done in years.


Friday’s Top 10: Westworld, Hofstra, Karl Towns, and Steve Spurrier trying to take a selfie

Friday’s Top 10: Westworld, Hofstra, Karl Towns, and Steve Spurrier trying to take a selfie

Good morning, friends. Excuse me if I’m a bit distracted this morning; last night, my husband and I finished up the season finale of “Westworld,” and man, that’s some pretty messed up stuff. I won’t spoil anything, but there were some things I saw coming and some things I did not. In terms of intrigue and suspense, “Westworld” is the new “LOST” in our household…hopefully it has a more satisfying ending.

Let’s roll through today’s agenda so I can go back to reading recaps.

1. Joel Justus will preview the Hofstra game

From time to time, John Calipari likes to let his assistants handles pregame press conferences, so today, we’ll hear what Joel Justus has to say about the squad before they take off for New York to play Hofstra on Sunday. This is Justus’ first year as an assistant coach after a year as the director of analytics and another year as the special assistant to the head coach. Calipari’s great, but I’m looking forward to hearing a new perspective on what’s going on with the team right now.

A few players will also talk to the media, so check the site around 2:30 for a live stream and after that for a full recap.

2. UK Hoops hosts Middle Tennessee

After dropping a heartbreaker to Louisville, Matthew Mitchell’s squad returns to Memorial Coliseum for a four-game home stretch, starting with Middle Tennessee tonight at 7 p.m. If you can’t make it to the game, tune in on SEC Network+ (on the computer). Or, you can check the site later tonight for a full recap.

3. ICYMI, a whole bunch of football Cats got SEC honors yesterday

The Associated Press named senior center Jon Toth First Team All-SEC and sophomore linebacker Jordan Jones and sophomore safety Mike Edwards Second Team All-SEC. Meanwhile, the league’s coaches named running back Benny Snell and offensive lineman Logan Stenberg to the All-SEC Freshman Team. Speaking of Toth and Stenberg, Alabama’s Jonathan Allen, considered the best defensive player in the country, told reporters that he thinks Kentucky’s offensive line is the best he faced all year. I think he probably knows what he’s talking about.

4. UK sold through it’s initial allotment of bowl tickets already

Each school is given 8,000 tickets to start sales and Kentucky burned through theirs in three days. You guys must be excited about New Year’s in Jacksonville. If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, don’t worry; UK got some more just in case. Lower-level tickets are still available for the game and can be purchased by visiting UKFootballTix.com or through the TaxSlayer Bowl’s website. Kentucky sideline is on the WEST SIDE of the stadium, so take that into consideration when choosing your seat.

5. Lonnie Johnson will announce on Tuesday

The nation’s top junior college safety visited Kentucky last weekend and will visit Georgia this weekend. We’ll know for sure where he’s going on Tuesday.

6. It’s about time somebody called out those creepy SEC commercials

Every Day Should Be Saturday’s Spencer Hall did what he does best yesterday with this hilarious takedown of the SEC’s weird new commercials. You know the ones, the blonde lady walking on the beach or in a library, or a bar talking about how the SEC “just means more.” I could go on and on, but Hall’s way funnier than I am and you owe it to yourself to click here and check out his post.

7. Steve Spurrier trying to take a selfie with his trophy is everything

Last night, Spurrier won the “NCFAA Contributions to College Football Award,” which is basically an excuse to get Spurrier on stage to make a speech and we were rewarded with this great video of him trying to take a selfie with his trophy:

I miss him already.

8. RIP John Glenn

The American hero passed away at the age of 95 yesterday. Glenn was the first American to orbit Earth back in 1962 and the oldest American to go to space in 1998 aboard the shuttle Discovery. He was also a highly decorated Marine who flew 149 combat missions in World War II and Korea. Because that war and space hero weren’t enough, he was also a politician, representing Ohio in the United States Senate for 24 years. Trailblazer, hero, legend, all of the good words belong to him.

9. All of the good words also belong to Karl Towns for this dunk

Mercy me, Karl.

10 .#KSRtoVegas starts today

Tune in to the show today to hear the guys prepare for their grand adventure. This will probably be the most coherent and well-rested they’ll be over the next week and a half. Speaking of Vegas, that forecast for next weekend sure looks nice compared to the arctic blast most of us woke up to:

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An Update on Drew Barker from his Father

An Update on Drew Barker from his Father

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Drew Barker’s 2016 football season did not end the way he and his family expected.  Instead of leading his team to a victory over Louisville, he was sitting on the couch next to his father, recovering from back surgery.

Named the starting quarterback following spring practice, the first half of Barker’s first game as UK’s starter was fantastic.  “It almost seemed like magic,” Barker’s father Terry told Mark Story of the Herald-Leader.  Then, it turned into a nightmare.

After losing the lead to Southern Miss, Barker was sacked on the first play of the Florida game.  Terry Barker believes that hit either injured him, or exacerbated a pre-existing condition.

“Look, I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV,” Terry Barker joked. “But, apparently there is a nerve tree that runs out of the right side of your spine down to your right leg and one that runs out of the left side down to your left leg. And there was something putting pressure on Drew’s right side (nerves) that was causing his (right) leg to really hurt.”

The pain Drew endured sounds horrific.

“I think it’s fair to say (Drew’s) leg hurt every day,” Terry Barker said. “Some days, it hurt more than others. In some ways, he kind of got used to it hurting. But, some days, just doing what a college student has to do — walking to class, sitting in class, carrying a book bag — was really painful for him.”

Since the surgery, Drew felt immediate relief in his leg.  It’s a long road to recovery, but his father believes he could participate in spring practice on a limited basis and be ready to compete once again this fall.

Read the Rest of the Story from Mark Story


Freddie Maggard is his new Jack Kain Ford F-250.

The Depth Chart Podcast: 2016 Regular Season Review

Freddie Maggard is his new Jack Kain Ford F-250.

Freddie Maggard is his new Jack Kain Ford F-250.

The Depth Chart Podcast returns with a new sponsor, Jack Kain Ford, and a special guest, Kyle Tucker from SEC Country.  Before discussing how Kentucky matches up with Georgia Tech’s triple option, Freddie vents about the All-SEC awards and much more, including:

— How Kyle got his start in journalism as the Fazoli’s breadstick guy.

— Jonathan Allen’s remarks about UK’s offensive line.

— The secret 7-on-7 scrimmage between UK and EKU before Stoops’ first season.

— How Stoops has matured as a head coach.

— Why Saban is better than Bear Bryant and do Saban and Calipari comparisons hold up?

To listen, just subscribe to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes, stream on Podbayor listen on the Podcast Addict app for Android.


Three Kentucky players make the AP’s All-SEC Teams

@StoopsTroops

@StoopsTroops

The AP All-SEC Teams were released this afternoon and three Kentucky Wildcats made the list: Jon Toth, Jordan Jones, and Mike Edwards. Toth, a senior, make the First Team at center, while Jones and Edwards, both sophomores, made Second Team at linebacker and safety.

If Freddie Maggard hasn’t hammered it into your head enough, today’s honor should show you how special Toth is. The senior center played in 48 career games with a nation-high 47 consecutive starts. In addition to helping UK’s rushing attack  rank 16th nationally, Toth leads the team with 69 knockdown blocks and has been credited with 195 blocks at the point of attack this season. He was a nominee for several national awards this season, including the National Football Foundation’s Scholar-Athlete Award, the Rimington Trophy, given annually to the nation’s most outstanding center and the Outland Trophy, given to the nation’s best interior lineman. According to Corey Price, Toth is the first Kentucky player to be named First Team All-SEC at center since Ken Roark in 1980.

On the other side of the ball, Jones and Edwards led Kentucky in total tackles with 100 and 93, respectively. Jones ranked third in the SEC in tackles per game (8.3) and his 70 solo tackles led the league and ranked 11th nationally. He’s the only player in UK history to have at least 100 tackles, 14.0 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks in a single season. Jones also added nine quarterback hurries, four pass breakups and a forced fumble.

Edwards finished the regular season leading all SEC defensive backs in tackles with 93. He ranks fourth in the SEC with 7.8 tackles per game. Edwards had four double-digit tackle performances and tied for the team lead with three interceptions, including two of Heisman Trophy finalist Lamar Jackson in the Cats’ 41-38 victory over No. 11 Louisville. Edwards has recorded a tackle in 20 consecutive games and has 132 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, four interceptions and 11 pass breakups for his career.

Congrats, guys.