Photo © Mark Zerof With two straight losses and the national media circling like sharks, →
Football Season Coverage
Mark Stoops’ second Spring football season kicks off three weeks from tomorrow. The eyes of Big Blue Nation will all be firmly set upon the progress of Drew Barker. After fans’ Air Raid expectations were met with inconsistent play at quarterback, the #BBN is thirsty for offensive production.
The competition for starting quarterback will be pitted against two redshirts (Pat Towles and Reese Phillips), an experienced athlete (Jalen Whitlow), and an All-American true freshman (Drew Barker). For most, the simple answer to the offense’s problems is starting the true freshman. Drew has been a vocal leader since his commitment while proving his skills against the nation’s best at the Elite 11 QB Camp and U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Drew has contended since before he arrived on campus that he’s going to fight tooth and nail to become a starter, but is it wise to immediately throw him to the dogs?
On paper, Drew has the most potential and fits the criteria for great UK Quarterback (big arm and a home-state hero). Drew looks great on paper, but in the SEC true freshmen don’t look great on paper. I’ve compiled stats dating back to the Cats’ last great team in 2007 (excluding running QBs that split time, a la Tim Tebow), see for yourself.
Most coaches have avoided handing their offenses over to true freshmen, with MSU’s Carroll as the only player in the group to beat out someone for the position. The best case scenario has been a Liberty Bowl victory, but Cobb wasn’t even quarterback for that game. Carroll eventually transferred to FIU and Auburn’s Wallace might never play quarterback for the Tigers again after losing his spot to Nick Marshall.
Once again, most of these guys would not have played unless the guy ahead of them got hurt. That might be the only similarity between the two groups. Every redshirt threw at least 1,000 yards, while true freshman struggled to find a 1:1 TD/Interception ratio. Redshirt freshmen won more games, but most importantly how many of those true freshman have become household names? Aaron Murray is the SEC’s all-time leading passer and Johnny Manzeil won a Heisman Trophy. Even the worst guys in the redshirt group have proved themselves more than the best of the true freshmen.
Drew could very well be the best of the bunch entering the season, but it’s silly to think that a redshirt year would not help him long-term. You also must consider how much a redshirt year could have helped Reese and Pat’s development. Throwing a young kid to the dogs can be mentally exhausting, as evidence by Jalen Whitlow’s timidness in the pocket from time to time during his sophomore season.
We also must grip reality: the Cats are not going to be great this year. Offensive production will rely on underclassmen and defensively, besides Bud and Za’Darius, the squad will be mostly underclassmen. Everyone wants to win right away, but Mark Stoops is more worried about long-term investments than short-term success. With 2015 poised to be a landmark year in Kentucky football, #WhyNot let Drew’s first start as the face of the program happen inside the New Commonwealth Stadium?
Let me know what you think @RoushKSR. I challenge you to find a successful true freshman QB in the SEC.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©5:00 pm
Over the weekend, word leaked out that Mark Stoops had hired Texas State defensive coordinator Craig Naivar to fill Bradley Dale Peveto’s shoes as UK’s special teams coordinator and safeties coach, and today, the university made it official. Mark Stoops had this to say about the newest member of his staff:
“I’ve gotten to visit with Craig the last couple of years and am very impressed with him,” Stoops said. “He has vast knowledge, both as a defensive coordinator and as a special teams coordinator. He’s a high-energy coach with a great reputation as a recruiter.”
Naivar joins the Cats after three seasons as Texas State’s defensive coordinator, and brings 15 years of experience as a defensive and special teams coordinator with him to Lexington. Like everyone else, he’s impressed with Mark Stoops’ energy, and says he looks forward to working with him:
“I’m excited to be part of the Big Blue Nation and such a prestigious university,” Naivar said of his decision to come to Kentucky. “I was attracted by the opportunity to work with Coach Stoops, the energy he brings and the success he’s had everywhere he’s been.
How did Naivar get on UK’s radar? He and DJ Eliot were on the same staff at Texas State from 2004-2006, after which the two moved on to Rice. He’s excited about reuniting with his former colleague: “It’s also exciting to reunite with Coach Eliot. He is one of the really sharp minds in college football, a great coach and recruiter.”
I’ll take those Texas ties any day. Welcome to the fam, Coach Naivar.
Two Lexington football players talk about their paths to becoming special teams walk-ons at UK and UL
By Ally Tucker on ©9:30 pm
(Ryan Betlach in the UL sweatshirt, Jake Ryan in the UK sweatshirt)
When I set out to interview two high school seniors about their journey to becoming special teams walk-ons at the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville, the two biggest schools in their home state of Kentucky, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t know if I would have to pull answers out of them, or what the story would amount to in the end. What I discovered were two very humble young men (both big fans of Jacob Tamme due to family ties in Danville), each set to take different paths at rival schools… yet both of whom were making childhood dreams come true in a way they might never have expected. Jake Ryan and Ryan Betlach are both set to graduate from Tates Creek High School here in Lexington in June. The destination couldn’t be more different for the two seniors– with Ryan heading to Kentucky and Betlach venturing down the road to Louisville– but the journey and excitement about the opportunity that lies ahead strike eerily similar chords for both Ryan and Betlach. What I found when sitting down for the interview, was that both UK and UL are inheriting the kind of guys you would hope to have in your locker room. Both are mature for their age, well-spoken, gracious for the chance they’ve been given, hungry to succeed, and proud to be a part of their home state’s university. I couldn’t have been more impressed with either. Neither will be the most heralded name when glancing down the rosters they both hope to eventually make, but Ryan and Betlach are just the kind of guys you want to root for…
Ryan will be attending Kentucky to be a walk-on punter, while Betlach will be going to Louisville as a walk-on to be a long-snapper. Ryan nearly set the state record for the longest punt in Kentucky history earlier this season, with an 82-yarder against Henry Clay (The state record is 82 1/2 yards). Interestingly enough, Betlach was the long-snapper on the punt, and was the one to recover the ball in the end zone. Betlach was ranked as the #2 long-snapper (based on speed/accuracy) in the country after attending a pro-camp during his sophomore year. Ryan is currently ranked as the #42 punter in the country.
Q: Give a little background on your football careers and how you came about to be a kicker/punter (Ryan) and a long-snapper (Betlach).
Ryan: “I played quarterback my freshman year, and in and out my sophomore through senior year. I’ve kicked since my freshman year, and started punting my sophomore year. I went to a couple camps (for kicking), but it just kind of came naturally to me. Sometimes after practice, some of us would just kind of mess around and kick around. Lot of guys that can’t kick try to kick. It’s a lot of fun. I played soccer when I was younger, but it’s a lot different. I always kind of really wanted to kick in college, and my sophomore year when I started punting I thought– wow I’m not too bad at this. It’s been a process though to become better at it.”
Betlach: “I’ve played since I was 7 years old. I’ve played all kinds of positions. As I got into middle school and high school I focused more on defense. But when I was in elementary school, my Dad taught me how to long snap, so I’ve been a long-snapper ever since for every team that I’ve been on. I’ve been to a couple camps as well.
Q: Did your Dad teach you long-snapping in the backyard just for fun, or was it because he thought that special skill could be a ticket to college football down the line?
Betlach: “It was for fun, but he knew that long-snapping could be my ticket to college. He said, ‘You could go to a D-I school and long snap.’ I didn’t know how seriously to take him until a couple weeks ago when I got the call saying, ‘You have the opportunity to go to Louisville.’”
Q: When you were growing up, did you ever dream/imagine that you would be going to a Division I school to play college football?
Ryan: “I’ve grown up in Lexington, so I’ve always been a fan of UK. I couldn’t really see myself going there, cuz I’ll probably still be the smallest guy there. But it’s almost surreal at this point. I mean I know I’m going and I know I’m going to be there, and it’s going to be an awesome experience– but growing up I didn’t really see myself going to a D-I school. I saw myself going to a smaller school, maybe like Centre. D-I always just seemed like a dream really.
Betlach: “When I started when I was 7, I always said I was going to go to the NFL. That’s always everyone’s dream. But as you slowly progress through the years and see everyone’s talent, you say to yourself, ‘Okay maybe I’ll just go D-I.’ And then maybe after that, ‘Maybe I’ll just try to play in college.’ So it’s always been a dream of mine to go D-I, but as I slowly progressed through my career, my dream was more to play college football at any level. But when I got the opportunity to go D-I I was shocked. It was awesome.”
Q: Both of you had opportunities to play at smaller schools. What was it that made you decide to pass on those opportunities to walk-on at Kentucky and Louisville?
Ryan: “I think definitely playing for your home university was my biggest thing. When Coach Harmon (TC coach) told me I had an offer, I was like, ‘You don’t have to contact anyone else.’ It’s been really fun. I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s just awesome that UK is giving me this opportunity to play.”
Betlach: “I had a couple of different options, especially Division 3 schools. I was really struggling to make a decision. The smaller schools were a lot more expensive. But I got accepted to Louisville’s Speed School (Engineering program) and it’s one of the top programs in the country. When Coach Harmon found that out he contacted Pete Nochta at Louisville. He’s in charge of the long-snappers at UL. He made that connection, and told Nochta my times and that I was a good snapper. So he gave me that chance. And I took it.”
Q: How exactly did the recruiting process go about to get you all to Kentucky and Louisville?
Ryan: “I didn’t personally get a call but Coach Harmon did. And it was right before the dead period so we had to wait a few weeks. Then I met with Neal Brown at a basketball game one afternoon. It was like right after Matt Elam signed, so he was running all over the place. That was the extent of my recruitment. He didn’t really have to recruit me. I was set on going there.”
Betlach: “Once I found out I had the opportunity, there wasn’t much recruiting involved. I was really excited and it’s always been my dream to go D-I in any position.”
Q: Both Kentucky and Louisville football have a lot of excitement surrounding the the programs right now, with blockbuster recruiting classes at UK ignited by a new staff, and a returning successful head coach in Bobby Petrino at Louisville. Talk a little bit about what it’s like and the excitement you’ve felt as you head into those programs…
Ryan: “Personally, I’ve been watching the recruitment process by Coach Stoops and his staff. I’ve been a fan my whole life. The excitement around the program is great. I’m excited for the program as a fan, and he’s doing a great job bringing in talent. But I try to stray away from telling people I’m walking on to UK. If they ask, I’ll tell them. But I don’t walk around telling everyone.”
Betlach: “Louisville just got into the ACC and got a new coach. They have one of the hardest schedules in college football this year. It’s an exciting time for Louisville, too.”
Q: Betlach, is it a little strange to go from being a lifelong Kentucky fan growing up in Lexington, to now being part of the Louisville program?
Betlach: “Yeah, I grew up in Lexington. My room was all decked out in UK. It’s been a bit of a transformation. A lot of my friends jokingly call me a traitor. But I’m excited about the opportunity, and I guess I am a Louisville fan now.”
Q: Have you all thought about a moment when you all take the field at the same time, on opposing sides, as former teammates?
Ryan: “Yeah, and I’ve talked about it with my family. Actually, my stepmom and his Mom went to high school together in Danville. They are just like ‘Ah man, you and Ryan are gonna be on the field at the same time.’ Some of our friends have talked about us jogging out to midfield and shaking hands.”
Betlach: “Yeah, we have thought about it. Coach Harmon has said he can’t wait til we are both playing on the field at the same time. Well, obviously not at the exact same time.”
Q: You two had to have had a chemistry on the field as the punter and long-snapper. Does that make it even more special for the two of you to see each other reaching your goals?
Ryan: “I’m excited for him and I’m excited for myself. I mean, without him, I couldn’t do anything. When I heard about him going to Louisville, I actually pulled him out of class and we talked about it for a few minutes. It’s pretty awesome for one program (Tates Creek) to have 2 guys going D-I, at opposing schools in the same state. It’s pretty fun.”
Betlach: “Yeah, Jake was actually one of the first people to say something to me. He found out the same day I did. Like he said, he pulled me out of class. I guess Tates Creek is known for its special teams. Obviously, David Akers.”
Q: What are you all most excited about when it comes to playing at Kentucky and Louisville?
Ryan: “I really want to say the clothes. (laughs) But I know that’s not the right answer. Just the people that I’m going to be around. I like being a part of a team, and I miss hanging out with my teammates every day, and weight lifting and joking around and seeing everyone. Being part of a team and the road trips and all of that, that’s the part I’m looking forward to the most. Creating memories with teammates. Stepping on the field is going to be cool– seeing thousands of fans. I mean we have season tickets, but we are waaaay up there. It’s going to be unreal. I don’t even know how to explain it yet, but I’m really looking forward to that.”
Betlach: “Like I said, it’s always been my dream to play Division I football and now it’s a reality. I’ll get to play against some of the best teams in the nation and be on one of the best teams in the nation. I’ll be excited to go play at places like Notre Dame. That’s one of the most traditional stadiums and programs.”
Q: Who’s your favorite UK/UL player of all time?
Ryan: “Do I have to pick a special teams person? Actually, when I go to UK games I’m like, ‘Landon Foster! He’s so good.’ I tell my friends that all the time, and they make fun of me. (After going on a tangent about Johnny Football)…Or I guess Randall Cobb.”
(Betlach interupts): “I’m surprised you didn’t say Jacob Tamme.”
Ryan: “AH! That’s who it is! I have a pair of Jacob Tamme signed gloves because he went to Boyle County and my stepmom knows his Mom. Okay, he’s my favorite.”
Betlach: “I guess I would have to go with Teddy Bridgewater. I think he’s a great quarterback and a great guy. I hope he goes #1 in the draft. As far as UK guys go, Jacob Tamme. My Aunt’s a counselor at Boyle County, so that’s a connection. I mean I don’t have any signed gloves like he does or anything.”
Q: Jake, you know UK’s special teams guys are a pretty funny group. They have their own Twitter account and everything.
Ryan: “I guess I have to be come a little bit funnier so I can become a part of that team.”
Q: Have you guys talked a little trash to each other yet about the rivalry?
Ryan: “I don’t know if I can talk trash now since I have a good friend on the team. I mean I really want to, but I feel like it’s going to be difficult.”
Betlach: “Obviously it’ll be a little tough to talk trash about UK.”
Q: Last but not least, what are your academic plans at UK and UL? (Both are very strong students)
Ryan: “I want to go into chemical engineering or pharmaceutical work.”
Betlach: “I got accepted to UL’s Speed School , which is very exciting. It’s a 5-year program, but you get your master’s in 5 years. It’s a very difficult program, but I’m hoping I can get through it.”
Good luck to both guys as they head to Kentucky and Louisville in the fall to make the rosters. As you can tell, Ryan and Betlach are both grateful and excited about the opportunity they are being given at their home state programs.
Oh, and the guys both have Twitter and they asked me to score them a couple of followers. So do your thing, BBN. Just don’t make any Sixteen Candles jokes toward Jake Ryan. “She pretends like she didn’t know, but I think my Mom did it on purpose.” He has a flip phone though, so he probably won’t see your Tweets until a few days later. See if we can’t get these guys to 800 followers, BBN.
Congratulations to Corey Peters, who signed a one-year contract with the Atlanta Falcons this afternoon. Peters injured his right Achilles this past December, but prior to that, started 15 games that season, setting a career high with five sacks and 48 tackles. In his four seasons in the NFL, he’s started 53 of 56 games, and in 2011, was named the Falcons’ Walter Payton Man of the Year.
Take off that Snuggie and treat yo’ self to a nice dinner, Corey.
After the always quote-worthy Bradley Dale Peveto left Kentucky this offseason to work for the Bayou Bengals of LSU, you knew Mark Stoops and Co. would be on the offensive to find a worthy replacement for this already stellar coaching staff. Well, the wait is over according to a report in the Austin American Statesmen as Texas State defensive coordinator Craig Naivar is headed to the Bluegrass to take the job of special teams coach.
Kentucky has not yet confirmed Naivar’s hiring, but Texas State head coach Dennis Franchione has already been interviewing replacements and released a statement saying: “This is the nature of the business, and we wish Craig well — our defense made huge strides under his coaching the past few seasons,” confirming Naivar’s departure.
Naivar is a young’n at just 42 years old. Prior to coaching at Texas State, Naivar was a co-defensive coordinator at Rice working with current UK defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot. These Texas ties are surely a ploy by Stoops to dig in a recruiting pipeline in arguably the most successful high school football state in the nation.
Welcome to the fam Craig.
Erik Korem’s innovative “High Performance” training has received nothing but praise since its implementation. From a marketing standpoint, it sounds absolutely wonderful, but could the common fan tell you the difference between High Performance and traditional lifting?
The video above gives a behind the scenes look at a plyometrics workout inside Nutter Fieldhouse. Plyos are designed to improve explosiveness and leaping ability. The superman medicine ball throws into a giant landing pad look pretty fun too.
Coach Korem explains how their system is different by focusing on inputs rather than outputs. Most training programs focus on achieving goals, like a 500-pound squat or 4.4 40-yard dash. Korem is more focused on training the initial reaction that occurs during a game; when offensive lineman have to avoid cutters at their feet or when wide receivers have less than milliseconds to move out of the way of a flying defender.
The rest is all science, but I’ll leave the rest of that to the physiologists and biologists of #BBN.
Avery Williamson entered this weekend’s NFL Combine in Indianapolis with a lot to prove. Despite his prevalence at the top of the SEC tackles list for the past two seasons, most scouts had Avery falling to the end of the draft, or off the Big Board completely. His biggest weakness according to the NFL.com, “Average athletic ability and foot quickness.” There’s no better stage to disprove that notion than against the best linebacker’s at the combine. Here’s how he stacked up against his peers:
Outside of the vertical jump, Avery’s 40-yard dash and 20-yard shuttle proved that he has the quickness necessary to make the transition to the next level.
One thing NFL scouts can’t ignore, is UK’s recent success in developing linebackers for the next level. Danny Trevathan and Wesley Woodyard proved UK isn’t just Punters and Pillsbury Throwboys. The Bronco’s dynamic duo led the AFC Champion’s defense with Trevathan leading the way in tackles alongside Team Captain Woodyard. The biggest difference between Avery and the other two: both Woodyard and Trevathan were seen as too small to succeed, relying on athleticism to make it. As you’ll see below, Avery is just as athletic as his predecessors.
NOTE: Trevathan aggravated a hamstring injury during his 40-yard dash at the Combine.
You read that correctly: Avery busted them both all but twice. Avery’s exceptional results earned him a grade of 4.9; translation = should be in an NFL training camp, just shy of a 50-50 chance for making a final roster. If he can find the right fit – like Trevathan and Woodyard – Avery has all of the tangibles to be a great ILB in a 3-4 defense.
Avery will have another opportunity in front of NFL officials at UK’s Pro Day on March 15 before the LOOOOONG wait til Draft Day on May 8th.
Construction workers are pulling the upper level of Commonwealth Stadium apart today, seen here by this photo from @jebmesser on Twitter. For more informaton on the renovation, TheNewCWS.com has everything one would need on the project and how it will look when its completed in 2015.
Rest in peace, Sections 232 and 230.
Greg Ostendorf of ESPN’s SEC Blog recently had a chat with UK signee Matt Elam about life as a high school standout in Kentucky, picking the Cats over Alabama, and expectations for his first year in Lexington. Elam told Ostendorf, “Personally, I just want to help out my team. Whether that’s playing or not, the main thing is me becoming a better football player. That’s what college is all about — improving your skills so you can go on to the next level. Team-wise, I don’t have these expectations that we’re going to come in and start winning all these games because that’s not going to happen. But I think this class will set the tone. Hopefully, we’ll get a good class next year and turn things around.”
He also said, “It takes a man to go to a losing program and help change it around. I appreciate all the commitments for that.”
Read more here. Cats.
With the news of former DB/STs coach Bradley Dale Peveto officially resigning, some current and future Wildcats reacted on Twitter. It seems that many of his players were caught off guard and sad to see him leave. He was definitely a classy coach, and had made a huge impact on special teams. That fake field goal vs. Florida was pure genius and executed perfectly. I could watch the .gif posted by Roush earlier today over and over. Here’s just a few of the first reactions of some players getting first word of the possible resignation, lead by punter Landon Foster:
— Landon Foster (@iPuntFootballs9) February 18, 2014
I’m starting a petition to keep @UKCoachPeveto…anybody wanna join?
— Landon Foster (@iPuntFootballs9) February 18, 2014
— Landon Foster (@iPuntFootballs9) February 18, 2014
From the defensive backs, cornerback Nate Willis and future UK safety Mike Edwards couldn’t believe Peveto was actually leaving for LSU:
— Badger (@M__Edwards7) February 18, 2014
Sad to hear my guy Coach Peveto gone. I didn’t come for the coaches though 😌
— Badger (@M__Edwards7) February 19, 2014
I want to wish Bradley Dale Peveto the best of luck in the future. It’s certainly understandable because as he stated today, “it’s good to be home.” Now Kentucky will have to find a replacement. Currently, it looks like Vernon Hargreaves of Houston and Jeff Hammerschmidt from Stoop’s Arizona days are the front-runners.
By Drew Franklin on ©4:00 pm
Athlon Sports ranked the top ten quarterbacks to look out for in 2014 and Kentucky’s Drew Barker just missed the list, but was one of 14 players named “Others to Know.”
The author writes, “Jalen Whitlow and Maxwell Smith are back in the mix in 2014, but Barker will be tough to keep off the field. He ranked the No. 6 pro quarterback by 247Sports.”
Barker is the only true freshman mentioned in the article.
Bradley Dale Peveto was a charismatic coordinator that made an immediate impact upon his arrival in Lexington. Unfortunately that ended yesterday when Peveto decided to return to LSU, “It’s good to be home, a real honor and a privilege. I’m very excited to get started. I think the world of Coach Miles and the world of LSU. He’s a great coach and I enjoyed working for him before. He’s pretty special,” Peveto told the The New Orleans Times-Picayune yesterday.
Peveto spent four years with the Tigers on Les Miles’ first coaching staff before taking the head coaching job down the road in Louisiana at Northwestern State University. Peveto was only in Lexington for a little over a year, but his accomplishments aren’t too shabby:
- An influential recruiter in the South, Peveto reeled in about a dozen recruits, most notable Stanley “Boom” Williams.
- The new staff has many new catchphrases and sayings, like #BBN’s favorite YAHTZEE! Peveto was even more animated, “If Mark Stoops tells you it’s Easter, dye your eggs.”
- In Joe Mansour’s first and only season as a placekicker he made 12-14 field goals, while Punter Landon Foster averaged over 40 yards per punt.
- Special Teams played a more important role for the Cats last season, using trick plays to build momentum. Not all of them worked to perfection – an penalty on a successful onside kick against Miss. State almost caused Mark Stoops’ head to explode – but Joe Mansour’s 25-yard touchdown scamper against Florida was nominated for College Football Play of the Year.
Despite his success, everything wasn’t always sunshine and roses for the Special Teams’ coordinator. Peveto began the season with plenty of success (outside of Joe Mansour’s two botches against WKU), but injuries set the team back for multiple let downs in the waning weeks of 2013. Ugly kickoff coverage might be expected for a young team late in the season but as you’ll see below, the Cats’ return game was lackluster throughout the entire year.
Stats from UK Athletics
Peveto’s personality will be missed, but Stoops may have another trick up his sleeve. Houston Special Teams Coach Vernon Hargreaves has been a family friend of Mark Stoops since they coached the unstoppable Miami Hurricanes’ defense in the early 2000′s. He has a butt-load (that’s a proper unit of measurement) of NFL Pro-Bowlers and his son might have been the best true freshman in the country last year as a shut-down cornerback for the Florida Gators.
When you do things the right way, departing assistants is inevitable, but Stoops could fill that void with another
homerun hire YAHTZEE!.
Yesterday we told you UK assistant Bradley Dale Peveto received an offer from Les Miles and LSU to coach the Tigers’ special teams. Last night, while we were watching the Cayts, Dale Peveto confirmed he accepted the offer at the school where he was a member of the 2008 BCS National Championship staff.
He told Nola.com, “It’s good to be home, a real honor and a privilege. I’m very excited to get started. I think the world of Coach Miles and the world of LSU. He’s a great coach and I enjoyed working for him before. He’s pretty special.”
Time for Mark Stoops to find his replacement on the UK sideline. My vote goes to Drew Barker. Why, you ask? Because, why not?
According to CBSSports.com’s Jerry Fowler, LSU has offered UK assistant Bradley Dale Peveto its special teams coordinator job and he is expected to accept. Peveto was an assistant on Les Miles’ first staff in Baton Rouge for four seasons and was on the sideline for LSU’s 2008 BCS National Championship. He spent the last year coaching the safeties and special teams in Lexington under Mark Stoops after four seasons as head coach at Northwestern State.
It’s tough to blame him for leaving UK’s rebuilding operation to join an established program that he’s very familiar with. Best of luck to him, if true.
CoachingSearch.com, a 247Sports joint, believes University of Houston linebackers coach Vernon Hargreaves is a potential replacement. Mark Stoops, DJ Eliot, and Hargreaves coached together at Miami; he also worked with Stoops at Arizona.
Over the past five years player safety has become Priority #1 for coaches and administrators. Each offseason new rules have been discussed to mitigate the risk of serious injury. You’re familiar with some of the new rules – a shorter distance for kick-offs, no ‘wedges’ on special teams, and the sometimes agonizing targetting call – but this newly proposed rule might be the most damning.
In order to slow the game down the NCAA is proposing a new penalty; hurry-up offenses (like Kentucky’s Air Raid) will be forced to allow 10 seconds for defenses to substitute after a play. If the offense snaps it before the :29 mark, they will be assessed a 5-yard delay of game penalty. You heard me correctly, the NCAA will penalize you for speeding up the game by giving you a ‘delay of game’ penalty. Their logic is undeniable.
This new rule would take away the biggest advantage of a no-huddle offense, pissing off coaches around America. Rich Rodriguez has sounded off, as well as past UK coaching candidates Sonny Dykes and Mike Leach. Leach isn’t too worried:
“First off, [I] doubt it will pass,” Washington State coach Mike Leach said. “Second, it’s ridiculous. All this tinkering is ridiculous. I think it deteriorates the game. It’s always been a game of creativity and strategy. So anytime someone doesn’t want to go back to the drawing board or re-work their solutions to problems, then what they do is to beg for a rule. I think it’s disgusting.”
Kentucky coaches have yet to sound off publicly, but I would not have found out about this possible rule change had Neal Brown not linked this story on Twitter. Erik Korem has shared a few Tweets as well, with my favorite RT coming from Sonny Dykes, “Fast breaks in basketball might lead to more injuries. Maybe they should outlaw fast breaks and let the defense substitute?”
I think it’s safe to say that Wildcat coaches do not approve.
— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) February 15, 2014
If the football Cats end up with a commitment from elite RB Damien Harris, it might be the best College Gameday ever. Even with the Florida vote from Jay Bilas. Damien seems pretty excited, too:
— Damien Harris (@Damien_D1Harris) February 15, 2014