Football Season Coverage
Kentucky rain was pouring down on the football team Wednesday evening. For the last half hour of practice, the Cats practiced in rain and sleet under the Kroger Field lights.
“It was too cold,” Derrick Baity said, shaking his head. “I do NOT like the cold. I really don’t like the cold.”
During their time on the field, defensive coordinator Matt House liked what he saw. “So far, so good, but the true proof in the pudding is Saturday.”
News and Notes
A Long, Quiet Bus Ride — This Kentucky football team is trying to move forward from the loss at Tennessee. To make sure they don’t come out flat, they’re keeping Saturday night’s trip back to Lexington in mind.
“Not to go backwards, but just remember how you felt going back from Knoxville,” Baity said. “It was a long, three-hour ride back from Knoxville; silent. Just keep that in your head.”
Mo Bamba or Grove Street? — Two songs have become synonymous with this team. I asked Baity which he preferred. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that there’s recency bias.
Sack Record Celebration — Josh Allen is one sack away from breaking Oliver Barnett’s career sack record. Today he shared what that moment will mean to him
“It would mean a lot. Like I said, I worked extremely hard. that was one of my goals coming back this season is to break records,” Allen said. “I game back to break records. It’s going to mean a lot to me.”
It’s tough to put into words and it’s tough for Allen to predict how he will react when it happens.
“I don’t know. I was thinking about it, but I’ll probably just go off and do whatever. There’s going to be a lot of emotions. It’s going to hit me hard and it’s going to be exciting that I’m going to be in the history books.”
Senior Day Tears? — Saturday’s pregame ceremony will be emotional for 16 seniors who are playing their final game at Kroger Field. For some, like Derrick Baity, they haven’t thought too much about what it will be like. Others know they might get choked up. They are all a bunch of tough guys, but Mike Edwards believes Josh Allen will crack.
“He’s big, but he’s soft at heart,” Edwards said. Allen did not dispute the claim.
“It’s going to be real shocking. I probably will, I probably won’t. That’s a game day decision.”
By Jack Pilgrim on ©November 14th, 2018 @ 7:00pm
If you’ve turned on ESPN anytime over the last several weeks, you’d know about the Le’Veon Bell saga in Pittsburgh. Long story short, Bell has been holding out for the Steelers this season after the two sides couldn’t come to a long-term contract agreement this past offseason. Yesterday afternoon, the official deadline to sign his $14.5-million franchise tag and return this season passed, meaning the superstar running back would be forced to sit out the remainder of the year.
Ever since, his teammates and coaches, along with the rest of the NFL, criticized him for putting money before his passion for the game and leaving the Steelers out to dry.
Former Kentucky pass-rusher and Steeler teammate Bud Dupree got in on the fun, helping unload Bell’s locker this afternoon and taking his cleats in the process.
A video of Dupree lacing up Bell’s Jordan XI PE cleats and trying them out surfaced this afternoon, where he gave the running back his well-wishes in the future and appreciation for his new gameday footwear.
“Wish you success my guy, but appreciate the cleats man,” Dupree said in the video.
Take a look:
Steelers players went into Le’Veon Bell’s locker, removing his nameplate and rummaging through items. Bud Dupree says thanks for the Jordan brand cleats. pic.twitter.com/gQaAu9hUPd
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) November 14, 2018
(Bonus points if you caught that Kentucky apparel in his locker…)
Steelers reporter Dale Lolley says Dupree essentially told him “finders keepers, losers weepers.”
“He’s probably not coming back for them,” the former Wildcat said.
Can you blame him for taking them? Those things are beautiful.
By Nick Roush on ©November 14th, 2018 @ 6:00pm
Kentucky fans have learned what it’s like to cheer for a major player in the college football landscape.
In less than a month the football fan base’s sentiment changed from, “just give us a shot to play Georgia for the SEC East,” to, “this is a frustrating disappointment.” What changed?
After an overtime loss at Texas A&M exposed Kentucky’s offense, the Cats gutted through game-winning drives in the fourth quarter to beat Vanderbilt and Missouri. Ranked No. 9 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings, Kentucky fans got a week to dream about the SEC Championship and a potential Playoff berth.
In the two weeks since, the Cats were outclassed by a superior Georgia team. The emotional hangover lingered into Knoxville where UK suffered its worst loss of the season.
With two games to play, Kentucky is 7-3 and ranked 17th by the CFB Playoff committee. Even though they finished SEC play with another loss at Neyland Stadium, UK’s 5-3 SEC record is the best in 41 years. After listening to today’s edition of Kentucky Sports Radio, I thought I was covering a Joker Phillips team, not a team that’s been in the Top 25 for eight straight weeks.
Nobody is happy after a loss. That feeling is amplified after a loss to a rival. You can be angry after a loss, but pleased with the team’s overall success; they aren’t mutually exclusive. However, the critiques I’ve heard since Saturday have reached ridiculous new heights.
“The Offense has to Change”
Remember when Eddie Gran decided to change the offense before the Texas A&M game? Facing a stout rush defense, UK’s offensive coordinator didn’t think the Cats could run it at Kyle Field. When he put the game in Terry Wilson’s hands, he was crucified. For two weeks the decision to not give the ball to Benny Snell was questioned by the Big Blue Nation.
After the Bye Week, Benny Snell got the ball. The best running back to ever wear a Kentucky uniform rushed for 169 yards and the game-winning touchdown. When SEC Inside published video of Snell’s final drive heroics, the BBN’s jaw-dropped in amazement.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) October 24, 2018
Although an unforgettable game in the long-term, the Vanderbilt performance represents what this offense is and it’s biggest problem.
1. Do you really wanna not give Benny Snell the ball?
The rushing game has undoubtedly struggled in recent games, but it’s been the cornerstone of Kentucky’s success over the last three years, thanks to Benny Snell. With an excellent defense, Mark Stoops chose an offensive emphasis on ball control over taking risky shots on explosive plays. If you disagree with Stoops, fine, but that also means Benny gets the ball less. Do you really not want to feed 2-6? He is hungry.
2. A Slim Margin
Many fans were infuriated by some of the comments made by Mark Stoops and Eddie Gran since the Tennessee loss. Demanding change, none of them realized the offense that has looked so terrible since the second half of the South Carolina game, actually looks the same.
Since that “dramatic” turning point for the offense, they’re still producing about the same number of yards. UK’s offense just kills themselves once they get into scoring range (pre-snap penalties on third down, snaps over the QBs head, etc.). What many would describe as the worst offensive performance in three years, Kentucky gained more yards against Missouri than they did in a 28-0 win over Mississippi State. Alabama didn’t even score 28 points on Miss. State.
Is it frustrating to watch this offense operate at times? Of course. But it was not a problem until Kentucky lost two games (the only two games UK’s defense gave up more than 20 points all season).
“We Missed a Rare Opportunity”
Kentucky played one game a for a chance to go to the SEC. It’s the first time that has ever happened in the history of this school. In the preseason that was a ridiculous notion. Unfortunately, they ran into the defending SEC Champs and National Runners-Up.
The loss stunk, but there was still an opportunity to go to a New Year’s Six game with a 10-2 finish. When that went out the window, well…here we are.
I wanted UK to play Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. I also wanted John Wall to win a National Championship. I wanted to go 40-0.
They lost. It happens. I was mad for a few days. Now when I remember those teams, I don’t think about how I cried into a pillow after the Wisconsin game, I think about the time Willie killed a guy at Florida and at the Yum! Center. I think about Boogie and Wall’s game-winners and the beautiful dance. When I think about this year’s Kentucky football team, I will never forget a victorious My Old Kentucky Home at The Swamp, the dominance in the rain against Miss. State, the walk-off win at Missouri and the week of euphoria that followed.
There’s a difference between the two losses in 2018 and the basketball losses in ’15 and ’10: this football team still has two games to play.
A wise man once told me, “Never tell fans how to fan.” I am breaking this rule for the 17 football players who changed the trajectory of this football team forever. Before their final game at Kroger Field, instead of feeling the warm embrace of the Big Blue Nation, they are hearing they aren’t good enough. That’s not fair.
Josh Allen, Benny Snell, Mike Edwards, Darius West, C.J. Conrad and many more took a chance on Kentucky when few others would. They’ve given the Big Blue Nation unforgettable memories. They won more SEC games than group before them. They created a winning culture that will ensure they aren’t the last UK team to play for an SEC Championship. The least they deserve is your support in the three finals games of a spectacular season.
By Drew Franklin on ©November 14th, 2018 @ 3:00pm
The accolades keep rolling in for Kentucky’s Josh Allen, one of the best players in all of college football. His latest achievements include his inclusion in the running for two of the sport’s top individual awards: the Walter Camp Player of the Year and Bronko Nagurski Trophy.
Allen has been named one of 15 “Players to Watch” for the 2018 Walter Camp Football Foundation Player of the Year award, the fourth-oldest college football award in the nation. Allen is one of just five defensive players to make the list, which will be narrowed down to five finalists two weeks from today.
The 14 other Walter Camp semifinalists are: Deandre Baker, Senior, Defensive Back, Georgia; Devin Bush, Junior, Linebacker, Michigan; Travis Etienne, Sophomore, Running Back, Clemson; Will Grier, Senior, Quarterback, West Virginia; Dwayne Haskins, Junior, Quarterback, Ohio State; Darrell Henderson, Junior, Running Back, Memphis; Trace McSorley, Senior, Quarterback, Penn State; McKenzie Milton, Junior, Quarterback, UCF; Gardner Minshew, Senior, Quarterback, Washington State; Kyler Murray, Junior, Quarterback, Oklahoma; Tua Tagovailoa, Sophomore, Quarterback, Alabama; Jonathan Taylor, Sophomore, Running Back, Wisconsin; Jerry Tillery, Senior, Defensive Tackle, Notre Dame; Quinnen Williams, Sophomore, Nose Guard, Alabama.
Baker Mayfield won the award in 2017.
Allen was also named one of the five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, awarded to the nation’s top defensive player.
The other finalists are: Michigan linebacker Devin Bush, LSU safety Grant Delpit, Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins and Alabama nose guard Quinnen Williams.
By Brent Wainscott on ©November 13th, 2018 @ 11:00pm
After five weeks of lethargic offense, Mark Stoops and his staff decided to hold practice under the lights of Kroger Field on Tuesday night. In hopes of reenergizing a team that has looked drained since the bye week, and to bring the game mentality to the practice field. According to the players and coaches, this did cause them to be more energized at practice today. Practice how you play, and this offense needs to play with energy, so I’m not knocking it.
Eddie Gran said the offense looked much better today, but there’s still a lot that needs to be fixed. Check out today’s practice notes and how the offense is looking to minimize their mistakes in these final two weeks.
Getting back to Urgency
The theme from Eddie Gran today was all about five words: Urgency, Mentality, Physicality, Attacking, and Hunger. Backing off of what Benny Snell said in Knoxville on Saturday, Gran also feels like a lack of hunger has been a critical problem in this offense.
“I’m not gonna panic, it’s about urgency,” said Coach Gran. “We’ve been in urgency before. We say urgency, don’t panic just have a sense of urgency about what you have to get done to get things right. Coaches, players, but let’s not panic about it. We got to get better at the little things.”
Gran would continue to say, “There’s been a difference in everybody. Talk about physicality, talk about an edge, we can talk about urgency. It’s from the whole group. I’m not putting it on them it’s on me.”
Offensive Struggles Stem from Inconsistency
It’s clear the offense has seen a significant drop off since the first half against South Carolina, but where exactly does it stem from? Eddie Gran believes most of the mistakes are coming from inconsistency.
“We gotta be more consistent, that’s the biggest thing,” said Gran. “Getting back to that physicality and not talking about it throughout the week. We gotta come with an edge every week. We gotta be more consistent.”
Gran would explain that you might have a guy make a few plays while other players are messing up, but as soon as the players messing up gets their problem corrected, the guy making players earlier will slip up. Gran would own up to the offense being inconsistent, and say it takes a mentality to get back to cohesive consistency.
Execution leads to Explosiveness
Widespread criticism of Kentucky’s offense has been “they’re too conservative,” dating back to every coordinator I can think of post-Hal Mumme and outside of Neal Brown. While some of them deserved that criticism (Shannon Dawson), I believe it’s not necessarily the play calling that leads to less-explosive plays, as much as it is the execution of the plays that are being drawn.
“Plays here and there that we’re missing are really killing us right now,” said CJ Conrad. “Nothing’s changed, in my opinion, with what we’re running. We’re calling the same plays, and we’re calling the right plays. Just plays that we were making at the beginning of the year, right cuts, right blocks, we were making those things. The last three games we haven’t…It’s just small stuff that’s very fixable, but it shows up on Saturday.”
Eddie Gran also says that he has the players to make those explosive plays, it just goes back to detail.
“They’ll be better this week; everybody will.” – Eddie Gran.
Want to Check Out everything else said at today’s practice? Watch Below.
It’s been a rough 10 days for UK Athletics. The Cats’ SEC East chances ended when UK dropped its first home game of the season against Georgia and the Cats followed that loss up with a stinker at Tennessee.
Kentucky dropped from No. 11 to No. 17 in the CFP rankings after Saturday’s disappointing 24-7 loss in Knoxville.
Four SEC teams are ranked ahead of the Cats (No. 1 Alabama, No. 5 Georgia, No. 7 LSU and No. 13 Florida).
I still don’t understand why Florida is being ranked above the Cats. Both have three losses and one for each team is against Georgia. However, UK beat the Gators AT the Swamp, and UK won at Mizzou. The Tigers stomped Florida in Gainesville two weeks ago.
Florida did beat Tennessee in week four.
Whatever. Beat Middle Tennessee and Louisville and all will be well.
By Nick Roush on ©November 13th, 2018 @ 1:45pm
Saturday’s matchup against Middle Tennessee State will be the last time 16 seniors play at Kroger Field. Senior Day is always an emotional moment. The ante is upped when you consider this class’ accomplishments.
Over the last three years this group has won 13 SEC games, tied for the most in school history. Two players should surpass historic milestones during their final game at Kroger Field. Mike Edwards is one tackle away from becoming just the second defensive back in the 300-tackle club. Josh Allen needs just one sack to tie Dennis Johnson’s single-season record and break Oliver Barnett’s career sack record.
This year’s Senior Day roster features quite a few playmakers that will leave an indelible mark on the Kentucky football program.
- #41 Josh Allen, Outside Linebacker
- #64 “Big” George Asafo-Adjei, Offensive Tackle
- #8 Derrick Baity, Cornerback
- #2 Dorian Baker, Wide Receiver
- #33 David Bouvier, Wide Receiver
- #95 Miles Butler, Placekicker
- #87 C.J. Conrad, Tight End
- #98 Tymere Dubose, Defensive Tackle
- #7 Mike Edwards, Safety
- #6 Lonnie Johnson Jr., Cornerback
- #34 Jordan Jones, Linebacker
- #99 Adrian Middleton, Defensive Tackle
- #65 Bunchy Stallings, Offensive Guard
- #25 Darius West, Safety
- #21 Chris Westry, Cornerback
- #42 Tristan Yeomans, Longsnapper
Arrive at Kroger Field around 11:30 to give the seniors one final salute. Tickets are still available for as low as $19 and discounted group rates are available to youth football teams by contacting [email protected]
Kentucky’s embarrassing loss to Tennessee changed the national narrative on the Cats quite a bit. ESPN’s Ryan McGee included Kentucky Football in his “Bottom 10,” a ranking of the most miserable fanbases, thanks to an assist from the basketball team.
5. The Cold Kentucky Rain (7-3)
A mere two weeks ago the nation was buzzing about the boys in blue and their chances of crashing the SEC title game and perhaps even bigger games beyond that. But the Wildcats lost to Georgia at home and followed that with their 17th consecutive loss in Knoxville, this time to a four-win Tennessee team. Meanwhile, the basketball team was run over by a truck with no brakes. Authorities say it had North Carolina plates, was painted dark blue and the driver looked like the Count from Sesame Street. Reports say he shouted, “One … two … three … four … five! The Coveted Fifth Spot goes to you, from K! UK! Bwahahahaha!”
Ouch. He ain’t wrong. Also on the list: Western Kentucky at No. 3 and Louisville at No. 10. Respect to McGee for pointing out that Louisville firing Bobby Petrino also contributed to Kentucky’s slump because we won’t get the season-ending joy of sending him out with a rout. Dangit.
Mark Stoops accepts offensive criticism, but won’t apologize for a potential nine-win regular season
By Jack Pilgrim on ©November 12th, 2018 @ 8:30pm
It was an all-systems-failure in Knoxville, but Kentucky football head coach Mark Stoops isn’t going to apologize to anyone for his team being in position to win nine games in the regular season.
During his weekly radio show, one fan called into the show to air his grievances with the Kentucky offense, calling out Eddie Gran and Darin Hinshaw in the process. In his mind, the UK co-offensive coordinators are being paid quite a bit of money to not put up more than 17 points over the last five weeks.
Stoops accepted the fact that the Wildcat offense has been struggling, but he was quick to remind the caller that this is team is in position to do something that hasn’t been done at Kentucky in decades.
“We accept that, but you’re not going to sit there and point fingers and cast the blame on people,” he said. “Because they’re also the same people that put us in a position that we’re going to win the most games we have in school history in the last, what, 40 years?”
Stoops said that he understands that history was there to be made and he’s frustrated they couldn’t seal the deal on that, but there are only three historically great SEC teams with better records than the Cats right now. In his mind, that stands for something.
“I believe in the last 40 years, there have been some great coaches here,” Stoops said. “I believe there have been some coaches that have done a really good job, guys I have great respect for. There are three people in the SEC that have better records than us. These are programs that have been doing things right for 50, 75, 100 years. And we’re right in the middle of it.”
Earlier today at his weekly press conference, Stoops was asked whether or not he was willing to shake things up offensively to close out the season. The Kentucky head coach said going into “panic mode” would be a bad idea.
“That wouldn’t be a very good idea. We got two opportunities to get the most victories we’ve had in a regular season since 1977. I don’t think that’d be very wise. We did a lot of good things to win seven games, and we plan on trying to get to eight and nine. I appreciate all the good things that they did to put us in that position. That would be called panic mode,” Stoops said.
The perfect recipe of grinding out victories by controlling the clock and pounding the ball on the ground over the last three years has led to Kentucky finishing with the most conference wins in school history. More success is there to be had and the staff is just as frustrated, but nobody is perfect.
“We’re not perfect, but we’re going to keep on shriving,” he said. “You’re entitled to your frustration, but we’re just as frustrated as you are. We found a recipe to win the most SEC games in the last three years as anyone in the history of this school. Because guess what? It’s not easy.”
By KSR on ©November 12th, 2018 @ 7:30pm
Well, that sucked.
The Cats could not win at Rocky Top. Nick Roush, Drew Franklin, Jack Pilgrim and Adam Luckett try to explain what went wrong and diagnose the problems with UK’s offense before they share their favorite memories of the Senior Class that will leave UK with more SEC wins than any other group in school history. Highlights:
— The moment the offensive line started to decline.
— Is there a disconnect between Gran and Stoops?
— Neyland stinks
— An emotional up and down season.
— Bobby Gone.
— Takes so hot, two firetrucks had to come.
— Jack apologizes on behalf of Chris Westry.
Get the podcast delivered to your phone by subscribing to “KSR Football Podcast” on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app (just search “KSR Football Podcast”). You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play , and streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise.
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By Nick Roush on ©November 12th, 2018 @ 5:00pm
“As I mentioned Saturday night after the game, feel the same way today. We obviously didn’t play good enough. I didn’t have them prepared well enough and we need to do a better job. That’s a very important game that we did not put forth our best effort, and that can’t happen. It’s inexcusable and we need to do a better job. With that being said, that’s one game and we have to move on and get ready to prepare for a victory here this week. We’ve got to do whatever we’ve got to do to get ready to play this game against Middle (Tennessee) to get our eighth victory. Again, it’s very important. Doesn’t diminish all the good things our team has done throughout this year, and appreciate their effort throughout this season. Again, as I mentioned Saturday, I didn’t do a good enough job getting them motivated and getting them prepared to play last week, and that’s what we have to do. We’ll get back at it here this week.”
On if he thinks it’s time to re-think the entire offensive scheme…
“That wouldn’t be a very good idea. We got two opportunities to get the most victories we’ve had in a regular season since 1977. I don’t think that’d be very wise. We did a lot of good things to win seven games, and we plan on trying to get to eight and nine. I appreciate all the good things that they did to put us in that position. That would be called panic mode.”
On if he considers this to be somewhat of a breather game…
“There’s no team that we can say that’s a breather. You see it again, you see it in college football, and you see it all the time. You saw Tennessee score seven points on Charlotte the week before, and come out and play lights out against us. These are college kids, there’s going to be ups and downs. You’ve have to be good enough to win when you don’t play your best. It’s very difficult to play at your peak for 12 straight weeks and some of the teams that are competing for 13, so it’s difficult. You’ve got to be good enough to overcome them when you don’t play well. Sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t. I think there are three teams in this league, we’ve got a pretty good league don’t we? 14 teams in this league that have pretty good programs, and I think three of them have a better record than us. I don’t think it’s time to scrap everything.”
On if the film showed that some guys were just going through the motions Saturday like Benny (Snell Jr.) mentioned…
“Definitely. I said it after the game, I was the first one to say it. I said it to the team prior to them talking to you. I didn’t do a very good job because we weren’t ready to play at the level that we needed to play at. I think you could see Tennessee, where maybe they played that way the week before, and they got straightened out and came out and played with a lot of passion and energy. Our team has done that throughout this year. We didn’t Saturday and that’s on me. I appreciate Benny (Snell Jr.) pointing those things out, and that’s what leaders should do. I don’t think he’s pointing at any one person, just in general, I told them that we didn’t do a good enough job.”
By Nick Roush on ©November 12th, 2018 @ 4:00pm
After a disappointing 24-7 loss to Tennessee in Knoxville, Mark Stoops will not scrap the scheme and start from scratch. Kentucky’s head coach is not panicking. After all, they are still 7-3.
“I don’t think that’d be very wise,” Stoops said at his weekly press conference. “We did a lot of good things to win seven games. We plan on trying to get the eighth and ninth. I appreciate all the good things that they did to put us in that position. That would be called panic mode.”
Most of the panic in the BBN revolves around Kentucky’s dismal offense. The Cats have not scored more than 17 points in a game since September. That’s just one of the many stats that highlights Kentucky’s poor production.
Even though the unit has struggled to score points, Stoops doesn’t think they are so far off that drastic changes must be made. From afar, the problems appear to be complicated. Stoops sees the problem plainly: every time the offense is prepared to finish a long drive with a score, they make a critical mistake.
In the Georgia game, a third and short near the goal line turned into third and long after a pre-snap penalty. On the first drive against Tennessee, Benny Snell missed a hole on a second down that made it third and short, then a lineman missed a block. One drive later, Kentucky advanced the ball all the way down to the 26 before a snap flew over Terry Wilson’s head. One play later a receiver dropped a pass.
“Those are things that we can’t overcome. That’s where we have to put it all together and play clean,” Stoops said.
“We have to make long drives. In our victories throughout the season, we’ve had 12-13 play drives because we’re not overly explosive, but you have to be very good and you have to be very precise and you can’t have a missed assignment here, a missed assignment there.”
The numbers reinforce that statement. In two relatively high-scoring wins against South Carolina and Mississippi State, Kentucky produced just over 300 yards of offense. In the five games since, UK has not surpassed 20 points, yet the offensive production is on par with MSU and SCAR.
At Tennessee Kentucky gained four or more yards on 17 of their 27 runs. That’s good enough to score points if you have an explosive offense, but the Cats simply don’t have enough playmakers.
“We need to be very precise. The complete game changers, we don’t have a lot of them on offense. We’ve gotta make sure that we execute and we’re very efficient in what we do,” said Stoops.
Finding the right recipe for offensive success follows mistake-free football. This team cannot play perfect. That’s asking too much. However, they have been good enough in previous games to play through their own shortcomings.
“You got to be good enough to overcome them when you don’t play well. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t.”
On Saturday, Kentucky did not have it in them to beat Tennessee. The Cats appeared to be emotionally drained from the roller coaster season of highs and lows. Instead of attacking the Vols with a ferocious physicality, Tennessee was the aggressor.
“We haven’t been very good when we’ve been the hunted. We’re a much better football team when we’re the hunter. We’ve gotta understand what level you’ve gotta play with all the time.”
Kentucky must flip the switch and re-inject energy back into the team for Senior Day. If not, it might be time to take a second look at the panic button.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©November 12th, 2018 @ 3:30pm
Barring a major surprise in tomorrow night’s playoff rankings, Kentucky’s loss to Tennessee knocked them out of contention for a New Year’s Six bowl. At 7-3 with two winnable games left, where do college football experts believe the Cats will end up this postseason? The Citrus Bowl in Orlando on January 1 (1 p.m., ABC).
ESPN: Outback Bowl vs. Michigan State OR Citrus Bowl vs. Northwestern
Sports Illustrated: Belk Bowl vs. NC State
The Sporting News: TaxSlayer Bowl vs. Michigan State
CBS Sports: Citrus Bowl vs. Penn State
SB Nation: Citrus Bowl vs. Penn State
247 Sports: Citrus Bowl vs. Northwestern
Brett McMurphy: Fiesta Bowl vs. UCF
McMurphy is the only major prognosticator to still have the Cats in a New Year’s Six Bowl, which he says is dependent on them winning out and beating Florida out for the spot (currently, he has the Gators in the Citrus Bowl). Tomorrow’s updated playoff rankings will tell us a lot.
Don’t forget, Citrus Bowl reps have already visited Kentucky this season. There are far worse things than Orlando in January…just please let Northwestern end up somewhere else.
By Nick Roush on ©November 12th, 2018 @ 1:20pm
Saturday will be the final send-off for 16 seniors at Kroger Field. The game against Middle Tennessee State will serve as a celebration, especially if and when the Cats snap a two-game losing streak, the first losing streak of the season.
The last two weeks of football have been disheartening, to say the least. Still, Stoops won’t let the seniors’ accomplishments get overlooked by a bump in the road.
During the head coach’s weekly press conference, the Courier Journal’s Jon Hale asked Stoops, “The senior class that’s playing in their last home game on Saturday is going to go out with as many wins as any Kentucky senior class in a long time. What has that group meant to your program?”
Stoops responded: “I appreciate that Jon. I’d like you to rephrase that a little bit louder so everybody can hear that.”
It was not just a tongue in cheek remark. Stoops made Hale say it louder so the folks in the back could hear that this group of seniors has won more SEC games over the last three years than any team in the history of University of Kentucky football.
“The most in school history as far as SEC victories. I think they deserve a little credit for that. I think we all, I’m the first one, you always want to hang onto things. What can you do better? That’s what drives us everyday, it’s what drives me everyday and that’s what I wanna do. But I also wanna give recognition to that senior class, what they’ve done and what they’ve meant to this program and how much I greatly appreciate them and I think the Big Blue Nation appreciates them. They will, it’s a fact; over the last three years they’ve won the most SEC games as anybody in the history of this school. That’s a long time folks. I appreciate what they’ve done.”
Kentucky has won 13 SEC games in the three-year span, largely thanks to contributions from the senior class. This season has been an historic success, even with the recent shortcomings, ones that will not be overlooked as they prepare for MTSU.
“That can’t happen, it’s in excusable and we need to do a better job. With that being said, it’s one game. We have to move on and prepare for a victory this week,” Stoop said. “It doesn’t diminish all the good things our team has done throughout this year.”
If the Cats can move past the Tennessee loss and finish the season with two more wins, it will be the most by a Kentucky team in 41 years. That’s incredible. Don’t forget that (or Stoops will send you a reminder).