This weekend is the unofficial start to summer, which means we’ve only seen the beginning →
Football Season Coverage
With just over 100 days left until the start of the football season the hype train is beginning to chug along. Just what will Kentucky be bringing to the SEC table for 2015? Chris Low of ESPN takes his turn with what the Cats may look like in year three under Stoops. First up a bit about the offense:
How the Wildcats beat you: Shannon Dawson, a disciple of Hal Mumme’s Air Raid offense, takes over as the Wildcats’ offensive coordinator after four years at West Virginia. Dawson’s aim for this team? Be as physical as it is fast. That charge will be led by Kentucky’s versatile stable of running backs, particularly Stanley “Boom” Williams and Jojo Kemp, and what the Wildcats hope will be an improved line with four starters returning. Patrick Towles has to hold off redshirt freshman Drew Barker for the starting QB job, but Towles was a pleasant surprise last fall and should be able to handle a heavier load in his second full season as the starter.
If that paragraph doesn’t get you pumped up you may not have a pulse. And what does ESPN think about the Defense?
How you beat the Wildcats: While Kentucky will look to bring pressure from different angles, it’s unclear whether the Wildcats can rush the passer without having to sell out and blitz, especially with Dupree and Smith no longer around. And if Kentucky winds up in a lot of single coverage in the secondary, it could be disastrous. The Wildcats gave up 157 points in their final three games last year and were torched for more than 40 points in five of their last six (they averaged 31.3 on the season). They simply ran out of gas on defense last season, and a big part of that was a lack of depth.
For the rest of what the worldwide leader had to say about the 2015 Cats head on over to ESPN and read the rest of the article with a click of the link below.
This weekend is the unofficial start to summer, which means we’ve only seen the beginning of those annoying Target commercials. While the Kentucky sports landscape may seem bleak over the next three months, I went through the calendar and raked up plenty of events to keep us entertained from now until kick off in the new Commonwealth Stadium in September.
Spray on some sunscreen and come along. I’ll show you.
THE REST OF MAY
May 23-24: NCAA Softball Super Regional
The UK softball team will make its fourth appearance in the NCAA Super Regional this upcoming weekend in Gainesville. As someone who cares very little about the little round balls, even I was captivated by their run last year. Here’s their schedule this weekend:
Saturday, May 23
Kentucky vs. Florida – 1 p.m. ET – ESPNU
Sunday, May 24
Florida vs. Kentucky – noon ET – ESPN
Kentucky vs. Florida – 3 p.m. ET – ESPN
June 6: Saturday Night Prime Time Camp
UK’s football camps have taken a huge step up in the Mark Stoops era, and the staff is kicking things off on June 6 with the Saturday Night Prime Time Camp, which is open to rising high school junior and seniors only. The Sunday Showcase camp is on Sunday and both are great chances for Kentucky to host and court elite talent from around the country. According to the staff, the Saturday Night Prime Time Camp is HUGE.
June 6: The Belmont Stakes
Will American Pharoah become the first Triple Crown champion since Affirmed in 1978? For horse racing’s sake, I sure hope so. Many are calling Pharoah the best Triple Crown contender since Smarty Jones in 2004, and America will be watching to see if he can pull off something only eleven other horses have in the history of the sport.
June 9: Basketball players report to campus
In recent years, summer workouts have become the norm for the basketball team, and if players aren’t able to come early, they’re noticeably behind the rest when the season starts. While some of us are still stuck on the end of last season, it’s comforting to know that the Tyler Ulis era at Kentucky begins in two and a half weeks.
June 22: The KSR Summer Tour of Affiliates kicks off
For the fourth year in a row, Matt, Ryan, and Drew will tour the state to visit all of the radio show’s affiliates. There’s over 30 affiliates now, which means the tour will take almost two months. The schedule is still being finalized, but we’ll post it as soon as it’s ready. Get your hole in the wall, down home cookin’ restaurant recs ready.
June 25: The NBA Draft (New York City)
Kentucky set the record for the most players drafted from one school back in 2012 when six Cats’ names were called: Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Marquis Teague, Doron Lamb, and Darius Miller. There’s a good chance Kentucky will break its own record this go around as seven players wait to hear their futures.
Karl Towns will go either first or second, Willie Cauley-Stein most likely in the top ten, and Devin Booker and Trey Lyles possibly in the lottery. Dakari Johnson and Andrew Harrison could potentially sneak into the first round, while Aaron Harrison needs to impress in workouts over the next month to ensure his name is called. If all seven players are drafted, it will be a landmark moment for the program and the telecast will be even more of a UK informercial than in years past.
July 4: Happy Birthday America
Independence Day falls on a Saturday this year, but that won’t stop me and Richmond Bramblet from holding our annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest LIVE BLOG. (Richmond, if you’re reading this, you’re doing it.)
July 4-20: NBA Summer Leagues kick off
With potentially 25 former Kentucky players in the league after the Draft, there’s a good chance we’ll see several of them play in the Summer Leagues in Orlando, Utah, and Las Vegas. Here’s a list of teams participating:
Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, L.A. Lakers, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, NBA D-League Select, New Orleans Pelicans, New York Knicks, Phoenix Suns, Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz, Washington Wizards
And the different league dates:
- July 4-10: Orlando Summer League
- July 6-9: Utah Jazz Summer League
- July 10-20: Las Vegas Summer League
July 13-16: SEC Football Media Days (Birmingham, Alabama)
For the third year in a row, I’m headed to lovely Birmingham to cover the SEC Media Days. Mark Stoops and the Kentucky representatives aren’t up until Wednesday, but I’ll head down Tuesday morning to take in the sights, sounds, and crazy Alabama fans in the Wyndham Hotel lobby.
Here’s the full schedule:
- Monday, July 13: SEC Commissioner, Auburn (Gus Malzahn), Florida (Jim McElwain), Vanderbilt (Derek Mason)
- Tuesday, July 14: SEC Coordinator of Football Officials Steve Shaw; South Carolina (Steve Spurrier), Texas A&M (Kevin Sumlin), Mississippi State (Dan Mullen), Tennessee (Butch Jones)
- Wednesday, July 15: Alabama (Nick Saban), Kentucky (Mark Stoops), Arkansas (Bret Bielema), Missouri (Gary Pinkel)
- Thursday, July 16: LSU (Les Miles), Georgia (Mark Richt), Ole Miss (Hugh Freeze)
July 15-19: EYBL Peach Jam (North Augusta, South Carolina)
Matt, Drew, and Tomlin will go to North Augusta once again to give you the latest buzz on the recruiting scene, the coaches and media in the bar scene, and the peaches scene. Peaches for you, peaches for me.
July 17: Friday Night Blue Lights Camp
Another big camp and opportunity for Mark Stoops and staff to impress the nation’s elite recruits. The 2016 class is already off to a good start, and clinics like this will give the staff a chance to show off the progress on the newly renovated Commonwealth Stadium and practice facility.
July 25: UK Football Women’s Clinic
I wasn’t able to attend last year’s clinic, but I’ll be there this year in hopes the coaches will give us a glimpse of the new stadium. Registration hasn’t opened yet, but ladies, go ahead and clear your calendars for a fun day of football.
Early August: Football Media Day, Fan Day, Fall Camp begins
Players report to campus and fall camp begins during the first week of August, which will be followed by Media Day and Fan Day. Exact dates haven’t been announced, but rest assured, Matt will walk around the field barefoot to interview coaches and players.
August 11-13: USA Basketball Men’s National Team Mini Camp (Las Vegas, Nevada)
Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, and John Wall are all on the 34-player roster for Team USA, with Davis and Cousins participating in the FIBA World Cup last summer. The 2016 Olympics are around the corner, which makes this year’s mini camp even more important. Will any other Cats receive an invite?
August 13: Kash Daniel announces his decision
The four-star linebacker currently has offers from Kentucky, Louisville, South Carolina, and Purdue, along with interest from Ohio State and Florida. The Paintsville native will narrow his list to four next month, and moving up his decision date has to be a good sign for the Cats, who were the first to offer and have the momentum in his recruitment so far.
August 14: The final KSR Summer Tour Stop in Louisville
The summer tour schedule hasn’t been finalized yet, but it traditionally includes an appearance from Mark Stoops to get us all fired up for football season. Is it strange that I’m already excited for Ryan Lemond’s pep talks?
September 5: UK vs. Louisiana Lafayette
We made it. Bring on football and fall.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©May 22nd, 2015 @ 1:30pm
The UK Ticket Office uploaded this picture on Twitter today of more blue bench backs in the lower level (North side).
Only 105 days ’til kick-off…
ESPN’s SEC Blog is rolling out previews for each team in the league, and Sam Khan Jr. is naming a “sleeper” for each program. Kentucky’s? Linebacker Ryan Flannigan.
In 2014, Flannigan’s impact wasn’t quite to the level the Kentucky coaching staff hoped for when it signed him, but toward the end of the season Flannigan came on strong. He started three of the final four games, and his last two games were his best, when he recorded 12 tackles against Tennessee and a team-high 11 tackles, plus a pass breakup, against Louisville in the season finale. Of his 57 tackles last season, 23 came in those last two games. This spring, head coach Mark Stoops remarked that Flannigan made a big improvement and the Blinn College prospect will benefit from actually participating in spring football — last year, Flannigan didn’t arrive on campus until August, just before preseason training camp. A full offseason in the program will benefit the 6-foot-2, 220-pound senior immensely. Linebackers coach D.J. Eliot said Flannigan’s progress is evidence of why there is”nothing like a live rep.” Look for Flannigan’s role to grow and for his production to increase significantly in 2015.
Meanwhile, ESPN’s Chris Low has a full breakdown of the Cats. Here’s how he thinks Kentucky can beat teams on offense:
Shannon Dawson, a disciple of Hal Mumme’s Air Raid offense, takes over as the Wildcats’ offensive coordinator after four years at West Virginia. Dawson’s aim for this team? Be as physical as it is fast. That charge will be led by Kentucky’s versatile stable of running backs, particularly Stanley “Boom” Williams and Jojo Kemp, and what the Wildcats hope will be an improved line with four starters returning. Patrick Towles has to hold off redshirt freshman Drew Barker for the starting QB job, but Towles was a pleasant surprise last fall and should be able to handle a heavier load in his second full season as the starter.
Read Low’s thoughts on UK’s defense over at the Worldwide leader.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©May 22nd, 2015 @ 11:15am
Ladies, get out your calendars: a little birdie tells us the UK Football Women’s Clinic is scheduled for Saturday, July 25. The details are still being finalized and registration isn’t open yet, but if I were you, I’d go ahead and make plans to spend that day with Stoops, the staff, the players, and yours truly. I wasn’t able to go last year, but there’s no way I’m missing it this go around.
Maybe we’ll even get a glimpse of the new stadium…
Earlier I posted my three main concerns going into the season. Now I’m going to dive into my three most encouraging. In a crucial year being played in a new and improved Commonwealth Stadium, a collection of positions will help to usher Mark Stoops to his potential first bowl game.
The first group featured is the pass catchers:
First, the fundamental position differences. Receivers are labeled differently by coaches or scheme. Generally, there are three types: X, Y, and Z. X indicates the outside receiver; Z plays inside and formally titled as flanker, and Y labels the tight end, an additional inside receiver, or hybrid.
The more I write about the 2013-14 seasons, one deficient factor remains constant: lack of consistent middle of the field passing threat from the Z and Y. Alexander Montgomery and Jeff Badet’s absence crippled production. Coupled with little to no TE receptions, throwing over the middle field was non-existent. Result was defenses were able to provide more personnel dedicated to stopping the run.
Moving on, two Shannon Dawson coached WR’s were selected in this year’s NFL Draft. Eventually, UK will have the same claim. Through research, Dawson-led offenses have one commonality: fast and aggressive receivers with excessive YAC (yards after catch).
Sophomore trio of Garret Johnson, Jeff Badet, and TV Williams provides Dawson with big-play WR’s capable of working the void between linebackers and safeties. With Ryan Timmons’ return from spring surgery and true freshman addition Tavin Richardson, Patrick Towles will have more than enough inside targets to force one on ones on the outside as well as keep defenses from stacking the box (7 or more defenders lined up 3-5 yds off line of scrimmage to stop the run). Joey Herrick and Charles Walker will provide proven depth.
Note: Inside receivers are normally the smaller of the two WR positions. Lacking in size; speed is optimal, courage mandatory.
Projected starter: Garrett Johnson/Jeff Badet/Ryan Timmons
Much like pass rushing DE’s, the X position is the headline grabber. Red zone fade routes, vertical throws, and 50/50 passes lead to larger yards/TD per catch ratio. Outside, Dawson will also have his weapon of choice. Blake Bone and Dorian Baker showed early promise but later struggled releasing from the line of scrimmage against veteran SEC CB’s. A year of strength training will likely correct. Adding depth will be promising redshirt freshman Thaddeus Snodgrass along with true freshmen Therrell Gosier (former U commit) and Jabari Greenwood. Side note, Therrell Gosier’s film was captivating. All three can factor. As a group, expect more passes thrown in their direction. See above, effective inside passing threat clears the way for one on one situations. This will highly benefit the X position. Stretching the field by increased vertical completions will give the offense a different look and viability to score more points.
Note: X or outside receivers are preferably over 6’2 with non-negotiable traits being speed, strong hands, excessive vertical jump, and the ability to influence defenders in one on one scenarios.
Projected starters: Dorian Baker and Blake Bone
Prior lack of production has been talked to death. Moving on. Jacob Tamme is the standard. Meeting that expectation unrealistic. Enter two freshmen, CJ Conrad and Darryl Long. Spring practice formed multiple CJ Conrad discussions. To say I’m high on this kid would be a massive understatement. Conrad has every trait to become a quality SEC TE. Remember from earlier post, counting on true freshmen for SEC wins can be misleading hope. Not in this case. CJ may hit the freshman wall, but he’s ready now, today. Darryl Long was a steal in the 14 class. I actually expected him to play as a true freshman but apparently upper body strength, critical in blocking, required improvement. Common in freshman. He and CJ will develop into a legitimate TE duo. Going against instinct, but collectively these two rookies could become the most obvious positional upgrade on the roster. Tavin Richardson could also be utilized as a Hybrid Y or part WR, part TE. I’m not skilled or experienced enough writer to communicate my enthusiasm. Maybe I should have used all caps.
Note: TE’s require a unique blend of size, athleticism, and strength due to varied responsibilities. Blocking and catching equally important. TE’s are also QB’s safety blanket or life jacket. This upgrade alone will increase QB completion percentage by 5%.
Projected starter: CJ Conrad
Receiver’s Coach Tommy Mainord is a recruiting rock star who coined the “Yahtzee” phrase. Tommy Mainord can also flat out coach. Expect a dramatically improved pass catching group of athletes.
By Drew Franklin on ©May 20th, 2015 @ 5:15pm
I won’t lie to you, friends. Kentucky has yet to play a football game without Za’Darius Smith and I already miss him. No one in the program had a better attitude than Big Z the past two seasons and he was a blast to watch on and off the field. The man was born for the Cat Walk and it won’t be the same without him lagging 100 yards behind his teammates, trying to high-five everyone on the sidewalk.
Anyway, Za’Darius is at the next level now with the Baltimore Ravens and today Ravens.com shared an interview with him as part of its Meet The Rookie web series.
Watch the video via the link below as he explains what went wrong with his basketball career and why he is always smiling.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©May 19th, 2015 @ 7:00pm
Congrats to junior center Jon Toth, who was named to the spring watch list for the 2015 Rimington Trophy, given annually to the most outstanding center in Division I College Football.
Toth has 23 consecutive starts at UK and was named Southeastern Conference Offensive Lineman of the Week in the season-opening win over Miami (Ohio) last season. As a freshman, Toth was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team by league coaches after helping three different UK players rush for 400-plus yards.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©May 19th, 2015 @ 6:00pm
Wide receiver Alex Montgomery, kicker Austin MacGinnis and safety Marcus McWilson are currently on the annual UK Football service trip to Ethiopia, and over the next few days, will blog about the experience for UK Athletics.
Today, Montgomery shared his thoughts on the first part of the trip. Here’s an excerpt:
First you’re just driving through this amazingly different city with a lot of different things going on like their driving, the buildings, the people. I just wanted to stop and help everyone but unfortunately I can’t. So we’re finally on this dirt road where there are huge bumps, goats and donkeys. I really enjoyed looking at the donkeys though just because they all reminded me of Donkey from Shrek.
After that, we finally got to one family’s house and we were shocked to see it had no roof and barely any walls. We got right to work, without a question. After a few hours of work fixing their home, the lady was so happy. She said, “Thanks for making my house beautiful,” but I wanted to thank her for just showing me that it doesn’t take a million dollars to make someone’s day.
Not a bad piece of advice to keep in mind. Be sure to check out the rest at UKAthletics.com. Here are some more pics from the trip so far:
A photo posted by ukfootball (@ukfootball) on
#WeAreUK #UKFootballinAfrica A photo posted by ukfootball (@ukfootball) on
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©May 19th, 2015 @ 4:30pm
Remember all that hullabaloo about a year ago when Mark Stoops decided not to attend the annual Governor’s Cup Luncheon? It created quite the stir, with Louisville fans claiming Stoops was “bigger than tradition” even though the luncheon itself seemed a little pointless considering the UK/UofL game was moved to the end of the season.
It looks like we’ll finally get to see Stoops and Bobby Petrino make nice for the cameras this time around. WKYT is reporting that Stoops will attend the luncheon, which is scheduled for June 3 at the Frankfort Country Club. According to The Kroger Company, Petrino will also attend, along with honorees from both schools, including Jeff Brohm, Mike Cassity, Mark Higgs, Tom Andrews and Gary Barnes. ESPN’s Lee Corso will make a guest appearance.
Both Petrino and Stoops have taken subtle digs at each other over the past year, so hopefully something juicy will come from it. (Don’t count on it.)
The construction on Commonwealth Stadium is coming right along, and today, UK has a special treat for us: the new stadium map.
We’ve been hearing about the changes for months, but from the construction pics and diagrams, it’s starting to get real…
By Bryan the Intern on ©May 19th, 2015 @ 9:00am
The fact of the matter is that the SEC has developed a reputation in football of having teams with creampuff non-conference schedules. And it’s pretty much deserved for most of the league. Of course SEC fan will argue there is no reason to challenge yourself in the non-conference if the conference is that strong. But frankly UK hasn’t even attempted to challenge itself, outside of Louisville, for a very long time. Do you realize that UK has not played a non-conference game against a BCS opponent not named Louisville since 2005 (Indiana). They haven’t played a non-conference opponent not named UL or Indiana since 1990 (North Carolina). That’s not really pushing yourself much. And maybe many of you don’t care. But I’d just like to see the schedule beefed up a little for enjoyment and to see where this program stands.
So who in the SEC schedules the hardest in the non-conference? My rankings are below. I took into account games schedule outside of normal rivalries, willingness to play true road games, and consistency playing tough opponents.
2015: at Georgia Tech
2014: #16 Clemson, #16 Georgia Tech
2013: at #8 Clemson, at Georgia Tech
2012: Georgia Tech
2011: #5 Boise State (neutral), at #25 Georgia Tech
2014: at #4 Oklahoma
2013: at #3 Oregon
2012: NC State (neutral)
2015: Wisconsin (neutral)
2014: West Virginia (neutral)
2013: Virginia Tech (neutral)
2012: #8 Michigan (neutal)
2011: at Penn State
2015: at Syracuse
2014: #14 Wisconsin (neutral)
2013: #20 TCU (neutral)
2011: Oregon (neutral), at West Virginia
5. SOUTH CAROLINA
2015: North Carolina (neutral), Clemson
2014: at #21 Clemson
2013: North Carolina, #8 Clemson
2012: at #12 Clemson
2015: Louisville (neutral)
2014: at Kansas St
2013: Washington St.
2012: #14 Clemson (neutral)
2011: at Clemson
2015: Florida St
2014: at #3 Florida St,
2013: at Miami (FL), #12 Florida St
2012: at #10 Florida State
2011: Florida State
8. OLE MISS
2014: Boise St (neutral)
2013: at #15 Texas
2012: #14 Texas
2015: BYU (neutral)
2013: at Indiana
2012: Arizona State, Syracuse
2011: at Arizona State
2015: Texas Tech
2014: at Texas Tech
2013: at Rutgers
2011: Texas A&M (neutral)
2014: at Louisville
2012: at #25 Louisville
2013: Wake Forest
2012: Wake Forest
2011: UCONN, at Wake Forest
13. TEXAS A&M
2015: Arizona State (neutral)
2011: Arkansas (neutral)
14. MISSISSIPPI STATE
2013: #14 Oklahoma St (neutral)
Mark Stoops has recruited at an unparalleled level. From his initial class to most recent, UK has enjoyed unquestionable success. 247 Sports ranks Kentucky’s 2016 commitment list 7th nationally which is good for 4th in the SEC. Expectation meet reality. Recruiting wish lists are comprised of various traits: necessity, best available, positional need, geographical interests, depth, and so forth. For instance, the 2013 class was hastily constructed focusing on best available while 2014 was more star laden. Naysayers labeled 2015 as the Year of the De-commitment and focused on the one that got away. As usual, I dared to formulate independent thought and consider it Stoops’ best work to date. The following list is not comprised of the best or most talented signees, but focuses on the most significant personnel additions for program growth. I think you’ll find that talent and significance often cross paths.
Mark Stoops’ Five Most Significant Signees
Za’Darius Smith – East Mississippi Junior College (2013)
The 4 star JUCO DE had the coveted Mississippi State offer prior to signing with Kentucky. That is not in jest. Beating the Dogs for a Mississippi JUCO DL is an uncommon and a tall task. In addition to Miss. State, Florida State and pretty much the rest of college football offered. His signing was twofold, first positional improvement increased exponentially but mostly it served as an initial shot across the bow to traditional powers that Stoops’ and staff were not backing down. Not entering the ring to fight was a criticism to the previous staff. Smith’s signing was the first indication that the Cats were not only entering the ring but walking with a late 80’s Mike Tyson swagger to crawl between the ropes.
Boom Williams – George Walton Academy, Monroe, Ga. (2014)
Once ranked as the nation’s top all-purpose back the four star arrived on campus with 4.3 speed expectation to light up the scoreboard. Georgia, Clemson, Auburn, and many others offered but Derrick Ansley and Mark Stoops earned his signature. Another statement signee this time from the state of Georgia where UK has historically recruited well, but more so on a development basis. Another win vs. the establishment.
Jason Hatcher – Trinity HS, Louisville, Ky. (2013)
Believe it or not, there was once a time when UK selected, not recruited the city of Louisville. That is no longer the case. Not only did Stoops flip Hatcher from his original commitment to Southern Cal, he fought off the hometown Cardinals. Trinity has deep ties to U of L with a host of future Cards playing for the Rocks. By going against trend, Jason’s signing was imminent in UK’s re-entry to the Commonwealth’s largest city. Further, early in his recruiting process, Hatcher had very little interest in Kentucky. The quick nature of is de-commitment from USC to signing with UK will go down as an all-time recruiting win.
Kobie Walker – Good Counsel HS, Olney, Md. (2014)
Injuries have prevented Walker to display his talent, but it’s there. It will surface. Expected to add depth at OLB, Kobie hails from one of the nation’s top high school football programs, Our Lady of Good Counsel that annually produces a number of high level players. His signing christened Tommy Mainord’s entrance into the greater DC area. 2014 was also UK’s re-entry into the northeast, an area that has provided the BBN with all-time greats such as Art Still and Derrick Ramsey. Mainord has continued to show his worth in the nation’s capital by signing three Beltway players in this year’s class. All were from traditional powers.
Matt Elam – John Hardin HS, Elizabethtown, Ky (2014)
When a four star defensive lineman calls Kentucky home, signing him crosses from importance to obsession. Such was the case with Matt Elam. UK vs. Alabama hadn’t resulted in an on the field win for the Cats since 1997. 2014 saw a Wildcat win on the recruiting trail. Nick Saban did not hide the fact that Elam was a priority. Matt’s on the field potential will meet production but for now, his signature rocked the recruiting world and demonstrated UK’s priority for keeping Kentucky’s best at home.
Let the argument begin. I actually invite discussion. My goal is to provoke football thought.
We’ve heard plenty about Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith settling into their new roles in the NFL, but another former Cat is currently doing his best to earn a spot at the next level: Steven Borden. Sting’s son is taking part in the Kansas City Chiefs mini-camp, and, as you might expect, he’s getting plenty of questions about his famous father. Yesterday, the tight end says the constant references to Sting, a professional wrestling legend, don’t bother him one bit.
“People usually ask me does that bother you, does that upset you? It’s never bothered me,” Borden said. “It’s actually been one of those things that has pushed me my entire life. You see what your dad has done, you want to beat him out.”
During his two years at Kentucky, Borden had seven receptions for 96 yards and one touchdown. His senior year, he battled a hamstring injury that limited him to four catches for 33 yards. Hopefully he finds a home at the next level. If worse comes to worse, Borden joked with reporters that he may see if he can follow in his father’s footsteps.
“I always tell people, if one day I’m homeless on the streets, then I might try it.”
With the non-conference basketball schedule pretty well set we can all take a look at the full Kentucky fall slate and see what is in store for the back half of 2015. The remainder of the year has shaped up to be on of Lexington’s best filled with marquee action on both the hardwood and the gridiron. What are the best games to look forward to next season? Here are my picks for the top 10.
10. Kentucky Vs EKU, October 3, 2015
Need some bulletin board material to get the teams ready for this game? Both teams handled that earlier this year with the big incident in Richmond. This one should be pretty chippy in the early goings but the Cats are just too much for their FCS opponent.
9. Kentucky Vs Louisiana, September 5, 2015
The Ragin’ Cajuns are winners of four straight New Orleans Bowls which allowed them to post several 9 win years. The opening game is not going to be easy but with a brand new Commonwealth Stadium the home crowd should be rocking. September needs to hurry up and get here.
8. Kentucky Vs Ohio St, December 19, 2015
Remember the last time Kentucky and Ohio State played? The result was one of the best NCAA tournament games Kentucky has ever been a part of. Since then Ohio State hasn’t been a major player on the national stage but the game in Brooklyn should be worthy of the trip.
7. Kentucky Vs UCLA, December 3, 2015
Next year Kentucky will play Duke, Kansas, and UCLA which are the four teams that are arguably the most storied in NCAA history. UCLA is coming off a trip to the Sweet 16 and will be looking for some vengeance for the embarrassment in Indy last season. Kentucky should win but with a young team early in the season you never know what could happen.
6. Kentucky Vs Tennessee, October 31, 2015
Josh Dobbs has lit Kentucky up in two starts against the Cats. Kentucky will have to find a way to contain the dual threat rocket scientist if they are going to have any shot at winning this game. Still the potential showdown between the East’s best quarterbacks is too good not to include on this list.
5. Kentucky Vs Auburn, October 15, 2015
Thursday night in the new Commonwealth Stadium against the top team in the SEC. What’s not to love about this game?
4. Kentucky Vs Louisville, December 26??
The Cards are a team in flux as the only remaining player on the roster that was also on their national championship team is Mangok Mathiang. Louisville has a good recruiting class coming in but Pitino has never and will never beat Cal inside Rupp Arena.
3. Kentucky Vs Florida, September 19, 2015
Kentucky doesn’t have time to rest as the season begins with two tough games against Louisiana and South Carolina and then Florida comes to visit. The Gators survived the delay of game penalty last season in Gainesville to make it 28 straight wins over the Cats. This year we get them at home with a new coach, a depleted roster, and a team mad about last year’s finish. Could be the year the streak finally comes to an end? I think so.
2. Kentucky Vs Duke, November 17, 2015
The game that many had penciled in as a rematch of the national championship. Alas, that storyline isn’t coming into play but it is still a match-up of the two most dominant teams of this decade. Both rosters will be rebuilt from the ground up as the two blue-bloods square off in Chi-town. Duke won the last match-up in Brooklyn, this year we get even.
1. Kentucky Vs Louisville, November 28, 2015
If you look at Kentucky’s football schedule four games are probable wins, Louisiana, EKU, @Vandy, and Charlotte. Then you have three games that will be hard for the Cats to win, Auburn, @Georgia, @Mississippi State. So that leaves the remaining 5 as games Kentucky could win but most likely will not be favored in. They would need two wins to make a bowl game. Bottom line it could be a repeat of last year where Kentucky must beat Louisville in order to go bowling. The UK-UL game is always huge but this year it could make or break Year 3 under Stoops.
Which games are you most looking forward to?