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Analyzing the Highlights of UK’s First Preseason Scrimmage

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There’s only 55 seconds of the first 2017 Kentucky football scrimmage available to the public.  You can take a lot away from those 55 seconds.

  • A.J. Rose fumbled it near the goal line.  UK’s first drive was fantastic, until they got near the end zone.  The coaches did not reveal the perp, but KY Wildcats TV did.
  • Tavin Richardson (80) doesn’t give up on a catch.  One of the best looking plays in the highlight is a tipped pass that he’s able to reel in after getting just a fingertip on it initially.
  • Lynn Bowden’s first action.  No. 1 made his money in the middle of the field.
  • Kash Daniel and Jordan Jones are scary.  I just don’t know which one is scarier.
  • Josh Ali’s first touchdown.  The true freshman (82) used his fellow receiver to create space after the catch and get into the end zone.
  • C.J. Conrad scored on Darius West.  The celebration looked fun.
  • Kayaune Ross (19) can YAC.  The tall outside wide receiver is your typical, “throw it up high” threat in the red zone.  In the highlight reel, he showed he can run after catch, plowing through a few defenders on a screen pass.

The most important takeaway: it’s fun to see pads popping once again in the Bluegrass.

Ten Quotes from the Coaches to Describe UK’s First Preseason Football Scrimmage

Ten Quotes from the Coaches to Describe UK’s First Preseason Football Scrimmage

UK’s first football preseason scrimmage was closed to the public.  Unable to judge for ourselves, let the coaches describe how things went down at Kroger Field.

1. Stoops is Happy to Have More Time

“It’s a good thing we still got three weeks.  Two weeks we’d be pushing it.  In three weeks there’s a lot of time to get things ironed out,” Stoops said.  “It’s a good starting point.  We’ve just got a lot of work to do.”

Stoops had the face of a perpetually sighing person as he described today’s events.  He hoped to see more, but he did see a little something.

2. Fundamental Run Defense

“I think we worked really hard fundamentally at doing some things better.  I think that showed up today,” Stoops said.  “There was definitely some positives, some good things.  I think we were more stout up front than we’ve been.  I think our run defense in general; they did rip off a couple, but I think in general we were more solid.  We saw more second and longs, which is what we were looking for.”

Maybe the UK defense can turn a few other teams into “Second-and-Ten U?”

3. A Flashy D-Line

“There were flashes, but we don’t want to flash.  We want to be consistent.”

Matt House agreed with Stoops; the rush defense was better.  He specifically praised Calvin Taylor and Adrian Middleton for performing well in the trenches, but they still surrendered too many big plays.

4. House Channels Stone Cold

“Anytime they pop a long run, I’m not happy and that’s the bottom line.”

The UK defensive coordinator’s raspy voice kinda sounds like Stone Cold too.

5. A Self-Destructive Offense

“We’re our own worst enemy.”

Eddie Gran’s offense had great starts to their first two drives, but failed to finish.  The first drive featured a few big runs in a 10-12 play drive, but things fell apart once they got inside the one.  After a misread on one goal-line play, the offense was stopped short of the end zone when the ball was put on the ground and the defense recovered.

6. Protective Quarterbacks

“I saw both guys really do a good job of protecting the football, first and foremost,” Stoops said.  “I thought both guys really showed up at times with some impressive throws and threw it in some really tight windows.  I like seeing that.  I like seeing the competitive plays.”

Gran agreed with Stoops.  He was happy to see the QBs take care of the ball and manage the offense.  Gran wasn’t quite as complimentary, but that might be more about the receiving end not fulfilling their duties than the quarterbacks failing to fulfill theirs.

7. Bowden Balled

“I thought he was one of the guys that showed up and made some plays,” Gran said.  “It’s hard because he hasn’t been here that long, but he went out there and he’s a competitor, but he’s one that did show up.”

On a day where there seemed to be more lows than highs, it’s encouraging to hear praise about the crown jewel of the 2017 recruiting class that’s only been practicing for a week.  It’s not the last you’ll hear about Bowden from UK’s first scrimmage.

8. Big Ross is Playing Big

“He’s really taken a step up,” Gran said. “He’s big, physical.  I think he got a couple of catches today.  He’s really working hard to get that big body down low and rip through people.  He brings a different dimension to us if we can get him out there singled up, especially against man-to-man.  So far he’s on track and can be a man that helps us.”

Kayaune Ross fits the “big outside receiver” stereotype and it’s turning into big plays.

9. No More Juice

“Garrett made two really big-time contested catches.  That was really good to see. He’s working outside and inside and that’s been really good for us.  He showed up a little bit today.”

He’s still Juice to everyone else, but it’s odd to hear Eddie Gran call him Garrett.  Maybe it will make him thirstier to catch more passes?

10. The Heat is On

“It’s the first time that the coaches have been off to the side the whole time,” House said.  “The first time where you get to live tackle and it was a good to be outside and get a little heat too.”

The first two weeks of training camp have gone too well.  Today was the team’s first wakeup call of the 2017 season.

‘New Guys’ Make Their Mark in First Two Weeks of UK Football Preseason Camp

After two weeks of preseason camp, we now know which newcomers might be able to contribute to the Kentucky football team this fall.  Lynn Bowden has received a ton of attention, but a few of his fellow freshmen, and some of his wide receiver competition, have done more.

The two offensive newcomers that have received the most praise are wide receivers Isaiah Epps and Josh Ali.  In his first scrimmage as a Wildcat, Ali scored a touchdown.

In the trenches, Sebastian Dolcine and Naasir Watkins have received more reps than normal, but the ones who have shown John Schlarman the most are the redshirts, most notably Henderson’s Mason Wolfe.

“He’s one guy that’s definitely stepping up and I think progressing nicely,” Schlarman said earlier this week.  “Drake Jackson is coming along.  He’s taking advantage of the reps he’s getting.  I’d say Tate Leavitt, I think he’s gotten better the last couple of days.

“All of those guys basically redshirted last year are now getting a lot of reps and we’re looking to see what they can do and what they can bring to the table because a lot of those older guys have played a lot of games.  They’ve been in the fire.  We kinda know what they can do, but now we’re getting them in shape and getting them reps also, but it’s time to see what these younger guys can do.  Test them, get a lot more out of them in training camp and see where they’re at.”

On the defensive side of the ball, Matt House mentioned a name today we haven’t heard much of in the first two weeks of camp: Jordan Wright, the outside linebacker pictured above.  With Josh Paschal sidelined as a little “dinged up,” Wright brought the heat on the edge.

“I thought Jordan Wright did some good things, especially rushing the passer,” House said. “He’s done a great job and he’s continued to come along.”

The two other top performers in the defensive trenches are defensive tackle Calvin Taylor and nose guard Quinton Bohanna.

There’s a long way to go for all of these players, but their great start has put them in a position to potentially play this fall.

Lynn Bowden Leaves a Lasting Impression in First Week on Campus

Lynn Bowden has only been practicing for a week, but he’s already made an impression on Kentucky’s coaches and upperclassmen.

“He did well, especially today. He blocked really well,” quarterback Stephen Johnson praised Bowden after today’s scrimmage. “I know I threw a pass to him he caught over the middle pretty low.  He’s coming into his stride now.”

Unlike Bowden’s counterparts, his plate isn’t as full.  Mark Stoops doesn’t want to overload somebody who’s only been practicing for a week.

“Lynn is really coming on.  He’s just a good football player,” said Stoops.  “It’s hard to force-feed him.  There’s so much learning involved and he just got here.  The other day he had a really good practice and he showed up today with a couple nice catches.  I believe he’s got a really good future.”

Drew Barker simplified Stoops’ statement.

“We’re just trying to get the ball in his hands and make it as simple as possible for him because once he gets the ball in his hands, he can just be comfortable and do his own thing.”

When Bowden did his own thing today, he played plays.  On one specific occasion, Bowden caught a third down pass, made a man miss and fought for a first down.  Barker was impressed with Bowden’s awareness.  Instead of dilly-dallying around, Bowden wasted no time and went straight up the field to surpass the sticks for a first down.

Stoops believes Bowden’s competitiveness is what will make him a great player.

“I love his attitude.  The kid comes in and he’s what I expected in that he’s a great kid.  He’s a competitor.  He doesn’t want anything handed to him.  He wants to earn his way.  The players like him.  He works extremely hard.  He’s a competitive kid and he’s got a bright future.  It’s just hard, it’s hard to learn it all.”

Right now his role is minimal as a returner, but as he learns more Stoops expects to see him inserted into the fold at slot receiver in two to three weeks.


Mark Stoops Describes First Scrimmage as “Just Okay”

Mark Stoops Describes First Scrimmage as “Just Okay”

Mark Stoops was not satisfied with his Kentucky football team after their first scrimmage of the 2017 preseason.  He described it as “just okay,” and is happy they still have three weeks to prepare for Southern Miss.

At the heart of Stoops’ unhappiness is on the offensive side of the ball.  The first and second string unit did not score until late in the scrimmage after a rough start.  On the first drive the offense marched down the field inside the opponent’s one-yard line, only to fumble the football.  They started drives well, but did not finish them, a hallmark of today’s scrimmage.

Before the good news, more of the bad from the injury front.  It was almost injury-free, excluding Cole Mosier.  Stoops said he’s “slightly concerned” about the senior left tackle, but his status is uncertain until Monday.  Six others were not dressed for today’s scrimmage, most notably Denzil Ware, Tobias Gilliam and Josh Paschal.

There is some good news.  Matt House said earlier this week the defense’s top priority was stopping the run.  Stoops was pleased to report he saw an improved rush defense.

Offensively, Lynn Bowden proved he is a playmaker.  Even though he missed the first week of camp, the true freshman made a couple impressive catches as an inside wide receiver, with a few coming in the clutch on third down.

There was a surprise appearance on the offensive side of the ball.  Jaylin Bannerman, a 6’5″ 238-pound redshirt freshman defensive end, received reps at tight end.  Stoops said they’re trying the athlete at multiple positions on both sides of the ball.

More to come throughout the day from UK’s first preseason scrimmage. 

Everybody is Playing Every Position

Deciphering who plays what position on the Kentucky football team has never been more challenging.

In previous years, Mark Stoops spent preseason camp moving players around to plug holes in the depth chart. With 17 returning starters, completing a two-deep depth chart isn’t difficult.  Putting everybody at an ideal position…that’s a different story.

There are only two positions that are stagnant: nose guard and inside linebacker.  At every other position, the skill sets aren’t so different, but the scheme is.  With experience, players can handle a heavier workload.  The best example is Garrett “Juice” Johnson.  An inside slot receiver for most of his career, he worked outside last week and Eddie Gran liked the look he gave the defense.

Moving outside as a wide receiver isn’t that schematically difficult.  Moving around the guys that cover the receivers is a different ballgame.

Steve Clinkscale said he has about five or six guys that can play corner, nickel and safety.  The person at the top of that list is Mike Edwards.  An All-SEC strong safety, he was at his best when he could walk up to help run support.  Ideally they’d like to play Edwards primarily at the nickel position so he can remain in run support and occasionally rush the passer, but they must be able to trust guys like Jordan Griffin and Tobias Gilliam to fill his roll at strong safety.

“At the end of the day, we’re going to put all the guys in position to help us win a football game.  If that’s Mike at nickel or at safety, we’re going to do whatever makes us the best defense,” Clinkscale said earlier this week.

That being said, the secondary isn’t the position group wit the most moving parts.  That would be John Schlarman’s offensive line.  A typical college offensive lineman can move to another position, but only the really good ones.  At UK, almost every lineman plays at least two positions.

There’s so many moving parts, bullet points are the only way to paint a proper picture.

  • Nick Haynes: Started his career as a tackle, he was an All-SEC left guard last year.  He moved to right guard for the 2017 season and is now getting reps at center.
  • Bunchy Stallings: Last year he rotated at right guard and acted as Jon Toth’s backup.  Now he’s the No. 1 center.
  • Drake Jackson: Primarily a center, the redshirt freshman can also play guard.
  • “Big” George Asafo-Adjei:  Started at right tackle as a true freshman but alternated with Kyle Meadows.  Last year he bounced back-and-forth between right tackle and right guard, the same task he’ll perform this year.
  • Mason Wolfe: A redshirt standout who’s received praise from Eddie Gran started his career at tackle.  Now a right guard, he’s also getting reps as the fourth team center.

Figuring out a two-deep is no longer a problem for the UK coaches, it’s a problem for the media, diehard fans and UK’s opponents.  Versatility gives Kentucky the ability to play “multiple,” a head coach’s favorite adjective.  Opponents will have a general idea of who they will face each week, but they will not have a good ida where they will be on the field.

Today on KSR: UK Football’s First Scrimmage

Scrimmage SZN

Today’s scrimmage at Kroger Field is arguably the biggest day of training camp.  The first scrimmage of the year, the coaches get to see how players react “when the bullets are flying” for the first time.

Freddie calls it “Separation Saturday,” where the men set themselves apart from the rest of the pack.  I like to refer to it as a “Moving Day,” because it’s an opportunity for players to prove themselves and move up the depth chart.

We’ll hear the initial prognostication from Coach Stoops around 1:30, but be warned, usually coaches are hesitant to provide specifics on who outplayed the competition until after watching film.  Still, we’ll get a good idea of where the 2017 team currently stands after today’s scrimmage.

Views from Practice 10

Boom’s First Preseason Action

Last night Boom Williams (once again referred to now as “Stanley Williams”) hit the NFL field for the first time with the Cincinnati Bengals.  He received 2 carries for 5 yards in the Bengals 23-12 win over the Bucs.

McWilson’s Debut is Tonight

The former UK safety should see significant action tonight at 10:00 for the Oakland Raiders.  Prior to tonight’s game against the Cardinals, McWilson shared with KSTV how UK prepared him to make the jump to the NFL.

In other preseason action, the Cowboys play the Rams at 9:00 and the Jets host Wesley Woodyard, Avery Williamson and the Tennessee Titans at 7:30.

Go to Reece’s Make-A-Wish Yard Sale

Right now in the Louisville suburb of Anchorage, there is a yard sale at Anchorage Presbyterian Church to benefit Reece’s Make-A-Wish Foundation.  By attending and donating, you can help make Reece’s Wish come to true: to raise $1 million to support those battling pediatric cancer.  You can also get the chance to meet Jon Toth from noon-2:00.

Freddie Maggard’s favorite football player, the former UK center surprised him on The Depth Chart Podcast.  The spontaneous reaction is one of the best podcast moments in KSR history.  If you haven’t listened to it yet, listen here.

New UK Kicks Coming Soon

The shoes given to the UK Football team by Nike can be yours this Monday.  Here’s a little tease of what you will find at Monday morning.

Get Your Alumni Game Tickets NOW

We are less than two weeks away from the annual UK alumni game at Rupp Arena.  If you’ve been before, this year’s twist brings something completely different to the table, with guys like Kevin Grevey and Kyle Macy teaming up against Rex Chapman and Jamaal Magloire as the undercard to the game that will feature current NBA Cats.  Tickets start at just $5.  It’s an opportunity you can’t pass up. Make the right decision and click here to get your tickets.

FC Cincinnati vs. Lou City FC

Louisville Slugger Field is almost sold out for tonight’s rivalry match with FC Cincinnati.  With ideal weather in the forecast, tonight is the perfect night to experience the atmosphere at a Louisville City soccer match.  Even if you’re not a soccer person, I promise you’ll love it.  Get your discounted tickets through KSR here before they’re all gone.

More UofL News

I thought the well would have run dry by now, but that university can’t stop producing high quality content for the BBN to laugh at.  There’s so much that came from yesterday’s appeal, I’ll let Drew Franklin explain how they’re trying to keep their Final Four banners.

UofL appeal: NCAA ruling is “draconian”; Final Four participants should be eligible

Stay AWAY From UK’s Campus

This is the first move-in weekend of the fall semester, bringing thousands of new students into town.  The blissful, traffic-less days of a summer are over.  Do yourself a favor and stay as far away from UK’s campus as possible.

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Southern Miss Projected Depth Chart

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Southern Miss beat writer for the Hattiesburg American and KSR friend Jason Munz provided his readers with a projected Golden Eagle depth chart. You can follow Jason on Twitter at @munzly for in-depth coverage. He provides excellent analysis of the Wildcat’s opening opponent. Munz was the first ever guest on the Depth Chart Podcast and will again be joining us on August 31st. Below is an excerpt from his August 5th article:

Following the first full week of training camp at Southern Miss, here is how the football team’s depth chart is shaping up. 

Disclaimer: Obviously, this is an educated guess and is still very much fluid. Things can change plenty between now and the team’s season opener on Sept. 2nd. 






Kwadra Griggs

Keon Howard


Ito Smith

Tez Parks


Allenzae Staggers

Chase Whitehead


Isaiah Jones

Jordan Mitchell


Korey Robertson

Trevor Terry


Julian Allen

Jay’Shawn Washington


Drake Dorbeck

Paul Gainer


Arvin Fletcher

Bryce Foxworth


Devin Farrior

Wyatt Richthofen


Jerry Harris

Travion Clayton


Ty Pollard

Woodlyson Alcius








1st Team

2nd Team

Bandit end

Xavier Thigpen

Darian Yancey


Draper Riley

Rod Crayton


LaDarius Harris

Delmond Landry


Paxton Schrimsher

Allen Fails


Sherrod Ruff

Walden Davis


Jeremy Sangster

Racheem Boothe


Cornell Armstrong

Trae Collins


Curtis Mikell

Rachuan Mitchell


Tarvarius Moore

Xavier Marion


Demetrius Market

Jomez Applewhite


Picasso Nelson Jr.

Kelsey Douglas

Notable Observations

— Per Phil Steele’s Magazine, USM’s preseason All-Conference USA selections were RB Ito Smith and WR Allenzae Staggers. Steele also predicted Southern Miss to finish third in the CUSA’s West Division. His publication listed USM’s running back and receiver position groups as the conference’s best.


— Munz lists QB Kwadra Griggs to be the starter on September 2nd. Griggs played his first two seasons at Itawamba CC where he threw for 3200 yards and 27 touchdowns. Keon Howard is competing with Griggs for the starting role. Gamesmanship could come into play as the starter may not be announced until game day. Keon Howard started two games against Old Dominion and North Texas a year ago. He ran for 98 yards and passed for 230 against Old Dominion.

— The grouping of RB Ito Smith along with WR’s Allenzae Staggers, Isiah Jones, and Korey Robertson will be one of the top four RB/WR collections that the Wildcats will face in 2017. This foursome is fast, explosive, and dangerous. It will put pressure on Matt House’s defense for four quarters with or without an overly accurate passer through the running game and creative screens.

— RB Ito Smith is the only active FBS player with career totals of 3000 rushing and 1000 receiving yards.

— WR Allenzae Staggers’ 2016 totals: 63 receptions, 1165 yards, 17 touchdowns, and averaged 18.5 yards per catch.

— Similar to Kentucky, senior Devin Farrior started 27 games at guard before moving to center with intention to replace four-year starter and All C-USA center Cameron Tom. Tackle Ty Pollard is the only other returning offensive line starter.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports


— Noticeably missing from the 2017 depth chart is Dylan Bradley. The defensive tackle ravished the Cats with 7 tackles, 1 QB sack, and 2 TFL in last year’s matchup.

— 6’7 240-pound DE Xavier Thigpen returns along the defensive front and is the unit’s designated pass rusher. He finished 2016 with 5 QB sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss.

— Nickel Picasso Nelson is the team’s top returning tackler with 48. He also intercepted 2 passes, registered 2 pass breakups, and 2 TFL’s.

— Cornerback Cornell Armstrong is USM’s second leading returning tackler with 47 to go along with 8 pass breakups and 1 interception.

— Defensive strength lies within its secondary as it will utilize a nickel or 5 defensive back scheme vs. the Cats. Nelson will crowd the box with intent to slow UK’s run game.

What does all this mean?

With that running back (Ito Smith) and those wide receivers (Staggers, Robertson, and Jones) Southern Miss is a risky team with the capacity to score points in bunches. Its inexperience along the defensive line-of-scrimmage could struggle to match Kentucky’s strength which is its offensive line depth.  September 2nd poses an interesting contrast of roster construction.

According to Rivals, Kentucky’s recruiting class average over the past five years ranks 27th  nationally. Southern Miss’s average ranking over the same period of time is 80th.

Remember, it’s not personal; it’s personnel. 

What’s the deal with student ticket prices? Our writers let you know

After yesterday’s surprising announcement regarding the relatively low number of UK Football season tickets sold, it’s easy for some to make snap judgments as to why fans aren’t as enthusiastic as the coaches are about this season. For instance, many analysts, including our own Mrs. Tyler Thompson, point to the recent trend of fans choosing to watch the game from the comfort of their own home over the hassle (and cost) of actually attending the game. And as true as this may be for football, it’s proving to be just as accurate for basketball fans, especially for current students.

A few months ago, UK announced it would be increasing the price of basketball tickets for students from $5 per game to $10. The decision was not met without controversy: students didn’t want to pay more for tickets; non-student fans didn’t understand why these kids were so upset over a five-dollar difference. The university argued the increase would discourage students from buying tickets and then skipping the game, leaving empty seats; others worried the price increase would only encourage students to choose to watch the games from the comfort (?) of State Street.

Here at KSR, we have several writers who currently attend the University of Kentucky, myself included. We decided to ask our writers for their opinions on the subject. Here’s what they had to say:

“I’ve honestly always been surprised that tickets only cost $5. I mean, I’d personally pay 20 or 30 bucks for a ticket, let alone ten. I don’t see it as that big of a deal. Although I think a price jump ought to coincide with more/better seating.” –Jay Winkler

“I think $10 is still a great price if you think about all the talent you’re seeing. Paying $5, $10 or even as much as $20 to see players like Fox, Monk, Booker and Towns is a pretty good deal when you consider how much tickets would be to see them now in the NBA. I get why some students would be upset though – with how many lotteries and games there are, the price increase does add up.” –Savannah Patton

“The price jump doesn’t bother me. Maybe they could’ve compromised and kept tickets for exhibition games and similar games $5 and made conference play and big games like UofL $19. However, UK has always had issues with students buying the cheap tickets and not showing up, so maybe now that they have more money invested in the tickets they’ll actually show up.” – Haley Simpson

“Since I just graduated in May, I’m selfishly happy they waited to increase the prices until after I left. But honestly I’m surprised it took this long for the prices to go up. Students will complain but they’ll still pay to go anyway. Students would resell them for $50 and people bought them at those prices.” –Kindsey Bernhard

“Students obviously want the cheapest deal because most of us struggle to survive on something more sustainable than ramen noodles, but I know people who came to school here just for the basketball program. BBN is crazy – I don’t think $5 will deter students.” –Kelsey Mattingly

“Well until they do something about booing innocent kids for chicken biscuits, I’m not coming back.” – Trey Huntsman, the apparent jokester of the group.

Personally, an extra $5 per game doesn’t bother me, and it certainly wouldn’t stop me from buying tickets. However, I do think the timing is a little strange considering student attendance in the upper level has already been relatively low during the past few seasons, especially during exhibition games. As Haley said, I would definitely have supported the idea of keeping smaller games priced at $5 and increasing more “popular” games to $10. This system is already in place for non-students, so it seems like an easy decision to apply the same system for all fans.

Additionally, the lottery system is in need of a major revamp. With today’s technology, there is no reason to have students file into Memorial Coliseum for three hours on a weeknight to wait and buy tickets. I’ll admit it: I turned down tickets to a Kentucky basketball game because I am impatient. Once last season, I won the lottery and was eligible to purchase tickets to the next four home games. As a student (an avid UK fan) who had never been in the eRUPPtion Zone, I was obviously excited to go to these first four games.

However, when I got to Memorial to buy my tickets, I realized my number was drawn in the very last group. I would be sitting for nearly three hours, unable to leave, before I would be allowed to actually buy my tickets. With a paper to write, upcoming exams to study for, and no reliable Wi-Fi, I simply didn’t have the time to sit and wait for the tickets. This is something a price increase will not fix – some students may win the lottery but not actually purchase the tickets, which can prevent the student section from ever selling out the upper level. It’s 2017 people! Let’s make an app.

Most importantly, however, I’m just thankful they haven’t increased football ticket prices for students yet. Currently, students have the ability to buy a “voucher” to use for all of the home games, and it is available for purchase for just $35. Last season, the student section was rarely sold out at football games. Does this mean these tickets will be the next ones to increase in price? I sure hope not.

So, what do you think? Do you agree with our writers? Let us know in the comments.


Instagram: kash_daniel56

Kash Daniel shaved his awesome mustache

Instagram: kash_daniel56

We were hit with some devastating news out of UK football practice on Friday: Kash Daniel shaved his mustache. It’s the only thing that mattered from the day, and we are crushed over it.

Daniel explained his reasoning for trimming that sweet ‘stache to Jon Hale of the Courier-Journal, telling Hale he did it because he looked like a potential threat” on SnapChat.

The silver lining here is Denzil Ware kept his football camp mustache, but Daniel’s, though short-lived, will be missed.

We thought that thing was going to terrorize the SEC this year.

What Matt House wants to see in Saturday’s Scrimmage

UK Athletics

This Saturday Matt House will get to see what his 2017 defense looks like in a live scrimmage for the first time.  As his offensive counterpart Eddie Gran might say, now he gets to see how they play “when the bullets are flying.”

“So much of when we go out here in practice, practice is scripted,” House said after Wednesday’s practice.  “You have a team run period, you have a third-down period. You move the ball and play in the red zone. A scrimmage, a great thing about it is, you’re playing a whole game, right? So in your own mind, you have to put yourself in that situation that, ‘Hey we just went from normal down and distance to it’s third-and-long without the period flipping it.’ Now the kids have got to play situational football.”

How they react will be revealed on film and in the numbers.  The first priority for House’s defense is easier said than done.

“No. 1, stop the run,” said House.  “We want to continue to see the guys straining for the football and guys having situational football awareness, understanding whether it’s third and long, understanding when the ball gets into the strike zone, the red zone and just play football, not just run calls.”

Last year Kentucky surrendered 228.15 yards per game on the ground to rank 110th nationally and 12th in the SEC.  It all starts up front.  Quinton Bohanna received early praise from the coaches, but Saturday’s scrimmage is a different level of football for the true freshman.

You’ve heard what House wants to see, but Freddie Maggard provides much more detail here

Kentucky Football’s First Separation Saturday

Kentucky Football’s First Separation Saturday

Fall camp presents a repetitious grind for players. Freshmen are trying to impress coaches while absorbing a playbook the size and density of a Shakespearean novel. Veterans are refining their craft while fighting to maintain depth chart positioning. However, there are a few select practice sessions that simply mean more. Offensive and defensive schematic installations are nearing completion by now. Saturday marks the first in a series of scrimmages with personnel (Depth chart) and redshirt ramifications.

“Scrimmage” is a broad term that has numerous meanings and outcome expectations. These practice sessions are intended to simulate real game like scenarios which test resolve, intensity, and composure, all of which will provide Mark Stoops a situational awareness benchmark of where his team stands following nearly two weeks of practice. Let’s take a look a different types of scrimmages:

Thud vs. Live Tackling

*THUD-Ball carriers/receivers/quarterbacks can be hit in the upper body, but not tackled to the ground by defensive players.

New NCAA practice rules stress player wellbeing which means lesser full-contact activities. Some think that reduced practice contact hurts the game. Others (like me) feel as if it is the intelligent approach for preparation and evaluation. In applicable football terms, the majority of day to day drills are not “live” or intended for the ball carrier to be taken to the ground. For example, when Benny Snell breaks the line of scrimmage he is not allowed to be taken to the ground nor is he hit in the lower body. This precaution is intended to prevent injuries. Another example is when Garrett Johnson catches a slip screen the play is whistled dead when initial contact from a defender is made; this concept is called “Thud.” Thud can be at times misleading in relation to productivity as it does not account for YAC (Yards after catch) or (Yards after contact). Remember, football is a violent sport, not a contact sport as it is often described. 

Saturday’s scrimmage is likely going to involve live tackling which mimics the same framework of a typical football game. Again using Benny Snell as an example, it was the first full scrimmage a year ago when he began to show flashes of being a special player. Snell’s forte is breaking or running through arm tackles. This trait can only be displayed in full-contact football and is irrelevant in “Thud.” Receivers that have impressed early on in camp may not be as sharp due to the threat of live contact following or during a catch. Conversely, defensive players that are described as “having a nose for the football” or physical in nature usually shine in live scrimmages. Pads will be popping. Noticeable differences in the speed of the game will be apparent for the freshmen. There will be newcomers that will excel. However, some rookies will appear to be “swimming” (uncertain/tentative) which was a term used by Eddie Gran earlier in the week. The first full scrimmage is also a time that coaches can observe veteran player development as well as advancements in its strength and conditioning program.

Scripted Vs. Free Scrimmage

Scrimmage is a broad term. In reality there are several different types of conditions that can be manufactured on the field. The head coach maintains the control mechanism that dictates which type of scrimmage the Cats will participate in on any given day. When offensive and defensive coordinators synchronize play calls in order to observe their units in certain schemes or tendencies is called a scripted scrimmage. Example; if offensive coordinator Eddie Gran wants to evaluate his quarterback’s reaction to a blitz with man coverage then defensive coordinator Matt House will have a blitz called on that specific play. If House wants to see his defense become more seasoned against the Run/Pass option, then Gran will have that play scripted to give the defense that particular look.

Free scrimmages provide a more realistic, game-like approach. Coordinators spontaneously call plays much like they do on game days. In addition, down and distance scenarios are natural; meaning the chains (Down and distance) move following each play. These settings are intended to rehearse communication between the sideline to the huddle, prepare for extended drives, and measures continuity. Free scrimmages also help to rehearse hand/arm signals, substitution patterns, when to and when not to call timeout, and stress clock management.

Situational Scrimmage

Situational scrimmages are more frequent and specialize in specific game-like situations. This can include goal line, 2-point conversion, red-zone, 1st and 10, and 2-minute drives just to name a few. Goal line scrimmage periods are normally scheduled towards the end of practice when fatigue is rearing its ugly head. Situational scrimmages are best utilized as a surprise portion of practice. For example, Mark Stoops can begin a 2-minute drive scrimmage in the middle of another practice drill which familiarizes his players to change of possession/pace situations that frequently take place on game day. Practice schedule predictability can lead to complacency; thus change of pace enhances player focus.

Separation Criteria

Earlier in the post I referred to the upcoming scrimmage as the first “Separation Saturday.” The meaning of that term refers to this weekend’s practice as a critical measuring stick for personnel decisions. As the opener gets closer, practice repetitions become an invaluable commodity and given to those that are expected to play against Southern Miss. Take the receiver competition as an example. Currently several pass catchers are getting an equal number of snaps in practice. “Several” will be whittled down to a 2/3-deep after Saturday. But, competition is far from over and will run through the remainder of camp. So, those that are on the edge of earning a spot in the rotation will have fewer chances to impress Lamar Thomas.

While scoring and preventing touchdowns are the primary objectives in the game of football, Saturday’s focus will also be directed towards one-on-one developments. This especially applies to the 2nd and 3rd team units. Execution at this stage is raw but talent and ability to make plays remain obvious. Mark Stoops will be looking for playmakers regardless of the play’s outcome which can become sloppy with reserves on the field. Receivers vs. defensive backs will be under a microscope. Same can be said of pass rushers vs. offensive linemen, run stoppers against inside blockers, and so forth.

Special Teams

The SEC limits the number of players on the sideline at 70. Non-conference games have no limitations. So, special teams positions are filled with starters and roster players that are fighting to be included on the travel team. Live special teams scrimmages can be risky in regards to injuries. Special teams coordinator Dean Hood will be closely evaluating his punters. Returning starter Grant McKinniss is battling with grad-transfer Matt Panton. Panton’s 2016 averages were better than McKinniss’ struggles a year ago. He specializes in rugby style kicks as well as having a high success rate of punts that land inside the 10-yard line. A particular observation will be directed towards defensive players that can contribute on coverage teams. Thus, a solid scrimmage on Saturday as a reserve player on defense can lead to a roster spot and a job on special teams.

What does all this mean?

Nerves will play a role on Saturday as the event’s importance is principal. The need to impress coaches is paramount. Mark Stoops will have a better feel for his team after the Cats “get after it” for a couple hours. In summary, the first full scrimmage will be Separation Saturday.

So far, UK Football season ticket sales are…less than ideal

Photo by UK Athletics

Given last season’s success and this year’s favorable schedule, you would think Kentucky football season ticket sales would be up from previous years; sadly, the numbers suggest otherwise.

According to Joe Mussatto, as of Monday, UK had sold only 32,885 season tickets, well behind their goal of 40,000. Last year, UK sold 33,658 season tickets, but the program hasn’t eclipsed the 40,000 mark since the 2013 season, Stoops’ first in Lexington. During the Rich Brooks era, UK sold on average 45,000 season tickets each year.

What the heck happened? Some will frame poor ticket sales as a reflection of fan interest, but it’s likely part of the bigger trend of fans choosing to stay home to watch games instead of going to the game itself. As we’ve seen in both football and basketball in recent years, more and more fans are staying home to watch from the comforts of their own couch in lieu of making the trek to see the game in person. It’s a sad trend, but honestly, between HDTV, your own snacks, your own beer, and the ability to check social media and pause for potty breaks, it’s a very, very real — and understandable — one.

With 30 days until the home opener vs. Eastern Kentucky, there’s still time for sales to pick up. Remember, when DeWayne Peevy hosted KSR last month, he announced UK’s Yahtzee season ticket campaign. Should season ticket sales surpass the 40,000 mark, at each home game, one section of Kroger Field will get to play Yahtzee for two free 2018 season tickets. That’s pretty awesome; however, if sales continue at this rate, it may be out of reach.

[SEC Country]

Kentucky listed in way, way too early bowl projections


The season hasn’t even begun, but there are already bowl projections out there, and CBS Sports’ includes your Kentucky Wildcats.

In a scenario that would make me very happy, Jerry Palm predicts the Cats will square off against another set of Cats from Northwestern in the Music City Bowl, which takes place December 29 in Nashville. What about the rest of the league?

  • Playoff: Alabama (1), Ohio State (2), USC (3), Florida State (4)
  • Peach Bowl: Florida
  • Cotton Bowl: LSU
  • Outback Bowl: Georgia
  • Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Auburn
  • TaxSlayer Bowl: Tennessee
  • Liberty Bowl: Arkansas
  • Belk Bowl: Mississippi State
  • Music City Bowl: Kentucky
  • Texas Bowl: Texas A&M

Again, way too early for this (are bowl projections the new Bracketology?), but it will be fun to bookmark and look back at come December.

[CBS Sports]