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Football Season Coverage

Tebow Mania Hits Lexington

@keithtaylor21

Tim Tebow is in Lexington.  When Tebow is in Lexington, there’s only one thing that comes to mind.

This fan did not forget.

@smosswkyt

However, Tebow is the second-best quarterback named Tim at Whitaker Bank Ballpark tonight.  Tim Couch threw out tonight’s first pitch.

@smosswkyt

Obviously, we have a strong Couch-bias at KSR, but there’s no denying these are two of the best signal callers to ever play in the SEC.  If you had to pick one, for one game only during their college years, who are you taking?

web survey

 

If you missed your opportunity tonight, you can win tickets to see Tebow this weekend tomorrow morning during a LIVE edition of Kentucky Sports Radio.


One Concern Will Be An Ongoing Question Mark

Scout

One deficiency jumps off the stat sheet when studying Kentucky’s returning defensive starters. In a year when some are projecting UK to compete for an East title, defensive line production will continually be addressed.

The Wildcat defense showed significant improvement in its final eleven games by lowering its allowed point average from 44.5 to 27 points per game. A great deal of that trajectory can be credited to Mark Stoops assuming play calling duties. Other causative factors were the emergence of a skilled group of sophomore linebackers and defensive backs.

When analyzing the three levels of defense in relation to 2017; the defensive line contains the lowest statistical producers. And, unlike at secondary and linebacker, it has no players receiving SEC preseason accolades. Here’s a breakdown of returning defensive starters:

UK Athletics

LINEBACKER

The SEC’s top returning tackler is all-conference linebacker Jordan Jones. Early preseason All SEC teams also include OLB Denzil Ware. Those forthcoming may also feature Josh Allen. Allen, Ware, and Jones are listed as SEC Top 5 performers at their respective positions.

As you can hear on Wednesday’s Depth Chart Podcast, Kentucky has historically produced prolific inside linebackers. The emergence of junior linebackers Josh Allen and Denzil Ware has brought on the pass rush and explosive stat producing edge defender. There is quality depth at all four positions. The LB position is trending upward.

  • Jordan Jones: 109 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss (TFL), 4 QB sacks.
  • Courtney Love: 76 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 QB sack.
  • Josh Allen: 62 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 7 QB sacks.
  • Denzil Ware: 70 tackles, 12 TFL, 5.5 QB sacks.

SECONDARY

The SEC’s second top returning tackler is safety Mike Edwards. Edwards and CB Derrick Baity tied for 4th in the SEC for most interceptions in 2016.

Mike Edwards is arguably the best safety in the conference. CB Derrick Baity is on the verge of being mentioned in the All SEC circles. CB Chris Westry had a solid, but not spectacular sophomore season statistically; but is somewhat limited playing the boundary corner. Identifying a starting safety to go along side Edwards will be a pressing fall camp matter. Overall, Kentucky’s secondary is the most talented in recent memory. All secondary positions are significantly trending upward.

  • Chris Westry: 43 tackles, .5 TFL, 1 INT, 3 Pass breakup (PBU)
  • Derrick Baity: 42 tackles, 2 TFL, 3 INT, 7 PBU
  • Mike Edwards: 100 tackles, 5.5 TLF, 3 INT, .5 QB sack, 8 PBU,

DEFENSIVE LINE

  • Adrian Middleton: 35 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 0 QB sacks
  • Naquez Pringle: 39 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 QB sack.

Naquez Pringle was favorably productive in just five starts, but the NT position must find quality depth. DT Adrian Middleton’s 2016 and spring performance provide hope for the junior to have a breakout season.

Depth and production is questionabe at all three defensive line positions. This especially applies in the explosive play category (QB sacks, TFL, FF-forced fumble, QBH-quarterback hurry). I often get ridiculed for spending too much time discussing the line-of-scrimmage. For that, I do not apologize. Regardless of continuous skill position obsession, the SEC is a line-of-scrimmage league.

Organic, or DT-NT-DE, numbers must increase in order to take the pressure of the linebackers and secondary. Secondary interception numbers could increase with an improved DL pass rush. A more definitive DL run push could increase tackles for linebackers and decrease that same category for the secondary. Defense is much like its offensive counterpart; it takes all eleven.

There are promising additions in TJ Carter, Calvin Taylor, and Kordell Looney. JUCO product Phil Hoskins and possibly true freshman Quinton Bohanna could be called upon for early contribution. Make no mistake, the Kentucky defensive line will be scrutinized in 2017.


The Depth Chart Podcast with Bill Ransdell and Chris Chenault

The Depth Chart Podcast with Bill Ransdell and Chris Chenault

This week’s Depth Chart Podcast is the Freddie Fanboy Edition.  Two of his favorite players to ever suit up for UK, linebacker Chris Chenault and quarterback Bill Ransdell join the program to share stories from their time at Kentucky.  Two guys that helped write the Kentucky football record book, they provide incredible perspective about the program.  They discussed a variety of topics like…

 

—  The lesson Freddie learned from Chris Chenault on his first day of practice.

—  How the Wide Tackle Six worked.

—  Their relationship with Jerry Claiborne, along with a few great impressions.

—  Who started the multiple bench-clearing brawls vs. Florida, UK’s last win against the Gators.

—  Their thoughts on UK’s talented linebackers, Benny Snell and Stephen Johnson.

—  What younger fans need to know about Hall of Famer Dermontti Dawson.

You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play.  Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise.  You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.


Jon Toth had successful surgery

Mark Zerof | USA Today

We now know why Jon Toth is still without an NFL team.

News broke today that Toth underwent successful surgery on a herniated disc on Tuesday, which is good to know, and also explains why he was passed on in the draft.

Now that the operation is complete, the former Kentucky center can expect many teams lining up to check him out as he begins the rehab process.

It all makes sense now.


Benny Snell Makes the Regional Cover for Athlon Sports’ College Football Preview

Summer has yet to start with the Memorial Day holiday weekend, but it’s already college football preview magazine season.  The first to be released of the season is from Athlon Sports, featuring Freshman All-American Benjamin Snell Jr. on the cover.

Better known as Benny, Benny tha Bandit or simply “Snell Yeah,” Snell is one of seven Wildcats who made Athlon’s Preseason All-SEC Team.

  • Benny Snell, Third Team All-Purpose Back
  • Nick Haynes, Second Team Offensive Guard
  • Cole Mosier, Fourth Team Offensive Tackle
  • Jordan Jones, First Team Linebacker
  • Denzil Ware, First Team Linebacker
  • Mike Edwards, Second Team Safety
  • Austin MacGinnis, Fourth Team Kicker

The SEC has many great running backs, which makes Snell’s low spot semi-understandable.  What’s ludicrous is Mike Edwards’ spot on the second team.  Athlon has their Crimson-tinted glasses on, because there’s no way Edwards isn’t the best safety in the SEC.

[See Athlon’s Preseason All-SEC Team]


WKYT

Guy Morriss is Battling Alzheimer’s

WKYT

Guy Morriss is fighting a battle he cannot win.  In an interview with WKYT, the former Kentucky head football coach revealed he has Alzheimer’s.

“It’s hard to accept,” he said as he fought back tears.  “Jackie (his wife) knew it.  I just kept denying it.”

Guy Mo had to accept the Alzheimer’s diagnosis nine months ago.  An estimated 5.5 million Americans live with the degenerative disorder.  Primarily a hereditary disease, Morriss can points to 15 years on an NFL offensive line as the primary reason why he needs help with everyday tasks.

“At first I couldn’t write my name. I could not write my name. I didn’t know my ABCs. I couldn’t do that little rhyme.”

It’s a tough pill to swallow, but that’s not the worst part of the disease.

“I’ve always been a great football player, a coach.  I could” — he held up shaky fists, unable to find the right words — “All the world! It’s not that way anymore.  You wake up one day and everything connects.  The next time you get out of bed, the same problem, then no problem.  It’s just day at a time.

He’s forgotten how to do a lot of things, but some memories are too dear to escape the 66-year old.  He still recalls Kentucky’s 2002 Governor’s Cup upset over Louisville at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.  He doesn’t remember pre-season Heisman Trophy candidate Dave Ragone’s name, “but he took a beating,” Morriss said with a laugh.

I began this post with a morbid line because it’s the truth.  Unlike cancer or any other ailment, you can’t beat Alzheimer’s.  It wins every single time.  In the early stages a person might forget names, but near the end they can forget everything, from knowing how to put on clothes or how to speak.

Every person in my family that has lived long enough to get Alzheimer’s has got the disease.  When one relative passes away, another person develops it.  Some are better than others, but all of it sucks.  The good news is that research and development, especially at UK’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, are making advances that could slow the disease’s roll, or perhaps even find a cure in the next ten years.

I applaud Morris for sharing his story.  Awareness is the best way to help; not the patient, but the patient’s family.  The more you understand the disease and how to cope, the better quality of life the patient can live.

To help fight the battle Morriss and Alzheimer’s patients everywhere cannot win, donate to the Alzheimer’s Association, a non-profit that devotes all of its resources to research and support programs for families who are taking care of loved ones.

[READ the WKYT story and WATCH the interview.]


How Kroger Field Compares with other Deals for College Naming Rights

UK Athletics

The month of May began with a change to the name of Commonwealth Stadium to Kroger Field.  The 12-year $22.2 million comprehensive sponsorship deal is worth approximately $1.85 million a year.

Just a few weeks later, Kentucky’s lucrative deal with Kroger was dwarfed by USC.  According to Sports Business Daily, the naming rights to L.A. Memorial Coliseum have been sold to United Airlines for $70 million over the next 15 years.  It’s worth noting the enormous price tag also covers the home field for the L.A. Rams.

USC’s deal with United casts a shadow over Kroger Field, but compared to other colleges, Kentucky’s deal with Kroger is still one of the most valuable in the country.

@getDEEStweets

Of all the sponsored stadium names, Kroger Field is objectively the best.


Benny Snell goes all out for tattoo pun

Benny Snell goes all out for tattoo pun

Benny Snell took the world of Kentucky Wildcats football by storm last season with his breakout freshman year. Snell racked up 1,091 yards on 186 carries and scored 13 touchdowns as one of the best true freshmen in the Southeastern Conference.

Snell’s last name lends itself to a ton of word play, and he has even joined in with his Twitter display name being “MrSnell ya later” for months now. On top of that, Snell tweeted the below picture today of his new tattoo joining in on the pun fun.

With a tattoo of that size in that location, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Benny go to the Ezekiel Elliott jersey style to show it off next season.

What would your thoughts be if Benny went with the Zeke look?

@BrettBibbinsKSR


Kentucky Football Offers a Slew of Players

The train keeps rolling for Mark Stoops and company, as the UK football staff extended offers to 8 high school players yesterday. The full player rundown comes from Josh Edwards at 247Sports:

Kentucky has offered Pompano Beach (Fla.) Blanche Ely cornerback Jamari Brown (6-foot-3, 180), Columbus (Ohio) Northland 2019 running back John Branham Jr. (5-foot-9.5, 195), Anderson (S.C.) Westside kicker Chance Poore (6-foot-3, 200), Hollywood (Fla.) Blanche Ely wide receiver Akeem Hayes (5-foot-10, 175), Miami (Fla.) Norland 2019 offensive tackle Wardrick Wilson (6-foot-4, 295), Tampa (Fla.) Jesuit 2019 tight end Larry Hodges (6-foot-2, 198), Miami (Fla.) Central wide receiver Davonta Wilson (6-foot, 184) and Melbourne (Fla.) Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy 2021 running back KeyShawn Spencer (5-foot-10, 173).

That is what you call casting a wide net.

Of particular note is Akeem Hayes, a 3-star WR in the 2018 class who has actually already committed to Louisville. That would be a fun poach.

You can see the full post and more details on each recruit right here.

@JayWinkKSR


Flashback Friday: Freddie Maggard, Pre-Blogger Edition

The Cats Pause

People forget that Drew Barker isn’t the only Kentucky quarterback to blog for Kentucky Sports Radio.

Before Freddie Maggard penned his first KSR post and began hosting the Depth Chart Podcast, he was a signal-caller for Jerry Claiborne.  Even though he’ll tell you he was around before they kept stats, he’s just being modest.

Before a shoulder injury, Freddie flung the ball around for 2,566 passing yards and 12 touchdowns.  Even more impressive, he punted the ball four times to pen the opponents deep into their own territory, averaging 30 yards per kick.

Nobody mastered the art of the handoff quite like Freddie, but the picture above provides proof the No. 18 did throw it a few times.  The best parts of the picture:

  • The Nike high-top turf shoes.  If you’ve ever worn a pair of these, you can’t help but feel like you’re wearing clown shoes.  But if you didn’t have them on that astroturf/carpet, you were in trouble.
  • The dishrag towel.  Nike was paying for shoes, but towels?  Forget about it.
  • No blood, no problem.  A little blood never hurt nobody, especially the bulleted mountain man.
  • The most disappointing part: the view does not enable us to see the Power-K helmets, nor can we see if his mullet was good enough to flow out of the back of his helmet.

When you hear from Freddie next Wednesday on the Depth Chart Podcast, you will not hear him boasting about himself, but you will hear him shouting praise from the mountaintops for our guests, a quarterback and a linebacker that were two of the best to ever play at UK.


UK Football is 500/1 to win national championship and I don’t see any reason to not put $100 on it

The odds for the College Football Playoff National Championship (I think that’s what they call it these days) are out and there is some great value in your University of Kentucky Wildcats.

According to Bovada, where I do my business, Kentucky is 500/1 to win the title. That’s a pretty big difference than the Alabama at 7/2, Ohio State at 5/1 and Michigan at 7/1, but I like my team. Why not, they say.

Go big or go home.

And go Cats.


Throwback Thursday: Tim Couch Leads UK Past UofL in Hal Mumme’s Debut

It’s time to turn back the clock to the beginning of the Air Raid era in Lexington.

Thirty-one days from my sixth birthday, it was one of my first Kentucky football memories.  I vividly remember walking through the Purple Lot and spotting a lawn chair on top of a car.  Sitting in the chair was a Halloween ornament, a mummy, an ironic and punny personification for the revival of Kentucky football.  The fans in the stands did not leave Hal Mumme’s debut disappointed.

After enduring low-scoring affairs in the past, Tim Couch threw for 398 yards, completed 34-of-50 passes and threw four touchdowns to lead Kentucky to a 38-24 win over Louisville in front of 60,000 people at Commonwealth Stadium.

Enjoy the highlights with Rob Bromley on the call.

168 days till football season.  


Listen to Kirk Herbstreit explain his appetizer comment on KSR

Listen to Kirk Herbstreit explain his appetizer comment on KSR

herb-app

Kirk Herbstreit made his first ever Kentucky Sports Radio radio appearance this morning to clarify a comment of his that is making the internet rounds.

In case you missed it, Herbstreit said Kentucky football is “like an appetizer before the real thing starts,” while speaking at a luncheon in Louisville. The comment of course ruffled Big Blue Nation’s feathers as it sounded like a diss to Mark Stoops’ program.

However, during his interview with KSR, Herbstreit explained that it was not a diss and that it was taken way out of context.

“We talked about UK in a very positive way,” he told KSR. “And then somebody took that text or that little comment that I made and completely took it out of context and shot it up, like most people do to try and create controversy. Next thing I know, I hate Mark, who has been a good friend of mine for over 20 years, and I hate UK and I hate everything about Kentucky. It’s the world we live in I guess.”

Herbstreit’s interview begins around the 13:15 mark in the audio below:


@GregPageUK

Hump Day Football Notes for the UK Fans of the Day

FullSizeRender 17

Stoops on the Potential New Redshirt Rule

During Monday’s SEC teleconference with Mark Stoops, the big story was the head coach’s thoughts on the new early signing period.  There’s another new rule proposal that could make an even bigger impact.

The rule proposal would permit redshirt players from participating in up to four games without losing their redshirt season of eligibility.  Stoops thinks it makes “a lot of sense.”

“It was a situation where it could’ve benefitted us a year ago,” Stoops said.  “We were in that situation last year when we had a quarterback hurt early in the year in Drew Barker, and played most of the year with our backup quarterback being a redshirt guy. We decided to keep that redshirt on Gunnar Hoak in game 11.”

Instead of playing Hoak, Stoops started Luke Wright against Austin Peay.  The Cats fell behind early, forcing an injured Stephen Johnson back into action.  If Stoops could’ve played Hoak, he believes it would have helped him in the long-run.

“It can protect the player and their redshirt year, help gain a little bit of experience for the following year and overall I think it’s a very good rule.”

Make a Stand

During a recruiting trip to Memphis, offensive line coach John Schlarman stopped to see the family of Greg Page and present them with two gifts.  One is a replica of the statue now featured just outside of Kroger Field.  He also brought a framed painting of the unveiling ceremony from last fall.  UK deserves to be applauded for their efforts to praise the pioneers of the past.

@GregPageUK

@GregPageUK

A Warm Jacket was all Abule-Abadi Fitzgerald Needed

Late-rising defensive end Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald became a hot name on the recruiting trail just before National Signing Day.  During his visit to Kentucky, he loved everything about it, except the weather.  The Florida kid wasn’t used to Kentucky’s cold February temperatures.

“It was just welcoming and comfortable. Everybody there just made you feel at home. It was like, ‘Wow,’ I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t be able to come to this place apart from it’s freezing. But they give you like the warmest jacket.”

You can read the entire interview with SEC Country’s Joe Mussatto here.

Benny Snell has a New Song

Benny tha Bandit just dropped a new beat on SoundCloud that will get your head boppin’.

Early Enrollees Off to a Great Start

Lamar Thomas has a saying he shares with the media often that goes along the lines, “If you’re doing things right off the field, you’re going to do things right on the field.”  Eddie Gran keeps it simple, “Take care of business.”

The seven early enrollees took care of business in their first semester on campus, combining for a cumulative 3.0 GPA.  Excluding JUCO transfer Lonnie Johnson, who had his fair share of struggles in the classroom, all were supposed to spend the spring in high school.  Instead, they were getting excellent grades in a college classroom.  Well done.

Hear Derrick Baity’s Story

How well do you know Derrick Baity?  The Kentucky cornerback (now No. 8) is a playmaker on defense, but he might be the most entertaining player off the field.  Never shy, he talks trash and cuts up, but never backs down when his unit falls short of their standards.  He talks about where he came from and more in this short from UK Football.

A Legacy Quarterback Recruit

Bill Allen was a Kentucky quarterback when Freddie Maggard arrived on campus in the late 80s.  Now his son is an incoming sophomore at Lexington Catholic High School.  It’s rare to see Kentucky offer a scholarship to a quarterback from Lexington, especially one that’s only completed one year of high school football, but Alan Cutler explains why Allen is an exception to that rule (the package starts around the :55 mark).


Kirk Herbstreit: UK Football is “like an appetizer before the real thing starts”

Kirk Herbstreit has been a big supporter of UK Football in recent years. Last season, the “College Gameday” cohost picked the Cats to make some major noise, going as far in early November to say UK had a legitimate chance to make the SEC Championship game. Now, of course, that didn’t happen, but Herbie is definitely a Kentucky — and Mark Stoops — fan. That’s why today’s comments from him are a little puzzling. According to the Courier-Journal’s Danielle Lerner, Herbstreit said UK Football is “like an appetizer before the real thing starts,” the real thing being UK Basketball.

This comment will definitely upset the hardcore UK Football folks who have spent their lives complaining that the gridiron is second fiddle to the hardwood (“Did you know they only gave Bear Bryant a watch and Adolph Rupp a Cadillac??”), but after the past few seasons, that comment feels like a slap in the face to all the progress Stoops has made. Traditionally, most UK fans are basketball-first, but there’s no denying the excitement surrounding the football program right now. Be honest with yourself: last year, did any UK sports moment give you as much joy as when Lamar fumbled and the Cats upset the Cards at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium? I can’t think of one.

Or, conversely, is Herbstreit right in that no matter how good UK Football gets, it will never be enough to compete with UK Basketball in fans’ hearts?

Let’s be real and let it all out in the comments.