By Jack Pilgrim on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 10:40pm
Tough news out of Kentucky football practice today.
Following today’s practice, UK head coach Mark Stoops announced freshman quarterback Nik Scalzo’s injury on Saturday was, in fact, a torn ACL.
According to Stoops, Scalzo’s injury came on a non-contact play and was the same knee he injured back in high school.
The Kentucky freshman will have surgery and miss the entire 2019 football season.
KSBar and Grille is the place in Lexington to catch University of Kentucky games (pre and postgame too) as well as other events such as the NBA Playoffs, UFC fights, the World Cup, MLB games, PGA tour events, and more.
KSBar might be known for their smoked wings but don’t miss out on the brisket platter, fried katfish, chicken and waffles, and the great assortment of burgers. Start off with the house chips loaded to the ceiling smothered with pulled pork or chicken straight off the smoker topped with the house BBQ sauce.
Head to the KSBar and Grille website ksbarandgrille.com to see a full menu and drink list.
Be on the look out for different specials and events.
KSBar and Grille is located at: 1030 South Broadway, Lexington, KY 40504
You can be a part of KSR’s Top 10 Tweets by using hashtags like #KSR #BBN or #KSRtop10. You can also nominate tweets by mentioning them with the hashtag. If we like what we see, it could be posted the next day.
If you are interested in sponsoring KSR’s Top 10 Tweets, please contact us at Via Email.
#10 Roy Combs
— Roy Combs™ (@broncofan4life) August 20, 2019
I’ll have whatever that guy was on.
#9 Loyal BBN Fan
— Loyal BBN Fan (@bigmike201423) August 20, 2019
Oh yeah, we got a commitment today. #yahtzee
#8 Dwayne Davidson
— Dwayne Davidson (@DwayneDavidson) August 20, 2019
I think you’re onto something
#7 KSR Out of Context
I’m like a dog…I can smell crime.
— KSR Out of Context (@ksroutofcontext) August 20, 2019
Jones 2020: I’m like a dog…I can smell crime
#6 Ronnie Adkison
— Ronnie Adkison (@KYRock) August 20, 2019
Some would say his voice is butter.
#5 Justin M. Vicroy
— Justin M. Vicroy (@JustinMVicroy) August 20, 2019
#4 Not Jerry Tipton
When you’re left out of every single preseason top 25 poll in America and you respond by getting commitments from two guys in a 24 hour period with offers from Alabama, LSU, Tennessee, Auburn, Oklahoma, Nebraska, etc. pic.twitter.com/uYXPyczbNq
— Not Jerry Tipton (@NotJerryTipton) August 20, 2019
This gif alone deserves a top 10…and it’s very fitting.
#3 Jordan Hardy
We’re going undefeated
— Jordan Hardy (@jordanh_23) August 20, 2019
All signs point in that direction.
#2 John Robic’s Hair
Yeah but does he also have an “Earned Not Given” chest tattoo?
— John Robic’s Hair (@JohnRobicsHair) August 20, 2019
Imitation is the best form of flattery.
#1 Amanda Lemond
Convo with @ryanlemond: Ry: the chicken you made for dinner was awesome. Me: that was a porkchop. Ry: oh. I thought it looked funny.
— Amanda Lemond (@mandylemond) August 21, 2019
Ryan the Romantic.
Follow me on twitter and tag me in one of your tweets for a chance to make KSR’s top 10 tweets: @BrentW_KSR
By Zack Geoghegan on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 10:00pm
The most popular sport in the state of Kentucky has seen a steady decline in participation over the previous four years.
In an article posted by Lee Howard of WKYT, football is losing high school players in the Bluegrass state, and there are many possible factors that can be attributed to the drop in numbers.
The Kentucky High School Athletics Association reported a loss of more than 1,000 players (from 14,305 in 2015 – an all-time high – to 13,0745 in 2019), which isn’t a massive decrease, but enough to raise concerns.
“For us that’s not that big of a decline, but where we are losing them is the non-varsity level,” Tackett told WKYT. “The problem is if you sit and think about it, that doesn’t bode well for the future.”
The overall number of high school student-athletes competing in the state of Kentucky last season was actually at an all-time high despite the drop in football.
The most attributable factor in the decline would be the controversies surrounding piling evidence of CTE found in NFL players along with high numbers of concussions. Which is a valid criticism regarding what is an obviously more dangerous sport than others, such as basketball, baseball, or soccer. Parents don’t want their child to potentially receive repeated blows to the head at an early age. These numbers shouldn’t be shocking. But some coaches still take the old school route in their explanation.
“I don’t think we live in a society now where maybe toughness is as respected as it was maybe 15 to 20 years ago, and so the badge of courage or the badge of honor you might say, that I had when I grew up playing is kind of gone or washed away,” said East Jessamine coach Mike Bowlin to WKYT.
OR, maybe. Justtttt maybe. Parents actually want to see their children not landing back first on the field after a crushing blindside blow to the cranium. This isn’t a matter of being weak or tough. It’s a matter of seeking out what parents believe is best for their child. Personally, football is not a sport I would want my son to participate in. And I have zero issues with anyone who does, either. It comes down to safety and how safe or unsafe the environment is deemed.
And until there can be concrete evidence which supports the positive health impacts of playing football longterm, these numbers will only likely continue to slide.
By Brent Wainscott on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 9:00pm
The countdown to Kentucky’s first game against Toledo will hit 10 days tomorrow and if you’re like all of us here at KSR, those ten days will feel like an eternity.
So over the next ten days, I will help you all pass the time by reliving the best 10 games from the Mark Stoops era at Kentucky.
Now, just so we’re clear, ‘best’ is kind of a loose term in this sense. If we were going off the quality of the game itself we would see games like the EKU overtime victory make the list (oof). That obviously will not be the case.
Some of the factors that will play into the ranking of the 10 games will be the importance of these games, the events following each game the quality of the game, and which games were the biggest in progressing Kentucky’s football program into what it is today.
Starting tomorrow, be on the lookout for the tenth-best game of the Mark Stoops era.
Does anybody have any guesses on what number 10 will be?
By KSR on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 8:30pm
KSR has a large network of podcasts. Here is your guide on how to listen and subscribe to your favorite shows.
- Kentucky Sports Radio (main feed): iTunes, Spotify
- Aaron Torres Sports Podcast: iTunes, Spotify
- KSR Football Podcast: iTunes, Spotify
- The OTT: iTunes, Spotify
- The Funkhouser Situation: iTunes, Spotify
- 11 Personnel: iTunes, Spotify
- Free Money: iTunes, Spotify
- Sources Say Podcast: iTunes (KSR feed for now), Spotify
Enjoy some of the latest episodes now:
Football season is right around the corner, but the summer isn’t over until the Kentucky Sports Radio radio show decides its favorite chain restaurant of the year. The popular KSR Food Bracket is back with 64 contenders chasing the coveted title and we will narrow down the field on Wednesday’s show.
In the meantime, print out your bracket so you can play along.
Tune in tomorrow at 10 a.m.!
If you woke up this morning to read the daily paper (what I call my Twitter timeline), you might have noticed a trend directed at Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker. But not a positive one.
Video surfaced of the former Kentucky Wildcat being double-teamed in the corner during a pickup basketball game amongst other NBA players. Booker was not a fan of the defense being sent his way during a summer run, saying “Hey bro we not doubling in open gym, bro.”
— House of Highlights (@HoHighlights) August 20, 2019
Current NBA free agent Joakim Noah (and former Florida Gator) responded to Booker by saying “yeah we are” and that it was “part of the game”. Twitter then went into full-on Twitter mode, throwing dagger after dagger at Booker for something as simple as an open gym. And I quickly learned that NBA Twitter has something against the former one-and-done (something that I’ve noticed has been a trend since he dropped 70 points against the Boston Celtics in 2017). Go ahead and search his name on social media, most of the posts are NSFL.
But what you didn’t see was Booker giving that entire court the business right before that, lighting up NBA players such as Ben Simmons and Tony Snell.
— Swish Cultures (@swishcultures_) August 16, 2019
My only response is this: wow, we really need something to occupy the time of NBA fans during the offseason.
Whether or not you agree or disagree with Booker being double-teamed, it ultimately doesn’t matter. Like, at all. Do they really need to double Booker during an open gym? The dude is literally wearing a zip-up hoodie and still driving past everyone. But they brought help defense for a reason – he was destroying them.
Booker is going to see a ton of doubles this season as he has consistently in the past. And that’s what practice is for. I can understand his frustration of being doubled while he earnestly wants to work on his game. If he wants to work on breaking double teams, I’m sure he has several drills that help him do that. But then again, he could just play the damn game. It can’t hurt to get in some extra practice against that kind of defense.
Let me just say it one more time, though: it was a PICK. UP. GAME.
All this situation truly taught me is that there are still droves of people out there actively rooting against Booker. This only added fuel to the fire. The Suns aren’t going to be *terrible* this year, although they certainly won’t be expected to make the playoffs. And with Ricky Rubio running point guard and another year of experience for Deandre Ayton, Booker might actually not see as many double-teams as he has in the past.
Even Booker knows it’s not a big deal.
Birthday work with pops. 30 minutes of passing out of doubles today ?? Naw for real thou, Appreciate your grind and realness??. pic.twitter.com/4yXP1cu6ZZ
— Devin Booker (@DevinBook) August 20, 2019
Can the NBA season just start already? I need Booker to average 29 per game so these clowns can finally sit down. But as we all know, the Internet cares not about facts. They’ll just drag him down for not averaging 30.
Here’s a fun offer for your Kentucky-Toledo game day experience:
UK has partnered up with TailgateGuys.com to provide a unique experience at Kroger Field on opening Saturday. With the new Tailgate & Ticket Special Offer, fans can get a lower-level seat at the game plus two hours of tailgating fun with free Lyles BBQ and more.
For more information or to purchase the package, click here.
It is also available for Kentucky’s second game against Eastern Michigan.
The deal costs $40 per game.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 7:00pm
This past Monday, the Kentucky Wildcats gained some serious momentum for a four-star all-purpose running back out of Vince Marrow’s favorite territory.
According to 247 Sports Crystal Ball predictions, Michael Drennen II – the seventh-ranked player out of Ohio – is now trending towards choosing the Wildcats over The (trademark?) Ohio State University.
The updated predictions now swing 55 percent in favor of the Cats with only 27 percent choosing the Buckeyes followed by nine percent for the Stanford Cardinals. This comes shortly after OSU was deemed the overwhelming favorite.
247 Sports also stated that Drennen is hoping to schedule an official visit to Lexington this fall.
“(Kentucky has) two backs committed right now (Torrance Davis and Jutahn McClain) and they’re still pushing for me,” Drennen said. “I love Kentucky and I’ve been there the most of any of the out of state schools. Those coaches are my guys and we talk all the time, especially (tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow).”
“I will take an official visit there for sure.”
Marrow and Kentucky have been hot on Drennen for some time now, offering the Dublin, Ohio native a scholarship as early as his freshman season.
Kentucky currently sits at No. 22 in the 2020 recruiting standings with 16 total players after recently picking up two commitments, Deondre Buford and Tre’Vonn Rybka, and they continue to shoot up the standings with what is turning out to be an excellent class for the Cats.
If Drennen does decide to come to Kentucky, he would be the fourth four-star player in this class.
Will these Yathzees ever get boring? Let’s just test that theory with another commitment, shall we?
Check out his highlight package below.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 6:00pm
Leading the way with a game-high 14 points, former Kentucky Wildcat star Evelyn Akhator helped lead Nigeria to a first-place victory over Senegal in the FIBA Women’s AfroBasket title this past Sunday. It was Nigeria’s second consecutive AfroBasket title.
You might remember Akhator as the highest-drafted WNBA player to ever come out of Lexington after she was drafted third overall in the 2017 WNBA Draft by the Dallas Wings. She currently plays overseas in Spain as a member of CB Avenida.
Playing center and standing at 6-foot-3, Akhator averaged 11 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 2.4 steals in five games during the tournament while shooting over 52 percent from the field. She was arguably the most efficient player on her team, as well.
While her WNBA career hasn’t quite panned out the way she might have anticipated, she dominated the competition in international play. She made a return to the WNBA earlier in 2019, however, she was not brought on board full-time after training camp ended.
An interesting side note that I noticed while watching the post-game press conference was the discovery of the coach of the Nigerian team. Otis Hughley Jr., a former NBA assistant, has been the Nigerian national team’s head coach since 2018. He was also the head coach on Loyalty Is Love, DeMarcus Cousins’ squad that won the Lexington Regional at The Basketball Tournament over the summer. Small world?
Congratulations are in order for Akhator, who we all hope to see back in the states and the WNBA sometime soon.
If you were waiting to take advantage of the Pocket Pass, UK’s flexible football season ticket option; sorry, you waited too late.
The ticket office announced it sold completely out of its Pocket Pass options for the upcoming 2019 football season. The passes went on sale back in March and now all 900 have been purchased.
The Pocket Pass allows fans to take in all eight home games with the convenience of mobile ticket delivery. According to the news release, the first 500 Pocket Passes were sold at $225 apiece and the remaining passes sold for $250 apiece.
Last week we learned the Four-Game Flex Packs sold out, so it is clear the 10-win, Citrus Bowl season ignited a lot of excitement across the fan base. There are also five thousand new season ticket holders ready to storm Kroger Field this season.
Season tickets are still available at UKFootballTix.com starting at $280 apiece.
It’s almost here!
By Nick Roush on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 4:00pm
Before he was an All-SEC wide receiver, Lynn Bowden was a talented high school quarterback. He’s only thrown a few passes over the last two years, but Bowden can still sling it.
Quarterback Lynn Bowden pic.twitter.com/GTIxe8IIgv
— Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) August 20, 2019
Bowden was seen throwing passes, instead of catching them, quite often throughout Kentucky’s 15th preseason practice. From receiver drills, to 7-on-7 and even 11-on-11, Lynn was letting it fly.
“I just wanted to show off my arm a little bit, just show them I still got it.” Bowden said he’s not trying to take Terry Wilson’s job, still, Wilson can feel the heat.
“He’s been looking good out there,” said Wilson. “He’s been throwing the ball good, so I’m going to have to beat him up and tell him it’s my position.”
Stoops happily got in on the joke, or is it a joke?
“He can do a lot of things,” said Stoops. “We’ll continue to fool around with him there.”
In his first season as a Wildcat, Bowden completed 3-of-4 passes out of the Wildcat formation for 92 yards. The lone incompletion was an interception. Just like in his first year, when Bowden was throwing the football at Tuesday’s practice, he was throwing it deep. Even if it’s only implemented once every few games, it can do just enough to force the defense to honor the potential pass, giving Bowden more room to operate in the run game.
“It adds more stress to the defense. They probably won’t know he can throw the ball like that,” said Terry Wilson. “They probably think he’s just going to run it. Then he pulls and throws a 60-yard yard bomb or something like that. It catches the defense on their heels. It’s explosive. It’s definitely going to be something for the defense to keep their eyes open to.”
Offensive coordinator Eddie Gran knows that for his unit to be successful, Bowden needs as many touches as possible. If that means letting him rip it out of the Wildcat, so be it.
“You wanna try to get a guy that can make plays, you want to get him the ball anyway that you can,” said Gran. “We’re going to have him touches from everywhere, whether it be the X, Y, F, Z position. We’ll have him at quarterback, running back. He’s going to be a lot of different places.”
Lynn Bowden is not putting Terry Wilson’s job in jeopardy anytime soon. In fact, Bowden’s ability to get open will provide Wilson with plenty of job security. Anything to help a friend.
“We’re like peanut butter and jelly,” Bowden said, “I’m the peanut butter. I’m tough, tough to swallow.”
The Sources Say Podcast E1: Daishen Nix commits to UCLA, the latest on Jalen Green, Josh Christopher, and JJ Traynor
By Jack Pilgrim on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 3:45pm
The Sources Say Podcast is finally here!
In their debut episode, KSR’s Jack Pilgrim is joined by Jake Weingarten and Travis Graf of Cats Illustrated to break down all things Kentucky basketball recruiting.
The trio of recruiting insiders discuss:
What is the latest with 2020 five-star point guard Daishen Nix?
(NOTE: This podcast was recorded prior to Nix’s commitment to UCLA on Tuesday afternoon. Pilgrim, Weingarten, and Graf jump back on at the end of the show to discuss the big news)
- Breaking down Nix’s game… Is he the best passer in high school basketball?
- Their thoughts on Kentucky not extending an offer yet
- Some new scoop on Nix that could affect Kentucky’s future roster
- Why Nix’s camp was frustrated with UK
Breaking down Jalen Green’s game
- Huge room to grow, high ceiling. Naturally gifted, supreme athletic. Can be a legitimate future NBA superstar
- From his camp: quite a comparison to some former UK players in the NBA
- Will he make it to a college campus?
- How they would handicap his recruitment?
- Has RJ Hampton’s decision to play overseas changed the mindset of these high school kids’ decisions?
- Does the UK coaching staff like the idea of top recruits coming together on an official visit?
Breaking down Josh Christopher’s game
- Pilgrim is extremely high on Christopher… Could he be even better than Green?
- Can he run the point guard position?
- Comparison to another former John Calipari star
- What a potential future UK roster could look like
- A fun Jalen Green vs. Josh Christopher matchup Pilgrim observed at Peach Jam
The breakout star of the summer is Bardstown’s own JJ Traynor
- What do we need to know about his recruitment?
- What Traynor’s high school coach told KSR about his game
And to close the show, the Sources Say hosts scramble to add in a new segment with Daishen Nix’s abrupt commitment to UCLA on Tuesday afternoon.
- What does this decision mean for Kentucky?
- Should we be worried about UK putting all their eggs in one basket with Green and Christopher?
As training camp nears a conclusion, the Kentucky football coaches opened up practice to the media. If consuming practice notes does not float your boat, highlights from the individual drill portion of practice will do just the trick to get you fired up for August 31.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 3:07pm
After deciding to remain in the 2021 class last week, Paolo Banchero has scheduled his official visits. The five-star power forward from Seattle tweeted that he will visit Kentucky for Big Blue Madness on October 11.
Banchero will visit North Carolina on September 27, Duke on October 17, Tennessee on October 25, and Gonzaga on January 18. Home state Washington was considered the early frontrunner (his parents both played there), and although the Huskies are not getting an official visit, he’s visited them unofficially several times.
Banchero is considered the top power forward and a top five overall prospect in the 2021 class by 247 Sports, ESPN, and Rivals. I really enjoy this description of his game from Rivals’ Corey Evans.
“What Banchero brings to the floor is an all-encompassing skillset that wreaks havoc from 20-feet and in. One of the very best standouts on the Nike EYBL circuit, NBPA Top 100 Camp, and at the USA Basketball Mini-Camp this summer, Banchero sets the bar for what a premier frontcourt prospect looks like and would be an immediate producer regardless of his year of enrollment and for which program that he ultimately selects.”
Yes, please. Watch him work below.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 2:45pm
August 31 will be the first time Toldeo has played Kentucky, and it won’t be the last. According to FB Schedules, the Cats have agreed to a new three-year series with the Rockets beginning in 2025.
Vince Marrow’s alma mater will return to Lexington on August 30, 2025. On September 4, 2027, Kentucky will travel to Toledo, and the next year, the Rockets will return the favor for the 2028 home opener. Here’s an updated look at Kentucky’s future non-conference opponents from FB Schedules in case you really want to plan ahead:
|9/5 – Eastern Michigan||9/4 – Louisiana-Monroe||9/3 – Miami (OH)||9/2 – Ball State||8/31 – Akron||8/30 – Toledo||9/5 – Akron||9/4 – at Toledo||9/2 – Toledo|
|9/19 – Kent State||9/17 – Youngstown State||9/9 – Eastern Kentucky||9/21 – Ohio||9/19 – Youngstown State|
|10/10 – Eastern Illinois||11/20 – New Mexico State||9/24 – Northern Illinois||9/16 – at Akron||11/16 – Murray State||9/26 – South Alabama|
|11/28 – at Louisville||11/27 – Louisville||11/26 – at Louisville|
Odds Kentucky ends up buying out the 2027 game ala Eastern Michigan this year?
Last night, 2020 five-star point guard Daishen Nix cut his list to five schools, with UCLA, Kentucky, Alabama, Maryland, and Kansas all being included.
Today, after telling reporters that he was planning on taking visits to all five schools on his list, including one already scheduled for late September to Alabama, Nix shocked the world by announcing his commitment to UCLA this afternoon.
“Most of my family is round the west coast, so if I leave to go to UCLA it’s not that hard for them to fly over and drive over to see me,” Nix explained to Evan Daniels of 247Sports. “I loved the weather out there, the visit I had over the weekend was just unbelievable. It just really caught my eye.”
Nix also said he felt UCLA prioritized him the most among all the schools on his list.
“[Mick Cronin] prioritized me from the start,” he added. “As soon as he got there, and it was only him recruiting me, none of the assistant coaches.”
Now, Kentucky will turn its attention to Josh Christopher and Jalen Green to join BJ Boston in the backcourt.
We will have more on the decision on the Sources Say Podcast, set to debut this afternoon. I will also have another post on the site breaking down what this means for Kentucky in a bit.
Back on January 26th, Tennessee defensive tackle Tre’vonn Rybka received his first Power Five scholarship offer from the University of Kentucky. Following the Wildcats in the next three-plus months with offers were Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Arizona, West Virginia, Oregon, Oklahoma, Alabama, Virginia, Mississippi State, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, LSU, Arkansas, Boston College, Texas A&M, Georgia, and Nebraska. It’s unclear whether each of them were committable offers, but it’s evident that Mark Stoops and his staff were early to the party.
Derrick LeBlanc was the point man on this recruitment and records his second crootin’ win of the 2020 cycle after reeling in offensive lineman Joshua Jones earlier this summer. In the end, the interior defensive lineman picked the Wildcats over Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Oregon as Kentucky dipped into the Volunteer State for a very intriguing prospect. Tre’vonn Rybka is the sixth highest rate recruit currently in this class, per the 247 Sports composite, and adds to an impressive defensive line haul.
Now it’s time to go into the KSR Film Room to show you what the Dickson County senior will be bringing to Lexington in 2020. It’s taken awhile, but under Derrick LeBlanc this defensive line group is climbing the ladder in the SEC.
In Kentucky’s 3-4 defense this season you are essentially going to see a nose man and two guys lined up on the offensive tackles. In a 3-4 Eagle Front, you essentially have two guys lined up on the inside shoulder of the offensive tackles. In football lingo, this is called a 4i technique while the nose on the center is a zero technique. The 4i fits exactly what Tre’Vonn Rybka does best.
In high school, the 6-foot-4 defensive end is an anchor on the line of scrimmage. In the 3-4 scheme, you are playing a lot of isolation football with the offensive tackles and you need to have some power game. Rybka has a loaded lower body with what appears to be a strong upper core. That allows him create a push at the point of attack and make a play. Here that power results in a quarterback sack.
Yes, you need to have big and physical defensive line players at the line of scrimmage that can hold up and battle with big and strong offensive centers, guards, and tackles. That’s the most important part of the game, but you also must be able to move and make plays away from your starting point. On film, Tre’Vonn Rybka does that.
Above you see the jumbo defensive end start on the opposite of the play and in pursuit he factors into the tackle yards past the line of scrimmage. Athleticism and motor is a big part of the position and Rybka shows he has both of those traits.
The name of the game is establishing the run and stopping the run. A big reason for UK’s 10-win season in 2018 was their ability to do that on both sides of the football. We’ve seen Tre’vonn Rybka factor in on pass rush and pursuit, but the best part of his game might just be his run stuffing ability.
On this zone read action, Rybka does a great job with read and react defense. The defensive end delivers a strong punch and knocks the left tackle backwards. He quickly diagnoses the handoff and makes a sure tackle for a minimal gain. His presence here was much needed because the center and left guard got some great movement on the defensive tackle.
At the college level, the defensive end is going to have to make plays exactly like this to be a force in the run game. You must win at the point of attack, read and react, and then make a play on the football.
The Nashville metropolitan area native is another big recruiting win for the UK staff. After years of a slow build which included a ton of junior college plug-and-play players, Kentucky finally seems to be in a good spot attracting talented high school defensive line prospects.
In the 2020 class, Tre’vonn Rybka joins two other prospects (Samuel Anaele and Justin Rogers) who are both blue-chip recruits. All of a sudden, this position group is starting to become a team strength and Kentucky will be hopeful that Rybka will have the same impact as the last time they dipped into Tennessee to grab a nose guard (Quinton Bohanna) in 2017.
On the field, the borderline composite four-star prospect brings size, power, and athleticism. With a powerful lower body and room to add strength on top, he’s a schematic fit for UK’s 3-4 defensive end. It’s another solid 2020 recruiting win and quietly Derrick LeBlanc is becoming one of UK’s most valuable assistants.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 1:15pm
Yesterday, Ralph Hacker ruffled some feathers on the Terry Meiners Show when he said he believes John Calipari is “shortchanging” Kentucky fans with his one-and-done approach. This morning, the former Voice of the Wildcats called into Kentucky Sports Radio to clarify those comments.
The subject originally came up when Meiners mentioned Kyle Macy’s recent comments about Calipari being too focused on the NBA. Hacker took up for his former broadcast partner, telling Meiners he doesn’t feel the program has the fans in mind anymore, comparing it to radio hosts booking a superstar slate of guests for ratings week and only average guests the rest of the time.
“Perhaps it was a bad analogy,” Hacker said on KSR this morning. “What I was saying was to this point: when you recruit one-and-dones — and maybe that’s the way it’s all gone now, is that you have to recruit those, and again, John knows more about this than I do — is that if you recruit just for just for this one season rather than look for three years, two years, four years down the road, where you’re trying to stack up national championships for the benefit of the university and the benefit of your fans, it’s like you working just for one ratings week and saying, ‘I’m going to put everything I’ve got here just for this week. Everything I’ve got is going into this week and the rest of the time I’m going to coast and see what happens.'”
When Matt asked if he was implying that Calipari is coasting, Hacker once again said he probably misspoke and is just used to the way things used to be.
“Just because he does that doesn’t make it wrong. He’s probably right. I’m just saying from Joe Blow fan who’s used to, over the years — see, I’m a lot older than you. I’m a lot older than Cal. I’m used to being able to go to University of Kentucky games and see great teams come in there and you see Kentucky play them and beat them most of the time, used to being able to know the players and take pride in those particular players — and I do take pride for the year that they’re there. I just forgot who they are after they’re not there.”
In fact, Hacker said most of his frustrations stem from the non-conference home schedule, which has gotten weaker as the program adds more neutral site games.
“Everybody has their own way of doing it. The way that John does it is fine. That’s the way John wants to do it. That’s the way the university wants to do it and John’s made a commitment to do that. What I was attempting to say was, I believe as far as a fan goes — I’m thinking as a Ralph B. Hacker as a fan, a guy who writes the checks every year and buys the basketball tickets that I’ve had since the day Rupp Arena opened — is that I feel that I’m getting shortchanged. I’m thinking as a fan that I want to see more quality teams come in there. I don’t want to — while I love Eastern Kentucky University, while I love Transylvania — I don’t want that to be the highlight of my November and December schedule.”
Hacker said he’d prefer some of the neutral site games that take place in New York or Las Vegas move closer to Lexington so fans can be within driving distance.
“My point is that we play a tough schedule. There’s no question about that. My argument is, we play that schedule is with most of the games being away from home where it costs Joe Blow fan another $2,000 to go to New York City and play. Or to go to Las Vegas and play. Or to go to Chicago and play. Some of those games, if they could be worked out, need to be played where Kentucky fans can get to those games and enjoy that as part of their regular season schedule.”
Listen to Hacker’s interview below. He comes on halfway through Hour 1:
By Nick Roush on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 12:24pm
Mark Stoops opened the doors of the Joe Craft Football Training Facility to the media for practice No. 15. Enjoy observations from sideline on each position group after watching the Cats in action for an hour.
- The first group in 7-on-7: Cedrick Dort, Jordan Griffin, Yusuf Corker and Jamari Brown.
- Stoops asks Mosley why he is covering grass. The head coach is giving lot of individual attention to the DBs.
- Jamari Brown plays physical in bump coverage vs. Wagner.
- Mosely has some work to do in man coverage. The JUCO transfer is too slow to react when receivers break.
- Brown makes another physical play as the ball arrives. This guy has the potential to bring what Baity and Lonnie brought to the secondary.
- Echols is the only guy who’s come close to covering Bowden.
- Corker breaks up stuff across the middle in zone from safety. He was much more efficient as a safety than a nickel.
- Paschal blowing up running plays while defending the slot. Covering nicely too, giving Rigg nothing on the wheel route.
- Wright getting in work at Sam linebacker. Stoops said he’ll work both spots, likely the No. 2 option at each.
- Weaver and Casey are rolling with the twos; Casey is doing a good job keeping his outside shoulder free and forcing everything inside.
- Peters is way too good to be with the threes, especially in pursuit from the backside, but that’s what they have to do until they receive word from the NCAA.
- Q moves so damn well for his size. He’s an enormous nose guard that’s as agile as an end.
- Calvin Taylor has gotten quicker out of his stance.
- Bohanna is taking up two and sometimes three guys each snap. That’s how you blow up the middle of an offense.
- T.J. Carter practiced sparingly, slightly banged up after a grueling camp.
- Schlarman: “The cameras are on you. Your ass better not look like crap.”
- I really like the counter action they use with the tight end/H-back. It happens fast and gives the RB an extra two yards to get a head full of steam to get to and through the second level of the defense.
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
- Bowden makes Griffin look stupid in one-on-ones.
- Wagner is exponentially quicker out of breaks, getting better separation.
- Nobody can guard Lynn Bowden at all.
- Ali gets a 1-on-1 with Dort and makes him pay. Terry delivered the deep ball to him in stride on the fade.
- Marrow absolutely lost his mind when Rigg dropped a pass over the middle. He’s heaped plenty of praise on his guys in the preseason. They can’t let him down when the lights turn on Saturdays.
- B.J. Alexander makes a great catch through solid coverage on a deep out from Smith. He probably won’t play this year, but he’s showing a lot of potential to contribute next year, while still making simple mistakes like carrying the ball in his inside arm.
- Gran refuses to curse. “Do you understand it? Gosh almighty, dang!”
- C-Rod shows patience in Wildcat.
- Smoke is rocking a red jersey, but still participating in 11-on-11.
- Sawyer Smith is hitting guys in stride out of their breaks.
- Bowden is throwing in WR drills and 7-on-7s. Most are under thrown, but they’re good looking spirals.
- Bowden’s favorite ball to throw is the deep ball.
- Smith is making the right reads in 11-on-11, dropping a beautiful ball in Clevan Thomas’ bucket on a wheel route. This guy is a solid back-up for TW3.
- Terry is getting to his third and fourth reads pretty seamlessly. He had a great start to the day but had a few throws he’d like to get back in the second half of practice.
The Big Takeaways
1. “Quarterback Lynn Bowden”
Kentucky’s top wide receiver is also QB3. This year the Wildcat quarterback will not just be a running threat. If Bowden shows anything in the passing game, opposing defenses must honor the deep threat every time he takes a snap. He’s thrown a few balls before, but the former high school quarterback failed to deliver right away. He has enough arm power and accuracy. As training camp nears a conclusion, they’re working him into the action more often in practice to improve his timing, and more importantly, keep him from receiving too much contact from the defense.
2. Brandin Echols HAS to play
The JUCO cornerback simply doesn’t let the opposing wide receivers do what they want. Nobody can cover Bowden, except Echols. Wagner is at least six inches taller than Echols, but it did not matter. Echols knocked him off his route and took him out of the play. He will be the closest thing Kentucky has to a “lock down” corner. Coming off a summer hamstring injury, UK’s coaches need to do whatever they can to make sure Echols receives as many snaps as possible.
3. Finding a Nickel will be Difficult
The Cats are really going to miss Mike Edwards. UK’s secondary has a few different candidates who can provide competent run support, but Corker, Ajian and Griffin struggled to cover slots in man coverage. To be fair, they’re usually covering Lynn Bowden. Davonte Robinson’s absence will be felt until one player rises to the occasion.
4. Ahmad Wagner will Contribute
The former basketball player’s greatest advantage is also a disadvantage. Corners can’t match up with his size, but it also slows him down. You can tell Wagner’s anticipation at the position has exponentially improved. He wasn’t just catching jump balls, he was beating corners cutting out of breaks. When he’s not catching passes, he’ll be a valuable asset blocking on the outside.
5. Leaning on 12 Personnel
Kentucky’s base offense will feature Josh Ali, Lynn Bowden, Justin Rigg and Keaton Upshaw as the H-back. The big guys make the Cats more dynamic in the run game and they’re big targets in the middle of the field. There’s a ton of potential out of this personnel grouping, but the inexperienced bigs must grow up fast to become consistent weapons.