Post Governor’s Cup and pre-Jacksonville talk featured bowl excitement and expectation for the 2017 season. →
By Nick Roush on ©August 19th, 2017 @ 11:00pm
Mark Stoops struggled to find good things to say last week after UK’s first scrimmage of the preseason. He eventually used the words “just okay” to describe the scrimmage. Today, he was pleased to share a positive report.
“Overall it was a good, competitive scrimmage,” said Stoops. “I feel like it was better scrimmage than it was a week ago, as it should be. I thought we had a really good, solid week of practice this week. We got a lot of work in. Wrapping it up today with a good, long scrimmage. I feel like we did good things on both sides of the ball.”
Careful not to condemn or praise either side of the ball too much before watching the film, he was happy to see the defense prevent the offense from putting early points on the board. However, one play that made him change his tune was a long, explosive run.
“It’ll be a good learning situation for them. We gotta watch it and see exactly who it was, but they creased us and got a long run that led to a touchdown early,” he said.
Offensively, the Cats improved from a week ago and kept the ball off the ground throughout the entire scrimmage. Still, Eddie Gran wanted to see more consistency, especially on routine first down plays.
Moving forward, the depth chart is tightening up as September 2 creeps closer and closer.
“We’re going to be making some decisions with playing time and moves on the depth chart after this scrimmage,” Stoops said. “Guys that either can’t do it or won’t do it, they’re getting passed up because we do have a lot of depth and a lot of talent on this team, a lot more than we’ve had.”
Classes start on Wednesday, essentially closing the door on training camp and commencing Southern Miss prep. Through three weeks, Mark Stoops likes his team.
“I feel like we’re much further ahead. The maturity level of this team has been a lot of fun to coach,” Stoops said. “It’s been an enjoyable camp. There’s still so much work daily to do, but it’s been fun. The guys are really taking to the coaching. I think it’s very important to them. I feel like we’re further ahead with the details. ”
Stoops’ team has exactly two weeks to master the details to create a polished product in Hattiesburg.
Mark Stoops announced after today’s scrimmage that Dorian Baker suffered a significant ankle injury, the second senior injured on the Kroger Field Turf in two weeks. The severity is currently unknown, but if Baker cannot perform for an extended amount of time, what’s next for UK’s wide receivers?
The redshirt sophomore wide receiver was listed as UK’s starter at the “X” outside receiver in the first depth chart of the 2017 season. He has since moved to the “Z” position and was splitting reps with Baker and the first string leading into today.
Richardson showed promise in his first career game, hauling in 2 receptions for 74 yards against Southern Miss. After a season of experience, Richardson said yesterday he feels, “like a veteran,” and is prepared to make the jump from year one to year two.
Dorian Baker’s (potential) loss leaves UK without their largest target on the outside. Insert Kayaune Ross. Playing opposite of Baker, the junior college transfer is one of the hardest workers on the team, and one of the tallest at 6’6″ 225 pounds. If Baker cannot be utilized in situations where they need a big guy, they still have Big Ross.
Josh Ali, Isaiah Epps, Clevan Thomas and Lynn Bowden have impressed coaches as soon as they stepped on campus. They’ve done it in the weight room, on the practice field and in scrimmages, including today’s. Stoops said there’s room for all four freshmen to play right away.
“I think we’re going to. I do,” Stoops said today. “I feel like they’re really good players. They’re just ball players. They can probably help us on special teams and bring them along. As you know, we lose a pretty good group after this year.”
Ali will now be the second team “Z” behind Tavin Richardson. JaVonte Richardson is another player that could potentially play his way onto the field this fall at outside receiver.
A Silver Lining
Just like UK’s loss at left tackle, if there’s a position that can absorb an injury, it’s wide receiver. There’s a ton of young, yet unproven talent prepared to play right away.
Losing a leader like Dorian is difficult for a meeting room to handle, but ankle injuries leave room for optimism. They can be nagging and last an entire season, or they can go away after a few weeks of rest and rehab. We’ll find out next week how long the Cats will be without Dorian Baker.
“Finally starting Game of Thrones.” The reluctant statement is spreading around faster than college football fever.
As KSR’s resident maester, I’m not here to just talk about last week’s episode on Kentucky Thrones Radio. I’m here to help everybody enjoy George R.R. Martin’s amazing world of fantasy. The following tips and graphics should be all a beginner needs to catch up with the rest of the world. Don’t worry, this post is spoiler-free.
Not Just for Nerds
This isn’t The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. If it were just fantasy/sci-fi, it wouldn’t be this popular. Thrones is a combination of Days of Our Lives and 300. It’s a soap opera with unexpected twists and turns, combined with sex and violence to appeal to a mass audience. Sprinkled on top of it all is a little witchcraft, magic, whatever you want to call it, and dragons.
Power Through Season One
It’s tough. There’s a lot of weird names and very little action (except for Lannister incest). Don’t worry; you are not alone. I’m not afraid to admit I stopped watching after two episodes, only to jump back on the bandwagon for season two.
Season one is the most boring part of the show, but it’s not unnecessary. A lot of minor details become major plot points down the (Kings)road. Besides, once you get through seven or eight episodes, Thrones makes a bold move that will keep you hooked for good.
You’re probably spending most of your time figuring out which oddly named character is a part of which house. This should help.
Westeros and Essos on a Map
Understanding spatial difference in a mythological world is next-level nerdom. Even if you don’t care to look right away, once characters really get to moving and shaking, these maps come in handy.
Reading is Unnecessary
Reading the books is one way to dive into the hysteria head first, but the show doesn’t force you to do extra homework. Complicated and extremely long, save the literature for when you are through binge-watching and season seven comes to a close. There’s a lot of waiting from now until season eight.
A Video Guide
For those who didn’t feel like reading, HBO actually created something to help you understand the show’s biggest storylines, with the help of Samuel L. Jackson. Just be warned, there’s a few spoilers and many F bombs (exactly what you should expect from Samuel L. Jackson).
By Nick Roush on ©August 19th, 2017 @ 8:30pm
The last two years of Jordan Bonner’s life has been filled with life-changing tragedy, yet the Kentucky outside linebacker continues to push ahead and is prepared to make this year his best yet.
The eventful story starts with the birth of his first son, Joel. An experience that usually changes one’s life for the better, it nearly killed Bonner. Joel’s mother’s father stabbed Bonner multiple times in the chest. Doctors told him he was one inch away from death.
“If I wasn’t built the way I was built,” he told Saturday Down South, “it could’ve been my last day.”
While recovering from the stab wound, Bonner was forced to miss the classes he needed to take to become eligible at UK. After scrambling, a Cleveland community college class allowed him to become eligible, but two months later than expected. The late arrival put him behind the eight-ball in the UK playbook, but Bonner was still able to contribute in 11 games in a reserve role and on special teams.
Prepared to make a jump in his second year in the system, Bonner was not prepared for what happened next. The day after he returned to Lexington this May, his father was rushed to the hospital. Initially, it didn’t sound that bad. Spencer, his father, said he was improving. Just another day and he’d be home, he reassured to his son. The next day he did not go home. His father passed away at age 54.
“I can tell you this,” Vince Marrow said. “That young man is gonna make it in life. I don’t know if I could’ve handled that at that age … have a kid, get stabbed, lose a parent. That tells me he’s a very strong-minded guy. I think his future is gonna be real, real good.”
Marrow isn’t the only one who thinks Bonner is due for a big year on the football field, despite what’s happened of it.
“Jordan Bonner completely shocked me, turned it around and became a baller,” Denzil Ware, the guy in front of Bonner on the depth chart, told KSR earlier this week. “He’s a baller. He’s a stud. He’s that guy. He’s capable of doing whatever that I’m capable of doing and even better.”
Bonner’s ability to focus on the field is remarkable considering everything that’s happened in his life.
This post only covered about a quarter of it. Read the Saturday Down South piece in its entirety and prepare to be shocked.
The Kentucky defensive line needs help. Quinton Bohanna is happy to oblige.
The true freshman nose guard from Cordova, Tennessee has received praise throughout camp. Today, a reporter couldn’t finish asking a question before he was interrupted by defensive coordinator Matt House.
“He’s gotten better every practice. Sorry to cut you off,” House laughed. “He’s gotten better every practice. We’re pleased with him.”
In just three weeks, the 6’4″ 320-pounder is splitting first team reps with Naquez Pringle. What House likes most about Bohanna is that he’s agile for a big man.
“He’s a guy that’s a big twitched-up guy. For a big man he moves well,” House said. “Another guy that I think football is really important to him. When you’re blessed with athleticism, size and it’s really important to you, you’ve got potential to be really good.”
“I’ve been very impressed with Quinton Bohanna,” Mark Stoops said. “I feel like it’s important to him. He plays tough. He plays physical. He’s a big man out there that’s athletic for how big he is. I have high hopes that he’ll continue to progress a little bit.”
The intangible Stoops, House and Gran have mentioned over and over when discussing the freshman class is their love of the game. The passion they bring to the practice fields everyday is something you cannot coach.
“I’m very comfortable and happy with this team, with their mentality,” Mark Stoops said. “We’re not 100 percent there. We’re not. I don’t know if anybody ever is, but we’re striving to be that way. I really feel good with our team, but I love this freshmen group. I think they’re instinctual. They’re ball players. They love playing. They’re here all the time. They’ve been impressive.”
It’s tough to rely on true freshman to play impactful minutes on an SEC defensive line, but Bohanna has everything the Cats need to get the job done.
By Nick Roush on ©August 19th, 2017 @ 6:24pm
Kentucky’s second preseason scrimmage was closed to the public, but you can take an inside look thanks to KY Wildcats TV. In the one-minute highlight reel you’ll see a few freshmen wide receivers shine, a nice catch by C.J. Conrad, impressive throws from the quarterbacks and much more.
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) August 19, 2017
By Nick Roush on ©August 19th, 2017 @ 5:32pm
The rosters for the UK Legends Game were set yesterday on Kentucky Sports Radio. The list of names is impressive, but that’s just the undercard.
NBA rules prohibit UK from announcing who will play in the main event, but thanks to Twitter and a few sources, we’ve got a good picture of who will playing Friday night. Trey Lyles, Darius Miller and Eric Bledsoe will play in the Alumni Charity Game. All three said on Twitter they’re excited to return to Rupp. Here’s who we know will be joining them:
- Derek Anderson
- Keith Bogans
- Rex Chapman
- Joe Crawford
- Tony Delk
- Jamaal Magloire
- Antoine Walker
- Terrence Jones
The game will not be televised. The only place you can see it is in the Rup Arena stands. Tickets start at just $5 and you can buy them here.
By Nick Roush on ©August 19th, 2017 @ 4:30pm
Josh Paschal did something crazy during today’s scrimmage. Normally coaches are hesitant to praise individuals before watching film, but Mark Stoops couldn’t help himself.
“He made a play or two that really stood out to me, WOWed me,” Stoops said. “He showed three or four plays in the scrimmage that he just stood out today.”
The edge rusher from Good Counsel High School in Maryland is one of the highest-ranked defensive recruits ever signed by UK. An explosive athlete, most expected him to play in some capacity this fall. Even though he got dinged up a little early in camp, he’s forcing the coaches to put him on the football field.
“He’s a big physical, athletic guy that is a sponge,” defensive coordinator Matt House said. “I think he’s really coachable. He’s progressed over these last three weeks really well.”
Stoops tried to pump the brakes, but he absolutely loves what he’s seeing from Paschal.
“I don’t want to get everybody all excited — he’s a freshman, he’s got a lot of work to do — but he’s very very talented and he does stand out out there. He’s a physical guy who’s got a lot of twitch. He has good instincts. He’s smart. We can move him around and do some different things with him. He’s one of those versatile guys.”
Paschal’s versatility and eagerness to play are characteristics he shares with many of his freshmen classmates.
“I love this freshmen group,” said Stoops. “I think they’re instinctual. They’re ball players. They love playing. They’re here all the time. They’ve been impressive.”
It’s the most experienced team Mark Stoops has fielded during his time at Kentucky, but do not be surprised if Paschal and a few other freshman are put on the field to WOW fans this fall.
By Nick Roush on ©August 19th, 2017 @ 1:47pm
Another scrimmage, another significant injury for a senior on the Kentucky football team.
Mark Stoops revealed that Dorian Baker suffered a “substantial” ankle injury during today’s scrimmage at Kroger Field. His status will be updated next week. The senior wide receiver’s injury occurred a week after Kentucky lost senior left tackle Cole Mosier for the season with an ACL tear.
Baker’s battled a variety of injuries throughout his career. Last season’s hamstring injury hampered him for most of the season. This spring was the first time he was healthy enough to compete in spring practice. His only goal for this year was “stay healthy,” a goal he is unable to achieve.
By Nick Roush on ©August 19th, 2017 @ 12:45pm
In eight days L’Christian “Blue” Smith will commit to either Kentucky or Ohio State prior to his nationally televised season opener. The Cats were the first team to offer Blue, but in the last two weeks many reporters and recruiting analysts have changed their predictions from UK to Ohio State.
Of all the predictions, this one from Mike Hartsock of Dayton’s WHIO-TV is my favorite. In the 1:30 VOSOT, almost a minute of it is the sports guy doing at stand-up at Wayne practice. You won’t learn anything new from the package but you might be slightly entertained.
“It would be shocking if it’s not scarlet and gray.” That package-ending sentiment is shared by everyone who has flipped their prediction to Ohio State. There’s no certainty and little substance, just “buzz” about Ohio State. Instead of a prediction, the more appropriate term is assumption.
Vince Marrow once put the fear of God in Drew Franklin, “Never doubt me.” Assuming Blue is locked in to Ohio State will make an ass out of you and everyone, so long as the Big Dog is still in the fight.
By Nick Roush on ©August 19th, 2017 @ 11:30am
A pair of Kentucky football commitments from the Peach State started their senior seasons with impressive victories.
Playing in a rivalry game between South and Central Gwinnett, Central Quarterback Jarren Williams‘ needed a fourth quarter touchdown to secure a victory. Eight plays and 60 yards later, Williams threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to put the game out of reach and give his team a 28-24 victory.
The future UK star completed 20 of 36 passes for 301 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Williams’ touchdowns came from 8, 11 and 20 yards and his lone interception was a diving “game-changing” catch by the defense. He added 43 yards on the ground.
Not far down the road from Williams, running back Chris Rodriguez had to put the team on his back in the second half. Trailing at halftime, the three-star prospect scored immediately to give Ola High School the lead. They never gave it back. Rodriguez scored two more second half touchdowns to finish the game with four and give his team a 41-25 win.
Williams and Rodriguez were the only two UK commits in action this week. High school football in Ohio, Michigan and Florida does not begin until next week.
Closer to home, a pair of 2019 UK targets were fantastic. Western Hills wide receiver recruit Wandale Robinson failed to lead his team to a victory over Franklin County, but he did account for 198 rushing yards in 27 carries and 35 yards in three receptions. He scored every touchdown for Western Hills on rushes of 48 and 57 yards, and a 30-yard touchdown reception.
Wandale Robinson atones for his early fumble with an explosive 60-yard touchdown gallop.
Western Hills 14
Franklin County 6 pic.twitter.com/rIGE3m9MOY
— Dave Lackford (@RivalsDave) August 18, 2017
CAL athlete Milton Wright doesn’t primarily play quarterback, but he still completed 4 passes for 35 yards and a touchdown as a wildcat quarterback. Wright ran the ball three times for 21 yards and a touchdown and he caught three passes for 29 yards in a 28-14 win over South Oldham.
By Nick Roush on ©August 19th, 2017 @ 11:00am
The Kentucky football coaches gauge improvement rather simply. Whatever you did poorly last time, make it an emphasis and get better at it the next time you step on the field.
Last Saturday that Kentucky running backs struggled in the red zone. On Monday, they responded by running like “grown men.” What they did do well was bust a few big plays. Now it’s the defense’s turn to respond and improve.
“We just want to see guys tackle better,” senior defensive team Captain Courtney Love said yesterday. “We gotta stop the run. No explosive plays. That’s something we had last scrimmage that Coach House didn’t like; too many explosive plays. We just have to limit that and I think we’ll be fine.”
The same thing applies on the other side of the ball, except they’re focused on making explosive plays.
“The only thing I’m hoping for is that everybody makes big plays, because a lot of people are doubting us a little bit. That’s what we’ve got to do is come out here, make big plays and catch the ball,” wide receiver Tavin Richardson said yesterday.
That dichotomy represents the the odd nature of preseason scrimmages. While one side does something well, you question the other side’s competence. The only way to truly judge whether or not the team played good football is in the film room. That’s why you should be a little leery when you hear the initial reports from coaches following today’s scrimmage.
Until we hear the reports of big plays (or the lack of), hear Courtney Love mic’d up during yesterday’s practice.
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) August 18, 2017
By Nick Roush on ©August 19th, 2017 @ 10:00am
The longest major sports drought of the year is almost over. Next week the college football season gets an early kickoff on the West Coast. Two weeks from today, your Kentucky Wildcats will open the season in Hattiesburg against Southern Miss. Game prep begins soon, but first, a scrimmage.
UK Football’s Second Scrimmage
Today is arguably the most important day of preseason training camp. The intensity increases in the second scrimmage as players compete for positions. How they perform today will determine where they fall on the depth chart.
There are a few position groups where today’s scrimmage matters more. There should be some clarity in the crowded wide receiver room. Can Matt Elam play up into the No. 2 spot behind Naquez Pringle, or will Jacob Hyde and Quinton Bohanna earn the right to split reps with Mr. Pringle? Steve Clinkscale and will learn who he can trust to play safety while Mike Edwards is the nickel.
The first scrimmage provided mostly negative reviews, defined by red zone turnovers and a significant injury. Can the Cats stay healthy and protect the ball in scrimmage No. 2? We’ll find out today around 1:30.
High School Football is Back
Even though we are still waiting for college football, it’s officially football time in the Bluegrass. Kentucky high schools started their season last night. It was chalky for the most part, but there were still a few nail-biters.
- Louisville Central 7, Manual 0
- Perry County Central 64, McCreary Central 58 (3OT)
- Nicholas County 38, Bellevue 36 (OT)
- Campbell County 27, Dixie Heights 23
- Scott County 56, North Bullitt 19
- CAL 28, South Oldham 14
- Bell County 42, Middlesboro 21
- Knox Central 27, Letcher County Central 20
- St. X 35, Cathedral (In.) 28
- DeSales 37, Ballard 22
- Lafayette 28, Bryan Station 0
- Tates Creek 48, Henry Clay 0
One of those Tates Creek touchdowns came from Lamar Thomas’ son.
My son Miles' first TD catch .👍🏾You see me walk away in the background 😎 pic.twitter.com/XTAwMcLmol
— Coach Lamar Thomas (@LamarCoachT) August 19, 2017
If you couldn’t get to the games, there’s about a dozen left on this week’s schedule. See who’s playing in Saturday bowl games and find the rest of the scores form around the state here.
What in the World?
Meanwhile in Georgia high school football, they’re wasting no time to get to trickery. This attempt to trick the defense to jump offsides is one of the strangest plays ever ran in the history of football.
— Frank Sulkowski WJCL (@TheBigGuyWJCL) August 19, 2017
Who’s Going to Win the UK Legends Game?
That is a rhetorical question. The correct answer is Ryan and Drew’s team. It will not even be close. In fact, this matchup is so lopsided, David Stern is being accused of freezing the envelopes.
|Heshimu Evans||Julius Mays|
|Cliff Hawkins||Jarrod Polson|
|Shagari Alleyne||Bobby Perry|
|Andre Riddick||Perry Stevenson|
|Jon Hood||Ravi Moss (via trade)|
|Jeff Sheppard||Marquis Estill|
|Dale Brown||Lukasz Orbzut|
|Kyle Macy||Jared Prickett|
|Kenny Walker||Jared Carter|
|Goose Givens||Kevin Grevey|
|COACH: Chip Rupp||COACH: Joe B. Hall|
Yet shockingly, there are still a few hundred people who believe Matt and Shannon’s team will win. I don’t get it. Correct them by voting here and don’t forget to get your tickets for next week’s game here.
Former Cats Back in the Bluegrass
Ahead of next weekend’s alumni game, former players are returning to town and hosting meet and greets with fans. The first is about to begin. Dakari Johnson and Dominique Hawkins will be signing autographs at All Sports today from 11:00 a.m. to noon. If the notice is too late, Keith Bogans will be at All Sports this Thursday from 6:00-7:30.
End Summer the Right Way
As we count down to the start of football season, we must start saying goodbye to summer. There are plenty of appropriate activities available to properly enjoy the final Saturday of summer.
You could head to your favorite Kentucky lake, or argue about which one is best in the comment section. In Hopkinsville, it’s never too early to start preparing for the Eclipse. For a more low-key Saturday, you can experience the Woodland Art Fair in Lexington. If you see Kindsey Bernhard working a booth, tell her “Sup.” In Louisville, the State Fair is underway. If you can’t enjoy fried food, award-winning agriculture and exceptional people-watching, you might need to reevaluate your standards for fun. Unfortunately, I can’t be there because I will be taking a ride on the Moon Taxi at the Iroquois Amphitheater to say so long to the summer of 2017.
School has already started for most, but you can still enjoy one final weekend of summer. Don’t waste it.
By Nick Roush on ©August 18th, 2017 @ 11:00pm
Described by his defensive teammates as Kentucky’s “enforcer,” redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Logan Stenberg is anxious to deliver blows to opponents after a month of making his teammates suffer.
“I cannot wait until Southern Miss. I cannot wait. I just want to pop somebody in the mouth. I’m tired of my team.”
His team is tired of him. Linebacker Courtney Love got in a scuffle with Stenberg in practice earlier this week, a decision he now regrets.
“You gotta be careful when you see 71,” Love said. “When he comes downhill, he’s coming hard and he will not take no for an answer. He’s going to block you as hard as he can. If he loses, watch out.”
Agile for his size (6’6″ 330 lbs.), Stenberg’s nasty streak is even nastier when he’s moving “downhill.” Once he gets some momentum, that train is not slowing down until contact is made. As an offensive guard, he gets many opportunities to pull and attack linebackers downfield.
“I like being in the interior,” Stenberg said. “I like down-blocking, pancaking. I like being the one they want to run behind to get a yard or two. I really take pride in that.”
The nasty hitter is also a nasty trash-talker. Denzil Ware knew he could throw jabs at Stenberg in the media without immediate retribution. The outside linebacker called Stenberg, “a big dude with a ponytail.” He responded: “I’d rather pay for a ponytail holder than a haircut.”
And right now his teammates would rather see him hit an opponent than them, something that happens as they get through the long days at training camp.
“We just joke on each other, always clowning,” Stenberg said that’s how the offensive line passes the time. “We’re always messing people’s lockers up. Throwing their helmets up. It seems stupid, but it helps us get through the day. Being here ten hours a day, it can drive you to want to punch somebody, you know?”
Hear more from Stenberg below…
The one and only Big Mick is a meaty masterpiece in its own right. Composed of two quarter-pound patties* of never-fresh, frozen, mostly beef raised close to the processing plant. Only McDowell’s has the frosted beef and processed cheese to give you a major reason for the afternoon trip to the secret bathroom only you and Debra know about on the 9th floor that is under construction.
You can be a part of McDowell’s KSR 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.
We’re everybody’s Super Bowl.
— @barnstorm22 (@barnstorm22) August 18, 2017
But, in FOOTBALL?
#9 Ryan Steffey
Remind me in 2021 ✊🏼
— Ryan Steffey (@youngsteff22) August 18, 2017
Mark your calendars now
#8 Allen Harris
what’s a good gift for Drew Franklin Day?
— Allen Harris (@AllenHarrisJr) August 18, 2017
Taco Bell, obviously.
#7 Terry Jordon
— Terry Jordon (@tnjordon) August 18, 2017
We’ve made it.
#6 Jay Lawless
Well we’re having a blackout for the sun, so there.
— Jay Lawless (@UKJayL) August 18, 2017
#5 Eric Stovall
@KySportsRadio Worst individual fan: Greg Marshall’s Wife.
— Eric Stovall (@ericstovall) August 18, 2017
#4 Kentucky Brandon
— Kentucky Brandon (@KentuckyBrandon) August 18, 2017
Happy Birthday Coach.
#3 Heather Bartley
— Heather Bartley (@KYgal_Heather) August 18, 2017
What a sight.
#2 Benjamin Haynes, Esq
— Benjamin Haynes, Esq (@BHaynes32) August 18, 2017
I hope you did a good job.
#1 Nick Carroll
— Nick Carroll (@CickNarroll) August 17, 2017
Now it’s history forever.