By Brent Wainscott on ©September 15th, 2019 @ 11:00am
If you are a sad Kentucky football fan like I am this morning, viewer discretion is advised for this post.
After the Cats toppled the Gators a little over a year ago, Kash Daniel embraced his wrestling moniker with the famous Stone Cold Steve Austin bottle smash celebration.
“That’s the Bottom Line because Kash Money said so!”
The Kentuckian’s celebration went national, and it became a rallying cry for Cats fans across the BBN. We saw it everywhere.
The Florida players apparently also saw it everywhere, and this year, when the game’s outcome was different, one Gator made sure to remind Daniel of post-game celebration. Check out No. 66
— Chip Skylark (@MyShinyTweets) September 15, 2019
— Alex Huelsman (@alex_huelsman) September 15, 2019
Ugh. Losing sucks.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 15th, 2019 @ 10:30am
The targeting call on TJ Carter in the fourth quarter is all anyone can talk about after last night’s loss, and rightfully so. What would have been a sack to make it third and long for the Gators turned into 15 free yards, a first down, and three plays later, the touchdown that would put Florida ahead for good.
The clip of the play in question is everywhere this morning, and shows that Carter didn’t aim for Kyle Trask’s head; rather, Trask dipped his head and shoulders before contact.
Still kinda upset about this pic.twitter.com/1X4G8MJwVM
— KY Clips (@KY_Clips) September 15, 2019
Not really sure what Carter is supposed to do. His target never and head never changed. The quarterbacks head dropping and swinging around caused the contact. pic.twitter.com/221hC5hnYY
— Shawn Smith (@gbbcountry) September 15, 2019
There were three targeting calls — and therefore, ejections — last night: the aforementioned one on Carter, one on Yusuf Corker in the first quarter, and one on Florida cornerback Donovan Stiner for his hit on Ahmad Wagner in the third quarter. Mark Stoops tried to toe the line of not criticizing the referees too much in his postgame press conference, but was clearly frustrated.
“It’s very difficult. I’m not saying that all the officials made a wrong call. It’s just a tough call. It’s a tough call. You’ve got a chance to win a game, you know, with third and 20 — what would it have been? I don’t know, third and super long. Targeting.”
“You know, to have a game decided in that moment, when a guy — what am I supposed to tell my — my guys are fighting, clawing, scrambling, trying to get them down and giving everything they got, and you get that called,” he added later before leaving the room.
AJ Rose, Kordell Looney, Drake Jackson, and defensive coordinator Brad White shared their frustrations about the rule with our Bradley McKee.
As Jackson points out, Florida also had a targeting call, and Kentucky had a chance to win the game regardless, but the number of controversial calls this season proves the rule, particularly the blanket punishment, could use some work.
By Sam Gormley on ©September 15th, 2019 @ 10:00am
Well, that happened. I sit here early on Sunday morning still trying to fully process what happened last night. Kentucky was up 21-10 at the start of the fourth quarter, with a fourth-and-two at the Florida 40. Despite Florida just losing their starting quarterback to injury, Mark Stoops went for it, but the Cats were stopped short. From that point on… well, you know what happened.
Before we get to the downside to the night, we have to start with a major positive piece of news that was overshadowed by game prep yesterday:
Terrence Clarke commits to KENTUCKY
See? Yesterday didn’t completely suck. The Cats received a commitment from top-three prospect Terrence Clarke. The Boston native is currently a member of the class of 2021, but all signs point to him reclassifying to join next year’s class. He is the highest-ranked recruit for Calipari since De’Aaron Fox and the first top-five recruit since Skal Labissiere.
Clarke has drawn comparisons to former NBA player Tracy McGrady with his skills as an athletic wing. Evan Daniels has said he is the best shooter in high school right now, regardless of class.
If you were curious about how Calipari celebrated the big commitment…
— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) September 15, 2019
Now onto the sadness that was last night’s game.
Targeting is the Worst
I mean does anything else really even need to be said? There were three targeting calls in the game, two on Kentucky and one on Florida. Should all three have been a penalty? At least two I can see an argument, but NONE of the three should have resulted in an ejection.
This rule must be changed. Even the Florida player who was ejected did not deserve to be. There was obviously no malcontent in that hit, and the ejection just makes it that much worse.
After the game, Mark Stoops said, “I can’t, you know — I can’t win in this situation… Well, you know, it could be called an awful lot. You know, to have a game decided in that moment, when a guy — what am I supposed to tell my — my guys are fighting, clawing, scrambling, trying to get them down and giving everything they got, and you get that called.”
TJ Carter’s ejection in the fourth quarter was especially poor. What was going to be a third and long for Florida turned into a first down and helped move the ball closer to what turned out to be the go-ahead score:
TJ Carter was ejected for this.
Might as well go ahead and make it flag football and be done with it.
— Not Jerry Tipton (@NotJerryTipton) September 15, 2019
The first targeting call was on Yusuf Corker, which resulted in a key ejection to an already depleted secondary. I’ll just refer back to my tweet from last night on targeting. I will never be for it resulting in an ejection unless it’s just blatantly dirty. Most fans can agree when that happens.
I HATE the guy who blames it on the refs, but this crew has called three targeting calls (2 on UK and 1 on UF) and all three have been jokes. Ejections for targeting is just flat out stupid. They have to fix it.
— Sam Gormley (@GormleyKSR) September 15, 2019
Ahmad Wagner is the real deal
Ahmad Wagner really is incredible. There is no other way to put it. Last night, he again drew multiple pass interference calls against him, but also made one of the best catches in recent UK history.
Before we watch the video, I have to give a ton of props to KSR’s official photographer Dr. Mike. I mean look at that picture?!?! That is just fantastic!
— Michael Huang (@DrMikeUK) September 15, 2019
The touchdown catch he pulled in though was nothing short of spectacular:
Ahmad Wagner is, and I say this without hesitation, doubt, or hyperbole — the greatest wide receiver in the history of football. pic.twitter.com/bau8XL287I
— Not Jerry Tipton (@NotJerryTipton) September 14, 2019
Steve Levy and I had the same reaction when I was watching live. At first, there was a sense of disappointment that he had dropped the ball… then utter disbelief when we found out that he actually pulled it down. I’m still trying to figure out how he pulled that off.
Sawyer Smith played well
Sawyer Smith made his first start as a Kentucky Wildcat last night and showed a lot of promise. The graduate transfer finished 23-35 for 267 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. After fumbling a snap on the opening drive, Smith started the game off a perfect 9-9.
When you look at his performance, I think there is a lot to be happy about, especially in the first half. The turning point in the game came on his interception thrown in the red zone that Florida returned for 70+ yards. On that play, Smith made the tackle and came up holding his right wrist a little gingerly. From that point on, his throws didn’t seem to have the same “snap” that they did early on in the game.
During the first half though, I think that Smith made a lot of fans exhale a major sigh of relief. He truly did look like an SEC quarterback and will hopefully rebound from a rough fourth quarter next week at Mississippi State.
Injuries continue to amass
The injury bug continued to bite the Cats during last night’s game, as multiple players had to leave the field. As I mentioned, Smith did come up favoring the wrist, but there haven’t been any signs from him or the staff showing it is anything to be worried about long term.
Other players that left the game with injury were Quinton Bohanna and Taj Dodson (who came in for the ejected Yusuf Corker).
In addition to that, Phil Hoskins, who was to make his first start after missing the first two games due to suspension, was helped off the field during warmups. After the game last night, Mark Stoops said that, “He must have just got his foot planted. It’s a shame. I hope it’s nothing too serious.”
We will probably know more in the coming days on the status of each of those players, but for a defense that is already going to be down TJ Carter in the first half next week, there needs to be some major finger crossing to make sure these injuries aren’t too serious.
Other Scores from the SEC
In other SEC action yesterday:
- (3) Georgia 55-0 over Arkansas State
- Kansas State 31-24 over Mississippi State
- Tennessee upsets Chattanooga 45-0
- (2) Alabama 47-23 over South Carolina
- Ole Miss 40-29 over SE Louisiana
- Arkansas 55-34 over Colorado State
- (8) Auburn 55-16 over Kent State
- (16) Texas A&M 66-3 over Lamar
- (4) LSU 65-14 over Northwestern State
- Missouri 50-0 over SE Missouri State
Other games of note:
- (6) Ohio State 51-10 over Indiana
- (13) Penn State 17-10 over Pitt
- Temple 20-17 over (21) Maryland
- (19) Iowa 18-17 over Iowa State
- (1) Clemson 41-6 over Syracuse
NFL Schedule for the Day
Let’s go Bengals!
There’s the news you need to know to start the day. The sun has come up, and we are moving on to another day. Beat Mississippi State.
By Drew Franklin on ©September 15th, 2019 @ 12:05am
Kentucky was the better team Saturday night. Unfortunately, the final scoreboard tells a different story.
It sure looked like the Cats were on their way to upsetting Florida and starting a new streak of their own in the rivalry. Big Blue Nation was having a blast in Kroger Field through most of the game, but the wheels fell off in the fourth quarter and an 11-point lead turned into an eight-point loss thanks to a number of blunders on both sides of the ball.
It’s midnight so let’s overreact to all of it while we’re still upset:
The targeting call on TJ Carter changed everything.
Instead of a sack on 2nd down that would’ve put Florida in a 3rd-and-long situation in the fourth quarter, the Gators moved up 15 yards and earned a free first down with a questionable targeting penalty assessed to Carter on the sack. If Carter was guilty of anything, he was guilty of playing football and making a winning play late in a tight game. The officials saw it differently, though, and Carter was ejected from the game while Florida moved up into scoring position. Three plays later, Florida scored a go-ahead touchdown and never looked back.
How about this blatant hold that wasn’t called on the very next play?
Florida connected on a 30-yard pass immediately after receiving the gift of a targeting call, but holding should’ve been called on the play. Jeff Drummond snapped a great photo of Jordan Wright being pulled down as he hurried the QB before the throw:
Right in front of lead official on gain to first-and-goal… pic.twitter.com/bEQ2AL8EBR
— Jeff Drummond (@JDrumUK) September 15, 2019
We don’t complain about officiating around here, but those were back-to-back plays that went Florida’s way with a little help from the stripes.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before… Kentucky got conservative with its play-calling late in the game.
For the most part, UK’s offense looked good with Sawyer Smith under center all night long, but Eddie Gran let his foot off the gas late in the game with too many weapons on his side against an inexperienced Florida secondary. It seemed like Kentucky was content with Chance Poore trying a field goal on that second to last drive, when they should’ve been looking to continue the attack and go for the end zone rather trusting Poore on his first career attempt at a game-winner. UK had a 3rd-and-2 at the Florida 18-yard-line, and settled for the 35-yard field goal attempt that missed its mark and cost Kentucky the game.
I miss Austin MacGinnis.
We learned the hard way how important it is to have a kicker with the clutch gene. MacGinnis had it; Poore will need to find it. The team put the outcome of the game on his foot and he couldn’t deliver in the big moment.
A backup QB beat Kentucky again. #NoMoreBackUps
Same old song, right? Once Feleipe Franks left the game with an ankle injury, we should’ve known his backup, Kyle Trask, would step in and lead the comeback. We’ve seen that movie way too many times. And that is exactly what he did because that is what backups always do against Kentucky.
With Trask in the game for only a quarter, Florida outscored Kentucky, 15-0, after Kentucky had been up 21-10 until the switch. Things were so much more fun when Franks was in the game.
Can we throw the Wildcat away forever?
Unless Lynn Bowden is running it with an opportunity for some trickery, let’s forget the Wildcat please. The 4th-and-1 was a backbreaker. If you pick that up, you’re 3-0 right now.
Sawyer Smith gives us confidence moving forward.
One positive takeaway from the evening and maybe the most positive of positive takeaways, is the fact Sawyer Smith looked like an SEC quarterback and a player we can trust. There doesn’t seem like too much of a drop off between Wilson and Smith, and Kentucky will be just fine with Smith leading the offense for the rest of the season. He had a couple of bad turnovers, but he also aired it out and showed some mobility with his feet. He deserved to win this game in his first career start.
Ahmad Wagner is incredible.
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) September 15, 2019
Serious question: Why not throw it to him until it doesn’t work? He was targeted three times and had three catches for 70 yards and a touchdown. KEEP FEEDING HIM.
Let’s go beat Mississippi State.
By Nick Roush on ©September 14th, 2019 @ 11:48pm
Kentucky had no business losing to Florida.
The Cats controlled the game for three quarters before they let the game slip away in the final 15 minutes. There are so many plays that if they went differently, Kentucky would have easily secured the victory. Six stand above the rest.
1. What if Yusuf Corker didn’t get ejected for targeting?
The centerfielder of Kentucky’s secondary was a true freshman for all but two Florida possessions. One of the Cats’ top tacklers and a reliable security blanket at the back of the defense, Kentucky’s defense wasn’t the same without Corker in the game. Even so, that penalty might not have been as consequential as the T.J. Carter flag that really bothered Mark Stoops after the game.
2. What if Sawyer Smith didn’t try to be a hero in the red zone?
On the first drive of the second half, Kentucky cruised into the Florida red zone. A 23-yard Justin Rigg reception and a 21-yard A.J. Rose run put the ball on the Florida 13-yard line in about three minutes. A touchdown would give Kentucky a 21-7 lead. Instead, Smith felt pressure and was pushed out of the pocket. Before taking the sack, he tried to thread the needle. It resulted in an interception. Smith’s hustle prevented the play from becoming a pick six, but the Gators were able to make a field goal that kept the game close, close enough to mount a fourth quarter comeback.
3. What if Franks didn’t get injured?
As soon as the Florida quarterback injured his ankle on a fourth down scramble, it felt like the Gators recaptured their mojo. It also planted the idea into every fan’s head around the Big Blue Nation: “Oh no. Not another backup quarterback.” Yup, a backup quarterback beat Kentucky, again.
4. What if UK just snuck it with Sawyer?
The last play of the third quarter and the first play of the fourth quarter cost Kentucky the football game. They had an 11-point lead and two plays to get one yard. The Sawyer Smith quarterback sneak worked well earlier; so did the Kavosiey Smoke run. Instead, Eddie Gran went with A.J. Rose in the Wildcat on fourth and one, the last thing fans wanted to see. I’d like to think that a simple quarterback sneak would have moved the chains before Smith supplied a dagger to end the drive.
5. What if UK ran left on the final drive?
Kavosiey Smoke was moving the ball pretty well down the field on the final drive, typically following the right side of the line. On the final two plays before the go-ahead field goal attempt, Smoke ran right instead of following Landon Young and Logan Stenberg into the middle of the field. Following two future pros to make it an easier kick just made too much sense.
6. What If Chance Poore just made a 35-yard field goal?
It’s not too much to ask of a college kicker. We miss you, MacGinnis.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 14th, 2019 @ 11:46pm
COACH MARK STOOPS: Okay. Obviously very, very difficult loss. Really, you know, feel like our team did some really good things. Fought our way out of a hole early and a few mistakes early, and came back and really played a good football game for a large portion of the game. As I tell our players, that, you know, in the game, there’s an awful lot of plays in the game and you never know which play is going to decide the outcome and there was a bunch in there that will jump out at all of us that go our way or don’t get a penalty, things of that nature, you know, can change the outcome of a game.
It’s situational football. We played very, very good football at times, and in certain situations, we’ve got to get better and execute better. Game comes down to inches. We’re short on the fourth down when we were up 11 and comeback and run it on third down there and end up with six inches short or whatever it was, eight inches short, and missed the field goal.
Comes down a game of inches. You know, that ball goes in, or we get that first down, we’re all sitting here saying that’s one heck of a football game.
It was a quality game. It was a good football game. Two good teams. That’s the ninth-ranked team in the country and our team played — did some very good things, with a backup quarterback that did a lot of good things. I’m proud of our team.
Defensively, we’re really thin in the secondary. Getting a guy ejected and then getting an injury to Taj really got us thin, and it’s a position we’re already thin at and we got really thin tonight. It did end up hurting us late in the game.
We’ve got to bring some guys along and get them ready. It hurts us with, you know, some of our package when you get both of those guys out. So we’ve got to continue to work on that.
By Nick Roush on ©September 14th, 2019 @ 11:21pm
Two injuries and a pair of targeting penalties put Kentucky’s defense behind the 8-ball.
Before the game even began, Kentucky lost a defensive lineman. Phil Hoskins suffered an injury in warm-ups and was forced to the sideline for the third consecutive game. He was suspended for the first two games for academic reasons.
“It’s a shame.” Mark Stoops said Hoskins’ foot planted awkwardly on the final play before the Cats returned to the locker room. “I hope it’s nothing too serious.”
Kentucky’s secondary took a massive blow early when Yusuf Corker was flagged for targeting in the end zone on Florida’s second possession. His helmet did not appear to contact the Gator wide receiver’s head, but the call was confirmed, ending Corker’s night. In the fourth quarter, UK finally got pressure on backup quarterback Kyle Trask. Unfortunately, the officials ruled a targeting on T.J. Carter when the defensive lineman became the second Wildcat to wrap up the quarterback. Instead of a loss of five yards, Florida gained 15.
“It’s very difficult. I’m not saying at all that the officials are making the wrong call. We got a chance to win the game and we get a targeting. It’s — something’s got to be done with that rule and call. Putting laundry on the field,” Stoops said after the game.
The call on Carter particularly bothered Kentucky’s head coach.
“I think there’s plays. There’s just plays. It’s one of those deals where if it’s called, it’s going to be upheld and certain things happen. Well it can be called an awful lot. To have the game decided in that moment. What am I supposed to tell my guys? My guys are fighting, clawing, scrambling, trying to get him down, giving everything they got and get that call.”
The late flag on Carter will cost him a half next Saturday against Mississippi State. Corker’s early targeting left UK’s secondary vulnerable. True freshman Taj Dodson played in his place, recovering a crucial fumble at one point. An injury ended his game in the fourth quarter, forcing another true freshman, Moses Douglass, into action.
Kentucky’s lack of depth in the secondary reared its ugly head in the fourth quarter as Trask moved the Florida offense methodically down the field. He probably would not have had so much time to throw the ball if Hoskins or Carter were in the game.
By Nick Roush on ©September 14th, 2019 @ 10:44pm
Kyle Trask played hero while Kentucky let another victory over Florida slip from their fingertips.
Kentucky led for most of the football game. When they slipped up in the fourth quarter, UK only needed a 35-yard field goal from Chance Poore to retake the lead with 56 seconds to play. The redshirt freshman pushed it right, the same spot he missed in the previous game. A 76-yard touchdown run three plays later gave Florida the 29-21 victory.
The game changed when Kentucky opened the fourth quarter by going for it on fourth and inches. In no man’s land near the 40-yard line with an 11-point lead, a conversion could have led to a score that would have been the dagger. Instead, A.J. Rose’s Wildcat run was stuffed. Kentucky would go three-and-out in consecutive drives, while Florida racked up two unanswered touchdowns to take a one-point lead with 4:11 to play.
Kentucky dominated the game for three quarters. In the fourth quarter Trask completed 9-of-13 passes for 126 yards on three scoring drives. When it mattered most, the Cats got sloppy. You can’t commit nine penalties for 79 yards, turn the ball over four times and expect to beat a top ten team.
Last year’s win in The Swamp exorcised many demons, but sadly, it did not eliminate all of them.
By Nick Roush on ©September 14th, 2019 @ 8:42pm
Ahmad Wagner proved once again that he is an unstoppable force on the outside of UK’s offense.
Facing a third and nine on the Florida 26-yard line, Sawyer Smith turned to his favorite target. Wagner was hit in midair, but he was unbothered. When the Florida cornerback got his hand on the ball, he still didn’t care. He was going to catch the ball no matter what. The results of Wagner’s efforts are immaculate.
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) September 15, 2019
The incredible play was Wagner’s second impressive reception of the day. Facing a third and 21, Wagner got one toe in just inches away from the sideline for a 23-yard gain to move the chains. It proved to be the catalyst for Kentucky’s first scoring drive, one that ended with Wagner’s unbelievable reception.
For those keeping track at home, in 16 career targets Wagner has drawn 7 pass interference penalties and caught 8 passes for 177 yards and 2 touchdowns. Not too shabby.
By Drew Franklin on ©September 14th, 2019 @ 8:38pm
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Through one half in Lexington, your University of Kentucky Wildcats lead the Florida Gators, 14-7. Sawyer Smith has played well in his first start so far, and he and the UK offense will get the ball to start the second half.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 14th, 2019 @ 6:45pm
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By Nick Roush on ©September 14th, 2019 @ 6:30pm
Familiar foes will meet once agains Saturday night at Kroger Field.
Since Eddie Gran became Kentucky’s offensive coordinator in 2016, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has been on the schedule every single season. For the first time, the college football journeyman will be on the same sideline for consecutive seasons.
“They do a good job on defense. He’s one of the best in the country,” Gran said of his counterpart. “We faced him before Mississippi State, Louisville, last year. They do a fantastic job and it’ll be a challenge for us.”
In the three previous meetings, Gran is 2-1. The two victories could be described as historic. In 2016, the 27-point underdogs upset Lamar Jackson and Louisville 41-38 at Cardinal Stadium. Last season the Cats snapped a 31-year losing streak by upsetting the Florida Gators 27-16 in The Swamp. Grantham’s sole victory over Gran was a 45-7 disaster in Starkville.
“They’ve got wrinkles every year, but they do what they do and we do what we do,” said Gran. “We have wrinkles and he has wrinkles, but at the end of the day they’ve done the same thing over the years.”
Eddie Gran vs. Todd Grantham
2016 vs. Louisville
2017 vs. Miss. State
2018 vs. Florida
The numbers provide a formula on how to beat Grantham’s aggressive defense. If Kentucky can protect the quarterback and convert on third down, Florida’s defense is vulnerable to big plays. To make third downs more manageable, UK must be successful on early downs.
“That’s the whole ticket to this game is first down efficiency,” Gran said after Tuesday’s practice. We have to be great on first down. If we’re second and ten, we’re in bad shape. We’ve got to recover and if we get to third and medium, then we have a chance. If we go second and ten to third and ten, that’s exactly where they wanna be. It’s when they’re the best. We can’t get in those situations. We’ve gotta minimize them. We’re going to get in some of those. It’s gonna happen. It happened last year. It happened the year before, just can’t have too many.”
That will be even more essential this Saturday. Kentucky is breaking in a new quarterback against a Florida pass rush that through two games already has 15 sacks (tops in the nation) and 26 tackles for loss (2nd in the nation). Kentucky’s offensive line has already received accolades for its ability to protect the passer, allowing just three sacks so far. John Schlarman’s unit will be put to the test Saturday night at Kroger Field. If they pass with flying colors, the Cats have a much better chance at leaving the field victorious.
By Nick Roush on ©September 14th, 2019 @ 6:25pm
Terry Wilson’s season-ending injury against Eastern Michigan put offensive coordinator Eddie Gran in a situation he faced in his first year at Kentucky. Unlike Drew Barker’s injury in 2016, Gran’s offense is much more prepared to weather the storm.
“I think we were a little bit further behind at that time in what we were doing,” Gran said after Tuesday’s practice. “We put a lot in this fall camp. The good part about where Sawyer is right now, we don’t have to change anything. The thing’s open. We’re going to do the exact same thing. We’re not changing and that’s a huge benefit to us.”
Smith should be at a disadvantage compared to Stephen Johnson. After all, Johnson arrived from junior college in the spring, while Smith had to wait until he completed summer classes at Troy. Even so, the transition was pretty seamless.
“When he got here, everybody took to him. He’s a great teammate. He knew his role. He came in here and didn’t ruffle anybody’s feathers. He knew what he was here for. He took that role and ran with it. I think that was the biggest thing.”
Before the start of the season, Gran and Darin Hinshaw were prepared to have a contingency plan in place if they needed to call in No. 12. It was unnecessary.
“After 29 practices, we said, ‘Do we need a second game plan?’ We were fully prepared to do that if something happened to Terry,” recalled Gran. “After the camp we did not have to have a second play-call sheet. He knows the whole offense.”
Notes from Practice
Grading the Running Backs Pass Protection — Gran would give his group a C so far. Luckily, the offensive line is holding down the fort, allowing just three sacks through the first two games.
Pass Protection will be an emphasis against Florida. The Gators have 15 sacks, the most in the nation through two games. Landon Young does not care.
“I just gotta go out there and do what I do. I don’t think about stats. I just look at personnel, practice what I see, go out there and do the best I can. I don’t care about how many sacks or tackles they got. I’m going to do what I got to do. Their stats are going to be different against me.”
Piping in Crowd Noise — Typically the practice fields are only filled with crowd noise before the Cats hit the road. This week they are piping in Kroger Field crowd noise to help the defense learn how to communicate through loud third downs.
A Different Cadence in the Huddle — Wilson and Smith both know how to work a huddle. However, Kavosiey Smoke can tell a slight difference when Smith is calling the plays. After all, Wilson knows the offense just a little bit better. Whatever differences there are, it should not play a factor Saturday.
“I don’t think there’s any difference for real. He’s still got respect, just like we respect Terry. He’s just going to have to lead the offense and show that he can play.”
Before Smoke was asked about the quarterbacks, Tom Leach asked him if he’s tired of being asked about his name. He smiled and said a long, “Yeah.”
A Quieter Quarterback Room — Kentucky began fall camp with five scholarship quarterbacks. After a pair of injuries, that number has dwindled to three. Walker Wood, now the second option behind Sawyer Smith, said it took some adjusting once they returned to the facility Monday.
“The quarterback room is a really tight-knit group,” he said. “It sucked to see Nik go down in camp because we all have a lot of fun together. On Saturday with Terry going down, we have a little less people in there. It was a little more quiet at the beginning of the week, but we got a game on Saturday and that’s what we’re focused on. We’re praying for Terry and Nik and their recovery, but we’re focused on Saturday.”
Unfortunately, Wood is also well-acquainted with the rehab process after undergoing a pair of shoulder surgeries. “I just told them I’ve been there, done that more than once. I know what it’s like and if you ever need somebody to lean on, come to me because I know it’s tough and it’s a grind.”
By Brandon Ramsey on ©September 14th, 2019 @ 6:00pm
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It’s GAMEDAY!!! Kentucky fans have had this game circled on their calendars for a long time and the wait is finally over! Let’s dive right in to 5 Things You Need to Know About the Florida Gators.
1) Florida has Injuries too
- All of #BBN’s focus has been on Terry Wilson’s injury, but Kentucky isn’t the only team entering this evening’s game with major injuries. The Gators will be without Wide Receiver Kadarius Toney and starting Cornerback C.J. Henderson. Toney left the last game with a left arm injury while Henderson suffered a left ankle sprain. Through just 5 quarters of play before sustaining his injury, Kadarius Toney caught 3 balls for 72 yards and a touchdown. He is a versatile playmaker, a la Lynn Bowden, who was used as a Wildcat QB, rusher, and obviously at receiver. C.J. Henderson is coming off a very good 2018 season where he collected 38 tackles including 3 sacks and 5 tackles for loss to go along with 2 INTs and 2 forced fumbles. You hate to see injuries to anybody, but these injuries will lighten the load slightly on UK’s secondary and should free up the receiving corps a little bit as well.
2) Battle of the Trenches
- The Florida defense lived in the Miami backfield during their Week 0 win over the Hurricanes. UF totaled 10 sacks and 15 tackles for loss and followed it up with 5 more sacks and 11 tackles behind the line of scrimmage against UT-Martin. Todd Grantham’s defense is aggressive and will be looking to force Sawyer Smith into some hurried decisions in his first SEC contest. Jabari Zuniga and Louisville transfer Jonathan Greenard have led the way off the edge for the Gators. Luckily, for the ‘Cats, the offensive line is probably our biggest strength and will be up for the challenge. On the other side of the ball, Florida has had to completely revamp their offensive line. They have really struggled in the run game so far this year and Kentucky’s pass rush should be able to create some havoc in the pocket for Feleipe Franks.
3) Weak Rushing Attack
- Preseason All-SEC selection Lamical Perine has struggled out of the gate this season gaining only 94 yards on his 20 carries. Quaterback Feleipe Franks is actually the second leading rusher on the team so far with 45 net yards on the ground. Dameon Pierce & Malik Davis will likely see some carriers as well, but expect Kentucky’s defense to be able to shut down the Gators rushing attack. In terms of net rushing yards, the ‘Cats have out gained Florida 415 to 281 on the ground.
4) Feleipe Franks
Feleipe Franks has been a pretty polarizing figure under center since getting the starting job in Gainsville. After an outstanding high school career, Franks has now started 23 games at Quarterback for the Gators. A season ago he threw 24 touchdowns with just 6 interceptions, but did struggle in the loss to Kentucky completing just 17 of 38 passing attempts for 232 yards and a pick. Coming off a 25 for 27 performance against UT-Martin, the Redshirt Junior is completing nearly 80% of his passes on the season with 4 touchdowns to 2 interceptions. Franks will take some shots deep and has shown that he can keep plays alive with his feet as well. Florida does have a talented receiving corps, even with the absence of Kadarius Toney so there certainly are weapons available downfield for Franks to try and connect with.
5) Looking for Big Plays
What Florida has lacked in the rushing attack so far this season they have made up for with several huge plays through the air. Through just 2 games, Feleipe Franks has been able to connect on plays of over 60 yards with 3 different Gator receivers. He has hit another for 35 yards and still another two targets for gains of over 20 yards. Kentucky’s young secondary will have to step up to limit explosive plays this evening in order to have a chance to pull the upset.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©September 14th, 2019 @ 5:00pm
The big names are pouring into Lexington for Kentucky’s massive matchup against No. 9 Florida this evening, but you’d be hard-pressed to find four individuals with the level of star power in one picture right now than the one shown above.
This morning, former Kentucky stars Tim Couch, Andre Woodson, and Stephen Johnson joined injured Wildcat quarterback Terry Wilson at the set of SEC Nation and posed for a photo together.
Big Blue QB Dream Team ?? pic.twitter.com/guEjTOsUi1
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) September 14, 2019
For those keeping track at home, that image alone has combined for 24,386 passing yards and 189 touchdowns in a Kentucky uniform.
Not too shabby.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©September 14th, 2019 @ 4:00pm
It’s official: Terrence Clarke will reclassify to the class of 2020 and play for John Calipari in Lexington next fall.
Clarke, a consensus top-five prospect and one of the top scoring guards in the nation, regardless of class, announced his commitment to Kentucky this afternoon over Duke, Memphis, Boston College, UCLA, and Texas Tech.
But how did the announcement unfold this afternoon?
College basketball insider Andrew Slater was live in Boston, MA for the ceremony and recorded the entire announcement.
Take a look below:
— Andrew Slater (@Andrew__Slater) September 14, 2019
Clarke also had a commitment video recorded and ready to go live once the announcement was made,.
“Since day one, I’ve been chasing the smoke,” he said. “I’ve been about the action and I always will be. And I will continue to do so at the next level. Thanks to the support of my mom, Coach Dexter, and Coach Smith. I am ready to make my decision. I will be reclassifying to the class of 2020 and attending the University of Kentucky.”
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 14, 2019
Here was Clarke sporting a Kentucky shirt after the commitment:
Mississippi State will be coming off of a loss when Kentucky comes to town next weekend.
This afternoon, the MSU Bulldogs fell to Kansas State by a final score of 31-24 at Davis Wade Stadium.
In the loss, Mississippi State actually managed more total yards (352-269), passing yards (151-123), rushing yards (201-146), first downs (21-17), and won the time of possession (33:05-26:55).
So where did the Bulldogs go wrong?
Despite finding success offensively as a whole, MSU threw two interceptions and fumbled the ball once. In fact, Bulldogs starting quarterback Tommy Stevens was benched in the third quarter following his second thrown interception.
From there, Stevens was replaced by quarterback Garrett Shrader with 11:21 remaining in the third and closed out the game. Shrader managed just 51 yards on 4-12 passing, though he did add 82 yards and a touchdown on ten rushing attempts.
Stevens threw for 100 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions on 7-15 passing.
On a positive note for MSU, star running back Kylin Hill did manage 111 yards on 24 carries.
Kentucky will take on Mississippi State at 4:00 p.m. ET in Starkville next Saturday.
By Nick Roush on ©September 14th, 2019 @ 2:50pm
KSR is joining forces with two of the best pass-catchers in school history to prepare you for the Cats and the Gators.
Keenan Burton and Dicky Lyons Jr. will be at KSBar and Grille at 3:00 p.m. to talk about their time at Kentucky and forecast today’s duel with Florida. The Voice of the Wildcats, Tom Leach, will also be making an appearance during the two-hour show.
Turn your radio dial to 630 WLAP or stream online with iHeart Radio. Until then, enjoy Dicky’s best hit.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©September 14th, 2019 @ 1:55pm
This afternoon, 2021 top-three guard Terrence Clarke announced his commitment to Kentucky, choosing the Wildcats over Duke, Memphis, Boston College, UCLA, and Texas Tech, among numerous other offers.
And in even bigger news, Clarke also announced on Saturday afternoon that he would be officially reclassifying to the class of 2020, suiting up for John Calipari next fall.
Clarke, a 6-foot-7, 185-pound shooting guard out of Boston, MA, is considered the nation’s No. 2 overall prospect according to Rivals.com, behind only five-star forward Jonathan Kuminga (2021). 247Sports also lists him at No. 4 in their updated 2020 rankings, while ESPN has him ranked No. 4 overall.
But what do we need to know about Clarke? And most importantly, what does his commitment mean for Kentucky?
Who is Terrence Clarke?
A freak athlete with a plus-four 6-foot-11 wingspan, Clarke is considered one of the best pure scorers in all of high school basketball. During the Nike EYBL regular season this late spring and early summer, the Boston, MA native averaged 17 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.1 steals per contest, also knocking down 34% of shots beyond the arc. Clarke also averaged 14.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.0 steals in five games at the 2019 Nike Peach Jam Finale.
Drawing comparisons to the likes of Tracy McGrady and DeMar DeRozan, Clarke is a capable shooter from deep, a crafty mid-range scorer, and a strong and athletic finisher at and around the rim, making him a truly dangerous scoring threat at all three levels of the floor. With impressive size and length, the 6-foot-7 prospect also projects as an elite two-way player at the college level and in the NBA.
247Sports Director of Scouting Jerry Meyer recently listed Clarke as the No. 5 shooting guard he has ever scouted, also comparing him to former Kentucky target and Kansas Jayhawks star Josh Jackson.
“I love his feel for the game and he has kind of a spark or a pop to him. He has an aggressiveness and the skills to make use of it,” Meyer said. “He’ll impose his will on a game and is just an all-around multi-faceted player. Can be a primary ball handler, can play 3-4 positions. He can get his shot whenever he wants, can create for others and has instincts defensively.”
Growing to six-feet tall by the time he was in seventh grade and shooting up to 6-foot-5 going into high school, Clarke has been seen as a serious high-major, top-ten prospect dating back to 2016. In fact, the newest Wildcat’s very first highlight reel was released at the conclusion of the 2016 Basketball Spotlight Tip-Off Classic when he was just 15 years old.
Even back then, it was apparent Clarke would develop into a superstar at the high school level and beyond.
Clarke took his first recruiting visit to Indiana in October of 2017, and followed it up by receiving scholarship offers from Syracuse, Wake Forest, Georgetown, Indiana, Rutgers, Iowa, Saint Louis, and NC State in the summer of 2018 alone.
After taking one more unofficial to Indiana in September, Clarke took his very first unofficial to Lexington on October 12, 2018, followed by a personal visit from John Calipari in December and Tony Barbee in April of 2019. Kentucky officially extended a scholarship offer on May 7, 2019.
From there, Clarke received offers from Georgia, LSU, Nebraska, Baylor, Pittsburgh, Illinois, St. John’s, Auburn, UCLA, and Vanderbilt this past summer.
On August 30, the five-star guard announced a final six of Kentucky, Boston College, Duke, Memphis, Texas Tech, and UCLA.
Once the fall recruiting period opened this past Monday, Kentucky was the first school to visit him at Brewster Academy, followed by Boston College later in the day. Penny Hardaway was also scheduled to visit the elite scoring guard later in the week, but ultimately cancelled his visit when it became apparent Memphis would not be the choice.
Clarke made it official this afternoon by announcing his commitment to the University of Kentucky.
The streak is over
Kentucky fans can finally breathe a deep sigh of relief knowing John Calipari’s streak of missing out on top-five talent is officially over.
In four consecutive recruiting classes, Kentucky failed to secure a commitment from a top-five talent, with the last one coming back in 2015 when Skal Labissiere – No. 1 overall in Rivals’ rankings – became a Wildcat. UK has come close, most notably from De’Aaron Fox (No. 6 overall in 2016) and several other top-ten prospects in Bam Adebayo, Malik Monk, Hamidou Diallo, Kevin Knox, EJ Montgomery, Tyrese Maxey, and BJ Boston, but unfortunately, none have been able to break that top-five barrier.
Insert Clarke, who is ranked as high as No. 2 (Rivals) and as low as No. 4 overall (247Sports, ESPN).
While his recruitment hasn’t been as publicized and built with suspense due to the overwhelming Kentucky buzz over the last three weeks, the 6-foot-7 guard is considered an instant-impact superstar player at the college level with No. 1 overall draft potential, as well.
The commitment was the easy part. The next step was determining whether or not Clarke would be able to officially reclassify to the class of 2020.
And this afternoon, the 6-foot-7 star announced the move was possible and that he would officially be a member of the class of 2020 moving forward.
When he announced his commitment date a few weeks back, Clarke confirmed the widespread rumors that he would strongly consider a reclassification, saying on Twitter at the time that it would come down to his academics when spring rolls around.
“I am a member of the class of ’21,” he said. “I will explore the possibility of reclassifying in the spring after taking the SAT and ACT and evaluating my academic performance during the upcoming school year. Stay tuned.”
Back at the NBPA Top 100 Camp in Charlottsville, VA in June, Clarke told KSR that he was strongly considering the jump, though a source close to Brewster Academy quickly reached out afterward to say a reclassification would be extremely difficult for the five-star guard and the school expected him to stay in the class of 2021. As of three weeks ago, those close to the program remained relatively pessimistic that the possibility of a jump was on the table, but did acknowledge that Clarke was actively pursuing this avenue.
Since then, though, sources told KSR that Clarke believed he had found an avenue that would make a reclassification possible and planned on moving forward with the process as if he will be on Kentucky’s campus next fall.
Now, Clarke joins top-ten guard BJ Boston, along with four-star forwards Cam’Ron Fletcher and Lance Ware, in Kentucky’s class of 2020.
What does this mean for Kentucky’s other guard targets?
With Clarke making the move to 2020, what will Kentucky do with elite guard targets Jalen Green and Josh Christopher moving forward?
Green’s father, Marcus Green, told KSR on Thursday evening that even with Clarke’s commitment to Kentucky, his side would still be interested in the Wildcats and planned on moving forward with their official visit to the school on October 16-19, though it would definitely be a bit more complicated moving forward.
Green’s father acknowledged that UK’s contact had dropped off significantly since it became apparent that Clarke would be committing to Kentucky and reclassifying to 2020, with the coaching staff not visiting the five-star guard out in California when they were out West this week visiting the likes of Boston, 2021 five-star forward Paolo Banchero, and 2021 five-star guard Devin Askew.
As for Josh Christopher, his two upcoming visits (unofficial from October 11-13, official when Kentucky hosts Georgia during the regular season) to Lexington are still scheduled, for now. That being said, Arizona State is still looming as a major threat, with UCLA also growing as a darkhorse.
The Kentucky coaching staff paid a visit to 2020 No. 2 prospect Cade Cunningham immediately after the fall recruiting period opened last week, with rumblings growing louder that he is no longer a lock to Oklahoma State and is considering signing elsewhere. North Carolina is seen as the new favorite, though Cunningham has long been John Calipari’s favorite guard in the senior class. If that door cracks even slightly, expect the UK coaching staff to prioritize the 6-foot-6 combo guard moving forward.
The buzz is also growing stronger that Askew, the No. 1 point guard prospect in the class of 2021, could also reclassify to 2020 and potentially decide between Kentucky and Louisville. If things fall through with all three of Cunningham, Green, and Christopher, I’d expect Kentucky to push for a reclassification from Askew.
Nonetheless, the Wildcats have locked up one of the top prospects in all of high school basketball, and moving forward, they have the opportunity to be quite selective with who they prioritize and how they recruit. With Clarke and Boston, Kentucky now has two of the top scoring guards in the nation, and they likely need just one more guard piece to round out their backcourt in the 2020 class.
Welcome home, Mr. Clarke.