Kentucky Sports Radio

University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.

Matt’s Blog

Matt’s Blog

UL Set out to Create the “UL Version of Matt Jones”…This is What they Got

UL Set out to Create the “UL Version of Matt Jones”…This is What they Got

John-Ramsey-1-258x300

A couple of months ago, I was told by a friend that UL was creating the “UL version of Matt Jones to take him down on the Louisville airwaves.” I found the statement rather funny for a variety of reasons, primarily because it was clear to me they had no idea what they were doing. I was told they wanted a radio person who could “crush John Calipari on a daily basis and expose all of the UK lies being promoted.” The UL Athletic Department then shopped him around to a variety of stations (including those in my building) and after being turned down by most, found a place for him to practice his craft. Tom Jurich and company, after trying for years to get me off the Louisville airwaves, now finally had their answer (or so they thought). But therein lies the problem…the success of KSR is not due to the fact that I make fun of UL (although I occasionally do), but because of UK’s rabid fanbase and our connection with them through this site and the show. From day one, I knew the enterprise would be a failure, which it will be.

Then I found out that Louisville picked John Ramsey (pictured above) as the “UL Matt Jones”. I dont know much about John except that he is on tv here locally, always looks overly tanned and is usually hawking some form of impotence pill. Over the years in conversations with him, I found him generally pleasant, although lacking in anything resembling an interesting personality. Over the past month or so he has been on local radio blasting me, and occasionally I would hear second-hand something he would say. His go-to moves seem to be suggesting that I look like Opie/Howdy Doody (which showcases just how current his references are) and inferring that I am gay. While neither is true (although a girl did once call me here “blue-eyed Opie” in law school), they both showcase just how clever everyones favorite juiced up dad can be. Then I got sent this article on Ramsey and the video below…his introduction to being the “UL Matt Jones” via making fun of UK, its fans, Oscar Combs and me…it is a train wreck:

Hear that laughing sound? Nah, me either. The humor seems to be that UK fans have country accents, Dick Gabriel’s name is “Dick” and Wynonna Judd is fat…all very clever notions. But there you have it folks…the “UL Matt Jones” at work. Little brother has arrived on the airwaves…they are just as lame as you imagined.


KSR Wants YOU (or Someone Like You) To Come and Write With Us

KSR Wants YOU (or Someone Like You) To Come and Write With Us

kentuckysportsradio2014

It is that time again…KSR is looking for NEW WRITERS to join our team. This used to be an annual ritual, but in recent years due to the size of our staff, we have not done it as often. But with what we expect to be a HUGE year in UK basketball and some growth of the site coming in 2015, it is time once again for us to reach out and add new faces. As in years past, we are looking to add some college students who want to get experience and write about UK sports, while seeing if a career in sports media is for them. But in addition, for the first time in a few years, we are also looking for non-college students who simply want to write about UK sports as a side hobby. This is how all of the full-time writers at KSR got their start and we want to give others the opportunity to get on board.

This year we are looking specifically for three types of writers:

COLLEGE STUDENTS

Over the years, we have had a strong group of college writers, many of whom have moved on to do great things. Since we started our college program, we have had a number of our people go on to full time jobs in sports media, receive internships with organizations such as ESPN, CBS Sports, GQ and the Nashville Predators and many more. It is time to add a new group here. If you are a college student and you are interested in covering UK sports, we would like you to apply. When applying, include which sports you would be most interested in covering and any particularized knowledge you might have on a subject (whether it is a sport, recruiting, inside information, etc). We will give slight priority to students who attend UK or a college very close by (such as Transy, EKU, Centre, etc), but if the writing is good enough, we will look at other schools as well (we have had writers from Vandy, Yale, Davidson, etc too). If you are interested, please just include in your application email (along with the other things listed below) the Subject heading “COLLEGE STUDENT”.

Non-College Student Writers

KSR was built by, first the group of my friends and I that started this site now nearly a decade ago, and then afterwards, people in other careers who did this as a hobby and made the transition into writing full time. Writers from me, to Thomas Beisner to Drew Franklin to Tyler Thompson to BTI, etc have started doing this as a side project for fun and have made it a career. In addition, writers ranging from Bomani Jones to Chris Tomlin to Andrew McCarthy, etc have made this a part of their writing career and now write in many other forums as well. For the past three years, we have not added any non-student additions, but it is now time once again. What we are looking for is simple…creative, smart, funny, good writers with KSR sensibilities who love UK sports. If that is you, then this is the place. A love for UK sports is crucial, but you also need to know how to navigate the internet looking for great content, how to write at a creative level AND HAVE THE TIME to devote to doing it well. What this site needs more than anything is 2-3 really good writers who can meet the standard of KSR at its best. This is what we are looking for now. If it is your thing and you excel, you might end up changing careers…or you might simply have a great time doing something you love on the side. Either way, we hope it is as enjoyable for you as it has been fo rus. If this is what you are looking for, then put in your subject line “KSR WRITER”

Pop-Culture/Funkhouser Writers

We launched the KSR pop-culture site “Funkhouser” last year and have seen tremendous growth over the last 12 months. We have six really strong writers and some of our most read content has come from them. Beginning in 2015, this site will be part of a potential major project we are undertaking and we would like to add another 3-4 writers to the equation. The standard for this is high…we want you to know the pop culture area you represent (whether its movies, music, tv, politics, the arts or whatever) backwards and forwards, while also being a really good writer. Our current staff is full of intelligent people who write very interesting things. We want to add to that list. If you are someone that this applies to, put “FUNKHOUSER” in the subject line of your email.

So there it is…the THREE types of KSR Writers we are looking for. The benefits of writing for us are (we believe) many…you get a chance to cover cool events, the college students have been a part of the John Calipari Fantasy Camp and are credentialed to UK sporting events. Our regular writers are often assigned projects (something that will be happening MUCH more) that allows them the ability to go and see exciting events and cover sports in ways they have never before. In short, it is fun and we hope you are interested. To apply, here is what you need to do. To the email address below, send these things:

1. A Statement with who you are, where you are from and why you want to write

2. A Resume of some form…just so we know your background

3. A Writing sample of your best work, preferably of the type you want to do for KSR

4. Your schedule so we know how much time you can devote

EMAIL to KSRAPPLICATIONS@Gmail.com

That is it. Our goal is to continue this as the best place to follow Kentucky athletics on the internet. This will only increase but we want to do what made us successful to begin with…get real UK fans doing what they love. WE are excited for the opportunity and look forward to reading your applications. The deadline is Tuesday, September 16. Good luck


Reflections on a Night that Hurt

Reflections on a Night that Hurt

BxdvQAJCQAAj2bq.jpg-large

That game on Saturday night is going to sting for a long while. I think Mark Stoops said it best when talking to Tom Leach after the game. He was reflecting on the play at the end of the first overtime, where the referees didn’t blow the play dead and then two Defensive Backs ran into each other, allowing the touchdown but his sentiment could have applied to the game as a whole as well. He said, “this game will haunt me for a long time Tom…I may get over it, but I will never forget it.” I feel the same way. There is something about that loss last night that just stings more than many of the other painful defeats we have taken over the years. Part of it of course is due to the fact that it is the 28th straight loss to Florida and that number is so gallingly high that it can’t help but hurt when one is so close to ending it. But I think part of it is also what that game last night represented. Often UK has lost heartbreaking games where it was clear that the other team was more talented or better, but Kentucky played its heart out and just came up short in the end…it stings to lose because it would have been fun to win, but the better team still came out victorious.

But not last night. Last night, Kentucky was the equal of Florida. We were as good as they were from start to finish and at times, even better. Ask yourself this after the game…if given the choice, would you rather have the UK roster and coaches or the Florida roster and coaches for the future. To be honest, I would choose our guys (in large part because Muschamp seems to be just brutally bad at his job). Kentucky was the equal of Florida on their field, at night, with the crowd at its loudest and in the first SEC game for the majority of our players. With their backs against the wall, they came out and not only fought, but they went toe to toe with the Gators as equals. After the game, nearly everyone associated with UK football said that there are no moral victories and downplayed the notion that this was something special. At first that seemed odd to me, but then it became clear. This UK team EXPECTED to win because they not only believe, they are as good as the Gator squad. That was hard for most fans (and me) to understand before the game, but now I get it. The #WhyNot factor is real. This team is talented and not only improving, they are pretty good now. So under those circumstances, a painful loss like Saturday night is not only an opportunity dropped, it is losing a game you genuinely deserve to win. That is why this hurts so much and will sting for some time to come.

With that, a few things that stick out after last night:

PATRICK TOWLES: If there was doubt before, it should have gone away now. Patrick Towles is the Kentucky quarterback and a legitimate SEC-caliber player. He is this team’s leader and can make the throws and plays needed to win in this league. Watching Patrick last night was a joy. He carried the team down the field, generally made the right decisions and had HUGE throws at key moments. The interceptions weren’t really his fault and a couple of his throws, especially in the 4th quarter, were of the highest quality. I loved his leadership, his moxy and his arm strength. When he gets the final steps of the QB position (learning to go through his progressions and not locking on receivers), he is going to be special. Last night proved it.

UK’s DEFENSE: Florida doesn’t have the best offense in the league, but they have talent. Yet UK’s defense not only kept them in the game, they played blow for blow with the Gators. The Defensive Line finally lived up to their preseason billing…Zadarius was a beast, Dupree got double teamed and allowed Linebackerst o make plays, the Defensive tackles were superb and Jason Hatcher showed why he will be a star here. The secondary had some bad moments and there is still room for improvement everywhere. But the makings of a special defense exists and you can see Mark Stoops/DJ Eliot’s fingerprints all over it.

GARRETT JOHNSON: You can actually say great things about a lot of UK’s receivers. Blake Bone made plays, Demarco Robinson had one of his best games ever as a Cat and Ryan Timmons had two big catches (unfortunately also two big drops), but Garrett Johnson is the story of the young season. His first 60 yard Touchdown broke the game open and allowed Kentucky fans to have a jubilation that we haven’t seen in years. He made big catches at big moments and scored against his home state school. The plethora of options that UK has at receiver for the future is truly astounding and one that was forgotten prior to the season stepped up on the biggest stage to remind us just how many riches are out there for the Cats.

BOOM’s RUN: We will see a lot of plays this year, but it is unlikely we will see one better than Boom’s scamper for the score in the first overtime. Had Kentucky stopped that fourth down play, that could be a signature run for all time. He ran 75 yards to go 25 and in the process showed a kind of athleticism we haven’t seen since the last guy to wear #18 for the Cats. After the game, Neal Brown said that he has finally earned the nickname “Boom”, and from my perspective that is most certainly true. A true Freshman with skills like that…whoa.

AUSTIN: I wrote earlier about McGinnis’s amazing 51 yarder at the end of regulation, but the entire game was testament to his leg strength and poise of the young Freshman. He hit three big field goals, each of which were required for UK to win and he did so in tough circumstances. While he missed the one in the third overtime (which most of us probably saw coming), UK isn’t in the game without his skill earlier. Having a solid kicking game is huge as at least 1-2 games every year come down to the kicker. The Cats look to have one of the best lined up for four straight years. That is a good feeling.

2ND OVERTIME: It is probably just me, but I wish the Cats had gone for the score on 4th and 2 in the second overtime. At that point, UK looked a bit gassed, a touchdown wins the game and you just need a couple of yards for one of the biggest wins in school history. I understand why they didn’t…the smart football play is to kick and the coaches genuinely believed they were as good as Florida and didn’t need a gimmick call to win. However considering a tired offense was already going to have to come out first in the third overtime (which they did with little success), I think they should have rolled the dice. But that is easy for me to say from up here

BAD LUCK: You can’t have a UK game discussion without a talk of bad luck. It follows us. Three plays will haunt me, each of which saw a curse in the process. The Fred Tiller interception-turned-touchdown, is one for the history books. He could have scored on a pick six and instead, one play later they are in the end zone. Thankfully, the Cats didn’t give up and still bounced back, something they wouldn’t have in past years. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t sting. The second was Ryan Timmons’ drop at the end of regulation. The pass was perfect and if he catches it, a game-winning field goal is on the brink. But it goes off his fingertips, an interception occurs and we sweat out a last minute field goal miss. I know Ryan wishes he had that back. Finally, there was the play clock. The officials missed the call, which didn’t cost us the game but it also didn’t help. They could have made the 4th and 12, but I would have liked our chances. Just tough luck, but the SEC should at least acknowledge they screwed up. Three tough breaks, all of which are tough to get over.

FRESHMEN: Finally, it is worth noting that EVERY point UK scored was by a Freshman. The first year players balled out, ranging from Boom to Garrett to Matt Elam to Blake Bone to AJ Stamps (a first Juco). When you consider that 80% of UK’s other major contributors are all Sophomores, the future is so bright it is unbelievable. And for all of them to do it on the road…that is so impressive.

All in all, one can’t help but be pleased about Saturday night. It was so exciting to watch and UK football mattered on a national scale like it hasn’t in seven years. But man…I wish we had won. Such victories do lie ahead however. We will discuss it all on radio tomorrow, but for now, I must watch my Bears be awful. See you then…I leave you with this, Demarcus Cousins celebrating his gold medal at the Basketball World Cup. Do your thing Boogie

BxhgzLkCMAAnnzY


The Kick That Defied Physics

The Kick That Defied Physics

7_3093028

I have never really seen anything like it on the football field. Outside of my old high school golf team member Brandon Terry, whose patented “Terry Hook” somehow found a way to curve up to four different directions in one shot, I don’t think I have ever seen a ball take the flight path that Austin McGinnis’s kick did last night. With just a few minutes left in the fourth quarter and needing a 51 yarder to tie it up, the McGinnis kick looked initially to be an unfortunate miss. After starting with a slight draw, the ball quickly spurted towards the right, causing all the Florida fans and the UK coaching staff to assume the worst. But then right at the last minute, it somehow hooked back just enough to nudge the goal post and go through. The astonishing kick caused watch parties all over the state to scream in jubilation and the UK sidelines lost their collective minds. But in hindsight, what is most amazing is that it even happened. Balls don’t fly like that. Watch it again:

At that moment, you almost had to assume the hand of God was with us. We were destined to win. Nobody makes kicks like that and then loses, right? Unfortunately not…but like the Patrick Sparks three versus Michigan State in 2005, I think this is a play in a losing effort that I will always remember. When Sparks’ shot bounced three times on the rim and softly fell in, it seemed an impossible result showcasing a team’s destiny to win. This looked to be a repeat. Neither ended up being correct, but McGinnis on Saturday night gave us one to put in the memory bank.


SEC Says Its Officials Did Not Screw Up Clock Play

image

Today, the SEC says that it has reviewed the end of the First Overtime play where the ball was snapped after the clock hit 0:00. In response, it basically says it did not screw up:

At the request of the University of Kentucky, consistent with SEC protocol, the conference office reviewed the fourth down play in the first overtime of the Kentucky-Florida game and has determined the officials applied the proper mechanics and guidelines that are in place to determine when a flag should be thrown for delay of game. The back judge is responsible for delay of game calls. The procedure for the back judge is for his eyes to stay on the clock when it nears zero. When the clock hits zero, he immediately looks from the clock to the ball. If the ball is moving, there is no delay of game. If the ball is stationary, a delay of game penalty is called.

Yeah, whatever


That Sucked

We will have plenty of more info on this site as the night goes on and tomorrow…but for now this summarizes it. Tonight really sucked…not in the since that it wasn’t a big night of optimism. That was as good an effort as we have seen from a UK football team since the Rich Brooks era. And we have a ton of playmakers/athletes that are going to build a bright future. But that game was in the grasp…the Tiller near-interception, the Timmons deflection into an interception, the play clock expiring, etc, and we weren’t able to get it done. This would have been huge for the program for the future and for all time…and it just didnt happen.

I love the Cats and Mark Stoops is the man…but this one does hurt.

Postgame show starts at 12:45


Michigan Fan Shows Real Anger on Postgame Call in Show

Michigan Fan Shows Real Anger on Postgame Call in Show

62712_1199524948914_1252230895_30785191_7945227_n

We have had some amazing calls on KSR in the last couple of years…some happy, some funny and some angry. But few have reached the level of this Michigan fan below who goes insane after the Notre Dame game last weekend. Can we just try to guess what he said? I honestly have no idea…something about burritos though

h/t The Big Lead


UK Fans of the Day Want Evening Thoughts

UK Fans of the Day Want Evening Thoughts

542781_3041664477381_1071877684_n

Notes while also watching a bit of “Beavis and Butthead Do America” (which still makes me laugh a little)

Am I crazy to be getting excited about this UK/Florida game on Saturday? Rationally, the answer is of course yes. As I explained a bit on radio today, I have had my heart broken by UK football an absurd amount…more than by any woman. And I am sure you are the same way. How many times have you convinced yourself, this is the year, this is the coach, this is the Quarterback, etc, etc, only to see happiness ripped away from you at the last minute. When it comes to Florida games, there have been many that have hurt, from Chris Doering’s reception to Jared’s tough 4th Quarter, to Yeast in the Swamp to Tebow on Gameday…and those are just the (very few) games where we have had a fighting chance to win. More often than not, Florida has been a painful defeat, often early in the season, that makes the rest of the year seem depressing. But I am slowly talking myself into this being different. We know very little about Florida…they were terrible last year, they beat an awful Eastern Michigan team and they have a kid named Matt Jones at running back. Other than that, it is hard to be sure just how good they are. We know we are much better, but how much better? There are a ton of unknowns and the 17 point spread is probably about right…but is it crazy for me to think that we can be competitive, make it a game and have real momentum for the bye week and the upcoming clash against Vanderbilt? I have convinced myself of much more about UK football when the talent level was much less…so I going to let myself be delusional this week. I still can’t pick Kentucky to win the game but it is only Tuesday…however I am convincing myself that we will be competitive and make it exciting. Maybe like Davy Rothbart’s excellent book (which I highly recommend), “My Heart is an Idiot”…but its UK football and we might as well believe. Why not?

— One thing I do love is the confidence showcased today by JoJo Kemp. His quote at the press conference after practice in which he said he wouldn’t talk trash to the guys on Florida he knew now, but would just smile as he walks off the field with the victory is absolutely brilliant. It is of course trash talk, while claiming not to be, and it showcases the “Why Not” attitude that the younger players on this UK team have come to embody. While many fans (myself included) have the pain and scars of years of watching tough UK losses, these players don’t. They didn’t grow up watching UK get dominated by Florida…in fact, most didn’t grow up caring about UK football at all. Instead, this is simply a game in which they have a chance to make a statement that this is a new UK program and that they will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come. Let the Gators fans laugh at the quote and give Will Muschamp some sort of minor bulletin board material. What Kemp is representing is a new attitude of UK football and it is exactly what this program needs. Do your thing JoJo.

— We are almost set to do a KSR/UK fan day at the Madison Southern game on September 26th for Damien Harris. Our KSR show will originate there in the morning and then we hope lots of UK fans show up at his game that night. Mark your calendars for what could be the best chance to showcase the power of the UK fan base for the top recruit this state has produced since the days of Tim Couch.

When it comes to basketball and marketing, John Calipari is brilliant. Here we are on the day that coaches are allowed to begin visiting recruits…an important day in college basketball…and what is in the news (besides Ray Rice, the Hawks and all the other bad stories), well John Calipari of course. His idea for a “NBA Combine” at Kentucky is amazing on nearly every level. It will be a chance for his players to be seen by NBA scouts and to get some notion on what they need to work on before the season starts. It allows Calipari to make the focus on those players right before official practice starts and to then have an excuse to have some early practices where no NBA scouts will appear. And it showcases another example of Calipari’s “Player’s First” mentality. But it is also freaking brilliant when it comes to recruiting. What is the norm on college football campuses (“Pro Day”) has never been in existence for basketball, primarily because there are few schools that have enough prospects and no one has thought about it. But now Calipari has, and he can sell it to recruits as he goes up for the biggest of the big targets against the top schools. By waiting until the last minute to unveil, there isn’t really time for him to be copied and he looks like the one coach getting his players ready for the NBA. He is ahead of the curve (again) and showcases (again) why he is the best marketer this school has ever seen.

— This bump and sales point is good because Kentucky is now facing the hardest recruiting environment it has faced since Calipari has been here. Because the Cats have 12 players, all of whom are talented, and none of whom are Seniors or CERTAIN departures (even if many will surely depart), coaches are using the roster against Calipari…and to some extent it has worked. I talked to a source close to the staff who told me recently, “Calipari is having to do things differently this year because he has never faced an environment where all the schools are ganging up on him like this.” Because of the lack of a Davis/Wall/Cousins/Randle, etc that everyone KNOWS is gone, coaches are actually selling players that everyone will be back and there is no place for them. While that won’t have an effect on the elite of elite (Jaylen Brown, Malik Newman, etc), it does have an effect on guys ranked like 10-30, which this year includes most of the guys that Calipari really wants. That puts UK in a tough spot, especially going for point guards (because of Andrew and Ulis) and with big men (because of the four top level players in Willie, Dakari, Marcus and Lyles). Too many resources is great for this team but has made recruiting much tougher and that is why these two weeks of home visits are so crucial. But as is usually the case…don’t underestimate Calipari. The next year he doesn’t get it done in recruiting will be the first.

That is all for now. Subscribe to the KSR Radio Show podcast here if you havent (and for shame if you havent)…like us on Facebook here (which you already should have)…and be ready for our annual call for new writers (both college students and those of you in other walks of life) coming tomorrow. Until then, the fraternity I was in at Transy has seen a lip sync video it did go viral. I am proud of them for being exactly like they were when I was in school…dorky, goofy, funny and not caring if anyone else knows it. They however do have much better choreography than we did (although the general lack of women on the hall hopefully was for the video only). I am not sure I would have gone with Taylor Swift, but in my day I might have had a Backstreet Boys lip sync in my pass (thank goodness we didnt have camera phones). Do your thing Sigs…


Jalen Rose Talked With Coach Calipari about UK Assistant Job

Jalen Rose Talked With Coach Calipari about UK Assistant Job

nba_draft_fashion_rose

We talked about this rumor in the Spring when I first heard about it and many scoffed. Jalen Rose was considered for the UK Assistant’s job when Orlando Antigua left for South Florida. This was confirmed by Rose recently on his podcast, but it went even further this week when Rose said he and Calipari talked about the position. While Jalen Rose is cool and would make an interesting choice, Slice Rohrssen may be one of my favorite people period…so I am glad how it turned out.

Listen as he talks about it 25 minutes into this:


Calipari to Visit Malik Newman on September 9th

Calipari to Visit Malik Newman on September 9th

1002077

Mark your calendars for Tuesday…it may be the biggest recruiting day of the year for John Calipari and Kentucky. Calipari will do an in-home visit with Malik Newman on Tuesday at his home in Mississippi according to the Clarion newspaper. This is also the same day he is visiting Jaylen Brown, which means that Calipari will visit two of the best three players in the 2015 class, and both kids that Kentucky could very well get, on the same trip to the South (Brown is in Marietta, Georgia).

Tuesday is big…cross your fingers.


Boyhood’s Monday News and Views

Boyhood’s Monday News and Views

boyhood

“Boyhood” is one of the best five movies I have seen in the last ten years. That is a strong statement to start a post (especially since it has been about a month since I have gotten to do a night post) but it is one I firmly believe. For those of you that don’t know the story of this movie (which is currently playing in Louisville and Lexington), beginning 12 years ago, director Richard Linklater shot a movie about the life of a six year old boy. Over the course of the next twelve years, he would bring the cast back together for four days every year and shoot more scenes. The goal was to put together the growth of a young boy and his family and follow them through their life. But rather than shoot as is the standard (at once and with different actors playing the kid at different ages), he decided to do it naturally, as the kids and the family grew up over the course of 12 years. It was a pretty revolutionary idea and the patience that it took to pull off is astounding. But what follows is one of the best movies I have ever seen and as pleasurable a three hour experience (and yes, it is three hours) as I have had a movie theater. The acting is superb, from the parents played by Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette (who also both age and fluctuate weights/hair styles throughout) to the kids, including the boy at the center of the movie, Ellar Coltrane. You watch as Coltrane goes from a bright-eyed child to a high school Senior graduating and by the end, you feel as if you have watched his entire life pass before your eyes. The movie has some amazing scenes (including an abusive, drunk stepfather that is haunting to watch), but mainly it simply depicts the everyday life of a young man as he grows into adulthood. Considering the circumstances, the risks (what if someone had died or quit during the proceedings?) and the ad-libbing (the scenes change based on world events like the Iraq War, elections and Harry Potter), it is as impressive a movie as I can remember. Make sure and watch it…I will bet it wins, or is at least nominated, for every award there is by the end of the year.

With that, some notes on the Cats big weekend and images from the game:

Bw9o0XYCAAA5uCW

Mark Stoops and company arrive for battle

— All in all, I was pleased with the way Kentucky handled the game on Saturday. Unlike in years past, the Cats came out early and attacked, scoring on two of their first three possessions and really taking control of the game. UK utilized Ryan Timmons a great deal early and moved up and down the field at ease, exerting domination of an opponent that believed it could win. After those first two drives, the offense did not come as easy, but it still came in bunches. The Cats put up major yards and ran 83 plays, the third most since 2001, an impressive stat. Unfortunately for UK, they left a lot of points on the field, specifically after Dorian Baker’s catch at the three yard line (when they couldn’t punch it in and then missed a field goal) and early in the fourth quarter (when Stephen Borden missed a wide open pass and another missed field goal occurred). Had those two been punched in, the Cats win 34-3 and everyone is happy. But they did not and I have heard a number of complaints from fans not thrilled about the day on Saturday. I just have to disagree. UK had zero turnovers (none so far on the season, 2nd best turnover ratio in the nation), the defense was very solid (holding Ohio to three points) and the offense moved the ball effectively, if not always finishing the job. It also should be remembered that they did this with essentially two of their three best receivers (Javess Blue and Jeff Badet) and their starting Running Back (Braylon Heard) not playing. That isn’t too shabby…while ALSO covering the spread that had been bet up 7 1/2 points thanks to folks initially downplaying this team. As Mark Stoops said after the game, “we aren’t at the point yet where we are upset when we win,” a statement that is even more true against a team that went to five straight bowl games. The reality is two years ago, we lose this game and last year it goes down to the wire. Now the team is better and the win is worth celebrating.

image-32

UK fans who wrote KSR all the way from Sweden…got to love the Cats even in the Scandinavian countries

OFFENSE: The offense was a mixed bag, with a number of big plays (including a couple of huge ones by my pre-game MVP Dorian Baker) and strong work controlling the ball at the end of the game to grind out the clock after the rain. Patrick Towles was decent, his throws weren’t perfect and a couple of decisions were sketchy, but he made the plays he needed to and didn’t turn it over. He can’t run the ball 22 times a game (although this is slightly misleading as five were sacks and four were dives for a yard for first downs), but Neal Brown said afterwards that only 7-9 of them were called plays. Part of the issue was the Ohio run defense, which we talked about all week as being strong, and UK’s inability (besides the one Boom Williams run) to get a consistent running attack started. The Offensive Line graded out fairly poor from what I have been told and the protection has to get better before Florida. But UK’s skill position players made some big plays and Ryan Timmons/Dorian Baker/Blake Bone/JoJo Kemp look like the makings of a young star group for years to come. The offense was good, but not great, and for UK to pull off SEC upsets, they will have to hit great from time to time.

10624430_732183536828879_317689593_n

DEFENSE: Kentucky has to be pretty thrilled about its play on defense, creating turnovers and generally stopping Ohio from getting any kind of momentum going. They gave up yards at times, but there was never a point where you felt that Ohio was overpowering UK at any position. AJ Stamps is showcasing himself to be a potential star and while he got beat badly on one play (a drop that could have been a major gain), he otherwise was everywhere and is slowly becoming a star of the defense. The Linebacking corp again made plays, led by Josh Forrest and Khalid Henderson) and Bud Dupree made his presence felt before going out with cramps. We still haven’t seen a lot from Zadarius and the middle of the defensive line is giving up too many yards up the gut, an issue that worries me going into SEC play. However, when the offense sputtered and UK needed to win by simply keeping Ohio from scoring, that is exactly what they did…and going into the season that was a worry. They will of course get a stiffer test on Saturday and beyond, but if you told this coaching staff before the season that they would get these two performances from their starting defense, I think it is almost certain they would have taken it.

Bw8V-f7IgAA5EtP.jpg-large

This picture by The Cats Pause shows one fact…Matt Elam is really, really big

SPECIAL TEAMS: Our Freshman kicker looked like…well, a Freshman kicker, hitting a 53 yard field goal that tied the school record for longest ever (quite the accomplishment), but also missing two chip shots that needed to be made. I don’t profess to know everything (or for that matter anything) about kicking, but I do know that Austin McGinnis has a great future. He has put every kickoff so far out of the end zone and the situation he was put in towards the end of the first half was big in the game. When Mark Stoops went ahead and allowed him to kick the 53 yarder, the game was not out of reach and a miss would have been big. Ohio could have had the ball at midfield with two minutes to go and a chance to cut the game to a once score affair. But Stoops showcased confidence in his young kicker and was rewarded with a huge boot. Obviously missing the short ones has to change, but everyone believes in McGinnis and with the work he is doing in essentially ending any worries of a kickoff return against the Cats, I think the problems on Saturday will just be a blip on the radar.

10685580_840532349313513_6519219183360579099_n

Much has been made of the Julius Randle skinny jeans/small jacket combo on Saturday…it looks as if Randle is letting LA rub off on him and thats cool by me…but I have no idea how he wasnt sweating away 10 pounds…it was 90 when this was taken and it had to be quite hot under those clothes

ATMOSPHERE: Saturday was an improved Commonwealth Stadium. I was unable to go to the first game so I hadn’t seen the offseason changes and generally I was a fan. The use of the big screens between plays was great and I love getting the players integrated with the crowd to fire them up. The music was better (although I am not a huge fan of the voting for Florida-Georgia Line type songs, but what are you gonna do) and the crowd was strong (especially the students who showed up in force). In short, it was much improved. With that said, there is still work to be done…there has to be more of a fun vibe pumped in via the music and our crowd, while loud, has to stay engaged throughout. I do like the steps however and I think the former player thing with the crowd between the third and the fourth quarter has potential. What I do hope is that the place is packed for Vandy in three weeks, a game that will be huge for this program going forward.

So in short, a lot to like about Saturday. Throw in that the Cats got a commitment from three star CB Jeremiah Dinson (who picked UK over Arkansas) and it was a very good weekend. Florida is Saturday and starting tomorrow, we will talk about that uphill battle. But for now, the Cats have matched the win total of last year…that is worth celebrating.


UK Fans of the Day Want Some Mid-Week Thoughts

UK Fans of the Day Want Some Mid-Week Thoughts

university-of-kentucky-girls-25

Drew and I have been in New York for the better part of two weeks and combined with the 11 days in the Bahamas, it has made the month of August fun, but also a little out of sorts for me. August is usually the time that I get myself situation for the new seasons and being away from Kentucky for virtually the whole month has essentially made me an outsider. We return on Friday and will be at the Ohio game on Saturday, but before that, a few thoughts on the last week:

— Like all of you, I loved the way UK played on Saturday. For the first time since Mark Stoops and company have arrived in Lexington, the excitement off the field finally translated on the field. The offense was explosive and high octane, giving us a taste of what Neal Brown is looking to do during his tenure at UK. They played fast, utilizing a host of different weapons and spreading the ball around the field. On defense, the team played with energy and attacked from multiple spots, making mistakes but also making a few big plays. The team had huge amounts of confidence and energy, making the entire experience feel like the Mumme/end of the Rich Brooks era when football was fun in Lexington. If nothing else, that fun and excitement has me (and I am sure you as well) feeling good about the season.

— There has been a huge amount of praise for the Running Backs and Wide Receivers (and rightfully so), but we have to give a huge shout out to the play by Patrick Towles at Quarterback. Towles was efficient and steady, making no big mistakes and a number of difficult throws. He ran the offense well, made the correct decisions throughout and delivered the ball out of his hand quickly, an issue that often plagued him before. The only complaint I heard from a couple of Quarterback types is that he didn’t go through a ton of progressions, often keying on one receiver, but that is generally how it is done in this offense. They move quickly and don’t hold onto the ball so my guess is Towles was doing what was asked. After a career of difficulties in which many, if not most, fans gave up on him, this has too feel very good for Patrick and I am very happy for him.

— It is disappointing that Braylon Heard is likely out on Saturday, as I can’t remember a time that a player did more with less in a game. Two runs, two huge breakaways and two touchdowns. Heard is explosive, and he gives Kentucky a dimension that we haven’t had in quite some time. If an injury was going to occur, that is the position for it to happen as UK has a substantial amount of depth. But people are understandably very excited to see Heard back, especially considering he has probably the highest per rush yardage in the history of the school at this point.

— When judging the UK defense on Saturday, remember that it was done with very few plays by the two leaders of the defense. Bud Dupree and Zadarius Smith. Mark Stoops said afterwards that he thought both guys maybe tried to do too much, but rather than focus on those errors, I actually think it is quite encouraging. Guys like AJ Stamps, Josh Forrest and Kendall Randolph all made plays, showcasing that UK could have strength beyond the big two. When they hit their stride, that could bode very well for the Cats going forward.

— It is also good to see that UK’s schedule now looks very different after Week One than it did before. While I generally believe you should NEVER go overboard on what happens in the first week (that is why there is so much money to be made by smart college football fans on week two and three in Vegas), we can see the SEC is slightly different than we thought. Vanderbilt getting rocked at home by Temple can’t help but change our outlook on that game, South Carolina isn’t quite the massive power we thought and even Missouri looked a little rough in game one. IN contrast to that, Tennessee looked slightly better than many thought and Georgia is loaded. Still however, a path continues to exist to the 5-6 wins that could make this season have real progress…even more so after seeing everyone (but Florida) play once.

— As for Ohio, the Cats have seen gamblers load up on the bandwagon for the game like never before. In my seven years of following Phil Steele, he made Kentucky his 4 star pick of the week for the first time I can remember (when he thought UK was a 6 point favorite). And the line has now changed from 6 to 13, movement that you just don’t see. Ohio isn’t as good as they have been in past years and they have a completely new offense. But they do have a dual threat QB, which has been kryptonite for UK over the years, and a defensive front that is very strong. The rushing attack won’t be a given for UK so Towles will have to win throwing the ball, something he looked very comfortable doing last week. I am excited for the 3:30 game on ESPNU.

— Eli Capiluoto today said that the largest gift in UK history will be announced tomorrow, very exciting news for the University. While it isn’t clear the effect on athletics, it follows the news that the UK football practice facility has been given a number of big donations as well, including $1 million from Matthew Mitchell and his wife (an unbelievable gesture). The knock on Mitch Barnhart used to be in the realm of fundraising and to some extent that was fair…but he has turned it around athletically and Capiluoto has done amazingly on the University side. Financially, things are as good at UK now as they have been in at least 20 years.

With that, back to tennis. You can check out the work Drew and I are doing at TheOuterCourts.com (and we would love for you to do so)…plus a website today asked if UK has the hottest student body in the country, along with 78 pictures, so if that is your thing then you can see it here. Either way, have a good weekend and we are excited to be back in the Bluegrass on Friday.

And oh yeah, subscribe to the KSR Radio podcast here…it makes life grand


Fun With Photoshop

Fun With Photoshop

BwdcZLGCQAAVUVK

The above picture has taken on a life of its own in the past two days, as the UK Hoops team/UK cheerleader group shot has gone viral. It looks photoshopped but it is not and showcases the difference between heights of the young women.

But in order to illustrate the picture’s inherent appeal, someone on Reddit photoshopped the cheerleaders to the basketball players’ height. It is also awesome in a different way and showcases that the internet is a magical thing

Bwj8kJACMAAU6fx


Vegas Money Coming in on the Cats

Vegas Money Coming in on the Cats

BwXm-9MCAAAx5B3

I was intrigued to learn what the opening line would be for the UK/Ohio game on Saturday in Vegas, in large part because the Cats exceeded expectations in their first game. I guessed that it would be Kentucky -10, as it would factor in UK’s strong performance and Ohio’s win on the road versus Kent State. Vegas ended up giving UK little respect early, opening the Cats as just a 6 point favorite on the morning line, but then the money came in from bettors and now, the Cats have moved up to a 10 point favorite and that might even grow. It is clear the betting public favors the Cats to roll more than the experts in Vegas and we will see which is correct.

By my tally, the four point swing is the largest of any of the Week 2 lines…interesting indeed.


Sports Illustrated Explores the “Changed” Bobby Petrino

Sports Illustrated Explores the “Changed” Bobby Petrino

201401091048389301859

Sports Illustrated decided to check in with the folks in Louisville and see to what extent Bobby Petrino has “changed” since he last left the Cards. The article was released a couple of weeks ago, but only went up online today. Since the last time I read Sports Illustrated’s hard copy was the Swimsuit issue in 1999, I didn’t get the details of the article until today…and they are funny.

According to Sports Illustrated (and you can read the entire article here), Bobby Petrino had quite the program going the last time he was there:

Players from that era (2003 – 2007) recall a Wild West atmosphere that included widespread gun use. “It was a bunch of tough guys,” says Craig James, a cornerback from Jacksonville who signed with Louisville in 2005, then left the program and finished at Northern Iowa. “Coach Petrino and his staff went to the slums. When you go to those bad neighborhoods and you bring kids from the streets to a university, sometimes you bring the streets in with them. Guns and fights-I mean we would have riots.”

Riots in the locker room? Well that is nice. But I am sure that is exaggerated right? Let’s see what Tom Jurich said about those guys after Petrino left:

Petrino’s own program, meanwhile, was struggling with discipline problems that wouldn’t become fully apparent until he was gone, and his successor, Steve Kragthorpe, began dismissing Petrino’s recruits. (Some other players quit.) In a 2008 interview with Eric Crawford of the Louisville Courier-Journal, Jurich laid the blame at Petrino’s feet: “Bobby went to areas where he thought he was strong recruiting, and some of them panned out and some didn’t. … We cleared 21 kids out of here, and that’s a lot. That’s a big hit for anybody to take. … But we want to do things the right way.”

So they wanted to do things the right way? Well that’s good Tom…cleared 21 players from Petrino’s era out of the program because they were negative influences. So now that you have brought Bobby back, how does Tom explain it?

Today Jurich takes the hit for Petrino. “I should have given Bobby more oversight,” he says. “Not so much in recruiting, because I think Bobby took the same kind of players we’ve always taken. But we had issues once those players got here. I should have done a better job watching his players. And this time around I will be more helpful in that regard.”

Yes, Tom Jurich as the Athletic Director should have watched over Petrino’s kids. Yeah that makes sense to me. But how else to explain the decision to hire a guy who gave you so much grief? Well maybe UL Trustee Jonathan Blue can explain it in an honest manner:

Blue, the trustee and fan, says, “College sports are a business, first and foremost. People in the Louisville community look forward to attending games and seeing a strong product on the field. Bobby will produce that. This isn’t a governor or a mayor we’re talking about. This is a football coach.” According to a person who attended the meeting at which Petrino’s hiring was unanimously approved by the athletic board, “There was discussion, but there was nothing about marital infidelity. It was mostly Bobby’s flight risk. Is he going to leave again?”

Hey, at least Blue is honest. Character doesnt matter…this isn’t a governor or mayor, just a leader of 85 plus young college students. Apparently Petrino’s character never even came up, just worries about whether he would leave them in the dust again. UL decided, with no disagreement, to hire Petrino so the question becomes, what about now? The Cards have bitten the bullet and hired Petrino, how are things going now? The SI article explains it this way:

But consider this: As SI reported this story, a source with ties to members of the Cardinals’ football program provided information that was then presented to Petrino for confirmation or denial. Just hours after this exchange, Petrino called a staff meeting and, according to the source, who spoke anonymously because he is still employed in athletics, said, “Shut your f—— mouths about things that go on in my building. Things are getting out. Guys are talking. If you’re not happy, get the f— out and leave.”

Changed Bobby huh? Sure thing…