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Why Kentucky Will Win: Missouri Edition

Why Kentucky Will Win: Missouri Edition

why-uk-mizzou

Kentucky is one game away from clinching its first bowl berth since 2010 and this is the week they’re going to do it. After Wednesday’s practice, Bud Dupree told reporters he and his teammates are anxious to get that sixth win to relieve the pressure of chasing it. In order to do so, Dupree, a senior, will have to win his first career road game. There’s a stat for ya.

Quarterback Patrick Towles is confident the Wildcats will escape Columbia with a W. He said, “We expect to win.”

And win, they will. This is the week UK punches its ticket to the postseason, wherever that may be. Let me tell you why in this week’s edition of “Why Kentucky Will Win.”

#BeatMizzou

*****

Because Maty Mauk struggles to throw TDs in the SEC.

Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk has 16 touchdown tosses on the season, but only two of those came against league competition. Before last week, when he threw two against Vanderbilt, Mauk had zero TD passes and five interceptions in his three games against the SEC. He padded his stats early in the year with 14 against South Dakota State, Toledo, Central Florida and Indiana.

UK’s defense ranks 15th nationally in passing yards allowed, fifth in interceptions and 10th in passing efficiency defense.

Because Dorial Green-Beckham isn’t walking through that door.

The former Tiger receiver who torched Kentucky for four touchdowns last season is now an Oklahoma Sooner after a string of trouble at Mizzou. Arguably the best wide receiver in college football, DGB’s presence will not be missed on Kentucky’s end.

Because Missouri hasn’t played well at home.

Mizzou is 1-4 against the spread at home this season with two losses, against Indiana and Georgia. The Tigers were a 23-point favorite last week against Vanderbilt and won by only 10. They’re currently a 6.5-point favorite against Kentucky.

Because this ended up being fake.

It was rumored Mizzou would attempt a ‘Stripe-Out’ for the UK game (seen above) but it ended up being a concept created by a fan for fun. Had Mizzou actually pulled that off, there’s no doubt the Tigers would’ve won. They would deserve to win if the athletic department coordinated that awesomeness.

Because Gary Pinkel may or may not be drunk.

Mauk, too.

Because Missouri’s receivers coach was the Kentucky receivers coach in 2012.

Pat Washington, in his second season at Missouri, left Lexington as the Joker Phillips dynasty crumbled. Washington coached the wide receivers for Joker in 2012, a year that UK ranked 102nd in passing, nationally.

Because Missouri’s offense isn’t good.

The Tigers average 331 yards per game, the eighth-worst output in all of college football. 116 other teams are better, with only Michigan, Central Florida, South Florida, Kent State, Florida International, Eastern Michigan and Texas-San Antonio falling behind Mizzou.

Because THIS…

mizzou

This is me right now…

Go Cats.

 


Funkhouser Presents: Prestigious Awards for Terrible Horror Movies

Funkhouser Presents: Prestigious Awards for Terrible Horror Movies

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scanners-headexplode

Good evening! I’m glad you all could join us here at the Funkhouser Ballroom tonight. As Halloween is just around the corner, we thought this might be a great time to hand out some awards to our favorite horror films of the last thirty years. Remember, there was once a time when people who made movies didn’t expect or work hard for them to be good at all, and the mid-to-late-eighties and early nineties was a veritable smorgasbord of “If you have a horror movie, we will film it and release it to every theater in the country” thinking. It was beautiful, truly, and it brought us a slew of awful, awful films that were released with the same vim, vigor and marketing bucks as Gone Girl. It’s hard to believe, yes, but it was a glorious era. Shall we delve into some superlatives from this bygone horror-film Babylon, shall we? (Note: Most clips rated R for violence or language)

Best Laser-to-Head Explosion Delivered by a Renegade Mall Security Robot: Chopping Mall (1986)

Don’t you worry about why there might be a woman running through an empty mall in her underwear (she was partying in a closed furniture store) or why these robots are chasing her (they were struck by lightning and went haywire), just enjoy the fact that in the Chopping Mall universe it’s entirely possible for mall security to make your head explode. That’s why it’s important to LEAVE THE MALL WHEN THEY SAY THE MALL IS CLOSING.

Best Yogurt Horror: The Stuff (1985)

When you find something white and creamy bubbling out of the ground, and you don’t know what it is, it’s only the next logical step to market it to the general public as a new and delicious food. That’s the general logline of director Larry Cohen’s The Stuff. And I could extrapolate more on the plot, or you could just enjoy the following clip of Saturday Night Live’s Garrett Morris’ head melting while multi-time Screen Actors’ Guild Award Nominee Paul Sorvino shoots a machine gun at it.

Rubberiest Transformation into a Monster Dog: Monster Dog (1984)

Poor rock-and-roller Vince Raven (Alice Cooper). All he wants to do is shoot a music video for his newest video, “See Me in the Mirror,” at a secluded estate — and there’s a monster dog on the loose, killing people. How unfortunate! Warning: if you don’t want to know the ending of Monster Dog, don’t watch the following clip because it will ruin everything for you. If you don’t mind, by all means enjoy the transformation of Vince into the titular monster dog. Because it’s glorious.

Worst Day Out with Grandpa: Terrorvision (1986)

There’s nothing that will leave you with family issues more than watching your grandfather eaten by a monster that comes out of the television. Try explaining to your therapist that despite the fact you had a machine gun at eight years old, the hail of bullets you emptied into it just couldn’t stop the hideous alien creature reducing your dear ol’ pop-pop to liquid.

Most Ridiculously Strong Punch: Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)

You might be the best boxer in the world, but it doesn’t matter if your opponent is the immortal lake-dwelling undead slasher Jason Voorhees, who will punch the hell out of your head. Such was the case of poor urban tough-guy Julius in Jason Takes Manhattan. The round belongs to Jason. (Warning: language/punching NSFW)

Best Basketball Pass: Deadly Friend (1986)

It’s a timeless tale: boy meets girl, boy falls in love, girl is killed, boy puts a microchip in her brain, turning her into a killing robot-person. But the truly amazing thing is young robot-girl Samantha’s sports abilities, on display in the following clip as she executes a perfect pass just above the numbers.

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The three minutes that show this is Andrew’s team

The three minutes that show this is Andrew’s team

Photo by Britney Howard | UK Athletics

After Tyler Ulis dazzled fans in the Bahamas, UK’s guard play has been a popular topic of debate in the Big Blue Nation. Andrew Harrison is a typical Calipari point guard: big, physical, and capable of muscling into the lane for a shot or to pass it back outside. Ulis is small, fast, and can thread the needle with his passes. Two players, two totally different styles.

So far, John Calipari has found a way to showcase both point guards via the platoon system, but I’d argue there was a three minute stretch in the second half last night that proved Andrew Harrison is the superior guard for this squad. In those three minutes, we saw Andrew’s evolution from the indecisive, sloppy freshman to the confident, assertive sophomore that not just understands Cal’s system, but thrives in it.

Let’s break it down.

14:52: Andrew drives in for an easy floater with the assistance of Willie Cauley-Stein.

andrew2

14:33: Andrew drives the lane again, drawing a foul. He nails both free throws.

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14:10: With passing lanes blocked to the inside, Andrew evaluates the floor, and with the help of another Willie screen, steps to the top of the key for a three.

andrew4

13:49: The most impressive play in this stretch, and Andrew didn’t even score. Andrew gets the rebound, flies down the court and passes it out to Dominique Hawkins, who kicks it back out to Andrew, who drives the lane again and impressively finds Hawkins across the court for a three. This was the best ball movement of the entire night.

andrew5

12:37: Andrew got a lot of criticism last year for his passing, but this nifty little bounce pass to Karl Towns was pretty great.

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12:08: Another great decision by Andrew, who showed off that mid-range jumper that we saw in the Bahamas.

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Nine points, one assist and one rebound in three minutes. Even more, during the brief six minutes Andrew was on the sidelines, he was coaching his teammates:

Photo by Matt McCarty, CatsPause.com

Now if we can just get him to wear his contacts, we’ll be set.


Mark Zerof | US Presswire

Takeaways From The Blue-White Game 2014

Mark Zerof | US Presswire

Mark Zerof | US Presswire

The 2014 edition of the Blue-White scrimmage is complete and it’s hard to believe all of those guys we just watched in Rupp Arena are on the same college basketball team. It seems unfair, really. Karl Towns knows what I’m talking about. After fighting through a gauntlet of size and strength for his 20 points and 13 rebounds, Towns said, “It’s just scary to think that the other team is actually part of our team.”

Scary for Kentucky’s opponents, he means, because Big Blue Nation has little to fear after Kentucky basketball’s annual dress rehearsal in Rupp Arena Monday night. It’s going to be another fun year, no doubt.

So let’s talk about what we saw from the Cats and why it’s encouraging for the future in this evening’s Blue-White postmortem. The stats, scores and game stories are pretty irrelevant, but we still have plenty to digest after a night of exciting basketball.

*****

Dakari Johnson 2.0 is a brand new man.

Arguably the biggest takeaway from the scrimmage is the newly constructed body of Dakari Johnson and how it has completely changed the way he plays. The sophomore is a totally different player now that he’s shed the weight; he’s so much more mobile and agile, allowing him to do things he couldn’t do a year ago. He hustles and sustains effort for longer than he ever could’ve imagined last season.

“I feel much lighter and that’s the main focus,” Johnson said after the game. “The big thing is to run the floor. When you play with guards like Tyler and Andrew, you will get easy baskets if you run.”

“I thought Dakari played great,” said Calipari. “He’s playing with great energy and he’s going after every ball. He has a fight and a fire in him.”

That ‘fight and fire’ is rubbing off on Johnson’s younger teammates, too. Karl Towns told reporters that, not only is the new Dakari difficult to defend, he makes the other bigs better. Towns said, “It makes me a better player and allows me to use my body more and it teaches me things. Going against Dakari, you get to utilize some things that he does so well on the post and it definitely changes my game.”

The one knock on Dakari from the scrimmage: missed free throws. He was 1-for-9 from the stripe, a number that MUST improve if he wants to see significant minutes over the others during the season. Cal said, “You can’t get in there and we’re throwing you the ball and you miss free throws.”

Dakari assured us it won’t be that bad again.

This team is FAST.

You won’t find another team in the country that can run with Kentucky for a 40-minute game this season. Not one. Teams may try and match UK’s speed, but they won’t match the depth in an uptempo game. Cal has hinted at lots of pressing and running the floor, and that was on display tonight in the scrimmage. Both sides pushed the tempo the entire time.

At one point after a made Blue basket in the first half, I caught Tyler Ulis yelling at Devin Booker for not running to inbound the ball so their White squad could quickly drive it back the other way on offense. That tells me the team has already been working hard in the offseason to play fast with the ball. Cal wants it up the court in five seconds with everyone looking to receive a pass in transition. Go, go, go!

Too many turnovers

As per usual in games like this, there were far too many turnovers, many coming by way of Cal’s biggest pet peeve, the one-handed catch. “They’re just sloppy,” Cal said in his postgame press conference. “They’re just not in that mode yet.”

Surprisingly, Andrew Harrison was the most turnover-prone in the game. He turned the ball over six times in the first half and seven times on the night. Andrew said it was because he was playing too frantic and not settling in early in the game. “That is unacceptable; I just have to play better,” he admitted.

Though disappointed in the two teams’ combined 24 turnovers, Cal shrugged off the notion of it being a long term problem. “It’s typical of trying to make hard plays. We’ll be fine.”

Mark Zerof | US Presswire

Mark Zerof | US Presswire

It’s Andrew Harrison’s team.

Turnovers aside, Andrew Harrison played great and backed up Kenny Payne’s comments at the UK combine when he said it is Andrew’s team. The sophomore point guard may not be the biggest star, the highest draft prospect or leading scorer, but Andrew Harrison is UK’s leading leader. That was clear tonight and I don’t expect it to change all season long. He’s the man on this team, his team.

Alex Poythress was not the Alex Poythress of the Bahamas.

After giving us six strong performances against professionals in the Bahamas in August, Poythress digressed tonight against his own teammates. He started the scrimmage very poorly, missing a couple of one-footers around the basket, turning the ball over and playing timid at times on a team he should’ve led offensively. Things did improve once the teams were mixed up, however. He found his shot and made some plays with the twins. But before we jump to conclusions on it being a backcourt/teammate issue, Cal said it was just a difference in wanting to make plays in the second half after not making plays in the first. “I don’t think that had to do with the twins or anything else.”

Cal also said, “Alex has to create his own swagger. It can’t come from me.”

Andrew isn’t wearing his contacts.

Coach Robic, you have some explaining to do…

andrew-squint andrew-squint2

What will it take to get the twins to wear their contacts?

Tyler Ulis is so fun to watch.

Ulis began the night with back-to-back three-pointers and threw in an assist between his defender’s legs to Dakari Johnson later in the game to remind us just how special he is with the basketball. His court vision and ball control are second to none and he got plenty of “WOWs” from the crowd for his crafty distribution tonight.

But to the people thinking he will threaten Andrew Harrison as the point guard, pump the brakes.

Devin Booker led all scorers on a great shooting night from the field.

Booker led all scorers on the night with 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the field. If you know your Blue-White game history, that means absolutely nothing going forward. Still, a nice, productive night for the freshman offensively, although 4-of-8 from the foul line was very unexpected. I can’t imagine we’ll see him shoot 50 percent at the line in many games this year. He’s too good of a shooter to repeat that.

The SEC Network caught a ton of heat, again.

I was at the game so I was unable to see the television broadcast, but the production was crushed on the live blog. The two biggest complaints seemed to be position of the cameras and the lack of a scoreboard to start the game. Again, I didn’t see it so I don’t know, but the network didn’t do itself any favors with a fan base that’s already had several reasons to complain about programming.

Mark Krebs did a wonderful job, though. I bet we’ll be seeing him on the sideline during SEC Network games this season. Go Mark.

With the loss, the White team drops to No. 5 in the country.

Coach Cal can’t hear the naysayers.

cal

 


A Look Back At The Misleading Blue-White Scrimmages Under John Calipari

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about the Blue-White games over the years, it’s that, though fun to watch, they can be very misleading. Fans should not take tonight’s game as a sign of what’s to come in 2014-15. Too many times we’ve seen guys explode for a ton of points, only to disappear in the offense during the regular season. That’s just how it works: the Blue-White game is merely a dress rehearsal to showcase what weapons Calipari has at his disposal for the upcoming run.

However, this year is a little different because we’ve already gotten a pretty good taste of Kentucky basketball, thanks to the six exhibition games in the Bahamas. We may be able to invest a little more into what we see tonight, considering this team is much further along than in years past. But as you’ll find below, the Blue-White game has a history of being a very inaccurate indicator of how individual players will perform when the score matters.

Take a look back with me, if you will.


2013

The Cats opened our eyes in last year’s Blue-White game and had several fans (me included) thinking absurd thoughts about what that team was capable of doing. Of course, things didn’t pan out the way we had hoped during the regular season, but the end result was the same: a trip to Dallas for the Final Four.

James Young led all scorers in the 2013 intrasquad scrimmage, tallying 25 points for the Blue squad in a dominant offensive performance. Defensively, he gave us all false hope with several hustle plays and a game-high seven steals.

For the White team, Derek Willis took MVP honors with 21 points and eight rebounds. The Kentucky boy was 5-for-6 from downtown, leading everyone to wonder if Kyle Wiltjer would be missed at all. Willis hit one three-pointer in the regular season.

Other notables:

— Julius Randle matched Willis’ 21-point, eight-rebound outing.

— Aaron Harrison added 19, including 3-of-4 from downtown

— Dakari Johnson recorded a double-double with 16 points and a game-high 11 boards, playing for both the Blue and White teams.

— The Blue team started four freshmen: Andrew and Aaron Harrison, James Young and Julius Randle, alongside Willie Cauley-Stein.

Watch the highlights:

 

And how can we forget E.J. Floreal dunking on Julius Randle? Play of the Game:

 

Randle said, “He got me.”


2012

2012 gave us the UK debuts of Willie Cauley-Stein, Nerlens Noel, Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress, Ryan Harrow and Julius Mays, the only Kentucky team to not reach the NCAA tournament under John Calipari. Goodwin was the game’s leading scorer with 32 points, but he needed 22 shots to do it. That selfishness was a taste of what we’d see from Goodwin that season, although he was the only one trying to make something happen at times, as you remember.

Other notables:

— Willie Cauley-Stein and Nerlens Noel combined for 12 blocks in the game.

— Jon Hood scored 17, exposing the poor defense of a sophomore Kyle Wiltjer.

— Wiltjer scored 28 points with nine rebounds.

— Alex Poythress scored 25, while Ryan Harrow posted 20 and a game-high six assists.

— Goodwin missed a free-throw to send the game to overtime.

Watch the highlights:


2011

Terrence Jones stole the show in 2011, a game that included six future NBA players, by scoring a record 52 points and hauling in 16 rebounds. After the scrimmage, Calipari told reporters, “Terrence Jones right now, I’ll tell you, if there’s a better player in the country, I’ve got to see him. Maybe that guy’s in our gym. I don’t know. But if there is somebody better than Terrence, I’ve got to see it.”

Little did Cal know — or maybe he did — Anthony Davis would soon become the best player in the country and lead Kentucky to the national championship the following spring. Davis scored a quiet 27 points opposite Jones with 13 rebounds and four blocks for the White team.

Other notables:

— Doron Lamb scored 31 points for Jones’ Blue team, while Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 21 with 10 rebounds and seven assists.

— For the White, Kyle Wiltjer chipped in 17 with five three-pointers to go with 24 from Darius Miller and 19 from Marquis Teage.

Watch the highlights Jarrod Polson dunk:


2010

One year before Terrence Jones made history for the most points scored, Brandon Knight set the record with 37 points. Knight out-shined the freshman version of Jones in the 2010 Blue-White box score, but Jones still put up big numbers with 29 in the win for Blue while showing off incredible versatility in his game. It was Knight who was the record-setter, but Jones was the talk of the state after their UK debuts.

Lost in the excitement of the new freshmen: Josh Harrellson hauled in 26 rebounds and earned a Twitter suspension a few days later. Jorts tweeted, “Just amazing to me I can’t get a good job or way to go.”

You may remember, the tweet almost sent him home from the Lodge. Cal was very close to kicking him off the team and the 2011 Final Four run never would’ve happened.

Other notables:

— Apparently no one had a YouTube account in 2010.

— Enes Kanter was not free; he sat courtside in an Undertaker t-shirt:


2009

The first Blue-White scrimmage under John Calipari gave us the most shocking individual Blue-White performance of Cal’s era, and maybe ever. In a game that showcased three current NBA max deal players and five other future leaguers, the leading scorer was none other than one Darnell Dodson. Dodson scored a game-high 26 points, one better than John Wall’s 25 and two better than Patrick Patterson’s 24. He went on to average just under six points per game before transferring to Southern Miss after the season.

Other notables:

— Wall added 11 assists to his 25 points.

— DeMarcus Cousins fell just shy of a double-double with 16 and 9.

— Eric Bledsoe scored 14 with nine assists, splitting time between the two teams.

— A record 14,060 fans showed up for a first glimpse at the new Cats and Cal’s Dribble-Drive offense.

Darnell Dodson, ladies and gentlemen.


8 Ways to Make “SEC Nation” Better

8 Ways to Make “SEC Nation” Better

On Friday and Saturday, the SEC Nation crew will be set up in the Purple Lot at the corner of Alumni Drive and College Way, and fans are encouraged to come out and represent the Big Blue Nation while Joe Tessitore, Tim Tebow, Marcus Spears, and Paul Finebaum preview a big weekend in college football. Now, I’ll be honest, I haven’t really watched SEC Nation that much this season; I tuned in to their debut from LP Field for the Vandy/Ole Miss game, but that was mainly to mock the smattering of Vandy fans in attendance. Since then, I’ll flip over between commercial breaks of College Gameday, but it’s clearly not on the same level, no matter how many hijinks they make Paul Finebaum pull.

In hopes of making Saturday’s broadcast at least tolerable, here are some suggestions for the SEC Nation crew to make the show a little bit better.

First, when and where?

SECNationLocation

The SEC Nation set will be in the Purple Lot at the corner of Alumni Drive and College Way, and they will be taping from 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday. (The actual show doesn’t begin until 10 a.m. on Saturday, but there will be live appearances on SportsCenter from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and College Gameday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.) The first 350 fans who arrive on Saturday will get a free t-shirt, so there’s that incentive.

Now, the suggestions…

1. Have Tim Tebow do the entire show shirtless

This would definitely boost the female viewership. Guys, you get gratuitous shots of scantily clad cheerleaders and dance teams during every single football game ever shown on television, so pipe down.

2. You can mention basketball, but don’t let it be the only Kentucky thing you talk about

I’m excited about basketball. You’re excited about basketball. We’re all excited about basketball. But we’re also excited about football. By all means, tape some footage at Rupp, bring Calipari on the show, and feel free to briefly discuss UK’s exciting upcoming season, but let’s keep the focus on football for the most part. And when Mark Stoops comes on the set, PLEASE don’t ask him about basketball. That’s just rude.

3. Bring Phyllis on the show

Kaylee Hartung is cute, but I’d much rather watch Phyllis handle all of the tailgating segments. “HEY PAWWL, THESE PEOPLE SAY THEY’VE GOT BETTER BBQ THAN DREAMLAND! KISS MY SMOKED BUTT ROLL TIDE!”

4. Get Tim Tebow whisky wasted

Nothing says Kentucky more than a fall day at a scenic bourbon distillery, and nothing would be more entertaining than Tebow sampling the local fare, especially if he has too much. Bourbon drunk Tebow would be television gold.

5. Bring on Calipari and Papa Brooks

SEC Nation brings on special guests at each stop. Cal is a safe bet, and he’ll be the Cal we all know and love, all swagged out in his sweatsuit. Plus, because Cal gets it, he would keep the conversation on football while managing to throw in a subtle shot at Louisville at some point.

Rich Brooks is making the trip to Lexington for Saturday’s game, and I can’t think of anyone better talk about the program’s rise under Stoops. Bonus points if you serve him homegrown tomatoes.

John Short would also be acceptable.

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6. Don’t let Kentucky Joe anywhere near the set

If you don’t, he’ll steal the microphone and sing a 20-minute version of “Big Blue Fan in the Morning.”

…on second thought, that might be the most entertaining bit they’ve shown in a while.

tebowfans

7. Have Taylor Wyndham show Tim Tebow around Lexington

Because he probably doesn’t remember his last trip.

8. Stop making Paul the clown and start letting people clown on Paul

On SEC Nation, they love to make Paul Finebaum do wacky things. For instance, a few weeks ago, he stole Jerry Jones’ sunglasses and put them on. Hilarious! Another time, he did a sad little version of the Gator chomp, and man, Tim Tebow sure didn’t think that was funny! Once, they even made him go fishing, waders and all! Get it, it’s funny because he was in the waders and the hat and…

You know what would be better? Encouraging others to pull pranks on Paul. They can start by letting Drew Franklin run out and shine his head every time someone makes a “Dak” pun. (Looking at you, Kyle Tucker.)

Your turn.


Why Kentucky Will Win: Mississippi State Edition

Why Kentucky Will Win: Mississippi State Edition

why-miss-st

Yeah, yeah, yeah… Mississippi State is No. 1 in the polls. Yawn.

When the Dawgs come to Lexington this Saturday for the afternoon special on CBS, I like Kentucky to win. Ain’t worried ’bout nothin’, the kids say. Am I the only one picking the Cats? Probably. But let me explain myself before you start questioning my already questionable sanity. Below you’ll find my reasoning, and though it may be a stretch, I’m rolling with it.

#BeatMissSt

*****

Because State’s defense is ranked 14th in the SEC…

Hard to believe, right? No. 1 team in the nation, worst defense (statistically) in the Southeastern Conference. The Bulldogs give up a league-worst 428.8 yards per game, almost 85 more than the Wildcats. State also gives up the most passing yards per game at 308.3.

Because Dak Prescott is overrated…

OK, I lied: Dak Prescott is not overrated. Dude is the real deal. He’s the Heisman frontrunner and he’s doing things Tim Tebow, Cam Newton and Johnny Manziel couldn’t do against league opponents. But numbers and accolades aside, I can’t get behind anyone who wears these cleats…

He should be penalized for those or something.

Because Paul Finebaum called this a “Game To Watch” weeks ago…

A Mississippi State fan called in to Finebaum’s show earlier this month and asked which of the Dawgs’ remaining games is the one to worry the most about. With Auburn, Alabama and Ole Miss in the discussion, Finebaum told the fan that Kentucky is the “tricky one.” Granted that was before UK got destroyed at LSU, but still. I’m trying here, people.

Because they might not make it out to the field…

Set up fog machines around the visiting tunnel stat.

Because Kentucky is undefeated in front of Dee Jay Silver…

Numbers never lie.

(I’m really, really stretching here.)

Because the Sports Illustrated cover jinx…

It’s a real thing, you know. The most recent victim of the jinx was Oregon and September 22 cover boy Marcus Mariota. On August 21, Little League sensation Mo’Ne Davis graced the cover, then was eliminated from the LLWS in her next game. One week prior, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller was on the cover and suffered a season-ending injury days later.

Because Dan Mullen is too busy shopping for a home in Florida to care…

Some may say Mississippi State’s bye week gave Dan Mullen two weeks to prepare for Kentucky, and in most cases, that would be accurate. But Mullen is leaving for Florida soon so he and his wife spent the off-week searching for a new home in Gainesville. He’s just riding this season out until Foley hands him the keys to the Gators.

Because this song makes me want to beat her guitar against the wall…

Like this…

Because Starkville is the worst place in America and it doesn’t deserve any more attention or happiness…

The College Football Gods will not let Starkville, Mississippi be the star of the sport any longer. The worst city in America, the worst campus in America, doesn’t deserve to be called the home of America’s top-ranked team. It has gone on too long. The Gods will intervene with their magical God-stuff and football magic and strip Mississippi State of its reign. No more will we see the Bulldogs atop the polls, enough is enough. Starkville will fall back into its sad, diseased cesspool of bad hygiene and obesity, and the Bulldogs will drop from the polls before the year is over, beginning with a loss this Saturday. You suck, Starkville. And it’s time you’re reminded of that.

Because Kentucky has the United States Armed Forces on its side…

Yes, that is a UH-60 Black Hawk flying over Kuwait with a UK flag hanging out the window.

Your move, Mississippi State.

Because Why Not?


Behind-The-Scenes Look At Kentucky Basketball Media Day 2014

Behind-The-Scenes Look At Kentucky Basketball Media Day 2014

cal-media

Kentucky Basketball Media Day 2014 has concluded and I have the free media guide, USB charger, coin pouch and earbuds to prove it. (Swag bags!) Hundreds of the finest media members from around the Commonwealth and other parts of the internet gathered together in sweaty groups in the Joe Craft Center on Thursday, with their ink pens and their iPads and their bald spots, hoping to get those three or four good quotes from the Cats. I also made the trip, but unlike the others, I had very little interest in what anyone had to say. Zero interest, really. No, I was in it for two things: photos from the scene and a free lunch. You can see both below:

*****

chicken-parm

It wouldn’t be Media Day without chicken parmesan, a fall tradition in the east concourse in Memorial Coliseum. This year the traditional Media Day dish was served with potatoes and wet green beans, just the way I like them.

I considered a small salad as a starter until one local photographer dipped his hairy knuckles in the balsamic. Fresh rolls were also available, but I’m watching my carbs.

media-room

It was a crazy scene in the Media Room, as it always is this time of year. I noticed several new faces posing as bloggers who created a website two nights ago in hopes of getting a glimpse of John Calipari today.

I bounced around the room to get photos — and to escape the guy with the chicken parmesan farts seated in the back of the room near the Coke machine. You know who you are, dude. You gotta walk those off.

matt-media-day

And then there was Matt on his phone, seated like a 12-year-old. Yet another Media Day tradition.

pratt-oscar

While radio superstars Oscar Combs and Mike Pratt watched from afar as John Calipari rambled on and on for what felt like three days in the front of the room. Pratt gave me a fist bump. We’re boys like that.

bradley

The one and only Bradley McKee, ladies and gentlemen. HAWH.

calipari-media-day2

A look at the scene from behind the TV cameras. I often wonder why they don’t use one shot and share it. Why crowd up on each other for the same piece of footage? We’re all friends here.

(Well, that’s not exactly true. I have like three friends at these functions. On a good day.)

calipari-media-day

Coach Cal explains platooning to a room full of people who have already heard him explain platooning. Reporters ask the same questions they asked a month ago, only to receive the same answers.

However I did like when Cal used the word “chase” to describe his players’ love lives. I believe he was explaining how you can’t get away with anything at UK and he said, “You can’t drink, smoke or chase.”

Of course they don’t chase. They don’t have to.

craft-center

Here’s a shot of some of the new posters around the practice court. They were added for the UK NBA Combine and it appears they’ll stay as motivation throughout the year.

liggans

YOU HAD ONE JOB.

andrew

Andrew Harrison answers questions about what it’s like to play with his brother. Honestly, I don’t know how these guys sit through all of these interviews without losing their minds. It’s the same three or four questions over and over and over and over. I wait for the crowd to die down around a guy and then ask stuff like: “How much do you hate answering these questions?” and “For a million dollars, would you wear Jerry Tipton’s sweater in public?”

The answers stay between us, though.

long

Highlight of the day: Brian Long got tired of being ignored in the corner so he packed up his chair and sign and joined EJ Floreal, who was also being ignored. I sat with them for most of the afternoon, talking about the finer things in life.

But again, that stays between us.

long2

Brian and EJ enjoying each other’s company.

malone

And then Sam Malone joined the party! Sam was on the complete opposite side of the gym but couldn’t sit back and watch his fellow walk-ons have fun without him. He too packed up his stuff and moved over to the action.

willie-tipton

In closing, UK Basketball Media Day summed up in one photo.


The 10 Things You Need to Know from Calipari’s Media Day Press Conference

The 10 Things You Need to Know from Calipari’s Media Day Press Conference

CalMediaDay2014

After nearly falling off of his chair at the beginning of his press conference, John Calipari got rolling, speaking to reporters for a an hour about platoons, clutter, and making sure all of his players eat. What? You’ll understand once you get through these notes:

1) The platoon system isn’t communism

Cal talked A LOT about the platoon system this afternoon, telling reporters he came up with the concept after the Harrison Twins announced they were coming back, and he had to find a solution to deal with all the talent on his team. “As soon as the Twins said they were coming back, I said, ‘Oh my gosh! What am I going to do?'” Thus, the platoon system was born. “I’m not doing this to be a genius,” Cal said, raising his voice theatrically. “If I was worried about me, I would play seven guys. What I’m doing is right for these kids.”

In fact, Calipari said they organized the summer trip to the Bahamas in order to get his players to buy into the platoon system, and it worked. “They celebrated each other,” Cal said. “And that’s brought them together.” However, Cal was careful to point out that just because everyone’s getting playing time doesn’t mean they will keep it if they don’t work hard. “This isn’t communism. So if one group deserves to play a little more, they will,” Cal said. “If two guys separate themselves and need to get more minutes, they’ll get more minutes.”

2) However, the platoon system is Calipari’s new challenge

We all know Calipari is at his best when he’s got a challenge. The platoon is his new challenge. Cal mentioned all of the older coaches he admires, like John Wooden, Joe B. Hall, etc., and how they’ve all said that the best teams are the ones that play six or seven guys. Cal admitted that his best teams have only played six or seven guys. Cal being Cal, that just makes him want this more. “I’m on a mission to make it work because I’m hearing all the reasons you can’t do it,” Cal said, admitting that there will be some stumbles along the way. “We probably in all likelihood will lose a couple games where people will say that wouldn’t have happened if he’d just played seven [players].”

Further, Cal said that Fox is doing a story on how the 2010 team with John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins was a “watershed moment” in college basketball (sound familiar?), and that if this team can win it all using the platoon system, it will be the next watershed moment.  “Can you imagine if we do this and all 10 kids eat and benefit and really, all 12, and we win? What do you say now?”

Cal joked that the challenge is so big that he needs a raise. “At the end of the day, I’m coaching two different teams,” Cal said, quipping “I’ve asked to be paid twice. I think it’s fair.”

3) The Trey Lyles buzz continues

In the past few weeks, no player has had more buzz than Trey Lyles. Lyles, who Cal said is back to 90% healthy, drew a lot of praise from scouts at the Combine for the unique skill set and size, two things Cal said sets Trey apart from the rest. “Trey’s got some of that dog in him like he’s bringing it,” Cal said. “When he comes at you, he’s coming at you and you’re going to know he’s coming at you. The biggest thing though is his skill set. He’s a smooth player who can shoot and he’s 6’10”.” Because of that, Cal said he will play Trey at the three, but he may have to guard the four.

A 6’10” small forward, folks.

4) Cal responds to Izzo’s quip about the Combine

Earlier today, Tom Izzo joked that when Calipari said UK’s NBA Combine had nothing to do with recruiting, “If he was Pinocchio, he could have hung 10,000 shirts on that schnoz of his.” Cal responded to Izzo’s quip in his presser today, telling reporters that the Combine was all about the players. “I don’t need my nose to grow to hold 10,000 shirts. But it was done for the players.”

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 2.16.52 PM

5) Cal couldn’t care less about UK’s #1 preseason ranking

Calipari looked unimpressed when someone asked him about UK’s new #1 preseason ranking. “There are five, six, seven teams that all could have been #1,” Cal said. “Where were we ranked last year? And we almost fell off the face of the earth.”

Fair enough.

6) No more bad body language from the Twins

Cal rattled off a lot of the feedback his players got from the combine that I’ll put together in a post for you later, but the ones that stuck out to me were his comments about the Twins. “Everything about them, they’re better. Their attitudes on the court, and again, they are the greatest kids, and I say attitude, I mean body language. You’re not seeing any of that now. And that was the biggest comment I got from the NBA people. ‘Wow, these two have totally changed.'”

Interestingly, Cal said he wasn’t opposed to playing the twins on separate platoons, but maintained that they play best together, therefore that’s his preference.

7) Cal’s “not feeling” all the drama surrounding shoe companies

A certain coach down the road went on a rant a few weeks ago about the role shoe companies play in recruiting and how he felt it was ruining the game. Not surprisingly, Cal disagrees. “I’ve been doing this a long time,” Cal said, detailing his history with each shoe company, from Reebok to LA Gear (All I asked was, ‘Please don’t have us in the light-up shoes.’ They were very heavy, but we wore them.) to Adidas to Nike. “All I can tell you is, it’s not had an effect on how I did this job,” Cal said. “But people have their opinions on it.” He pointed out he’s had players that have had all different sorts of shoe affiliations, so he doesn’t see the problem. “I’ve had kids from all different teams playing, all different shoes. I’m not feeling it, but I’m nuts.”

8) Cal said Willie is free to be Willie and “paint his hair” as long as he stays in the circle

A funny moment in the presser came when Cal was asked about the challenge of letting Willie Cauley-Stein be Willie while still staying within the team concept. “Willie’s been fine. Willie’s just got to stay connected with these players,” Cal said, calling on the “circle of trust” reference from Meet the Parents. “There’s a circle of our players. You have to be in that circle to lead, to be a part of something. If you’re not, you’re outside the circle, you’re never going to lead, you’re never going to be a part of what we’re doing.”

So, Willie is free to be Willie as long as he stays in the circle, right Cal? “I’m not trying to take away from his – from what he is. I’m not trying to tell him ‘you have to be this.’ I told him, ‘You’re painting your hair, you better play well. You want to do all the stuff you’re doing, you better play well.'”

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 2.18.35 PM

9) Your daily reminder that Kentucky’s not for everyone

Cal’s presser ended on kind of an odd note when he was asked about the autograph scandals at other schools. This led Cal to his usual “Kentucky’s not for everyone” speech. “I don’t sell my autographs. I could sell my autograph, just so you know,” Cal quipped. “There are things that go on on other campuses that absolutely cannot go on here. They’ll make a ’30 for 30′ about it.” Cal said his players are held to a different standard under the UK basketball spotlight. “If you want to drink, smoke, chase, do all of that, you can’t do it here. You just can’t,” Cal said. “There are no secrets in this program.”

10) Don’t jump off the bandwagon if it gets bumpy

During the low point of last season, a lot of fans jumped off the Calipari bandwagon (including Joe B. Hall!), and he hasn’t forgotten. He knows that may happen again if this platoon thing doesn’t work. “These kids are the greatest kids that I’ve coached. Every one of them wants to be coached, wants to be challenged, wants to be taken to another level. They’re not here to just show us what they do. And they care about one another, they’re comfortable in their own skin. BUT, we’re doing something that’s never been done in college basketball and trying to make it work at Kentucky! Not at a place you can stub your toe five times and it’ll be fine. Under this glowing light that’s this,” Cal preached. “Gonna be hard. It’s going to be a process. It’s gonna be step at a time. Some of you will jump off the bandwagon right away. Some of you may have jumped off already. Some of you hope to jump off. Stuff like that happens.”

In short: don’t jump off the bandwagon, even if it gets bumpy. This ride’s going to be way too fun.

swaggycal2


What To Watch For This Weekend

What To Watch For This Weekend

weekend

You’ll have a hard time finding a more exciting weekend for UK sports than the one we have on the calendar in 48 hours. First, basketball fans will get their first taste of the 2014-15 Wildcats on American soil during Big Blue Madness, or what I like to call “The Greatest Spectacle In All Of Basketball Practice.” It gets bigger and brighter every year and Big Blue Nation can’t wait to see what the program has in store this year.

Then on Saturday, UK football will play LSU under the lights in the 7:30 pm marquee game on the SEC Network. Once believed to be a guaranteed loss on the schedule, this game now has the attention of college football enthusiasts everywhere and a win for the Wildcats isn’t out of the question.

So as we look ahead to a jam-packed weekend of bleeding blue, let’s look at 10 things to look out for, once the action gets going Friday evening.

*****

1. Whatever This Is:

bbm-lights

UK Athletics tweeted out a teaser photo of the Big Blue Madness setup in Rupp Arena yesterday and it looks somewhat like the set of an HP tablet commercial. One KSR commenter pointed out that there are nine screens, one for each of UK’s eight national championships and a ninth for the title that will come this season. That makes sense. Or it could be the next generation Wham City Lights show. I don’t have a clue.

It has potential, though. Looks cool.

2. UK’s Run Game

LSU has struggled defending the run this season, giving up 175 yards per game on the ground, the third highest number in the conference. Opponents are only getting a little under 160 through the air on the Tigers, so look for UK to rush often. The Cats’ leading rusher, Braylon Heard, had a rough outing against Louisana-Monroe and will be hungry to bounce back to form in Baton Rouge. We may see a healthy dose of the WildKemp, too.

3. Trey Lyles

Madness is ordinarily our first look at the basketball team but we’ve already gotten an extensive look at the 2014-15 Cats thanks to the six-game event in the Bahamas. There will be very few surprises during the men’s scrimmage, although it will be fans’ first time seeing Trey Lyles. Lyles sat out the entire summer with that mysterious leg injury and will participate in all aspects of Friday’s extravaganza, as far as I know. We will see a third-year Willie Cauley-Stein for the first time, too.

4. Leonard Fournette

While Kentucky will likely rely on the run, the same can be said for LSU. Les Miles has a stud in the backfield in freshman Leonard Fournette, the No. 1 recruit from the 2014 class. Fournette was named SEC Freshman of the Week this week following his 140-yard performance against Florida, the highest single-game total from a true freshman at LSU since 2003. He has over 500 yards and six touchdowns through seven games this season and has kept the Tiger offense alive when the passing game has been suspect.

5. Drake (Maybe)

Several people I trust told me Drake will be in Rupp Arena for Big Blue Madness. There’s also the rumor that he will perform, not just watch the action from the stands. UK Hoops’ Makayla Epps all but confirmed that rumor with a tweet earlier this week, saying, “Hint for BBM Friday: #TOPSZN.” (TOPSZN is the name of Drake’s regime.)

However, a tropical storm is doing its best to interfere with Drake’s rumored appearance in Lexington. The rapper and his crew are reportedly stuck on St. Maarten Island thanks to Hurricane Gonzalo. A member of the crew said yesterday it could be days before they’re allowed to fly home.

So we’ll see. I think it’s safe to say he has been downgraded to doubtful.

6. Two LSU Quarterbacks

It was announced today that Anthony Jennings will get the start, but freshman Brandon Harris will be eager to get another shot if Jennings isn’t getting it done. Harris took over the starting role for Jennings two weeks ago at Auburn after replacing Jennings in the second quarter the week before and playing well. Jennings reclaimed his starting role against Florida and will be playing to keep it against Kentucky. We could very well see both QBs on Saturday.

7. Matthew Mitchell

Matthew Mitchell’s introduction, what is now everyone’s favorite part of Big Blue Madness, will be in the form of dance again this year. I’ve heard rumors of what the UK Hoops coach has up his sleeve in 2014 but you’ll never get it out of me. We’ll all see it together, for the first time, Friday night. (Unless you’re watching volleyball on the SEC Network.)

8. Les Miles Eating Grass

“I have a little tradition that humbles me as a man, that lets me know that I’m a part of the field and part of the game,” Miles said in a 2010 interview about his sideline eating habits. “You should have seen some games before this. I can tell you one thing: The grass in Tiger Stadium tastes best.”

Mmmmkay. Do you, Les. Do you.

9. Player Introductions

The team emerged from beneath the stage in light-up warmups during their intros a year ago and Sam Malone shut it down with his dance moves. Aside from John Wall’s iconic dance in 2009, it was the most fun any team has had in their welcoming party. The bar is high for 2014 and I have no doubt they will blow the roof off of Rupp Arena once again.

10. The Upset In Death Valley

The turnaround in Mark Stoops’ second season has been nothing short of amazing and that momentum will roll down to the Bayou Saturday night with confidence. The Cats not only believe they can win, they expect to, and I am of the same belief.

The timing is right. LSU isn’t the usual LSU this season and Kentucky isn’t the usual Kentucky. Sure, the Tigers are favored by 9.5 points, but Kentucky faced an 18-point spread in a similar environment in Florida and was one fourth-down stop away from a win. That Florida team lost to LSU by a field goal in Baton Rouge last week, so the level of competition is similar and certainly not unbeatable.

WHY NOT.


Old Kentucky Football vs. New Kentucky Football


(Use the slider to move back and forth in the photos)

Times have changed in the Big Blue Nation. While the basketball team is still doing its thing, most of the focus is still on football, with the Cats rolling at 5-1 heading into a huge road game vs. LSU. With Big Blue Madness coming up on Friday, this week is usually reserved for guessing the players’ intro songs, reliving old Madness memories, and generally being giddy about the roundball; however, according to KSR’s very informal internet poll yesterday, a whopping 77% of you guys are more excited about the LSU game Saturday than Big Blue Madness Friday night.

This is just the latest oddity in a surreal month for the football program. Right now, UK is behind only Georgia in the SEC East race at 2-1, and if they upset LSU in Death Valley, there is an extremely good chance ESPN’s “College Gameday” will come to town for the Cats vs. #1 Mississippi State next week. In only his second year, Mark Stoops has the Cats one play (or, if you ask some people, one error by the refs) from undefeated and has more than doubled his win total from last season. As a result, Kentucky is on its way to becoming the latest media darling, with network analysts across the country talking about what a remarkable job Stoops has done so far, and his name already being floated around for high-profile jobs.

I know I’m not alone when I say that more than once over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself having “Old Kentucky football vs. New Kentucky football” moments. You know, those times when you marvel at just how far the program has come. Here are just a few examples, with the help of new fancy photo slider technology:

Old Kentucky defensive lineman vs. New Kentucky defensive linemen:


Old Kentucky football: Worrying your game won’t be on TV
New Kentucky football: Worrying your game won’t get a primetime TV slot

Old Kentucky football: High five fail
New Kentucky football: Storming the field


Old Kentucky football: The Cat Walk in 2012
New Kentucky football: The Cat Walk in 2014


Old Kentucky football: Wanting another coach
New Kentucky football: Worrying about another program wanting your coach

Old Kentucky football: Your quarterback sacking himself
New Kentucky football: Your quarterback evading tackles for a 21-yard gain


Old Kentucky football: The SEC East standings in 2012
New Kentucky football: The SEC East standings in 2014


Old Kentucky football: Being on the wrong side of a Sportscenter Top 10 play
New Kentucky football: Being on the right side of a Sportscenter Top 10 play


Old Kentucky football: Nice, safe, traditional
New Kentucky football: A program that’s actually cool.


As Patrick Towles told reporters today, the difference between the old Kentucky football and the new Kentucky football is “when somebody throws a shot at you, you gotta throw one right back.” We’re just getting started, bro.


UK’s 2015 Football Schedule is out!

UK’s 2015 Football Schedule is out!

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Of note:

  • Only ONE bye week next season, not two. UK’s falls on October 10.
  • Kentucky’s permanent interdivisional opponent remains Mississippi State
  • Kentucky’s rotating interdivisional opponent in 2015 is Auburn, and that game will be on a Thursday night in Commonwealth Stadium

Discuss…


The Big Blue Madness Guest List

The Big Blue Madness Guest List

Big Blue Madness is scheduled to have several big-time guests in attendance Friday night, as it always does, and today I would like to share with you a copy of the unofficial list of VIP attendees.

Below you’ll find the top recruits expected to be in Rupp Arena for the Greatest Spectacle In All Of Basketball Practice, plus one additional name you may recognize.

Make these guys feel at home in Rupp Arena, BBN.

*****

 

Charles Matthews
Shooting Guard

6’5″, 175 lbs.
Chicago, Illinois (Saint Rita)

Top247: No. 60 overall, No. 19 SG
247 Composite: No. 48 overall, No. 14 SG
Rivals: No. 56 overall, No. 17 SG
ESPN: No. 30 overall, No. 7 SG
Scout: No. 61 overall, No. 20 SG

 

i (3)Malik Newman
Combo Guard

6’3″, 175 lbs.
Jackson, Mississippi (Callaway)

Top247: No. 4 overall, No. 1 SG
247 Composite: No. 3 overall, No. 1 SG
Rivals: No. 3 overall, No. 1 SG
ESPN: No. 3 overall, No. 1 SG
Scout: No. 10 overall, No. 1 SG

 

brown

Jaylen Brown
Small Forward

6’7″, 220 lbs.
Alpharetta, Georgia (Wheeler)

Top247: No. 2 overall, No. 2 SF
247 Composite: No. 2 overall, No. 2 SF
Rivals: No. 2 overall, No. 2 SF
ESPN: No. 8 overall, No. 1 SF
Scout: No. 1 overall, No. 1 SF

 

iCarlton Bragg
Power Forward

6’9″, 220 lbs.
Cleveland, Ohio (Villa Angela-St. Joseph)

Top247: No. 16 overall, No. 4 PF
247 Composite: No. 14 overall, No. 5 PF
Rivals: No. 14, No. 3 SF
ESPN: No. 14 overall, No. 7 PF
Scout: No. 11 overall, No. 3 PF

 

i (9)

Brandon Ingram
Small Forward

6’8″, 180 lbs.
Kinston, North Carolina (Kinston)

Top247: No. 11 overall, No. 4 SF
247 Composite: No. 17 overall, No. 4 SF
Rivals: No. 18 overall, No. 4 SF
ESPN: No. 12 overall, No. 2 SF
Scout: No. 25 overall, No. 6 SF

 

i (7)

Stephen Zimmerman
Center

7’0″, 230 lbs.
Las Vegas, Nevada (Bishop Gorman)

Top247: No. 22 overall, No. 4 C
247 Composite: No. 12 overall, No. 3 C
Rivals: No. 10 overall, No. 4 C
ESPN: No. 6 overall, No. 2 C
Scout: No. 14 overall, No. 6 C

 

i (7)

Antonio Blakeney
Shooting Guard

6’4″, 170 lbs.
Orlando, Florida (Oak Ridge)

Top247: No. 15 overall, No. 4 SG
247 Composite: No. 17 overall, No. 3 SG
Rivals: No. 13 overall, No. 3 SG
ESPN: No. 14 overall, No. 2 SG
Scout: No. 22 overall, No. 5 SG

 

i (7)

Tyus Battle
Shooting Guard (Class of 2016)

6’6″, 190 lbs.
Edison, NJ (Gill St. Bernard S. School)

Top247: No. 11 overall, No. 3 SG
247 Sports Composite: No. 11 overall, No. 4 SG
Rivals: No. 16 overall
ESPN: No. 14 overall, No. 4 SG
Scout: No. 9 overall, No. 3 SF

 

Derryck Thornton
Point Guard Guard (Class of 2016)

6’0″, 175 lbs.
Henderson, NV (Findlay Prep)

Top247: No. 10 overall, No. 3 PG
247 Sports Composite: No. 7 overall, No. 2 PG
Rivals: No. 9 overall
ESPN: No. 10 overall, No. 2 PG
Scout: No. 6 overall, No. 1 PG

 

drake

Drake
Rapper

6’0″, 165 lbs.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Young Money, Cash Money)

0 to 100, real quick.


KSR Travel Guide: Louisiana State University

KSR Travel Guide: Louisiana State University

Good evening, sports fans. Are you ready for the biggest SEC road game on Kentucky’s football schedule? It’s going to be a goodin’. UK hasn’t made the trip to Baton Rouge since 2011 and won’t be back again until 2026 at the very earliest. So if you’ve ever wanted to see the Cats in Tiger Stadium, now would be the time to go.

For those you planning to make said trip to the Bayou, I will voluntarily serve as your friendly tour guide. You have a busy schedule, so I did all of the research for you. Just print this out, throw it in your pocket, and enjoy the game.

Oh, and you’re welcome.

*****

If you’re planning to attend Big Blue Madness and make it to LSU…

You’re crazy. That’s an 11-hour drive through the night unless you catch an early morning flight. There’s a 6:00 am out of Lexington for $720 that’ll have you there by 10:00 am. That’s plenty of time to tailgate. That’s also pricey for the average fan.

 

If you don’t parlay it into a trip to Bourbon Street…

You’re not doing it right. It’s a little over an hour drive so you have plenty of time to get nasty in New Orleans Friday night then get to Baton Rouge to tailgate on Saturday.

If you are doing Bourbon Street, remember: the safest sex is no sex and when the sign says ‘Strongest Drink On Bourbon Street,’ it means STRONGEST DRINK ON BOURBON STREET. Trust me. It’s called the Jester, and though it tastes like fruity deliciousness, it will completely wreck your entire existence and you’ll wake up with a bunch of beads and a picture similar to this one on your phone:

new-orlenas

Man, the Final Four wasn’t a terrible time. And, yes, she is wearing pants. (I think.)

 

If you haven’t booked a hotel…

You should get on that. This should’ve been done months ago.

 

If you don’t have tickets…

There are several options available through LSU on Ticketmaster.com or on GuyOnTheCornerTickets.com. Death Valley holds over 102,000 people so you’ll be able to find a way in.

I believe the visiting section is the southeast end zone, sections 401 through 405.

 

If you get hungry…

And you will hungry, here are some suggestions for local fare:

Chelsea’s: Open until 2:00 am, Chelsea’s serves up a delicious po’ boy and other cajun/creole dishes. The website promotes cold beer and warm Jagermeister, so it’s down to party.

Side note: I threw up in my mouth a little bit at the thought of warm Jager.

The Chimes: Another popular spot in Baton Rouge is The Chimes, a cajun joint with blackened alligator on the menu. “The boudin balls are to die for,” says one Yelper.

Personally, I’m not ready to die for boudin balls — that seems like a pathetic way to go out. Boudin balls are good, though.

Pluckers: It wouldn’t be a football trip without a stop for wings, and you’ll find no better wings than the wings at Pluckers. USA Today named it a Top 10 Wing Bar, while ESPN included it on its Top 5 Sports Bars.

Eat 25 ‘Fire In The Hole’ wings and you will make the Wall of Flame. You will also literally have fire in your hole. That will add another hour or two to the ride back if you eat it on your way out of town, so keep that in mind.

Louie’s: This 24-hour diner has been popping in Tiger Town since 1941. It serves a little bit of everything, from breakfast to seafood stir-fry and bread putting. If Jimmy’s working, tell him Drew sent you.

Side note: I don’t know Jimmy, nor does he know me.

TJ Ribs: The self-proclaimed “BBQ Haven of LSU” is full of Tiger memorabilia. You may find yourself sitting next to Billy Cannon’s 1959 Heisman trophy, one of Shaq’s game-worn shoes, or Honey Badger’s one-hitter.

 

If you find this tailgate…

CALL ME IMMEDIATELY AND I WILL BE THERE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Good lawd.

 

If you’re sitting near this guy…

Or this guy…

lsu-fan

Please send us as many photos as possible.

 

If Kentucky wins…

Throw caution to the wind and party like it’s 2007. Leave it all on the field. Don’t come back without stories of the time of your life.

And I’m serious about that tailgate. Don’t let me find out you were with those girls and didn’t tell me. I need them.


Mark Zerof

Halfway Home and the Cats are 5-1

Mark Zerof

Mark Zerof

Kentucky’s 48-14 win over Louisiana-Monroe wasn’t the most spectacular showcase of Stoops’ Troops, but the results matched expectations.  What wasn’t expected? A 5-1 start.

In hindsight, everyone in the BBN expected a letdown from the Cats following an emotional victory of South Carolina.  With a cloudy sky, cool temperatures and a quiet crowd, Kentucky started slower than molasses in January.  Boom Williams’ 75-yard opening kickoff return couldn’t even get them excited.  Even with great field position, Kentucky couldn’t handle the blitzes out of ULM’s 3-3-5 defense.

There were penalties at critical moments.  A WildKemp interception led to easy points.  There didn’t seem to be anything that could light a fire under the Cats’ butts.  At the end of the first quarter the Cats trailed 14-3 and were outgained 119 yards to 61.  

Embedded image permalink

I don’t know what was said or done on the sideline, but Bud Dupree wouldn’t let the Cats get their heads down.  Bud turned into an absolute terror, making his opponents pay on every hit.  A sack saved a potential touchdown, which he followed up with a blocked field goal.  The game could have easily gotten out of hand if Bud hadn’t kept them off the scoreboard.  Bud finished with 5 tackles and his 1.5 sacks were enough to tie Dennis Johnson’s career sack total for the second-most in UK history.

The offense fed off Bud’s energy.  Backed up on their own 13, Javess Blue made some serious moves after a comeback route for an 83-yard touchdown.  Believe it or not, it wasn’t his best highlight of the day.  His one-handed over-the-shoulder snag in the back of the end zone has Sportscenter written all over it.  Dealing with injuries early in the season, the Senior was without a touchdown and had only 116 yards.  Today he had two TDs and 109 yards.

The old guys lived up to early hype, but nothing has been more surprising than the defense’s ability to create turnovers.  Not once, but twice the defense took interceptions to the end zone.  After only three interceptions in 2013, the Cats are now ranked 2nd nationally in interceptions, “No, I don’t think I would’ve believed that.  I’ll give you one there,” Stoops said after the game. 

The only person that exceeded expectations heading into today’s game was Boom Williams.  After missing a week, we weren’t even sure how much he would play today.  After starting with a 75-yard return, ULM refused to kick it to him.  Early in the year, Boom had struggled offensively to be patient enough for his blocks to develop into running lanes.  Today his patience paid off, following his blockers for a 58-yard touchdown run.  For the first time in his career Boom rushed for over 100 yards( 107), in only 7 carries.  The Booms are just getting started, bro.

@ukstoopstroops

@ukstoopstroops

Entering the season, there weren’t many people outside of the program that believed the Cats could turn it around this year.  The youth, combined with a difficult SEC, could only put them in bad situations.  Through six games, their most complete game was the 3OT loss in Gainesville.

“We’re winning games and we’re not playing our best,” Stoops said after today’s W.  That can only mean one thing – We’re Just Getting Started Bro.

Notes on Notes on Notes

–  Demarco (a.k.a. “The Marco) Robinson continues to be a valuable spark plug.  After one of his best game’s on offense last week, he didn’t miss a beat today, earning tough yards after the catch.  His explosiveness was more important in the punt return game, with multiple returns setting the offense up with phenomenal field position.

–  Kentucky was an atrocious 1-12 on 3rd down.  That’s alarming.  I doubt many teams have ever won when only converting one 3rd down.

–  Jared Lorenzen changed the game on the 4th quarter crowd ritual.  Instead of the “Blue & White,” for Heroes’ Day J-Lo got a “U-S-A” chant started for our troops.

-  Pat Towles is quietly killing ‘em.  Towles’ numbers haven’t jumped off the page much this year, but he hasn’t done much wrong.  Faced with plenty of early pressure, Towles’ exceptional footwork in the pocket kept plays alive.  He finished the game with a casual 16-28, 216 yards and 3 touchdowns.

–  Sack lunches are delicious.  The UK defensive line received plenty of preseason hype, but they hadn’t been very consistent.  They definitely got it done today, finishing with six sacks and 12 tackles for loss.  Not too shabby.

–  The Cats now have four defensive touchdowns this season after Marcus McWilson and Josh Forrest capitalized on Louisiana-Monroe mistakes.  It was the first time since the Louisville game in ’08 the Cats have had two in one game (if you don’t remember Myron Pryor’s scoop and score that covered almost an entire football field, then we can’t be friends).

–  Kentucky is tied for first in the SEC East.  Don’t hold your breath, but the last 5-1 start was in ’07.  It became a 6-1 start after beating LSU.  Is anybody else getting Deja Blue?