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As Immanuel Quickley prepares for his official visit we talk to the people who know him best

For anyone who follows Kentucky basketball (which is pretty much anyone reading this website) it’s no secret that this weekend is massive for the future of the Wildcats. That’s because over the next three days Kentucky will host Immanuel Quickley, one of the top-ranked point guards in all of high school basketball on an official visit to campus. The Wildcats don’t have any players committed for the 2018 class to date – something that isn’t unusual for UK this time of year – meaning that the result of this weekend could have reverberations for this program in the short-term and long-term as well.

Obviously, most Kentucky fans are plenty familiar with Quickley by now, as the first player in the 2018 class to receiver a Kentucky scholarship offer, and also as someone who played for John Calipari on the Team USA U-19 team in Egypt this summer. But while ‘Cats fans have known of Quickley for some time now, many don’t know much about him. Which is why I decided to call up some people who do, to ask a couple simple questions: Who is Immanuel Quickley? And how would he fit in at Kentucky if he decides to commit?

Let’s start with the “who.” And when it comes to Immanuel Quickley, those who know him best can think of only one way to describe him.

“Immanuel Quickley is just different,” Jide Sodipo, the Director of Quickley’s AAU program, Team BBC said. “It’s tough to explain. I tell other coaches ‘you’ve just got to see it for yourself.’”
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Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Throwback Thursday: Three years of beating South Carolina

As we’ve reminded you all week, Kentucky has beaten South Carolina three years in a row. The Cats will go into Saturday’s game in Columbia as an underdog, but before we worry about that, let’s look back at the last three wins over the Gamecocks because they were a whole lot of fun.

2014: Kentucky 45, South Carolina 38

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

In many ways, this was the win that started it all.

Ryan Lemond gave a pep talk for the ages

Kentucky came into the game with a 3-1 record, the one loss being at Florida in triple overtime. Hopes were high for a program-changing win, so much so that UK called for a blackout and Ryan Lemond delivered one of his signature pep talks in the parking lot:

JoJo Kemp got the game ball

There’s just something about JoJo Kemp vs. South Carolina. Kemp did it all, carrying the ball 17 times for 131 yards and THREE touchdowns. He put the team on his back, catching the Gamecocks off guard in the Wildcat formation. JoJo pushed himself to the brink of exhaustion and actually had to be carried off the field before the last touchdown:

Who can forget his speech afterwards? “Why not Kentucky?”

JoJo Kemp on UK's big night

A post shared by Tyler Thompson (@mrstylerksr) on

Bud Dupree’s pick six sealed it

The current Pittsburgh Steeler helped seal Stoops’ first signature win with this pick six with two and a half minutes left:

This is when Kentucky’s “Grove Street Party” was born

It’s hard to believe there was a time when I hadn’t heard “Grove Street Party,” but it all began when the UK special teams danced to it after Ryan Timmons’ touchdown in the third quarter:

Three years later, people are still sending Drew Franklin snapchats of it.

We rushed the field

Embed from Getty Images

The school was fined $25,000 for it, but it was worth every penny.

“We’re just getting started, bro”


2015: Kentucky 26, South Carolina 22

Photo via UK Athletics

A year later, Kentucky beat the Gamecocks in Columbia, the Cats’ first road win over five years, six years in the SEC. It was Kentucky’s first win at South Carolina since 1999.

At one point, Spurrier couldn’t bear to watch

This was Kentucky’s second straight win over the Ole Ball Coach.

Denzil Ware had the play of the game

South Carolina needed a two-point conversion to tie the game in the fourth quarter but fumbled the ball on the attempt. Denzil Ware scooped it up and ran it back 98 yards to put the Cats up by four with eight minutes left.

Chris Westry’s pick was huge

With Kentucky up by four with 4:32 left, Chris Westry intercepted Perry Orth’s pass, preventing South Carolina from getting back in the game. The ball actually came out of his hands when he hit the ground and a South Carolina player went after it but officials ruled that Westry was down before the fumble, and after a lengthy review, the call stood. Phew.

It was a “Grove Street Party” in the locker room


2016: Kentucky 17, South Carolina 10

With a 1-2 record to start the season and rumors swirling about Stoops before kickoff, Kentucky desperately needed a win. Thanks to a powerful rushing attack, they got it, their third straight over the Gamecocks.

It was the Benny and Boom Show

Benny Snell and Boom Williams combined for 200 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Boom’s 43-yard run to put Kentucky up by three was a thing of beauty:

Meanwhile, Snell basically took over the offense in the fourth quarter, leading Kentucky’s rushing attack and taking snaps in the Wildcat formation. He got a touchdown on this one:

More Grove Street!

The defense responded

After New Mexico State scored 42 points on Kentucky the week prior, Lee Corso called Kentucky’s defense the worst in the history of football. Ouch. Mark Stoops blasted the unit midway through the week, and against the Gamecocks, they responded, holding South Carolina to 10 points, 268 total yards, and 3-13 on third down.

A South Carolina player tried to hurdle Chris Westry and it didn’t work

That clip never gets old.

Another great locker room moment


2017: ?

Let’s make it four in a row.


Where to Eat and Drink in Columbia, South Carolina

For all the Kentucky fans heading to Columbia for Saturday’s game against South Carolina, I’m here to help.  Since my sister moved to town, I’ve become an unofficial expert on the Palmetto State’s capital.  I’ve tried just about every awesome place there is to try and am prepared to share this wealth of knowledge so that you can have the best road trip experience possible, starting with the best cuisine South Carolina has to offer.

The Best Breakfast

Start your day the right way at the Cinnamon Roll Deli.  A small gem not too far from the epicenter of town, the size of the massive cinnamon rolls will lure you in, but don’t fall for the trap.  The real treasures are the breakfast sandwiches.  Don’t worry, you aren’t missing out on the sweet deliciousness; each sandwich is served with a small cinnamon roll on the side.

The Best Hangover Sandwich

I will be too hungover for the sweet Saturday morning treat so I will be eating at Groucho’s.  Remember that fantastic feeling you had the first time you tried Cane’s sauce?  Groucho’s dipping sauce is like that, but better.  The steamy, cheesy sandwich with the tangy sauce is the perfect storm to settle your stomach.  There are five locations around town, with one located near where your problems probably started, Five Points.

Carolina’s Best BBQ

Debate all you want over which type of BBQ is the best.  I like them all, especially the mustard-based golden deliciousness in South Carolina.  Maurice’s receives all the local recommendations and lives up to the hype.  If you’re expecting something fancy, then maybe Southern Belly BBQ will do a better job appeasing your appetite.

The Mexican Food that has Better Margaritas

If you’re downtown, I recommend Cantina 76.  For Lexingtonians, think Local Taco.  In Five Points, Publico is the first place I’ve ever sampled a flight of margaritas.  The blueberry margarita was a sweet surprise.

The Place that Will Take You Back to 2016

Harambe’s Ethiopian Restaurant. RIP.

The College Bars

I can’t go any farther without explaining Five Points.  An intersection where five roads meet just a few blocks east of campus and downtown, if you’re looking for the rowdiest place possible, this is it.  A place I prefer to see only during the day, it turns into a sanctuary for shenanigans each night.

The “I Still Want to Feel Like I’m in College” Bar

When you can’t keep up with the kids at Five Points, there’s a Tin Roof downtown for that.

The Hole in the Wall

My favorite place in Columbia, I will reluctantly reveal the hole in the wall I must call home for a few hours on each excursion to Columbia.  Uncle Louie’s has a shuffleboard table, darts, a pool table and $2 Natty bottles.  What more can you want from a concrete-floored bar?

The Place to People Watch

At Pearlz Oyster Bar downtown, you will see every kind of person there is to see enjoying live jazz music.

The Hip Craft Beer Dive

If Pearlz isn’t weird enough, go to The Whig.  The coolest setup of any bar in the city, the dingy basement is beneath Columbia’s ABC-TV affiliate and across the street from the capital.  You feel like you’re in a different time while enjoying local draft beers.

When You Just Gotta Have Bourbon

Some people just can’t kick it, and I don’t blame ’em.  In the middle of downtown, the aptly named Bourbon has all of the bourbon you could ever want.

When You Want to be Like Drew

Drew Franklin will not be making the trip, but when he’s in Columbia and the night is getting late (and a little weird) he heads to The Woody.  I don’t recommend trying to go as hard as Drew, but that option should be available to everyone who dares to dance with the devil.


Photo by Andy Lyons, Getty

Jordan Jones is OUT for the South Carolina game

It’s official: linebacker Jordan Jones will NOT play vs. South Carolina.

Mark Stoops just confirmed the news, telling reporters at practice that more tests came back on Jones’ shoulder that ruled him out of this week’s game. His status is now week-to-week, meaning he could also miss the Florida game. More coming from Maggie Davis in just a bit.

I hope you’re ready, Eli Brown.


(Photo by Bart Young/USAB)

James Wiseman gets Kentucky’s first 2019 offer

@bigticketmom

We’re in the thick of 2018 recruiting, but it’s worth mentioning that John Calipari just handed out his first offer in the 2019 class. James Wiseman, a five-star power forward out of Memphis, Tennessee, received a scholarship offer today during a visit with Calipari. Pat Lawless of MADE Hoops was the first to report the news, but Wiseman quickly confirmed it on Twitter:

Adorably, his mother tweeted out a pic from the visit:

Arizona, Kansas, Louisville, and North Carolina have also offered Wiseman, ESPN’s top player in the 2019 class. This summer, he won a gold medal at the FIBA Americas with the USA U16 squad and played for Team Penny on the EYBL circuit. He recently transferred to East High School in Memphis from Ensworth in Nashville, where he averaged 20.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game last season.

 James Wiseman ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Power Forward 6-11 | 216 lbs. Memphis, TN East High/Team Penny
ESPN: 1 | 1 PF Top 247: 4 | 2 PF Rivals: 2 Scout: 2 | 2 PF

 


Rick Pitino says the darndest things

Rick Pitino says the darndest things

Preseason hyperbole is what Rick Pitino does. His latest wild statement came yesterday when he told Evan Daniels that he sees five or six first round draft picks on his 2017-18 roster. May I remind you: Pitino hasn’t had six first round draft picks in a decade, and he only has four players on NBA rosters right now. So to say he has six on Louisville’s current roster is a little farfetched, to say the least.

But like I said, it’s what he does. This happens every year and I wonder if Rick even realizes he does it — and that everyone mocks him.

Remember the time he said Mike Marra was the best high school shooter he’s ever seen? As preposterous as that statement was, it’s only one of many from Pitino.

Let’s look back at some of KSR’s other favorites:

2011: Chane Behanan is the best freshman he’s coached since Jamal Mashburn.

“He’s as good as any freshman I’ve coached since Mashburn,” Pitino said. “That’s about as good a statement I could possibly say. I’m very pleased with his attitude. I’m very pleased with his game.”

Pitino said the same thing about Juan Palacios back in 2005, and (shocker) neither lived up to their Mashburn hype.

2015: Seven or eight players will play in the NBA.

Let’s skip ahead to 2015 when Pitino said e his 2015-16 team had seven or eight NBA players on it.

“I think we are just scratching the surface,” Pitino told The Sporting News. “I’ve got a lot of guys right now, seven or eight guys on the team, who aren’t one-and-dones but will play in the NBA someday.”

Fact: Players from that team have played a total of five NBA games so far, all by Chinanu Onuaku in a one-week span this past May. But to be fair, Donovan Mitchell is poised for a big rookie year, so two of the “seven or eight” ain’t bad.

2015: Best team he’s coach in 40 years.

From the same season with seven or eight NBA players, Pitino told that team they are the best he’s ever coached, according to grad transfer Trey Lewis.

Lewis said in a preseason interview, “Coach Pitino says this is the best team he’s coached in 40 years. You guys don’t see how we battle everyday.”

That team went on to finish with a self-imposed postseason ban.

2016: Grand Canyon University had the best backcourt performance and the best crowd he’s ever seen.

Maybe my favorite line from Pitino hyperbole came last season when he said Grand Canyon U had the best backcourt performance he’s coached against in his 40 years of coaching.

And then in that same press conference, Pitino said Grand Canyon’s home crowd was the “toughest he’s ever faced.” He said it was better than anything he’s seen at Duke or Kentucky or anywhere else in college basketball since he’s been a coach.

 

What will he say next?


Jarren Williams schedules official visit to UK

The handsome and talented Joe Mussatto over at SEC Country’s Kentucky site reported on Thursday that UK quarterback commit Jarren Williams has a date set for his official visit to UK.

According to Mussatto, Williams will take his official visit on Saturday, October 7 for the Cats’ home game against Missouri.

Williams’ father, Anthony Williams, said the family has not yet made plans to visit any other schools, but they haven’t ruled out other stops. LSU and South Carolina have maintained contact since Williams’ re-commitment to UK, so those are two programs he is likely keeping in consideration for other visits.

[SECCountry.com]


Game times/TV info added to Kentucky Basketball’s 2017-18 Schedule

Game times/TV info added to Kentucky Basketball’s 2017-18 Schedule

Break out your calendar because the SEC just released game times and broadcast information for the 2017-18 basketball season.

Not surprisingly, every single regular season game Kentucky will play this season will be aired on national television. Also not surprising: by my count, seven games will start at 9 p.m. or later, so stock up on coffee.

One major item of note: Kentucky’s conference opener vs. Georgia in Rupp Arena on December 31 will start at 6 p.m. on ESPN. That leaves you plenty of time to go watch the ball drop later that night.

Here’s the 2017-18 schedule, with a few tip times still up in the air:

Date Opponent Time TV
Oct. 13 Big Blue Madness 7 p.m. SEC Network
Oct. 20 Blue-White Game 7 p.m. SEC Network
Oct. 27 Thomas More College (exhibition) 7 p.m. SEC Network
Nov. 3 Centre College (exhibition) 7 p.m. SEC Network
Nov. 10 Utah Valley TBA TBA
Nov. 12 Vermont 3:30 p.m. ESPN
Nov. 14 vs. Kansas (State Farm Champions Classic) 9:30 p.m. ESPN
Nov. 17 ETSU (Adolph Rupp Classic) TBA TBA
Nov. 20 Troy (Adolph Rupp Classic) TBA TBA
Nov. 22 Fort Wayne (Adolph Rupp Classic) TBA TBA
Nov. 26 UIC (Adolph Rupp Classic) TBA TBA
Dec. 2 Harvard 3:30 p.m. ESPN
Dec. 9 vs. Monmouth (Citi Hoops Classic) TBA TBA
Dec. 16 Virginia Tech 2 p.m. ESPN2
Dec. 23 vs. UCLA (CBS Sports Classic) 4 p.m. CBS
Dec. 29 Louisville 1 p.m. CBS
Dec. 31 Georgia 6 p.m. ESPN
Jan. 3 at LSU 8:30 p.m. SEC Network
Jan. 6 at Tennessee 9 p.m. SEC Network
Jan. 9 Texas A&M 7 p.m. ESPN
Jan. 13 at Vanderbilt 4 p.m. ESPN
Jan. 16 at South Carolina 9 p.m. ESPN
Jan. 20 Florida 8:15 p.m. ESPN
Jan. 23 Mississippi State 9 p.m. ESPN
Jan. 27 at West Virginia (Big 12/SEC Challenge) 4:30/7 p.m. ESPN
Jan. 30 Vanderbilt 9 p.m. ESPN
Feb. 3 at Missouri 2 p.m. CBS
Feb. 6 Tennessee 7 p.m. ESPN
Feb. 10 at Texas A&M 4/6/8 p.m. ESPN/ESPN2
Feb. 14 at Auburn 9 p.m. ESPN2
Feb. 17 Alabama 2 p.m. CBS
Feb. 20 at Arkansas 9 p.m. ESPN
Feb. 24 Missouri 6/8 p.m. ESPN/ESPN2
Feb. 27 Ole Miss 7 p.m. ESPN2
March 3 at Florida Noon CBS
March 7-11 SEC Tournament TBA SEC Network/ESPN

For a prettier, printable version, click through the jump:

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Zion Williamson taking official visit to Kentucky same weekend John Wall is in town

John Calipari will meet with Zion Williamson today in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and this morning, Rivals’ Corey Evans is reporting that the five-star forward has already scheduled his official visit to Kentucky.

Per Evans, the YouTube dunking sensation will come to Lexington the weekend of September 22, which is not Big Blue Madness, but is the weekend John Wall will be inducted into the UK Athletics Hall of Fame, an interesting and timely choice. A few weeks back, Wall called Williamson “one of the most athletic players I’ve ever seen” and gave him some advice, one high school mixtape star to another.

“I would tell him just to work on different things,” Wall said on an episode of his Ball is Life ‘No Offseason’ documentary.  “The game is so easy and boring at times for him, you can tell. Work on things you’re going to need for the next level. That’s kind of how I played in high school. When the game got serious, I played the way I knew how to play to get what I wanted to get done. But other than that, I was just trying stuff and trying to improve my game.”

Yesterday, Williamson told USA Today High School Sports’ Jason Jordan that he’s taking Wall’s advice to heart.

“Coming from a guy like John (Wall), that’s just a great honor,” said Williamson. “People think that because I get a lot of attention that I don’t get fazed by things like that, but I do. I’m still a fan of guys like John so that was exciting for me.”

Hopefully Wall can give him some more advice during his visit…like what school to go to.

Zion Williamson ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Forward 6-7 | 230 lbs. Spartanburg, SC Spartanburg/SC Supreme
ESPN: 2 | 1 PF Top 247: 1 | 1 PF Rivals: 2 Scout: 3 | 2 SF

 


Tired of Talking, Lynn Bowden is Ready to Show Fans What He Can Do

For the first time as a Kentucky football player, Lynn Bowden spoke to the media.  The electric athlete would rather show what he can do than talk about it, but he didn’t get that opportunity for long against EKU.

“It was hard, but I’m fine,” Bowden said.  “I’m an athlete.  I got to adjust.”

Since the targeting penalty took him out of his first game, wide receivers coach Lamar Thomas has seen Bowden adapt well to adversity.

“He was excited.  He maybe got a little too excited.  He got kicked out, but he wants to be player.  He wants to make plays.  You can’t be mad at him for that, giving effort,” Thomas said.  “His attitude is great.  He’s looking forward to this week.  I’m hoping he can play more than two plays.

He did not accomplish too much during his limited time on the field.  Bowden admitted he was a little nervous, but the first kickoff return helped him shake off early jitters.  After that, offensive coordinator Eddie Gran saw flashes of good things to come.

“He ran a great route when he had that penalty.  He’s going to have opportunities to catch the football in the game,” Gran said.  “It’ll be fun to see him in that environment and get some opportunities.  Hopefully we get the ball in his hands.”

Gran will use Bowden in a variety of ways to get the ball into his hands at South Carolina.  He’ll return kicks, play slot and maybe even see some snaps out of the Wildcat, but Bowden wasn’t willing to share if Wildcat quarterback is in his repertoire. “That’s something for the spectators to see,” he said.

Even though he arrived late, learning multiple positions was not a challenge for Bowden once he mastered wide receiver, something that took some time.

“Just adjusting to the receiver position.  It’s something I never played before,” Bowden said “Just being able to adjust to the college speed coming from high school.  Things are much faster.  That was my biggest challenge since I’ve been here.”

Adjusting to the speed of the game is much more difficult if you’re not in shape.

“When he first got here he wasn’t in shape,” Thomas said.  “He’s worked his butt off to get into shape and learn this offense.  He has a lot of football knowledge and that’s one thing you can’t take from him.  He’s been able to pick things up very fast.”

Now Bowden has all of the tools to make plays on Saturdays.  He’s tired of talking about it. He just wants to do it.

“I’m a believer in showing what you do instead of talking about it.  I’ll just let you guys find out.”

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Kentucky Basketball 2018 Recruiting Update: Big visits coming up

Kentucky Basketball 2018 Recruiting Update: Big visits coming up

It’s a big week for basketball recruiting, with John Calipari criss-crossing the country to check on players and two of 2018’s top prospects headed to Lexington for an official visit. Here’s the latest on Kentucky’s chances with each of their 2018 recruits.

Seeing on Wednesday

Zion Williamson ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Forward 6-7 | 230 lbs. Spartanburg, SC Spartanburg/SC Supreme
ESPN: 2 | 1 PF Top 247: 1 | 1 PF Rivals: 2 Scout: 3 | 2 SF

Williamson’s family has been helping family in the path of Hurricane Irma, so they had to move Monday’s in-home visit with John Calipari to tomorrow night, per Ben Roberts. Tonight, they will meet with Bill Self, per Matt Scott. On Monday, Zion set official visits to Duke (October 22) and UCLA (October 27), and will likely pick dates for his trips to Lawrence and Lexington during his visits with Self and Calipari.

Coming in this weekend

Immanuel Quickley ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Point Guard 6-3 | 175 lbs Bel Air, MD John Carroll School/Team BBC
ESPN: 12 | 3 PG Top 247: 13 | 2 PG Rivals: 10 Scout: 8 | 3 PG

Quickley had to cancel an official visit to Miami this past weekend due to Hurricane Irma, but is still taking his official to Kentucky this weekend. The Cats remain the overwhelming favorite over the Canes and the Kansas Jayhawks and this weekend could seal the deal. Will Calipari get a commitment on the spot? Maybe, but Quickley will likely want to announce the news on his own terms. Regardless, barring a total change of heart, it’s coming.

Keldon Johnson ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Small Forward 6-6 | 205 lbs. South Hill, VA Oak Hill Academy
ESPN: 7 | 3 SF Top 247: 11 | 2 SG Rivals: 18 Scout: 24 | 2 SG

Last week, Texas was surging for Johnson, but after Calipari watched him practice yesterday at Oak Hill Academy, the five-star SF/SG moved up his official visit to Kentucky to this weekend. He’ll also visit Maryland the weekend of September 22 and potentially Florida State before the end of the month (he was originally scheduled to see the Seminoles this past weekend, but had to cancel due to Hurricane Irma). Having Johnson on campus at the same time as Quickley is significant and could help Kentucky move back to the front of the pack in his recruitment.

Seeing on Sunday

Bol Bol ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Center 7-2 | 220 lbs. Santa Ana, CA Mater Dei/Cal Supreme
ESPN: 4 | 1 C Top 247: 4 | 1 C Rivals: 3 Scout: 2 | 1 C

After hosting Immanuel Quickley and Keldon Johnson on campus Friday and Saturday, Calipari will head to California to see Bol Bol. Interest between the two seemed to drop off during the summer following the U19 Team USA training camp, so this weekend’s visit is one to watch.

Just checked on

Simi Shittu ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Power Forward 6-10 | 220 lbs. Burlington, Ontario, CAN Vermont Academy
ESPN: 6 | 2 PF Top 247: 8 | 1 PF Rivals: 8 Scout: 9 | 1 PF

Calipari was one of 37 coaches at a 5:45 a.m. workout at Vermont Academy this morning to see Shittu play. The versatile Canadian told Adam Zagoria he still doesn’t have an offer from Kentucky but hopes to get one soon; if he visits Lexington this fall as expected, he will.

Quentin Grimes ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Shooting/Point Guard 6-4 | 185 lbs. The Woodlands, TX The Woodlands/Basketball University
ESPN: 13 | 3 SG Top 247: 17 | 5 PG Rivals: 11 Scout: 11 | 4 PG

Kansas is still the favorite for Grimes, whom Calipari visited on Sunday, but he still wants to take an official visit to Kentucky this fall. I don’t expect that to change things.

Holding pattern

R.J. Barrett ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Small Forward 6-7 | 185 lbs. Mississauga, Ont., CAN Montverde/Nike UPlay Canada
ESPN: 1 | 1 SF Top 247: 2 | 2 SF Rivals: 1 Scout: 1 | 1 SF

Barrett visited Kentucky earlier this month and will be in Durham this weekend to visit Duke. He’s also got trips to Arizona (Sept. 21), Oregon (Sept. 23), and Michigan (Sept. 29) lined up. Don’t enjoy yourself too much, R.J.

Cooling off


Romeo Langford ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Shooting Guard 6-5 | 191 lbs. New Albany New Albany/Eric Gordon All Stars
ESPN: 5 | 1 SG Top 247: 5 | 1 SG Rivals: 6 Scout: 5 | 1 SG

Calipari hasn’t scheduled an in-home visit with Langford, and Langford hasn’t scheduled an official visit to Kentucky. It looks more and more like the New Albany native will end up at Indiana.

Darius Garland ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Point Guard 6-2 | 170 lbs. Brentwood, TN Brentwood Academy/Bradley Beal Elite
ESPN: 11 | 2 PG Top 247: 15 | 4 PG Rivals: 15 Scout: 7 | 2 PG

Garland is scheduled to visit UK on October 13, but with Immanuel Quickley likely to commit and Quade Green and Shai Alexander potentially sticking around for a second year, I imagine he’ll take his talents elsewhere.


KSR’s SEC Power Rankings: Week 2

Week two in the SEC meant plenty of cupcakes, but some teams handled the low hurdle better than others. Here are my power rankings for the league heading into an all-important week three:

1. Alabama (2-0)

Beat Fresno State 41-10; Previous Week: 1

Alabama remains at top with a routine win over Fresno State. Just get used to seeing them at the top.

2. LSU (2-0)

Beat Chattanooga 45-10; Previous Week: 2

I’m keeping LSU at No. 2 after a rout of Chattanooga, but there’s one team nipping at their heels this week. We’ll find out a lot more about Coach O’s squad when they take on Mississippi State in Starkville this weekend.

3. Georgia (2-0)

Beat Notre Dame 20-19; Previous Week: 4

With true freshman QB Jake Fromm making his first start on the road against a ranked Notre Dame team, a loss would have been understandable; however, Fromm and the Dawgs stood tall and got a statement win, bumping them into the top three of this week’s rankings. This catch by Terry Godwin is an early frontrunner for catch of the year:

4. Auburn (1-1)

Lost to Clemson 14-6; Previous Rank: 3

I’m not going to drop Auburn down too far for losing to the defending national champions on the road. Yes, QB Jarrett Stidham got sacked 11 times, but that’s against one of the best defensive lines in the country. Still, in a stacked SEC West, Auburn’s offense has to be better than that.

5. South Carolina (2-0)

Beat Missouri 31-13; Previous Rank: 5

South Carolina was actually the underdog on the road vs. Missouri, but they managed to hold the Tigers, who scored 72 points the week before, to 13. The Gamecocks still have issues, yes, but they’re on the cusp of their best start since 2012, making this weekend’s showdown with Kentucky absolutely huge, on both sides.

6. Mississippi State (2-0)

Beat Louisiana Tech 57-12; Previous Rank: 7

This is where the rankings get tricky. The Bulldogs whooped up on lowly Louisiana Tech, but man, they can put up some points; 106 over their first two games, in fact. We’ll see what they can really do vs. LSU this weekend. In the meantime, I will continue to marvel at how Louisiana Tech went from 2nd and goal to 3rd and 93:

My word. That is just painful to watch.

7. Tennessee (2-0)

Beat Indiana State 42-7; Previous Rank: 9

I refuse to buy stock in the Vols until I see them play Florida this weekend; however, after a 35-point win, I couldn’t justify keeping them below Arkansas, who lost to TCU, and the Gators, who didn’t even play.

8. Florida (0-1)

Game canceled due to Hurricane Irma; Previous Rank: 8

As mentioned, Irma gave the Gators an extra week to prepare for Tennessee. Today, it was confirmed that the game will take place as scheduled in Gainesville on Saturday, setting up one of the best games in a loaded weekend.

9. Arkansas (1-1)

Lost to TCU 28-7; Previous Rank: 6

Arkansas couldn’t get anything going vs. TCU, with quarterback Austin Allen connecting on only nine passes for 138 yards. Their kicker also missed two field goals, one from 19 yards and one from 23 yards. This fan’s face says it all:

10. Vanderbilt (2-0)

Beat Alabama A&M 42-0; Previous Rank: 10

Vandy looked good for the second straight week, shutting out Alabama A&M 42-0. Sure, Alabama A&M is an FCS team, but so is EKU, and we know how Kentucky struggled against them.

11. Ole Miss (2-0)

Beat UT-Martin 45-23; Previous Rank: 12

The Rebels’ defense is suspect, but their offense is impressive, with QB Shea Patterson setting a school record for passing yards (489) vs. UT-Martin.

12. Kentucky (2-0)

Beat Eastern Kentucky 27-16; Previous Rank: 11

Kentucky’s first half vs. EKU was abysmal, but they pulled it together in the second half thanks to improved line play and an assertive performance from Stephen Johnson. Again, this weekend’s game vs. South Carolina will tell us a lot.

13. Missouri (1-1)

Lost to South Carolina 31-13; Previous Rank: 13

The buzz around the Tigers died down once they faced a real defense. After putting up 72 points vs. FCS Missouri State, the Tigers managed only 13 vs. South Carolina. In their first two games, they’ve allowed 74 points, prompting Barry Odom to fire defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross. Yikes.

14. Texas A&M (1-1)

Beat Nicholls State 24-14; Previous Rank: 14

After blowing their opener vs. UCLA in spectacular fashion, Texas A&M struggled at home vs. Nicholls State. Again, I think the Aggies are probably better than Missouri and some other teams in the lower tier, but they’ve got to prove it, and a 10-point win over an FCS team don’t impress me much. (And yes, I realize Kentucky only beat EKU by 11.)


Keldon Johnson to take official visit to Kentucky this weekend

Keldon Johnson to take official visit to Kentucky this weekend

One day after he hosted John Calipari and Joel Justus at Oak Hill Academy, news is out that Keldon Johnson plans to take an official visit to the University of Kentucky.

CatsPause.com’s Chris Fisher has the scoop after talking to Johnson’s father, who confirmed the five-star guard canceled his official visit to Florida State this coming weekend and will instead make a trip to Lexington.

Johnson has already taken official visits to Texas and N.C. State, and he plans to take another to Maryland later this month.

The timing of his new trip to Kentucky couldn’t be better for the Cats as Immanuel Quickley, believed to be the first commit in UK’s class, will be taking the visit with him.


After Action Review: Eastern Kentucky

PIC BY HISTORY.ARMY.MIL

An After Action Review is a military method utilized to analyze the success or failure of an intended action. Let’s apply this process to the Kentucky vs. EKU football game: 

WHAT WERE INTENDED RESULTS

– Win the football game.

WHAT WERE ACTUAL RESULTS

– Won the football game 27-16.

WHAT CAUSED OUR RESULTS

– Quarterback Stephen Johnson steadied a wobbly offense by going 15-22, 224-yards, 1 TD, 6 carries, 48-yards, and 1 TD.

– UK finished the game with 17 unanswered points led by a mixture of a late game rushing attack and play action passing. It also won time of possession in the 4th quarter 10:09 to 4:51 which was to be expected due a depth advantage. When that happened, the Guard-Center-Guard play drastically increased.

– For the first time in two seasons Kentucky did not produce a turnover.

– Held EKU to 20 rushes for 62-yards.

– The Cats did not control the line-of-scrimmage against an outmanned opponent which sanctioned the game to be closer than it should have been. Penalties, bad snaps, ineffectual kickoffs, inconsistent OL, and allowing a high number of passing yards all led to just a lesser than expected 11-point victory.

WHAT WILL WE SUSTAIN–IMPROVE?

SUSTAIN

Quarterback Stephen Johnson

The senior quarterback played like a veteran on Saturday by completing 68.1% of his passes, accounting for two scores while playing another turnover free game. He’s not flashy, but it was obvious that the offense positively reacts to Johnson’s leadership and demeanor. Johnson’s quarterback rating is 157 and he ranks 5th in the SEC’s Total Offense category.

Benny Snell surpassing the century mark

Snell had 19 carries, 103-yards, and one touchdown. However, his yards did not come easy as the vast majority happened after initial contact. This is a strength of his game; but the offensive line desperately needs to create more friendly running lanes going forward. And, he rushed for over 100 yards with painful bruised ribs.

Offensive balance

Kentucky rushed for 207 yards and passed for 229. 436 total yards is a good day’s work but it could have been much higher as the Cats left points and yards on the turf. But, having both attacks going for over 200 is exactly where the Cats need to be. This especially applies as the offensive line continues to be mixed and matched together. The losses of injured starters Cole Mosier and Dorian Baker have led to more distress than anticipated.

Rush defense

Kentucky held its opponent to less than 100 yards rushing for the second consecutive game.

Blake Bone

Bone was outstanding against the Colonels. 3 catches and 93 yards sparked a stagnant offense at a critical juncture in the football game.

Darius West

The safety led the team in tackles with 11 and forced action close to the line of scrimmage on multiple occasions.

IMPROVE

Special Teams

“Excellent” was the term used in UK’s special team’s performance in the season opener. “Average” is applicable to how it played against Eastern and that’s being kind. Eli Brown’s jumping over the shield penalty extended a drive that led to a Colonel score. Kicker Austin MacGinnis missed a 48-yard field goal just before halftime and his kickoffs lack hang time as well as distance. This provided its opponent advantageous field position and limited the effectiveness of the coverage team. EKU’s LJ Scott had 4 returns for 141 yards including one for 53. MacGinnis’ tackling was a positive but unnecessary result. Punter Matt Panton punted 4 times, averaged 38.8 yards per kick. Going forward, South Carolina has won its first two games by excelling in the third phase. In order to have a chance to win, special teams have to be solid.

Pass defense/rush

EKU used play action and bootlegs to freeze outside linebacker pass rushers. Both Tim Boyle and Austin Scott also threw the football quickly from the pocket as the intent was to complete short to intermediate passes. However; EKU QB’s stats: 31/43, 256 yards, 1 TD was surprisingly successful against a perceived defensive strength. Give Eastern credit; a strategic game plan was well executed by QB Tim Boyle along with receivers Neiko Creamer and Ryan Markush. Furthermore, only register one QB sack against a 1AA opponent can only be described as unexpected.

QB/Center exchange

Guard Nick Haynes was forced to play center. Unfamiliarity influenced this situation. Bunchy Stallings seemed to settle the issue but this cannot continue.

Offensive line continuity

When I’m wrong, I admit so. UK badly misses graduated center Jon Toth and injured tackle Cole Mosier. Throw Ramsey Meyers in there as well. Coach John Schlarman’s worked wonders last season, but this group has yet to find a flow that can sustain drives and possesses a lower ceiling than the 2016 group. There is sufficient talent to have a well above average SEC offensive line. However, the fact that it did not overpower and undermanned EKU team alarms. The situation was worse this time a year ago but improved on a weekly basis. The OL has five practice days to improve to have a chance vs. South Carolina.

1st down offense

The Cats cannot afford incompletions or loss of yardage on 1st down. It’s simply not built to play behind the chains. 2nd and 12 following a loss of two in the Wildcat is not a scenario that can continue. 1st down is the most critical down for this offense.

3rd down offense

46.1% against Eastern Kentucky isn’t a terrible number, but it was when the Cats failed to convert on 3rd down that helped to create a close game. Finishing sustained drives were a 2016 team strength. That’s not been the case in its first two games.

Offensive flow

S.L.O.P is where the Cats lived a year ago (Sustained Long Offensive Possessions). The Cats won the time of possession on Saturday but only by a slight margin: 31:28 to 28:32. This category has both offensive and defensive responsibilities. Eastern converted 6/14 on 3rd down (42.8%) and was perfect on 4th down conversions. Refer back to “1st and 3rd down” references. Again, penalties, bad snaps, and getting behind the chains have limited production and points.

CJ Conrad targets

Conrad is the best Kentucky TE since Jacob Tamme sported the number 18. He’s made the most of the passes thrown in his direction against Eastern but only had 2 catches for 28-yards and did score a touchdown. With young receivers all over the field and an inconsistent running game, going more with the veteran and highly capable tight end could improve the Cat’s offense and extend drives.

What does all this mean?

The Kentucky Football team embarks on the most important five days of the 2017 season as it prepares for South Carolina. While the focus is on game day, contests are won and lost on the practice field. Being 2-0 is much better than the alternative and where it was in 2016. But, Kentucky has not been crisp in its first two outings especially on the offensive side of the football. I’ll say it again: last year taught me to interpret this team on a week by week basis. While I have concerns, forgive me if I’ve not hit the panic button quite yet. Reality is that the Cats have several key issues to clean up in a short amount of time. South Carolina presents a whole new level of competition.


Kentucky vs. Florida game time announced

Kentucky vs. Florida game time announced

Kentucky will attempt to break Florida’s winning streak under the lights at Kroger Field.

The SEC just announced the game times for September 23, and Florida at Kentucky will kick off at either 7:00 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. ET. If it’s at 7 p.m., it will be on ESPN2; if it’s at 7:30 p.m., it will be on ESPNU or the SEC Network. We’ll know for certain on September 16.

Here are the rest of the SEC game times for September 23:

  • Arkansas vs. Texas A&M (Arlington), Noon ET/11 am CT on ESPN
  • UMass at Tennessee, Noon ET/11 am CT on SEC Network
  • Alabama at Vanderbilt, 3:30 pm ET/2:30 pm CT on CBS
  • Louisiana Tech at South Carolina, 3:30 pm ET/2:30 pm CT on SEC Network
  • Mississippi State at Georgia, 7 pm ET/6 pm CT on ESPN
  • Florida at Kentucky, 7 pm ET/6 pm CT on ESPN2 or 7:30 pm ET/6:30 pm CT on ESPNU or SEC Network*
  • Syracuse at LSU, 7 pm ET/6 pm CT on ESPN2 or 7:30 pm ET/6:30 pm CT on ESPNU or SEC Network*
  • Auburn at Missouri, 7 pm ET/6 pm CT on ESPN2 or 7:30 pm ET/6:30 pm CT on ESPNU or SEC Network*

*Start time and network to be determined after games of September 16

Bring it on, Gators.


Kentucky Won the Game, Right?

Kentucky Won the Game, Right?

Kentucky had been outgained 1066 yards to 558 this time last season. It had also been outscored 89-42 and was sitting at 0-2 with New Mexico State looming in the shadows. The offensive line was a major question mark after being dominated by a group of shoulder chipped Golden Eagles and demolished in the Swamp by a gathering of future Gator pros. Touchdowns and the defensive line were all but nonexistent for six quarters of football. The buzzards were circling; media and fans were irritable. Critical comments and complaints surrounding the Wildcat football program flooded social media, call in shows, and all other means of modern communication.

After its first two games of 2017 the Wildcats are 2-0 after beating Eastern Kentucky 27-16 on Saturday. On the drive home from the stadium I experienced what can only be described as a déjà vu moment. Postgame call in shows, social media, and other modern means of communication were flooded with queries and understandable concerns surrounding the football Cats. Expectation is a son of a gun isn’t it?

After UK opened the game with a drive that resulted in an Austin MacGinnis field goal, a talented group of transfers and players that felt shunned by their home-state university outplayed the Cats for a quarter and a half. In plain terms, EKU kicked the Cats’ butts through passion and executed its game plan to perfection. In a strange twist of emotions, I was actually proud of our southern neighbors. Everybody likes an underdog don’t they? It even celebrated at the end of the first quarter as if it had just won the OVC title. I don’t blame them at all for that by the way. Unlike two years ago, at no point in the game did I feel that Kentucky would lose. Call that the Stephen Johnson Effect if you’d like, or not.

But, those boorishly clamoring for a quarterback change got their wish when Drew Barker supplanted Stephen Johnson in the 2nd quarter. At the time, Johnson was 7-9 for 30 yards and had 2 rushes for 23. Barker’s series ended with him completing 1 pass out of 2 and being sacked twice. Unsuccessful drives were not all Barker’s fault. Johnson classily supported his teammate’s playing time. The senior didn’t sulk about his time on the bench. He calmly reentered the game and completed 68% of his passes and accounted for two touchdowns. Let’s dive deeper, shall we?

OFFENSE

Surprisingly, the Cats outgained its opponent 436 yards to 318. It also surpassed EKU in 1st downs 22-17. The feel of the game doesn’t match the data. Benny Snell exceeded the century mark after sustaining a rib injury early in the game. Sihiem King was shifty and powerfully ran behind his pads for a running back that weighs less than 180 pounds. Both Snell and King did not receive a great deal of help from their offensive line early in the game.

Matter of fact, the point of most malcontent stems from the offensive line of scrimmage. I underestimated the difficulty in replacing Jon Toth and Cole Mosier. Their loss has caused obvious distress. Both were leaders, team-first locker room influences, and very good at their jobs. Guard Nick Haynes was forced to start the game at center due to center turned guard turned back to center Bunchy Stallings’ injury sustained against Southern Miss. Difficult sentence to understand right? Well, that’s kinda how perplexing it has been to mix and match healthy five offensive linemen in UK’s first two games. What once was a team strength has morphed into a makeshift Rubik’s Cube-like series of personnel combinations. However, in the second half, the group seemed to click when Stallings returned center which allowed Haynes to move back to his natural position at guard. UK Football from 2016 was back for a string of series.

CJ Conrad continues to be a dangerous weapon and has now scored a touchdown in back-to-back games. The formerly maligned receiver Blake Bone had his best day in Lexington and provided offensive coordinator Eddie Gran a spark with a 43-yard catch. Bone’s height advantage over the EKU secondary paid dividends for the senior receiver. The offense seemed confident with Johnson behind the center and the running game rolling which opened up the play action pass.

Quarterback Stephen Johnson wins games. Period. Those Ws may not be a thing of beauty, but his winning percentage is entering rarely charted waters when compared to historical Wildcat signal callers. He also proved to be dangerous while running the football as his scamper in the end zone was a game changing play. However, for the second straight week the offense continued to be its own worst enemy. Bad snaps, penalties, and untimely errors coupled with difficulties along the offensive line produced what some would describe as an offensive clunker. However, I refer you back to the stats. Kentucky rushed and passed for over 200 yards. That could be considered a balanced game. Furthermore, it didn’t endure a single turnover for the first time in two seasons.

I’m not going to sugar coat the obvious. There are several areas that require drastic improvement as SEC play begins against the vastly improved South Carolina Gamecocks. EKU deserves a tremendous amount of credit. Cliché warning, but like I said a week ago: if 2016 taught me anything, it is to take the 12-game season one game at a time. The OL was horrifically bad this time a year ago. I don’t think the ceiling is as high with this unit as was with last year’s; but improvement is a possibility. That goes for every position group under Eddie Gran’s control.

Team Statistics

Scoring 27 points
Rushing 207 yards
Passing 229 yards
Total 436 yards
First Downs 27

Top Performers

Passing Stephen Johnson 15/22, 224 yds, 1 TD
Rushing Benny Snell 19 carries, 103 yds
Receiving Blake Bone 3 rec, 93 yds, 1 TD

DEFENSE

On the Depth Chart Podcast I tried to warn folks about all those EKU transfers, in particular QB Tim Boyle as well as receivers Neiko Creamer and Ryan Markush. Those two receivers can flat out play the game of football and earned the respect of the Wildcat defenders and the BBN in attendance. EKU’s game plan was to freeze the UK pass rushers through play-action and rely upon short-to-intermediate passes to move the chains. It succeeded.

Boyle and fellow QB Austin Scott were accurate and released the football in a timely manner. Couple that with the play-action motion and UK registered just one sack and three tackles for loss. Much like with the offense, a look back at the stat-line doesn’t match the game’s feel inside the stadium. The vibe was that Eastern rolled up 500 total yards and mastered time of possession. But the secondary were efficient tacklers and UK actually possessed the football for 31:28 compared to EKU’s 28:32. From first glimpse it would appear that the defensive line took a minor step back from its performance in Hattiesburg. But again, the stat sheet reads differently. In fact, its opponent only rushed for 62 net yards although the pass rush could have presented more of a threat even if EKU’s game plan was to take away that element of its game.

Safety Darius West led the team with 11 tackles. Josh Allen registered 8 with a QB sack. EKU finished the day 6/14 on 3rd down. The defensive wasn’t extraordinary by any means of the imagination, nor was it awful. Mike Edwards’ interception was a huge play in the game. Matt House has a great deal of work to do prior to traveling to South Carolina. Much like its offensive counterparts, the defense will be a continuous developmental project for the next 10 weeks. Lots and lots of 1st timers are registering clock. One positive for the defensive coordinator was facing an accurate quarterback in Tim Boyle, WRs Markush and Creamer to go along with that exceptional group of Southern Miss pass catchers. South Carolina’s QB and WR combinations will obviously present a much more difficult challenge.

Team Statistics

Scoring Allowed 16 points
Rush 62 yards
Passing 256 yards
Total 318 yards
First Downs 17

Top Performers

Tackles Darius West 11
QB Sacks Josh Allen 1
Tackles for Loss Josh Allen/Lonnie Johnson 1

SPECIAL TEAMS

Special teams are not a sexy topic unless its overly tremendous or spectacularly unsuccessful. I’d evaluate Saturday’s performance at a C or just average. Austin MacGinnis’ kickoffs were short and possessed very little hang time. This presented the kickoff team with a precarious situation that resulted in favorable field position for the Colonels after it averaged over 35 yards per return. He also missed a 48-yard field goal prior to halftime. Punter Matt Panton was solid by averaging 38.8 yards per kick with one placed inside the twenty-yard line. Again, wasn’t awful; but wasn’t spectacular. The Cats MUST be near perfect to beat South Carolina. The Gamecocks have excelled in this phase.

What does all this mean?

Kentucky is 2-0. It wasn’t impressive or overbearing but a win is a win. Got to give credit to EKU, again. Expect a more detailed review of this game in Monday’s After Action Review.


Stephen Johnson Carries Kentucky to 27-16 Victory over EKU

Stephen Johnson Carries Kentucky to 27-16 Victory over EKU

Kentucky’s season-opener at Kroger Field was nearly a catastrophe, but Stephen Johnson was there to save the day and propel UK to their second victory of the season.

The Cats’ sluggish start on both sides of the ball was compounded by two big calls: one by the officials and one by the Kentucky coaching staff.

Lynn Bowden knocked an opponent off his block on a Stephen Johnson scramble, but upon further review, Bowden was ejected for targeting, a call best described as “controversial.”  The call by the UK staff might have been even worse.  Stephen Johnson was 7-for-9 when he was replaced on the third drive of the game by Drew Barker.  In two drives with Barker at the helm, the Cats went three-and-out twice, he was sacked twice and completed just 1-of-2 passes for 5 yards.

When Johnson returned, the game changed.

Kentucky immediately marched down the field.  The five-play, 75-yard drive took just 58 seconds and ended with a 23-yard touchdown to C.J. Conrad, just before the end of the first half.  In the third quarter, Benny Snell and Blake Bone helped Johnson and Co. put the Colonels away.  Bone’s 43-yard reception led to Snell’s 25-yard go-ahead touchdown.

Bone finished with a career-high 93 yards on 3 catches, Snell averaged 5.4 yards per carry (103 total yards) but Johnson deserves more credit than he will receive.  Kentucky’s QB1 completed 68 percent of his passes for 224 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for 48 yards and the 21-yard score that put Kentucky up eight late in the fourth quarter.

Mike Edwards put the dagger through the Colonels’ heart.  His interception with 4:13 remaining put the game out of reach for good.

The win may have been ugly, but the alternative would’ve been a catastrophe.  For the ninth time in 13 tries, Stephen Johnson proved he will do whatever it takes to ensure Kentucky will leave the field with a win.


Kentucky’s quarterback controversy started and ended in the 2nd quarter

Kentucky’s quarterback controversy started and ended in the 2nd quarter

Even though Kentucky was 8-4 with Stephen Johnson at quarterback heading into today, some fans were still clamoring for Drew Barker. Not anymore.

Johnson started the game 7-9, but for some reason, the coaching staff pulled him out and put Barker in to start the second quarter. It did not go well. Over two series, Barker was 1-2 for 5 yards. After undergoing back surgery last year, Barker’s reentry to live game action was rough; he was sacked twice for a loss of 15 yards. Mercifully, the staff put Johnson back in to close the half, and he responded, swiftly leading Kentucky down the field for a touchdown. Here are his stats in the first half compared to Drew’s:

Stephen Johnson 12-18 140 yards 1 TD 0 INT
Drew Barker 1-2 5 yards 0 TD 0 INT

In a surreal first half, the decision to go to Drew was the most bizarre of all; why bring him in when Johnson was doing just fine? Sure, the offense wasn’t clicking on all cylinders, but that’s in part due to Benny Snell going to the locker room with bruised ribs and the offensive line’s continued struggles. With the line performing so poorly, why mix things up even more and take out Johnson, a proven scrambler?

“We said that we were going to play [Drew] in the third series, no matter what,” Stoops said, explaining that the staff needed to see how Barker would react in a live situation. “We have to. We did the same thing last year when Stephen was the backup because you’re one play away from playing. And sure enough, Stephen was playing. We had to get Drew back out there and get his confidence up and get him playing and get him some snaps and see what he can do.”

But why do that in the second quarter when your team is losing? With fans grumbling for Barker after Southern Miss, the coaching staff needlessly fueled the quarterback controversy by putting him in so early. The only good thing to come out of it was that Drew performed so poorly and Johnson so ably that no one can suggest that Drew get the nod over Stephen ever again.

Case in point: on Johnson’s first drive back in, he didn’t flinch, covering 75 yards in 58 seconds for seven points. His throw to CJ Conrad down the middle was beautiful:

And how about his 21-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter?

Johnson finished 15-22 for 224 yards, one touchdown passing, and one rushing. He even looked good throwing long, connecting with Blake Bone for 43 yards on Kentucky’s first drive in the second half. Stoops credited the much-maligned offensive line for giving Johnson enough time to make a big play.

“It was really nice to see us — our issues in the first half on some plays was protection,” Stoops said. “Once our protection got better, you saw that in the second half, I believe it was the first possession of the second half, the double move, the long pass down the boundary, and he connected with Blake [Bone]. That was a really nice pass, but it starts with protection.”

When asked, Stoops agreed that the team rallied around Stephen in the second half, but again stressed that the offense’s improvement was due in part to a better effort from the line.

“I think they respond to him but I think it comes down to everyone doing their job too and getting some time and some protection and not getting bad snaps and things like that. Just all playing together.”

Today’s win was ugly, but if anything, it proved that Stephen Johnson is this team’s quarterback, and that’s a good thing.


Football Time in the Bluegrass: Everything You Need to Know for UK’s Home-Opener vs. EKU

Football Time in the Bluegrass: Everything You Need to Know for UK’s Home-Opener vs. EKU

Heroes’ Day at Kroger Field

The first game of the 2017 season at Kroger Field will honor our Heroes.  All active and reserve members of the armed forces along with police, firefighters and first responders will receive a salute from the program and two complimentary tickets.  If you haven’t picked up your tickets yet, just bring a valid service ID to the ticket office between gates 9 and 10.

Thank you for all you do and thanks for coming to today’s game against EKU.

The Schedule

  • 8:00 — The KSR Pregame Show Starts in the Bluegrass RV Lot
  • 8:00 — UK Ticket office opens at Kroger Field for Heroes Day
  • 9:00 — Lextran Shuttle Begins
  • 9:45 — The first Cat Walk at Kroger Field
  • 10:00 — Countdown to Kickoff with Freddie Maggard and Christi Thomas
  • ~10:15 — A Pregame Concert after the Cat Walk with Walker Montgomery
  • 10:30 — Jacob Tamme joins the Countdown to Kickoff crew
  • 11:45 — Jordan Smith sings the National Anthem
  • Noon — Kickoff

How to Watch/Listen

Taylor Zarzour, Andrew Ware and Olivia Harlan are on the call for the SEC Network.  If you haven’t memorized where to find America’s favorite television channel…

  • Cable: 516, 517
  • AT&T UVerse: 607, 1607
  • DirecTV: 611
  • Dish: 408

If you’re stuck on the road and can’t watch, there are multiple ways to listen to Leach and Piecoro.

  • AM: 840 WHAS, 630 WLAP
  • FM: 98.1 WBUL
  • Satellite: XM-190 and Sirius-137
  • Online: iHeart Radio

GET HYPED

Get to the Game with Lextran

If you don’t have a UK parking pass and don’t want to deal with traffic around Kroger Field, Lextran has you covered.  For just $1 each way, Lextran will take you to and from the stadium.  They will pick up customers at the Lexington Center, the Lexington Transit Center on Vine Street and at Chatham’s on the corner of Woodland and High.

The shuttle begins three hours before kickoff, resumes at the start of the fourth quarter and ends one hour after the game.  They’ll pick you up after the game at the corner of University and Complex Drive.  If that isn’t enough information, learn more here.

Clear Bags Only

Two things you must remember if you’re heading to today’s game: your tickets and your clear bag.  YOU CAN ONLY BRING IN CLEAR PLASTIC BAGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The SEC is taking a page from the NFL with a new league-wide clear bag policy.  Each fan will be permitted to carry one large clear bag – either a one-gallon Ziploc-style bag or a 12″ x 6″ x 12″ clear bag – plus a small clutch that does not exceed 4.5″ x 6.5″. The small clutch allows privacy for small personal items and is also easily searched.

Today’s Tale of the Tape

Priority Entry

In a rush to see the Cats and the Colonels? You can beat the crowd at Gate 6 with priority entry, thanks to UK’s partnership with Kroger.  Fans who bring canned goods for God’s Pantry will have access to priority lines and get into the stadium faster than anybody else.

Series History

The Cats have won all four matchups against the Colonels, starting when EKU traveled up I-75 to take on Tim Couch in 1998.  They almost got a victory at Commonwealth  two years ago, until Dorian Baker saved the day in overtime.

Try to Pronounce the name of EKU’s Punter

The Co-Specialist of the Week in the OVC and a preseason second team All-American, Eastern Kentucky’s punter has the most difficult name to pronounce I have ever seen.  He only has two vowels in his last name.  It will be fun to hear Freddie Maggard attempt to say “Keith Wrzuszczak.”

It’s actually not that complicated.  See the simple, correct pronunciation after the jump.

EKU’s Coach was a Vol

Dean Hood’s successor at EKU came to Richmond from Knoxville, Tennessee where he was the Vols’ tight ends coach and special teams coordinator for two seasons.  They say down there, “Vol for Life,” so I think it’s only appropriate to remind the BBN who exactly the Cats are facing.

 

(more…)


Daniel Boone explains the new clear bag policy

Daniel Boone explains the new clear bag policy

If you’re still having trouble understanding the SEC’s new league-wide clear bag policy on game days, allow Kentucky’s own Daniel Boone to explain it for you in this funny video from VisitLEX.

Be sure to watch all the way until the end!