By Nick Roush on ©October 06th, 2018 @ 2:00pm
Eighteen hours before kickoff 40,000 people filled the stands at Kyle Field for a Texas A&M tradition, the Midnight Yell. Last night I was one of a few hundred visiting fans who witnessed the tradition for the first time.
A glorified pep rally, it’s difficult to truly capture the scale of the Yell. Kyle Field is a coliseum. Like the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, it’s impossible to capture the magnitude of the stadium and the fans in the stands with pictures.
Fans began gathering around 11:30 local time to get the best seats in the house. Once the clock struck midnight, an A&M Yell Leader began with a cheer, followed by a little corny trash-talk.
“We’ll show Kentucky what a football school looks like!” Most of the mocking was directed toward the “basketball school,” before the A&M basketball team was introduced to the crowd.
When they weren’t taking jabs at the basketball school, they were calling out Benny Snell. “They’re a one-trick pony. He’s good, but he’s never played against a defense that slowed down Clemson and Alabama.”
It was odd to hear fans cheer about losses, but I can’t blame them for enjoying the moral victories. Of course, they also brought up the Bear. “We beat Kentucky so bad on their own field, Bear Bryant had to leave UK for a REAL football school!”
The “real” football school had some really bad jokes.
“What’s the difference between a UK diploma and toilet paper? The diploma doesn’t flush as well.”
Even though the mild-mannered taunts were pretty lame, the yells were impressive. To see 40,000 people in sync is quite the sight to behold.
Kyle Field. Wow. pic.twitter.com/VHUU0toXRt
— Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) October 6, 2018
— Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) October 6, 2018
A&M’s chants were fine, but that wasn’t the best chant. Whenever the crowd quieted between cheers and exclamations from the Yell Leaders, a small group of UK fans near the top of the stadium screamed, “C-A-T-S, CATS, CATS, CATS!” They were the Real MVPs of the Midnight Yell.
By Nick Roush on ©October 06th, 2018 @ 10:00am
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Big Blue Nation, remember this day. It might be the rarest in the history of the Kentucky football program.
When the ball is kicked off at Kyle Field tonight at 7:00 on ESPN, the thirteenth-ranked Wildcats will have a chance to go 6-0 for the first time since 1950. To knock down a door that has stood for 68 years and become bowl eligible, Kentucky must defeat a foe they’ve only faced twice. The last time UK played in College Station, Bear Bryant led the 1952 Wildcats to a 10-7 victory. Two years later, Bryant left Lexington for Aggieland.
The characters filling the rarified air create the ultimate drama.
The mentor, Jimbo Fisher, must now face his proteges, Mark Stoops and Eddie Gran. The SEC’s top running back, Benny Snell, will go toe-to-toe against the conference’s top-ranked rush defense. On the other side of the ball, the conference’s best-rusher, Josh Allen, gets a crack at the SEC’s most porous offensive line.
Kentucky and Texas A&M will bring all the ingredients to create an unforgettable night of college football.
Holy Hype Video
Every one KY Wildcats TV cranks out is fantastic, but the music in this week’s edition makes it one of the best of the best.
- 8:30 — Go Big Blue 4 Miler begins at Kroger Field
- 11:00 — KSBar Opens with Gameday Specials
- 1:05 — First Post at Keeneland
- 4:00 — The KSR Pregame Show Begins on 630 WLAP
- 4:45 — The Cat Walk near the Southeast Tower (That’s 3:45 CT at Kyle Field)
- 5:00 — Countdown to Kickoff w/Christi Thomas, Jeremy Jarmon and Dusty Bonner
- 7:00 — Kickoff on SEC Network
How to Watch and Listen
Sean McDonough, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe are on the call for ESPN. If you’re stuck on the road and can’t watch, there are multiple ways to listen to The Voice of the Wildcats.
- AM: 840 WHAS, 630 WLAP
- FM: 98.1 WBUL
- Satellite: XM-210 and Sirius-135
- Online: iHeart Radio
— Holly Rowe (@sportsiren) October 5, 2018
Blue Got In
I’ve been to more than a dozen road trips to all but four SEC stadiums. I’ve never seen a rowdier Kentucky football road crowd.
The distance, a 16-hour drive from Lexington, caused most to plan to come to College Station well ahead of time. Nobody knew when they made road trip plans that Kentucky would be 5-0 and ranked in the top 15 for the game. Instead of being shy, afraid to be too boisterous before a butt-whopping, C-A-T-S, CATS, CATS, CATS could be heard inside every establishment last night.
Blue Got In pic.twitter.com/iZZKZQJZ1d
— Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) October 6, 2018
If you’re in College Station and would like to meet up with other UK fans, the UK Alumni Association is hosting a pregame party in the grand ballroom of the student center beginning at 3:00 CT.
A Brief Series History
The Aggies and Wildcats will meet for the first time since A&M joined the SEC in 2012. Before the addition, the two teams only met twice in the 50s. If the brief history tells us anything, the advantage is with the road team. Texas A&M won 7-6 at Stoll Field a year after Kentucky’s players were carried off the field following a 10-7 victory in Aggieland.
Even though they have only played twice, the two schools share America’s most famous college football coach. As Mark Story pointed out, the state of Kentucky is also partially responsible for the inception of A&M’s infamous 12th Man.
The Vegas oddsmakers give Texas A&M a 5.5-point advantage. The S&P+ rankings are almost too close to call, giving UK a slight 26.1 to 26.05 advantage. OddShark believes the Cats will cover, but lose by an average score of 32.6-29.6.
Most of the college football analysts picking the game, aside from Kirk Herbstreit, are leaning toward A&M. Herbstriet’s ESPN colleagues, Chris Fallica and Stanford Steve, believe the Cats’ unbelievable run will come to an end. Kentucky’s defense has been great, but they have faced inept offenses up until this point. They believe in Kyle Mond, the 12th Man and A&M’s experience against Clemson and Alabama.
A&M will honor the 1998 Big XII Championship team with throwback uniforms that only slightly differ than the norm. They have the mesh look and a BCS Bowl sticker on their helmet to honor the Sugar Bowl participants.
College Football Schedule
- Noon: #1 Alabama at Arkansas on ESPN
- Noon: #19 Texas vs. #7 Oklahoma on Fox
- Noon: Maryland at #15 Michigan on ABC
- Noon: Northwestern at #20 Michigan State on FS1
- Noon: Missouri at South Carolina on SEC Network
- 3:30: #5 LSU at #22 Florida on CBS
- 3:30: Florida State at #17 Miami on ABC
- 3:30: Iowa State at #25 Oklahoma State on ESPN2
- 3:30: #4 Clemson at Wake Forest on ESPN
- 7:30: Vanderbilt at #2 Georgia on the SEC Network
- 7:30: #8 Auburn at Miss. State on ESPN2
- 8:00: #6 Notre Dame at #24 Virginia Tech on ABC
- 10:30: Utah at #14 Stanford on ESPN
KHSAA Football Scores
- Lex Cath 49, Western Hills 42
- Frederick Douglass 28, Scott County 10
- Somerset 21, Danville 10
- CAL 21, DeSales 10
- St. X 25, Manual 7
- F.t Knox 30, Webster County 27 2OT
- Bards town 35, Henry County 14
- Holmes 28, Bourbon County 21
- Perry County Central 21, Whitley County 6
By all accounts Memphis Madness was a smashing success last evening. Sure, Justin Timberlake and Drake were no shows, but Yo Gotti sang a breathtaking rendition of “Rake it Up” and something called “Blocboy JB” also performed.
Front and center at the FedExForum taking it all in was five-star center James Wiseman. Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway was going to do whatever it took to make sure Wiseman was in the building for the Tigers’ special evening.
But, there was one issue; the Tigers committed an NCAA violation. Memphis showed James Wiseman on the jumbotron, who received a standing ovation.
That’s against the rules.
This isn’t the end of the world and isn’t a serious NCAA violation for first time offenders, but it is something that Memphis will have to report and will likely lead to a minor punishment from the NCAA, but as you can see it won’t impact Wiseman’s eligibility.
The newspaper in Memphis, the Commercial Appeal, spilled the beans on Memphis’ infraction.
You can read the entire breakdown on Memphis Madness HERE.
James Wiseman watching himself on the video board…crowd went nuts for him moments before I shot this. pic.twitter.com/ulUCHXK67Z
— Sudu Upadhyay (@SuduUpadhyay) October 4, 2018
Memphis is pulling out all the stops to try and land Wiseman and that even includes committing minor NCAA violations. Bold strategy. I’m sure Wiseman was impressed with last evening, but I still think the Cats are the team to beat in this recruitment. A recruitment that we found out yesterday may end sooner than later, click HERE to learn more.
Play by the rules, Memphis.
By TJ Walker on ©October 04th, 2018 @ 11:00pm
Kentucky hasn’t been practicing long, but someone that has been able to watch a chunk of the practices spoke to KSR about what they’ve witnessed through the first few days of practice for the 2018-2019 season. Luckily we were able to see almost all these guys in the Bahamas just two months ago, but
Here are the highlights:
I’m told that he could be one of the best bigs in the country. He’s supposedly taken a major leap from March and all the best parts we saw from Washington in year one could become the norm in year two. Although Washington is noticeably slimmer he hasn’t lost any power and he’s “making everything” around the rim. One point of emphasis for Washington was working on his outside game and I’m told his shot is more consistent and things look better from the perimeter, but the biggest change is Washington being able to put the ball on the floor and attack the rim. “He’s going to live at the line.”
No word if his free-throw percentages are better, but he was 63 percent in the Bahamas and I’m guessing it’s going to be slightly better than that, but not above 70 percent on the season.
I was told that at some point this season it’s going to click for Hagans. You see flashes (more than what we saw in the Bahamas) but they’re somewhat inconsistent. He will be UK’s best defender and is easily the Cats most athletic guard. Personally, without the intel of the guy at the practice, think Hagans will be an absolute star, but it still seems like for every two good plays Hagans has, he makes a silly mistake.
Offensively I’m told not to expect much scoring from Hagans besides in transition where he is “John Wall” like fast.
We didn’t get to see much of him in the Bahamas so I was most excited to hear about Montgomery. Supposedly he’s a little ways behind Washington and Travis, but that shouldn’t be all that surprising considering five months ago Montgomery was in high school. Montgomery’s ability to spread the floor is going to be what gets him on the floor and changes the aspect of Kentucky’s offense.
But I’m also told Montgomery’s touch around the rim was really impressive. He was getting pushed around by some of the bigger players but Montgomery is going to be an underrated shot blocker.
We joked about on our morning radio show that Tyler Herro is going to be the best scorer in college basketball. It’s a joke somewhat mocking the hype from Herro’s Bahamas trip, but I was told that he will be UK’s best scoring guard and it wasn’t particularly close. I find that fascinating that Herro can be in that position given how inexperience he is, but it speaks to his talent level. The hype train for Herro won’t be slowing down anytime soon.
I was told something I wouldn’t expect- supposedly what would slow down Herro offensively is length. He felt less comfortable shooting or dribbling and pulling up, and felt more obligated to attack the rim where he had mixed results finishing at the rim. Again, I was still told he was UK’s best scorer, but length may be the answer for opposing defenses.
But Herro has really taken steps defensively even over the course of two months. “He won’t be a liability” I was told. So, there’s that. I guess we’ll see.
He will be UK’s highest draft pick and supposedly that’s not up for debate. He has morphed into the leader on UK’s team and he’s always barking at teammates to pick it up and keep the intensity at a high level. His outside shot is what it is, he will hit some shots and miss some shots (badly). But Johnson is also an elite defender and is going to murder someone on a dunk this season. The biggest takeaway was his leadership in my opinion, we know he’s going to be a star.
I was told that outside shooting shouldn’t be a weakness for Kentucky. My guy didn’t say UK had the best shooters in the country and it won’t be Calipari’s best outside shooting team, but the way the team is built “they will have loads of open shots, and if they make them they will blow teams out and if they miss it will make things tighter”. In my opinion with how loaded UK’s frontcourt is teams are going to put an emphasis on stacking the box and making sure they try and slow UK down on the glass. That means Herro, Green, Quickley and the others will have chances to hit open shots.
It’s worth remembering that this is a small sample size and we’re still over a month away from the first game, but the general notion is this team is going to be elite with Washington, Johnson and Herro leading the way and a great cast of guys surrounding them.
Is it November 6th yet?
Kentucky will take their unblemished record on the road for the second time this season on Saturday to take on Texas A&M down in Aggieland. This will be the first meeting between the programs since A&M joined the league in 2012 and there figures to be many members of the Big Blue Nation in attendance at Kyle Field.
Nuts & Bolts
The Aggies just made Jimbo Fisher a very rich man this offseason with a $75 million guaranteed contract over 10 years. The former offensive coordinator under Nick Saban went 83-23 in eight seasons at Florida State, but during in 2017 it was clear that a change was needed for both parties . After three ACC titles and a national championship, Fisher made his long awaited return to the SEC.
He inherits a program that is starving for national prominence. The Aggies have largely underachieved throughout their program’s history. A&M has only won one conference championship since 1994 and vastly underachieved in the Big XII. To get out of the large bunt orange shadow of their fierce rival Texas, the Aggies jumped at the opportunity to be apart of the SEC expansion.
In their first season under a new head coach with a brand new high flying offense, the Aggies unleashed Johnny Football on the college football world and ripped off an 11-win season. The A&M brand was riding high but it has been mostly rocky times since then. Beginning in 2013, the Aggies are just 24-26 in SEC play and they’ve quickly settled into the middle tier of the conference. But with their big name coach and big money boosters, the expectations and stakes have been raised in College Station. Need proof? Just look at the renovations that have been made to Kyle Field.
This will be only the third meeting between the two programs. Under Bear Bryant, UK went to College Station in 1952 to pick up a 10-7 road win. The following year, the Aggies would return the favor with a 7-6 triumph in Lexington.
Out in the desert, Texas A&M is currently a 5.5 point favorite with a total of 50.5. That’s a projected final score of 28-22.5. In their last nine road games against Power Five competition, Kentucky is 6-2-1 against the spread with five straight up wins. Since 2013, A&M is 2-7-2 against the spread as an SEC home favorite. In his last eight games as a favorite against Power Five competition, Jimbo Fisher is 1-5-2 against the spread with three upset losses. The Aggies are just 4-10 in SEC home games since 2014.
After five games, Texas A&M enters October averaging 36 points per game and 6.7 yards per play. Both are in the top five of the SEC. In a somewhat surprise move, Jimbo Fisher went with true sophomore Kellen Mond to run his offense behind center and that seemed to payoff with his spectacular second half performance against Clemson.
In that losing effort, the sophomore tossed for 430 yards and three touchdowns on a 10.8 yards per attempt average. It seemed like the San Antonio native was going to become one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC but that hasn’t been the case in the last three games.
Since facing a Clemson defense that currently ranks 60th in pass efficiency, Mond has taken a significant dip. In the last 12 quarters of action, the young quarterback is only completing 59% of his passes with two touchdowns and four interceptions. He is coming off his worst performance of the season in the narrow win over Arkansas. Mond threw two interceptions and was sacked three times in Jimbo Fisher’s first SEC victory.
He is a true dual-threat who can beat you with his legs but Jimbo Fisher does not love to use designed quarterback runs (only 7.6 carries per game). He saves that for his running backs and he inherited a very good one.
Trayveon Williams is currently Benny Snell’s biggest competition to the SEC rushing title. The junior from Houston is only 36 yards behind Snell and is averaging 6.1 yards per carry. He picked up 240 of his 582 yards (41.2%) in the season opening win over FCS Northwestern State but his game is no fluke. In his career, Williams has five career 100-yard games against SEC competition.
The Aggies entered this season with some major questions at receiver and were going to be heavily leaning on sophomore Jhamon Ausbon. The former top 100 recruit emerged as Mond’s favorite target and has 15 grabs for 221 yards on the season. However, he left the Arkansas win with a broken foot and will be out indefinitely. With his loss, this passing game will be focusing on a trio of sophomores. Camron Buckley, Quartney Davis, and Kendrick Rogers each have at least 12 receptions and over 150 receiving yards. All three of these players have a higher catch rate than Ausbon and the passing game could become more efficient without the Aggies force feeding it to the former blue-chipper. However, the most dangerous player in this receiving corps is at tight end.
After never truly utilizing the position under Kevin Sumlin, Jimbo Fisher went out and scooped a junior college prospect. Jace Sternberger, a former Kansas Jayhawk, has 17 receptions for 256 yards and four touchdowns on the year. He has been one of the most productive tight ends in college football and will provide an element the UK defense has not seen yet.
Up front, the Aggies are doing a very good creating running lanes for both Kellen Mond and Trayveon Williams. As a team, A&M is averaging 232.2 rushing yards per game, 5.5 yards per carry with 12 rushing touchdowns. Pass protection has been a different animal. The Aggies are allowing sacks 10.8% of their pass plays. This ranks 121st in the FBS and is a huge concern when facing Josh Allen. Erik McCoy is one of the best centers in the SEC.
When A&M brought Jimbo Fisher to the Lonestar State, the first order of business was to find a top notch defensive coordinator. Under Mark Stoops and Jeremy Pruitt, Florida State fielded some of the best defenses in college football but that went out the window in Fisher’s final four seasons in Tallahassee. After striking out on LSU’s Dave Aranda, Fisher pulled off a coup by plucking Mike Elko out of Notre Dame.
Elko led salty defenses at Wake Forest before landing at Notre Dame in 2017. The Irish made huge improvements in his only season that would be capped off with a big Citrus Bowl win over LSU. The Irish were in the playoff hunt thanks in part to their defense. Elko’s first group at A&M is playing with some swagger.
The Aggies employ a four down front and they have an impressive group of defensive ends in seniors Landis Durham and Kingsley Keke. Durham is the group’s best pass rusher and is off to a slow start in 2018 after recording 10.5 sacks last season.
Keke is outstanding against the run and at 305 pounds will be a difficult matchup for Kentucky’s tackles. There aren’t slouches inside, though. Daylon Mack and Justin Madubuike have combined for 5.5 tackles for loss and provide some beef. The backups are young but there is depth available for the Aggies. This is a solid group.
If you look around the college football landscape, you would be hard pressed to find a better run stopping linebacker duo than Otaro Alaka and Tyrel Dodson. The two linebackers each check in at over 240 pounds and are the biggest reason why the Aggies are only giving up 3.3 yards per carry. Alaka leads the team in run stuffs and tackles while Dodson was one of the most productive linebackers in the SEC last fall. This is an impressive duo.
In the secondary is where the real questions are. The Aggies are allowing over nine yards per pass attempt and are just ninth in the SEC in passes defended (interceptions and pass break-ups). Getting pressure has been a big concern for the Aggies because they have struggled to provide a consistent pass rush. Safety Donovan Wilson is this group’s best player but to help out against the run, Elko will use safety/nickel Deshawn Capers-Smith in run support.
The Aggies have been outstanding against the run but they are leaving their pass defense out to dry. If Kentucky can hit on some throws early it could really open up some lanes in the running game.
Special Teams Breakdown
For the second week in a row, Kentucky will be facing an opponent with a clear on paper advantage in special teams. The Wildcats outplayed South Carolina but Texas A&M’s unit will be a much different challenge.
Branden Mann has been one of the best punters in the SEC to this point in the season and the junior has a huge leg. Mann is averaging over 56 yards per punt and is a huge field position weapon. The Aggies are in the top 10 in defensive field position (average start at opponents’ own 24.9) but the huge leg has outkicked his coverage at times. A&M is giving up some returns.
Mann’s big leg is dominant on kickoffs with touchbacks coming in at a 74.3% clip. On the other side, the Aggies haven’t been getting much in the return department and that’s not great. There will be opportunities for UK to pin A&M deep on both kickoffs and punts.
Keys to Victory
-For the fourth consecutive conference game, the Wildcats will be facing another strong defense. The Aggies are outstanding against the run and that appears to align with UK’s biggest strength. However, no one gives up big plays at a higher rate (130th in explosiveness per S&P+) than Texas A&M. Big play opportunities will be there for Terry Wilson. A&M will get their fair share of three-and-outs but splash plays are there for the taking. This is a good spot to break out some gadget plays.
-Ball security has been a major issue for both ballclubs to this point in the season. On the year, Kentucky has lost the ball eight times while A&M has lost it seven times. The biggest difference has been that the Kentucky defense has been able to produce takeaways. Kentucky has forced seven turnovers in just three SEC games while the Aggies have only came away with just two all season. Ball security is always an issue on the road but it’s even more so on Saturday going against a team that has only forced one fumble in five games. Kentucky has won 10 games in a row when they force at least two turnovers.
-Kentucky has one of the best big play defenses in the country to this point in the season. The Wildcats have only given up 13 plays of 20+yards this season but will face a big challenge on Saturday. Trayveon Williams is a big play back and is a threat to take it to the house whenever he gets a touch. If UK can keep Williams in check the ground defense should do its job and make A&M one dimensional. Do that and then the pass rush should have its way with a leaky A&M offensive line.
-A&M’s third down defense has been dominant this season but this is mostly due to the work they do on first and second down. Opponents, on average, are needing 9.3 yards on third down to move the chains and this ranks among the top of the FBS. Kentucky’s offense must stay on schedule and pick up as many first downs as early as possible. The Aggies get off the field on third down and the Wildcats will be in trouble if they consistently find themselves in third and longs.
Here’s an an interesting factoid…Texas A&M has no cheerleaders. The Aggies have Yell Leaders who have been around since the early 1900s and help get the student section going. Their stadium is “Home of the 12th Man” and the Aggies are known for having one of the best home field advantages in the sport. If you’re in town on Friday night, go check out the yell practice.
By Drew Franklin on ©October 04th, 2018 @ 10:30am
Benny Snell Mania is sweeping the nation, and it has made its way to the PGA Tour.
Beginning today in the Tour’s season opener at the Safeway Open, professional golfer and avid Wildcat fan Josh Teater will play with “Snell Yeah” engraved on his 60-degree wedge. Teater tweeted a photo of his new Titleist SM7 jet black wedge and it’s a real beauty:
The tweet caught the eye of Benny Snell last night and he responded to Teater with a good luck tweet.
“May the Snell Yeah power be behind your swing,” he said.
I love it! Good luck brother and may the SnellYeah power be behind your swing????? https://t.co/9ymuUapvow
— Mr SNELL YA LATER?? (@benny_snell) October 4, 2018
Teater, playing in his first event since re-earning his card last season, will tee off today in the first group off the back side out at Silverado in Napa, California. With the Snell Yeah power behind him, maybe we’ll see something special out of his return to the PGA Tour.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©October 03rd, 2018 @ 11:00pm
When you think of Kentucky football and the current 2018 season, two names immediately come to mind as key reasons for their massive success: Benny Snell and Josh Allen.
We’ve touched extensively on the star running back over the past several weeks here on KSR, dissecting his run at the Heisman, how he stacks up with other backs historically, and just what makes him so special. And I believe most would agree he absolutely deserves it.
With Allen, the Cats have one of the most dominant defensive forces in the nation, and a near-lock as a first-round pick when the 2019 NFL Draft rolls around. He’s unstoppable, and the players, coaching staff, and fans know that.
But with so much attention on Snell, Allen may not get all the credit and attention he truly deserves as a superstar. Snell is shattering records and moving up all the charts, but Allen is doing the same thing on the other side of the football.
One guy in particular Allen has his eyes set on from a record standpoint is former Kentucky pass-rusher Bud Dupree, a player that shares a lot of similarities with the senior Wildcat both physically and statistically.
From a pure physical standpoint, Allen sits at 6-foot-5, 265 lbs., while Dupree came in at 6-foot-4, 264 lbs. in his last season at Kentucky. They were both deemed freak of natures on defense in college, terrors to any opposing offensive line.
Over the course of 34 career games, Allen has racked up 4.84 tackles, 0.60 sacks and 0.91 tackles for loss per game, while Dupree averaged 5.25 tackles, .54 sacks and .84 tackles for loss per game. This season alone, Allen has managed 33 tackles, six sacks, and 10.5 tackles for loss.
But they didn’t come in as dominant threats or expected stars.
Dupree signed with Kentucky as a three-star tight end with just four scholarship offers, though he soon flipped over to the defense when Joker Phillips’ coaching staff realized they needed more of a push on the defensive line.
In four years as a Wildcat, Dupree racked up 247 career tackles, 23.5 sacks, and 39.5 tackles for loss. He was one of the lone bright spots in that stretch between 2012 and 2013 where Kentucky finished with back-to-back 2-10 seasons. By 2014, he was one of the most dominant pass-rushers in the SEC, working his way up to first-round status in the NFL Draft. He was later selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 22 overall, where he has earned (and kept) his spot as the team’s outside pass-rusher.
Josh Allen had an even worse recruiting profile, garnering only a two-star ranking as the No. 2030 overall prospect in the class of 2015. He only held offers from Alabama A&M, Buffalo, Hawaii, Kansas, and Monmouth.
As a freshman, Allen played in just three games, managing just four tackles, 0.5 sacks, and 1.5 tackles for loss. Coming in as just a two-star, the coaching staff felt he was a diamond in the rough and was confident in him as a future piece, but he would need some time to fill out before he was asked to do much.
In year two, he blossomed into what coaches hoped, playing in all 13 games and racking up 62 tackles and seven sacks in the process. The rest is history, as he would add seven sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss to his total as a junior, where he easily would’ve been drafted had he decided to put his name in the draft.
With the help of three sacks on Saturday against South Carolina, Allen passed both Jeremy Jarmon and Dennis Johnson on the all-time sack leaderboard at Kentucky to reach 20.5 sacks. He’s now just three sacks away from tying Dupree at No. 2 and four away from breaking the record. Oliver Barnett sits at No. 1 on the list at 26 career sacks, meaning Allen needs just six sacks in eight games to break the all-time record.
How he’s doing what he’s doing is the most fascinating aspect of it all, though. And it’s why he edges out Dupree as a pure football player.
Against three solid defenses in Florida, Mississippi State, and South Carolina, Allen has left opposing offensive tackles trembling at the knees. He’s drawing holds and false starts, sometimes still forcing sacks and tackles for loss on uncalled penalties. On Saturday, there was absolutely nothing South Carolina could do to even try slowing him down. Allen has confidence that on every single play, he can get to the quarterback, and in most situations he either makes the play or makes the quarterback uncomfortable in the pocket.
The Kentucky coaches and players can’t stop raving about him in post-game media opportunities.
Head coach Mark Stoops can’t name a better pass-rusher he’s ever coached, even topping Dupree’s career.
“I can’t say that I have (coached a better pass-rusher). I really can’t,” Stoops said. “(Allen) is a really dominant player and he’s exceptional on his feet as well. Yeah, half the time I wonder why in the world I’m dropping him sometimes because he’s not blockable. But he’s dang good in coverage as well. He really disrupts things.”
“Nobody in the country can block him. No matter who you got, you can’t block Josh,” safety Mike Edwards said following the Mississippi State victory two weeks ago.
Go down the list, and the quotes are endless. He’s one of the most feared, yet respected pass-rushers in all of college football. South Carolina had to throw a gimmicky offense out there with only four down linemen and extra tight ends out wide to force Allen out in coverage. There’s double-teaming star pass-rushers, and then there’s being so terrified that you have to change your entire offensive scheme to avoid him entirely. That’s what Allen adds to this defense, and it’s second-to-none.
Bud Dupree was a riveting football player at Kentucky, and he gave us countless priceless moments. One of my favorite stadium atmospheres of all time was at the South Carolina game in 2014 when Dupree returned a pick-six to win the game. It brought Grove St. Party to life.
But to give credit where credit is due, Allen has slowly overtaken Dupree’s throne as Kentucky’s most dominant outside rusher over the last few decades, and he’ll have the record to show for it in a game or two.
And by the end of the season, odds are pretty darn solid Allen will top Barnett’s record and work his way into the top-15 of the NFL draft boards, if not higher.
Benny Snell said it best following the South Carolina game: “He does such a good job getting pressure on the quarterbacks, getting sacks. I couldn’t imagine going against him in a game situation.”
By Drew Franklin on ©October 03rd, 2018 @ 10:45pm
A man down in Florida didn’t make it too far after stealing a tractor from a 71-year-old. Police pulled the tractor over and began to handcuff the thief, who was wearing a UK hat, unfortunately; then he decided to make a run for it.
That was a bad decision.
The officer chased him for about 25 yards before pulling out his taser and shooting him in the back. He immediately went limp and face-planted into the concrete.
Tough look for Big Blue Nation here.
Perhaps the most common running play in all of football today is what is known as inside zone. This is a uniform concept that you find in pro-style offenses like Michigan to Air Raid attacks like Washington State. In Eddie Gran’s offense, it is no different. In this play, the offensive lineman doesn’t block a specific person, they run a track. Whether it is left of right, the line moves in unison and this allows the running back to rely on their instincts. Once they get the hand off, the back makes a read and then takes off.
Whether it is Benny Snell or A.J. Rose lined behind to Terry Wilson in the pistol formation, this is a staple of the offense and it is used up to 15-20 times per game.
In the second quarter against South Carolina, A.J. Rose took a handoff and ran right behind Bunchy Stallings on his way to a 24-yard touchdown that would give UK a two score lead in the second quarter. This play was your typical inside zone running scheme and today we’re going to take you inside the film room to show you how this play is executed. When done right, seams are created for big plays.
In the second quarter, facing a first and ten just outside the red zone, UK comes out in the pistol formation (shotgun with a running back line up directly behind the quarterback). When in the pistol, the quarterback is four yards behind the center instead of six or seven. This allows the offense to get more of an I-formation look without having to go under center. Instead of the running back standing at the side of the quarterback, this formation allows the back to get some forward momentum before taking a handoff. That helps A.J. Rose build up some steam.
UK is in 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end, three wide receivers) and this is a grouping they love to utilize. However, this time C.J. Conrad is not in the original tight end position of lining up next to the tackle. This time, the senior is lined up in a traditional H-back (kind of a hybrid fullback and tight end) spot which is directly behind the tackle. Since Conrad is to the left of the football along with two receivers, Kentucky has made the boundary (the short side of the field) the strong side of the formation due to five guys being aligned there compared to just three guys (right guard, right tackle, wide receiver Isaiah Epps) on the right.
At the snap, the entire offensive line except for left tackle E.J. Price takes a step to the right for the blocking scheme. Due to the formation, Kentucky has an immediate numbers advantage. South Carolina had shifted a linebacker and a safety/nickelback over to the right side of the formation to deal with C.J. Conrad and Lynn Bowden who is in the slot. This gives UK a “hat for a hat” as the center, right guard, right tackle, and wide receiver each have just one man to block. If everyone does their job a crease will be there for the running back if he makes the correct read.
There is the crease. George Asafo-Adjei does a great job driving out the defensive end while Bunchy Stallings drives the middle linebacker out of the hole. Usually on zone schemes, the guard will have to help the center with a double team but not this time. Drake Jackson engages the one technique (a defensive tackle that is lined up inside the offensive guard) and stalls him just enough for Rose to blaze right past him. The offensive line does their job and A.J. Rose makes the correct read and does it decisively. The sophomore running back gets downhill right away.
Next time you’re watching the Wildcats be aware of this play. It is one of the most common plays in Eddie Gran’s playbook and the Wildcats have been able to produce big plays from it all season. A.J. Rose provides more of a breakaway speed element to the offense and that gives the Cats opportunities for some explosive plays on simple runs. Add in a scheme advantage like this one and you have a great chance at getting the ball into the endzone.
By Drew Franklin on ©October 03rd, 2018 @ 12:00pm
It’s time to check up on this week’s Sagarin Ratings and how it predicts the spread for each of Kentucky’s remaining games on the schedule. This was a popular post last week before the South Carolina game, so we’re running it back this week and for the rest of the season.
Now let’s take a little peek at what’s ahead, carefully, to keep our expectations in check. To do that, I took the latest Sagarin predictor ratings to determine what the game spread should be if the games were played today. So you know, Sagarin’s predictor ratings set is one of the most trusted sources in predicting upcoming games and it is right in line with the Las Vegas spread each week. You can see the entire Week 6 ratings set here.
Now for Kentucky’s remaining schedule, in which Sagarin gives the Cats the edge in five of the seven games. I threw in ESPN’s FPI Win Probability for each game, too. It considers UK the favorite in four of the seven. Last week’s Sagarin spread and ESPN FPI are included to show the change since the Cats’ upset of South Carolina. For Kentucky’s first four games, I used the Las Vegas closing line because the weekly Sagarin ratings are not archived.
|Game||Sagarin Predictor||ESPN FPI||Actual Score||Last Week|
|vs. Central Michigan||-17*||88.7%||Won, 35-20|
|@ Florida||+13.5*||12.9%||Won, 27-16|
|vs. Murray State||-41*||99.3%||Won, 48-10|
|vs. Mississippi State||+10*||22.1%||Won, 28-7|
|vs. South Carolina||-0.5||46.3%||Won, 24-10|
|@ Texas A&M||+5||31.6%||+10||21.5%|