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Louisville at the heart of new NCAA corruption scandal (of course it is)

Louisville at the heart of new NCAA corruption scandal (of course it is)

The University of Louisville is in trouble again. This time, it’s deep trouble with the FBI for alleged bribery of a high school basketball player.

Reading between the lines in the new report on the FBI’s arrest of NCAA coaches for corruption, it appears Louisville paid $100,000 for the commitment of Brian Bowen, the 19th-ranked prospect in the Class of 2017. The report says the player in question committed to the university, an Adidas school, in early June — and Bowen committed to Louisville on June 3.

Here’s the real juicy part: the funneling of money by the four defendants in the case “came at the request of at least once coach from the university.”

Rick Pitino, you devil you.


UPDATE

There are wire tape recordings in the indictment.

The coach told Adidas shoe rep they needed to be “super low key” because the program was already on probation.


UPDATE 2

Back in June, Pitino told Terry Meiners that Louisville got “lucky” with Bowden’s commitment and “spent zero dollars” on the recruitment.

“We got lucky on this one,” Pitino told Terry Meiners of News Radio 840. “I had an AAU director call me and ask me if I’d be interested in a player (Bowen). I saw him against another great player from Indiana. I said ‘Yeah, I’d be really interested.’ They had to come in unofficially, pay for their hotel, pay for their meals. We spent zero dollars recruiting a five-star athlete who I loved when I say him play. In my 40 years of coaching this is the luckiest I’ve been.” [Source]

The Rule of Rick Rhetoric still applies: take whatever he says and he means the exact opposite.


UPDATE 3 (TYLER): There’s a Player 11!

And an envelope of cash!


I’ve got a fever and the only prescription is more Lynn Bowden

I’ve got a fever and the only prescription is more Lynn Bowden

I want more Lynn Bowden.

No, I need more Lynn Bowden.

Through his first month on campus, Bowden was the mysterious freshman with a world of hype but no evidence to prove it to the fan base. Coaches raved about him on signing day and in fall camp, but we didn’t know what he could do or how he would adjust to the speed of college football.

Then came the first game of the season and the story around him was about his postgame tweets, not anything he did on the field in his debut. “Played me,” he wrote on Twitter, assumed to be directed toward his coaches. “Been struggling since I got here,” he said in another tweet.

We got a small taste of Bowden’s potential in Week 2, but only on two touches before he was ejected for targeting in the first half. Prior to the early exit, he had 60 yards on two kick returns, one of which came dangerously close to going all the way for a touchdown.

The South Carolina game in Week 3 gave us a little more Bowden — three carries for 10 yards and one kick return — but still not enough to warrant too many more opportunities. However, the three snaps out of the Wildcat showed the staff’s confidence in Bowden in the backfield.

Finally, in the Florida game, Bowden really showed us what he can do. On one play out of the Wildcat he scampered for nine yards after being dead to rights in the backfield; on another he threw a 24-yard pass to Sihiem King on a trick play to set up a 1st-and-goal.

Then for reasons I’ll never understand, Bowden didn’t touch the football again against the Gators. Whatever the reason for that, I don’t know. What I do know, though, is we have now seen enough Bowden to know we need more.

Bowden’s sample size is small through four games with only nine total touches, but I don’t think I’m alone in saying give Lynn Bowden the rock. This fan right here is willing to live with whatever Bowden does. Will he make mistakes? Probably so because he’s a true freshman with very little experience. But let’s take that chance because the good in Bowden’s game looks to be much more exciting and entertaining than the bad.

More Lynn Bowden, please.


Help me understand.

Help me understand.

Help me understand Saturday’s game.

It has been almost two whole days since my football-loving heart was ripped from my chest and curb stomped outside Kroger Field. I woke up Saturday morning knowing it was the day the streak would end, and with one quarter left to play in the game, I could already taste the champagne that has been sitting on ice for 31 years.

You know what happened from there, and I need help understanding it all. But before we go on, a disclaimer on where I stand:

I am a big fan of Coach Stoops and his staff. I think he’s the man for the job and I still believe this will be a great season for the Wildcats. Kentucky has one of the best defenses I’ve seen since I’ve been a fan and recruiting is lightyears better than it’s ever been before. The program is in a great spot right now and the future is bright. I love the current state of UK football through four weeks of Stoops’ fifth season. Also, Stephen Johnson is the man.

With that said, I need some explanation of what went wrong because I am completely lost.

 

Help me understand why the offense was taken out of Stephen Johnson’s hands in the second half.

This may be the most common complaint among fans following Saturday’s loss. Once Kentucky got out to a lead, it completely changed its offensive game plan and mentality as offensive coordinator Eddie Gran switched to a conservative offense to run out the clock. The problem with that was, the ball was taken out of Johnson’s hands after Johnson picked the Gators’ defense apart to give Kentucky the lead in the first place. Johnson was 13-of-17 for 165 yards and three touchdowns when Gran decided to ground-and-pound, which ultimately cost Kentucky the game in the end.

Nick Roush did a nice write-up of this after the game, including some quotes from Gran that I didn’t love. Read more on that here.

Help me understand why CJ Conrad isn’t getting more looks.

It seems like every time Kentucky throws to CJ Conrad, something awesome happens. Conrad has only nine catches this season, but three of those were for touchdowns. (And if my memory serves me correctly, he was a yard or two shy of a fourth touchdown on one of the five catches that didn’t go for a score.) Plus he is averaging 21.7 yards per catch and it takes half of the opposing secondary to tackle him each time he has the ball.

So it’s pretty fair to say Conrad should be a go-to weapon with up to eight or nine looks per game. I can’t tell you how many times he has been targeted this year, but I’m certain it is nowhere near that number.

Here’s what’s going to happen in a couple years: Conrad is going to be living in the end zone in the NFL, and we’re going to be wondering why the hell he wasn’t used more when we had him in Lexington. Write it down.

Help me understand the high snaps.

Are they practicing with the basketball team?

Help me understand how this turned into a first down.

Help me understand how you get called for holding on that last play.

There’s a big debate about the holding call that knocked the Cats’ out of field goal range on the final drive of the game. Some say it was a hold; others say it was not. I say that, whether it was or wasn’t, you should never give the official a reason to even think about throwing a flag there. You’re already in field goal range and the only thing that can knock you back is a penalty. You have to keep from grabbing at all costs.

But in defense of Nick Haynes, who must feel awful, it was very, very close after he made a good block but held on a second too long. I don’t think that gets called in any other game but this one.

Help me understand how NO ONE SAW THE WIDE OPEN RECEIVER.

Florida’s Tyrie Cleveland was directly in front of the UK coaching staff for exactly eight seconds (count ’em) and no one noticed him. Nobody in the booth, nobody along the sideline he stood 15 yards from. For the life of me, I cannot understand how he went unnoticed and how a timeout wasn’t called to prevent the free touchdown on fourth down.

Help me understand how IT HAPPENED TWICE.

I need a drink.


Mark Stoops Doesn’t Make Excuses After Florida Loss

Following Kentucky’s fourth quarter collapse against Florida, head coach Mark Stoops said everything a head coach should say.  He did not make excuses.  He was accountable for his actions (or lack thereof) and shouldered responsibility for the mistakes that cost Kentucky the game.

“There’s things we all could do better, starting with myself, that hurt that we have to accept responsibility for, that we have to do better.  It starts with me,” he said during today’s press conference.

The first glaring mistake happened twice.  Kentucky left Florida wide receivers near the sidelines uncovered to hand the Gators two touchdowns.

“Obviously that can’t happen.  There’s no excuse for it.  That starts with me.”

The first time Stoops got caught looking at Florida’s unbalanced formation.  The second time there was a miscommunication while trying to make a last-second substitution.  He tried to do too much near the goal line and failed.  Now it’s just another harsh lesson learned.

“That’s on me,” Stoops said.  “It’s inexcusable.  In 30 years it’s happened to me three times. And those three times were here. That’s on me. That should never happen again.  I’ll have two people watching the edges, the perimeter of the field.  If we’re not in position, somebody better be hitting me over the head and I need to call a timeout.”

Those were two extremely specific scenarios.  A day of watching film revealed other missed opportunities that cost Kentucky a chance to snap a thirty-year losing streak to Florida.  He took it personally.

“That’s the deal with the head coach that every offense, defense and special teams play is ultimately under your control and anything that you do to take away from winning hurts you a great deal.  I said last week that it was very important to myself also. I haven’t been here for 30 years, but I embrace the history and the passion of our people. We have to be able to shoulder that. That’s just the way it is. These kids don’t, but I do. These guys, they weren’t even born. They’re just here trying to compete for the Big Blue Nation and fight their hearts out and they’ve done that.  We’ll do our best to put them in position to be successful.”

Failing to snap the streak hurts, but that’s not what hurts the most.

“It is a shame because the players and the team, we played exceptionally good football for a big portion of that game.  That’s the good news.  That’s how far this team has come.”

After the team watches film this afternoon, they will put the painful loss in the past.

“We don’t have time to sit and dwell on it.  It was a long 24 hours for myself, that’s for sure.  It was very difficult to get through, but today is a new day, a new week and a new opportunity.”

Stoops is confident that this team still has enough left in the tank to do something special this season.

“If our team continues to play with that kind of edge and attitude, and work and prepare the way they do, continue to get better, then good things are in store for us as we have through the season.”


After Action Review: Florida

PIC BY HISTORY.ARMY.MIL

An After Action Review is an Army method utilized to analyze an intended action. Let’s apply a version of this process to the Kentucky vs. Florida football game to determine what the Cat’s need to sustain and improve: 

WHAT WERE INTENDED RESULTS

Win the football game. 

WHAT WERE ACTUAL RESULTS

Lost the football game 27-28

WHAT CAUSED OUR RESULTS

Two sideline to field miscommunications that resulted in two touchdowns unguarded Florida receivers.

— Wide open and unmatched Gator pass catchers accounted for 14 of its 28 points. That’s 50% if my math is correct. Gift wrapping a couple scores will get any team beat in most situations. It did so on Saturday.

Ineffective 3rd down offense

— 1/10 for the game; 10%. UF was allowing 35% for the season. First down ineffectiveness led to this result along with penalties, bad snaps, and other pertinent factors.

— Kentucky is at its best when play action passing on first down. This method decreased in the second half following an impressive third quarter scoring drive to move the score to 21-14.

— Far too many 3rd and 8+ downs which fed into the strengths of the Florida defense which lied within its pass rushing defensive ends.

Untimely penalties

— 7 penalties for 55-yards were not an overwhelmingly large total. But, it was the timing of the flags that decreased the Cat’s likelihood for winning the football game.

— Nick Haynes’ holding call is the most discussed, but others were equally as detrimental.

— Holding can be called on every football play in all football games. But, the game should have never been in question for the Haynes’ flag to cause such a fuss.

Lost the 4th quarter

— Florida controlled time of possession: 10:52 to 3:25. It scored 14 points by converting 4/7 on 3rd down and 2/3 on fourth. The Gators rushed the football 15 times for 70-yards and Luke Del Rio completed 6/9 passes for 80.

— Kentucky lacked offensive flow and possessions (3). It went 0/3 on third down, 1/1 on fourth while managing just 42 total yards and 3-points. 

WHAT WILL WE SUSTAIN–IMPROVE?

SUSTAIN

Atmosphere

— 67,606 blue cladded fans packed the stadium. The BBN was the MVP of the game; not close.

— Kroger Field was loud when the Gator’s possessed the football.

— Cat Walk was amazing.

— Well done BBN.

Continued, consistent quarterback play

— UK’s top offensive weapon is quarterback Stephen Johnson. Period. The senior completed 68% of his passes (17/25) for 196-yards, and 3 touchdowns. Four quarters worth of opportunities would have provided larger numbers and could have sparked a Wildcat victory.

Outside linebacker Josh Allen

— 8 total tackles, 1 QB sack, 1 tackle for loss, and one pass breakup vs. All SEC left tackle Martez Ivey. This film will be utilized by NFL Draft early entry committee following the 2017 season. Allen made himself some money on Saturday.

— Allen is playing as good as any Edge defender in the SEC; some say the nation.

Talent stalemate

— There was no differential in roster talent from my viewpoint.

— Florida’s defensive line was more explosive, but it could be argued that Kentucky’s was deeper with consistent effectiveness. 

Sihiem King

— A second running back appeared and did so in impressive fashion. King’s stat line: 5 carries, 64-yards rushing, 1 catch for 24 receiving.

Lynn Bowden diversity

— Returned kicks, ran and passed out of the Wildcat formation.

— Factoring from the WR position will only benefit Gran’s offense.

Receivers
— Quietly, Lamar Thomas’ group has improved on a weekly basis. Five receivers caught passes on Saturday led by senior Garrett Johnson’s 4 for 56-yards and a score. Blake Bone grabbed a touchdown as well.

Chuck Walker

— The senior played his best game as a Wildcat. In addition to 4 catches for 28-yards, Walker totaled 115 all-purpose yards to include 87 in the return game.

IMPROVE

Maintaining presence of most threatening offensive players for 4 quarters

— Stephen Johnson is the most threatening offensive players. UK is at its best when it diversifies and leans on the senior in play action pass scenarios. This decreased in the latter portion of the game.

— CJ Conrad is arguably (in my opinion definitely) the best tight end in the Southeastern Conference. 2 catches for 34-yards and a score was efficient, but he is an elite weapon. While the Gators may have been keying on the junior, but more passes in his direction betters the Cat’s execution.

Defensive sideline to field communication

— Structure had been a defensive strength in Kentucky’s first three victories. Two unexplainable mishaps led to 14 free points as Gator receivers were left unguarded that resulted in 14-points.

1st down offense

— The difference in scoring drives and those that resulted in punts or missed field goals occurred on first down. Kentucky couldn’t afford to get behind the chains. It did so on far too many occasions.

3rd down offense

— 1/10, 10%

Sustaining the defensive point of attack

— This mainly occurred in the 4th quarter when Florida rushed the football for 70-yards. The Gators utilized bunch or overload formations to gain the edge with power and zone run plays. This is not totally on the defense. Again; UF controlled the clock for nearly eleven minutes as the offense failed to continue drives. UK’s defense was on the field far too long in the 3rd and 4th quarters.

Red-Zone execution

— Bad snaps, penalties, and senior quarterback Stephen Johnson taking two sacks were tremendous mishaps.

Pass protection

— QB Stephen Johnson was sacked four times. He was pressured on multiple other occasions. 

Finishing

— See “What caused the results” section of this post.

What does all this mean?

Kentucky let a win slip out of its hands on Saturday. Arguably the better team, UK did not play clean, had far too many mental errors, and failed to capitalize during opportune situations.


You all did your part, Big Blue Nation.

You all did your part, Big Blue Nation.

If you attended the game last night, you know the feeling you had.

It was just… different.

Media members, analysts, and fans all said it was the most electric atmosphere we have ever had at a Kentucky football game, because it absolutely was.

But it wasn’t just the excitement during the game, it was everything leading up to it. The week-long coverage, the campus signs, the radio callers, the tailgating, etc. Everything about it was just special.

There was this confidence around the bluegrass that September 23, 2017 was the night. It was going to be the night the streak died.

UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart put Saturday night’s heartbreak best: above all else, the BBN deserved it.

And you all did.

The game was announced as a sellout on Tuesday afternoon, the first since 2015. Several fans I talked to leading up to the game said they honestly couldn’t afford the tickets, but bought them anyway because they just had a “feeling.”

We set up 7 1/2 hours of pregame radio coverage for the game, and the phone lines were absolutely packed from start to finish. Fans called in with some of the most passionate speeches we have ever heard, reasons why the Wildcats were destined to defeat the Gators. You all told us how special this team was and how the stars aligned for the streak to end.

The tailgating scene was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Fans lined the streets throughout campus and every flat surface near the stadium. Kids, teenagers, college students, adults, and senior citizens, the sea of blue was neverending. The fanbase is always friendly with one another, but there was a sense of focus yesterday. There were no strangers, they were all friends with one goal in mind. They just knew, and celebrated accordingly.

The CatWalk was the largest it has been in my entire fandom, with chants and cheers louder than I’ve ever heard. Fans were ten-deep from the front of the Nutter Field House to the Joe Craft Training Facility, anxiously waiting for their coaches and players to get off those busses and see their support. Each individual in attendance wanted those in the program to know they went out of their way to witness history. Because it was going to happen.

An hour before kickoff, the lower-bowl student section was full, with the leftovers heading up to the typically-empty right corner of the upper level, and eventually filling that up too. The energy they brought to the table is exactly why the athletic department put the recruiting room right in the middle of the action. The recruits want to see how passionate the fanbase is, and the students gave them all they had.

During the game, the stadium was absolutely rocking from start to finish. Not one fan in the crowd sat during game action, a complete flip from past games.

During Grove St. Party, fans were even crazier.

And it wasn’t the artificial sounds stemmed from “stand on your feet” displays on the video board and coal whistles on third down. The fans produced piercing sound on every down, for both good and bad. If a ref made a bad call, you guys let them hear it. If the players made an impressive play, you let them know you were damn proud of them. If a Gator was left wide open on multiple occasions… Well, you voiced your displeasure, but said “go get them on the next one.”

In every possible way, the fanbase did their part.

The players are devastated they couldn’t finish the job for you guys. The coaching staff took ownership of several mistakes they made throughout the game. The administration is hurting.

Because they know you all deserved it. All 61,000 of you.

The Big Blue Nation set the scene for one of the most special nights in UK Football history to end the streak, and we appreciate you for that.


Gut Punched: Cats lose to the Gators… again.

Gut Punched: Cats lose to the Gators… again.

I find no joy in writing this post. To be completely up front and honest, this article crosses the objective journalistic line and leans toward the former player in me. Wearing many hats is tiring. I’m tired. I’m sick. No, I’m mad. Kentucky was the better team on Saturday but did not win the football game. Inexcusably, two uncovered Gator receivers were gifted a pair of scores. Kentucky also penalized and bad snapped itself into a corner. It left points and a win on the field. When UK forced the first turnover of the night it didn’t go for the knockout punch but instead went away from the play action pass which resulted in a three and out. Multiple trips to the Gator 40-yard line didn’t produce points. Drive and potentially game ending tackles were missed. Two Stephen Johnson red-zone sacks pushed Austin MacGinnis’s first failed attempt to 48-yards instead of a chip shot. With all that and much more; UK was an unscrupulous holding call on Nick Haynes away from ending the streak. Florida won in the Swamp on a no-call clock play and in Lexington on a holding call that should have never been called in that situation. Hint, no reality; there’s a callable holding penalty on every single football play in every single game. Football happens. I guess. Credit Florida for the win. But, the game should have never been in question.

Yet, there were signs that support the claim that UK was the better football team which makes this loss take on a feel of cruelty more than the embarrassment of a 65-0 pasting. Again, this team played their guts out. A Stephen Johnson led third quarter drive that resulted in a 21-14 lead was textbook. Kentucky is at its best when utilizing its top player which happens to be the quarterback. Johnson’s influence and second half role decreased until the final drive of the game.

Saturday produced a one-point loss that could have very easily been a two score victory. The last coach to beat Florida was Jerry Claiborne and he commonly referred that train of thought as “the ole ‘iffin’ game.” Celebrations could still have been going on in Lexington but the Cats failed to Finish and lost to Florida for the 31st consecutive time.

During the week players and coaches spoke matter-of-fact about Saturday’s contest being the next game on the schedule and hinting that the stage would not be too big. It turned out to be overwhelming at times for the normally steady Cats. It wavered when it needed to maintain its course. A packed to capacity crowd did its part. The BBN deserved the W. I’m sorry. So did current and former players. I’m sorry again. The crowd was deserving of a lifetime victory against an opponent that was a mere logo resemblance of the Top 5 squads that the home-standing BBN grew accustom to seeing every other year.

10 points separated the Cats and Gators with 15:00 remaining in regulation. The scoreboard read Kentucky 24, Florida 14. The Gators scored two touchdowns in the final period, the Wildcats were limited to just three possessions and netted a field goal. Ball game. We could go into detail of the how; but what’s the point with emotions raw and the sting of defeat resonating throughout every fiber of our existence? We’ll get to that after I gather the courage to watch the game tape on Sunday night.

Execution, attention to detail, penalties, coaching culpabilities, and other lapses were obvious; especially at the game’s most critical moments. But so were effort, grit, determination, and fight within a Kentucky team that fought for sixty minutes. Can’t tell you how proud that I am of their effort and “want to.” The talent gap between the two programs is now a stalemate. But, at the end of the night the scoreboard still read Florida 28, Kentucky 27.

Even though it was assisted with a pair of Christmas gift touchdowns; Florida showed the resolve and perseverance of a team that happens to be the back-to-back SEC East Champions. Jim McElwain must be credited. However, if this UF wins the East in 2017 the division needs to fold and permanently concede superiority to its western counterparts.

Mark Stoops took responsibility for the aforementioned defensive errors that led to two inconceivable and uncontested UF touchdowns. He will be questioned again on Monday at his weekly press conference and I’m certain many times after that. I saw him after the game. The weight of the loss was uncomfortably visible.

Saturday wasn’t the first time that a Kentucky coach was scrutinized for specific situations that impacted a game’s outcome. Jerry Claiborne got raked over the coals in 1987 for running Mark Higgs on four consecutive unsuccessful plays at the goal line in a home loss to Tennessee. That was hard to see. Rich Brooks was grilled in 2009 when Randall Cobb wasn’t utilized in the red-zone against the Volunteers. Again, not fun to watch as the disappointment in Brooks’ eyes was disconcerting. Remember the Bluegrass Miracle? The Cats were up 30-27 over LSU and in prevent defense when a Tiger receiver got deeper than the deepest? What did the four coaches have in common? They took ownership of their missteps. I’m not defending Saturday’s mishaps. Just providing historical perspective.


Coach Stoops:

“They played unbelievably hard tonight — and played winning football. And I really appreciate them and the way they put themselves in a position all week to win the football game. And there’s quite a few plays in games and you never know which ones are going to decide the football game. And there’s probably one of 12 plays in there that changed the game. And it’s very disappointing that we didn’t come up with those plays. The breakdown in communication defensively on the two plays are really a sore spot because they stick out and it takes away from the great passion and energy that the team, that our team played with. We played winning football. We have to get those things fixed and I accept responsibility for those and we’ll get those plays fixed and do a better job. So, again, I thank the fans. The atmosphere was phenomenal. Greatly appreciate their support and energy, and I know our players did as well.”


So, what’s next?

This answer will not be popular, and that’s ok. But there’s nothing else to say or do than for the Cats to pick themselves up off the mat and prepare for Eastern Michigan. What’s the other option? Quit? Turn in equipment and fold the program? Your emotional answer may be yes and trust me; I feel your pain. For goodness sakes, my freshman class started this God forsaken streak of reptile ineptitude. Saturday was personal.

But quitting or folding shop is not a viable or realistic option. Disappointed? Absolutely. But, how many said a split against Carolina and Florida would be a precursor for a successful first half of the season? Florida can’t beat Kentucky on two consecutive Saturdays. Meaning; Saturday’s heart break loss can’t lead into an upset defeat to EMU. Mark Stoops and his Wildcats have still gone 10-5 over its last fifteen games. It may not feel like it at the time you read this post but there have been undeniable improvements within the Kentucky Football program. That’s no comfort; again I understand. But, there’s a great deal of football left in a twelve game season. But dog-gone-it Saturday’s loss stings. A lot.

Truth is that the healing process for the players will start once the Eastern Michigan game plan is unveiled. Young folks are far more resilient than weathered fans (like me) that have witnessed far too many near misses. Heck, the mood I’m in I’d go as far as publically apologizing for the 1989 and 90 losses which happened under my watch and several decades ago. I’m sorry.

Fans were crushed. But none hurt as badly as the players that wore the chrome helmets on Saturday. Sunday will be miserable for players and coaches alike. It’s now nearing 5:30am on Sunday morning and I remain despondent. Monday meetings will be nauseating. Regardless, forward motion must take place and the true character of this team will be on display when it takes the field next Saturday against Eastern Michigan.

I think it’s established that you and I are not happy with the loss but let’s read from those that actually played in the game. These Cats were hurting for each other. They played their guts out. They were also brokenhearted for not delivering a win they so badly wanted for the fans. Yes, that matters. A lot. Regardless of time or history, players universally seek fan approval. They urgently wanted to see the BBN celebrate, smile, and leave Kroger Field with a sense of satisfaction. Disappointment and shock were obvious 300-pound weights on the shoulders of all involved with the program in the postgame locker room. Charles Walker best summed up the only forward path this team can take.


Charles Walker on how long it will take to get over something like this:

“With football you have to have a quick memory. Just like in a game, you drop a ball, they are going to come right back to you and you have to catch it. It’s different every time. We’ll see. Definitely a tough loss. We’ll use this as motivation. Watch the film, get better, get corrected, forget about it and play the next game.”

Nick Haynes on penalty at the end of the game:

“I was surprised. I didn’t think it was a hold but I guess he thought something else. That’s all I can say about that really.”

Haynes on who stepped up in locker room after game:

“It was really all of us. That was a hard one to lose. But we have a bunch of seniors and leaders here and we’ll be ready to go as quick as tomorrow. We’re a hungry team and we’ll be back better than ever.”

Stephen Johnson on if he could tell from the start that Kentucky was physical enough to play with Florida:

“Absolutely. Everything we had game planned was going the right way. We had a few mistakes, especially on my part. A few throws I shouldn’t have made. But we just have to get all of that fixed on Monday.”

Eli Brown on how frustrating it was to leave guys open on two different plays:

“It’s communication. You get so riled up and you feel like you have the game in your hand and just something just slips up. Like I said, it’s communication. It was all closed in. We didn’t even see the other man move out. I guess they were breaking a huddle and moved somebody real quick where we didn’t see it, so they kept getting us with that. Every touchdown they had was a miss assignment. They didn’t earn one touchdown they had. One guy was wide open; the other guy was wide open. The long run, the guy jumped the gap and busted open something. They didn’t deserve anything. None of those touchdowns they had. It’s upsetting, but like I said, we got to go back and practice and fix our mistakes.”

Brown on what steps they have to take to improve the communication:

“More hand signals. Looking at each other, when the place is rocking, you want to win the game so bad and you give it your all and then it just slips right past. It takes the air out of us. It sucks real bad. Like I said, we just have to come back and be ready.”


What does all this mean?

Don’t let anyone tell you how to fan. It’s perfectly understandable to be disappointed or just plain mad. I was. I am.

This week will be flush with influencers all but daring you to give up on this team and coaches. With a mind of my own, I will certainly will not. Each game offers unique opportunities to learn, improve, and redirect. Unfortunately, lessons from UK’s loss to Florida will go down in Wildcat lore. The Cats are 3-1. It plays Eastern Michigan next Saturday.


© Mark Zerof | Getty

This Sucks

© Mark Zerof | Getty

I’ve seen a lot of Kentucky football in my life, but tonight’s collapse might be the worst of all. The Cats went into the fourth quarter with a 27-14 lead, and just when you felt like it was too good to be true, it was. Slowly but surely, the Cats fell apart. Florida’s backup quarterback did what backup quarterbacks do to Kentucky: picked the Cats apart and exposed the flaws. Hope hung on in forms of big plays, but more often than not, Kentucky shot itself in the foot. As the fourth quarter dragged on, it felt like a slow march towards the inevitable: another loss to Florida. Thirty-one in a row. Just when you thought Sisphyus was going to stay at the top of the hill with that boulder, the football gods kicked it back down.

The Stoops Era has given us so many breakthroughs: a four-year winning streak over South Carolina; big wins over Mississippi State and Vanderbilt; the improbable upset of Louisville; the program’s first bowl game since 2010. However, it’s also given us a litany of costly coaching errors to look back and wonder, “What if?” Tonight’s were the most egregious. Twice, Kentucky left a Florida wide receiver wide open on a touchdown. Both times, it came out of a timeout, meaning the coaches should have had plenty of time to spot the error and call a timeout. They didn’t.

Fourteen points later, Mark Stoops knew he had no one else to blame and shouldered responsibility in the postgame press conference. Yes, there were other mistakes — the missed field goals, the holding penalty on Nick Haynes on what would have been a first down to set Austin MacGinnis perfectly for the game-winning kick — but if you’re like me, that fourth quarter was excruciating because you knew exactly what was going to happen. It was like being forced to watch a horror movie with your eyes open. With the SEC Network forcing us to relive history after every commercial break, it’s no wonder the actual ghosts of UK Football didn’t rise up from the field and finish it themselves.

Heartbreaking losses lead to hyperbole, so excuse my next rant. Perhaps it’s our cursed nature, but didn’t tonight feel a little too big for us? Kentucky was the better team. The atmosphere was the best it ever was, the offense was rolling, and for once, bless our hearts, we thought we had a chance of exorcising some 30-year-old demons. Unfortunately, the moment got too big and the team shot itself in the foot. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

The mistakes suck. The penalties suck. The result sucks. But the worst part of it for me is the dread I felt in the fourth quarter. No matter what fantastic thing Stephen Johnson or Benny Snell or Josh Allen did tonight, it will be remembered as Kentucky’s 31st loss to Florida. Florida was not the best team on the field. The Cats showed time and time again they were better than the Gators, but whether it be emotion, fate, or downright luck, it didn’t matter. The boulder has rolled down the hill, and here we are.

It sucks.


Kentucky Loses 13-Point Fourth Quarter Lead, 31st Consecutive Game to Florida

Kentucky Loses 13-Point Fourth Quarter Lead, 31st Consecutive Game to Florida

The Streak Lives.

Kentucky took a 27-14 lead on a 50-yard field goal with 11:33 left in the game, but couldn’t close the door to snap the streak.  On the final Florida drive, the Gators milked the clock before putting a dagger into the hearts of the Big Blue Nation.  For the second time in one night, the Gators scored by throwing a pass to an uncovered receiver.

There was still some magic left in the Cats.  The Juice got loose, Charles Walker made a huge fourth down catch and Benny Snell ran it down to the 25 for a chip-shot field goal, but it wasn’t meant to be.  A hold by Nick Haynes negated Snell’s run and pushed the Cats back to the 45.  McGinnis’ 57 yard game-winning attempt fell short.

Some things just aren’t meant to be.  Until next year.


Go Inside the Kentucky-Florida Cat Walk

You’ve seen the Cat Walk from the sidelines.  Now see the Cat Walk from the players’ perspective.

Take the long walk down Talbott Todd Way in front of a raucous crowd as the Cats prepare to snap the thirty-game losing streak to Florida.

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A Look Back At 30 Consecutive Years Of Losing To Florida

A Look Back At 30 Consecutive Years Of Losing To Florida

Believe it or not, there was a time when Kentucky was able to beat Florida in football. It happened in 1986 and four times in six years from 1974 to 1979. You’ll have to go back to 1956 to find a sixth win, but it’s there, according to Google.

This season is the one, though; if not, it may never happen. Kentucky enters the game coming off a confidence-building win at South Carolina in a dominant performance all around. Vegas predicts a close game and many analysts around the country are even picking the Cats to finally take down the Gators for the first time in three decades.

But as history tells us, it won’t be easy.

Let’s revisit that miserable, embarrassing history before we put it behind us forever…

 

 

Florida 45, Kentucky 7
September 10, 2016 | Gainesville, FL

The winning streak hit 30 last season with Kentucky’s worst attempt of the Mark Stoops era. Gator QB Luke Del Rio threw for 320 yards, the most against an SEC opponent since 2004; while Kentucky managed only 149 yards of total offense in the entire game.

To make matters worse, it came after UK lost at home to Southern Miss to start the season, so fans were none too pleased with the outcome of the first two games of the season.


Florida 14, Kentucky 9
September 20, 2015 | Lexington, KY

Optimism was high in 2015 as the Cats came into the game with a 2-0 record and the school’s first SEC road win since the Ice Age, with a win at South Carolina one week earlier. Then reality set in as Dorian Baker dropped a pass in the end zone early in the game and the Gators held Kentucky to nine points by forcing five turnovers.


Florida 36, Kentucky 30 (3 OT)
September 13, 2014 | Gainesville, FL

The Gators needed three overtimes on its own field to keep the streak alive in 2014. It also needed a free play on 4th and 7 when down by a touchdown in the first of those three overtimes.

It was the day the streak should’ve ended.

But Florida cheated.


Florida 24, Kentucky 7
September 28, 2013 | Lexington, KY

Florida held the Cats to 172 total yards of offense in 2013’s 27th consecutive victory in the series. Kentucky’s only points came on a 25-yard scamper by kicker Joe Mansour on a fake field goal, which was nice.


Florida 38, Kentucky 0
September 22, 2012 | Gainesville, FL

Morgan Newton threw three interceptions in the second quarter as Kentucky fans pleaded with Joker Phillips through their televisions to save Newton the misery and take him out of the game. Jalen Whitlow was finally given control of the offense in the fourth quarter, but the damage was done and the Cats laid an egg in Gainesville.


Florida 48, Kentucky 10
September 24, 2011 | Lexington, KY

Florida scored three touchdowns in a 4:31 span of the first quarter to demolish what little hope Kentucky had entering the game. Jeff Demps was unstoppable; he rushed for 157 yards and two scores on 10 touches, followed by 105 yards from Chris Rainey. The Gators totaled over 400 yards on the ground in the game.


Florida 48, Kentucky 14
September 25, 2010 | Gainesville, FL

Freshman Trey Burton scored a school-record six touchdowns in Florida’s rout of Kentucky in 2010. Burton was unstoppable in the redzone, scoring on runs of 11, 10, 9, 3 and 7 yards from the Wildcat formation. He also caught a touchdown and would’ve thrown one had Omarius Hines not tripped over his own feet on a 42-yard completion from Burton.


Florida 41, Kentucky 7
September 26, 2009 | Lexington, KY

Ah, the College Gameday/Taylor Wyndham game. UK’s freshman defensive end knocked Tim Tebow out of the game with a vicious hit from the weak side, but not before Tebow threw a TD and ran for two, moving him to second place on the all-time rushing list in the SEC.

Aaron Hernandez caught a touchdown pass and didn’t murder anyone, as far as we know.

(more…)


Florida Scouting Report: Part 1

Florida Scouting Report: Part 1

PIC BY Florida Gators Football Youtube

The streak. That’s all I have to say about that. The Florida Gators will travel to Lexington but will be accompanied by several questions that could significantly impact the game’s outcome. There are no updates on its nine suspended players at the time that this post was sent to the KSR editorial department. Also, All-SEC cornerback Duke Dawson is listed as a starter but with an “Or” identifier as the elite defensive playmaker sustained a head injury against Tennessee. I fully expect him to play.

Florida kicked off the season with a neutral site loss to Michigan. The Gators were outgained 433 yards to 192. Its only touchdowns were scored by the defense. The Wolverines limited UF to nine first downs and just 11 rush yards. Quarterback Feleipe Franks’ 63-yard Hail Mary pass completion to WR Tyrie Cleveland as time expired beat the questionable play calling Tennessee Volunteers a week ago. UT racked up 23 first downs compared to Florida’s 14. Like Michigan, it outgained the Gators 442-total yards to 380 but lost the game 26-20. Let’s take a look at the Gators personnel and statistics. Please remember this is just a two-game body of work:

Pic by SEC Country

OFFENSE

Florida mainly operates out of the Pistol formation and utilizes multiple tight ends, unbalanced lines, bunch formations, and motions in order to mask its limited number of proven playmakers. Physical running backs Lamical Perine and Mark Thompson present challenges but true freshman Malik Davis leads the team in rushing. The Gators are listed at 14th or at the bottom of the SEC’s total offense category.

However, talented true freshman quarterback turned receiver Kadarious Toney surfaced against the Vols and could be counted on more against Kentucky. The rookie is dynamic with the football in his hands and could be the playmaker that UF has tried to identify for the past three years. Redshirt freshman quarterback Feleipe Franks is the starter and was solid but not spectacular against Tennessee. Luke Del Rio and Notre Dame grad-transfer Malik Zaire will be available if Franks struggles in his first true road start. Franks is not a true runner but can do so if necessary.

Suspended starters WR/KR Antonio Calloway and Jordan Scarlett are said to be missed, but the Gator offense finished 2016 ranked 116th in total offense with that duo in the lineup. It’s scored two touchdowns in two games. This offense is young and consists of two freshmen, five sophomores, three juniors, and one senior. LT Martez Ivey is its best lineman and top NFL prospect.

Projected Starters

Quarterback Feleipe Franks 6’5, 227 Fr.
Running Back Lamical Perine 5’11, 218 So.
Receiver Josh Hammond 6’1, 187, So.
Receiver Tyrie Cleveland 6’2, 205 So.
Receiver Brandon Powell 5’8, 189 Sr.
Tight End C’yontai Lewis 6’4, 235 Jr.
Left Tackle Martez Ivey 6’5, 315 Jr.
Left Guard Brett Heggie 6’4, 330 Fr.
Center T.J. McCoy 6’1, 308 So.
Right Guard Fred Johnson 6’6, 330 Jr.
Right Tackle Jawaan Taylor 6’5, 334 So.

Team Stats

Scoring 21.5 points per game SEC-14th
Rushing 89.5 yards per game SEC-12th
Passing 196 SEC-7th
Total 286 SEC-14th
3rd Down 33.3% SEC-14th
Red-Zone 2/2, 100% SEC-1st

Top Performers

Passing Feleipe Franks 23/37, 287-yards, 62%, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing Malik Davis 5 carries, 105-yards
Receiving Tyrie Cleveland 9 receptions, 199-yds, 1 TD

DEFENSE

Florida is ranked 13th or second to last in the SEC’s total defense category. Much like I thought the South Carolina numbers didn’t paint an accurate picture of the Gamecocks; I feel similarly about the Gators; but in reverse. Randy Shannon’s defense is much better than its listing. It’s young, fast, aggressive, disruptive, and littered with future professionals.

Defensive ends Jabari Zuniga, CeCe Jefferson, Jordan Sherit, and Zachai Polite are disruptive. Linebackers and the secondary are young but also highly talented. LB David Reese is the team’s leading tackler. UF’s secondary has scored three touchdowns; reminder that one more than its offensive counterparts. Led by CB Duke Dawson, the defensive backfield consists of an embarrassing amount of deep, young talent. It also prefers man-to-man coverage especially on the outside.

Projected Starters

Defensive End Jabari Zuniga 6’3, 246 So.
Nose Tackle Khairi Clark 6’1, 315 Jr.
Defensive Tackle Taven Bryan 6’4, 291 Jr.
Defensive End CeCe Jefferson 6’1, 242 Jr.
Linebacker Jeremiah Moon 6’6, 228 Fr.
Linebacker David Reese 6’1, 239 So.
Linebacker Vosean Joseph 6’1, 227 So.
Cornerback Marco Wilson 6’0, 177 Fr.
Cornerback Duke Dawson 5’10, 202 Sr.
Nickel CJ Henderson 6’1, 186 Fr.
Safety Nick Washington 6’0, 198 Sr.
Safety Chauncey Gardner 6’0, 207 So.

Team Statistics

Scoring Allows 26.5 ppg SEC-12th
Rushing 199 ypg SEC-13th
Passing 238 SEC-10th
Total 437 SEC-13th
QB Sacks 6 SEC-8th
Tackles for Loss 16 SEC-10th
3rd Down 35.29% SEC-9th

Top Performers

Tackles David Reese 18
QB Sacks Jordan Sherit 2
Tackles for Loss Jordan Sherit, CeCe Jefferson 2
Interceptions CJ Henderson, Duke Dawson 2
QB Hurries Jabari Zuniga 4

Pic of Johnny Townsend By FloridaGators.com

SPECIAL TEAMS

Johnny Townsend is considered as one of the best punters in the nation. Kicker Eddie Pineiro is a preseason All-SEC selection. Special teams and field position could decide this game.

Punter Johnny Townsend 50.18 per, SEC-1st
Kicker Eddy Pineiro 3/4, SEC-5th

What does all this mean?

Florida is much better than I expected and definitely more threatening than statistical rankings. Tune into the Depth Chart Podcast for Part II of the Florida scouting report as we dive deeper into scheme, personnel, matchups, and expectation.


Today on KSR: Beat Florida

Today on KSR: Beat Florida

Andy Lyons, USATSI

The Streak

Kentucky fans have waited thirty years to see the football Cats take down the Gators.  Most of the people reading this have never seen it happen.  Is today finally the day?  All of the signs point to an historic win in front of a sold out crowd at Kroger Field.

The Kentucky rush defense has never been better, Benny Snell’s powered through defenses for more than a hundred yards in consecutive games and Stephen Johnson has the poise of a playmaker prepared to lead his team to the promised land.  On the other side of the ball, the struggling Florida offense enters tonight’s game off a Hail Mary victory over rival Tennessee.  Their first true road test, Florida is always Florida, but the Gator athletes aren’t as intimidating as they have been in previous years.

The opponents are evenly matched.  The Cats have the crowd on their side.  Can they use the momentum to carry them to a win and keep the ball rolling through the SEC East?  Before the day is done we’ll find out who is in control of the race to Atlanta.

A Great Start to the Weekend

Before gameday arrived, the Big Blue Nation already has multiple reasons to celebrate.  Kentucky’s past was honored at the UK Hall of Fame induction ceremony.  Randall Cobb, Collin Cowgirl and John Wall were among the honored guests (Watch their acceptance speeches).  Fans also got to celebrate the future.  Immanuel Quickley announced he will be John Calipari’s next point guard.

Quickley to UK has been a foregone conclusion for quite some time, but it can’t be taken for granted.  Unlike point guards that came before him, Quickley already has a summer of practice with Cal under his belt.  His experience and consistency will shrink the learning curve when he arrives on campus.  His charisma will help lure other elite talent to Kentucky in 2018.

The Schedule

  • Noon — 7.5 hours of Pregame Show on 630 WLAP starts with the KSR Football Podcast
  • 3:30 — The KSR Pregame show begins at the Bluegrass RV Lot
  • 4:30LexTran shuttle services start
  • 5:15 — The Cat Walk
  • 5:30 — Countdown to Kickoff with Freddie Maggard & Christi Thomas
  • 5:35 — Aly’An Concert at the Gate 12 plaza
  • 7:30 — Kickoff on the SEC Network

How to Watch/Listen

Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers and Cole Cubelic 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

Sorry, No Stephen Johnson Masks for You

The NCAA is not a fan of awesome.  We were prepared to share the face of awesome with the BBN, but the NCAA does not want to see a sight this beautiful.

We still would like to thank our friends at PrintLEX for creating the awesome Stephen Johnson masks. PrintLEX can cover all of your printing and design needs. They will design your business cards, brochures, vinyl banners, yard signs, and more. If you’re looking for a quick turnaround and are needing items in bulk, give Lynn and his team a call, (859) 272-7014. These guys have years of experience and provide outstanding customer service. PrintLEX is located at 257 E Short St Suite 120. Thanks PrintLEX!

Do NOT Forget Your Clear Bags

Prior to Kentucky’s home-opener, I was bleeding from the ears preaching UK’s clear bag policy.  Still, one of my friends had to run back to the car to drop off his lady’s purse because somebody was not paying attention.  If you won’t listen to me, please pay attention to Daniel Boone.

For the people who forgot their bags week one, UK officials were handing them out near prominent gates.  I’m sure they’ll do the same once again, but please try to remember this time.

Eat Gators, Then Beat Gators

Symbolically destroying your opponent is a great way to prepare for the game.  There are a few fine local establishments are providing an opportunity to eat gator before the Cats beat the Gators.  Starting at 11:00, Bourbon n’ Toulouse in Chevy Chase will be serving delicious alligator étouffée.  Red State BBQ will be grilling up gator all weekend long.  Magee’s Bakery on Main is providing an alligator breakfast option; deep fried alligator on a biscuit with chorizo gravy.

Two New UK Athletics Apps

Out with the old and in with the new.  UK has moved passed the Gameday app to introduce the new UK Athletics app for iPhone and Android.  Of all its new features, the best is the prize package.  You could win this VIP experience for the Missouri game:

  • Two (2) Woodford Reserve Club tickets and one (1) parking pas
  • VIP tour for two (2) of Kroger Field with a pregame on-field visit and an opportunity to meet the UK Sports Network Radio team of Tom Leach and Jeff Piecoro
  • Two (2) Pregame Big Blue Zone hospitality passes (includes food and drink)
  • Standing on the 50-yard line for the coin toss
  • Free pizza for a year from Hunt Brothers Pizza

If you’d just like to get on the Kroger Field video board, download 15 Seconds of Fame.  The app is making video board moments a little more personal with the Big Blue Nation this season.

Freddie is too Modest

Today you’re getting an extra three and a half hours of pregame show on 630 WLAP.  Before they all start at noon, listen to a full slate of KSR Podcasts.  Freddie Maggard likes to act like he did nothing during his time at Kentucky, but the school’s sixteenth-ranked passer could sling it.

Today’s College Football Schedule

  • Noon: N.C. State at No. 12 Florida State on ABC
  • Noon: Texas A&M vs. Arkansas on ESPN
  • Noon: Texas Tech at Houston on ESPN2
  • 3:30: No. 1 Alabama at Vanderbilt on CBS
  • 3:30: No. 5 USC at Cal on ABC
  • 3:30: No. 16 TCU at No. 6 Oklahoma State on ESPN
  • 3:30: Duke at North Carolina on ESPNU
  • 4:00: No. 8 Michigan at Purdue on Fox
  • 7:00: No. 17 Miss. State at No. 11 Georgia on ESPN
  • 7:00: Syracuse at No. 25 LSU
  • 7:30: No. 20 Florida at UK on SEC Network 
  • 7:30: No. 4 Penn State at Iowa on ABC
  • 8:00: Notre Dame at Michigan State on Fox
  • 10:00: No. 7 Washington at Colorado on FS1
  • 10:30: UCLA at Stanford on ESPN

Kentucky High School Football Scores

  • Henry Clay 21, Lafayette 17
  • Ballard 20, Eastern 14
  • DeSales 38, Lex Cath 26
  • LCA 69, KCD 38
  • St. X 35, PRP 21
  • Bullitt Central 17, North Bullitt 14
  • Bardstown 20, Thomas Nelson 14
  • Scott 27, Mason County 21 OT
  • John Hardin 35, Meade County 28
  • Corbin 20, Mayfield 17
  • Metcalfe County 29, Clinton County 26
  • McCracken 56, Daviess County 40
  • Hazard 29, Prestonsburg 7
  • Taylor County 26, West Jessamine 20 OT

Behind the Scenes

Before today’s game, relive last week’s win with a new UK football video blog that takes you where few can go.


Quickley: 10 Things To Know About UK’s Next Point Guard

John Calipari has his point guard for the Class of 2018.

Immanuel Quickley, a five-star prospect out of Maryland, announced his commitment to the Wildcats in one of the least surprising recruitments of the Calipari era. Kentucky led from start to finish in the race for Quickley, and that race is now over with Friday evening’s big announcement.

Now it’s time for you to get familiar with Kentucky’s next point guard (if you’re not already) with 10 Immanuel Quickley facts you need to know.

Immanuel Quickley
Point Guard (2018) | 6-3 | 175 lbs.
Bel Air, MD | John Carroll School
AAU: Team BBC
★★★★★
ESPN No. 12 | 3 PG Top247 No. 13 | 2 PG
Rivals No. 10 | 2 PG Scout No. 8 | 3 PG

 

1. He chose Kentucky over Kansas and Miami in the end.

Quickley was considering two other schools — Kansas and Miami — in the final stages of his recruitment, so he says. Kansas brought him in for an official visit prior to his official to UK; his trip to Miami was called off due to Hurricane Irma. There was some late chatter that Kansas had made a move, but it turns out that wasn’t the case and it was Kentucky in the end, as expected.

2. Calipari’s track record is the reason he picked UK.

Quickley wanted to go to the program that will best prepare him for the NBA, and nowhere does it better than Kentucky.

3. He was the first point guard in his class to receive a UK offer.

Calipari had his eyes on a couple of points guards in the Class of 2018, but Quickley was the top priority of the bunch for the Wildcats. He received his scholarship offer back in October of last year, making him the first point guard on the board with the option to attend UK.

Another 2018 point guard with an offer, Quentin Grimes, is still considering Kentucky, too.

4. Joel Justus was the lead recruiter.

UK assistant coach Joel Justus spearheaded Quickley’s recruitment for the Cats. He made several trips to see the five-star point guard and Quickley once said in an interview that he talks to Justus on a daily basis.

You can see some of Quickley’s in-home visit with Justus and Coach Cal here via a video from the Quickley family.

5. He attended Big Blue Madness 2016.

Quickley made the drive from Baltimore to Lexington last fall to see the welcoming party for the 2016-17 Kentucky Wildcats in Rupp Arena. He and several other UK targets — including Quade Green, P.J. Washington, Nick Richards and Kevin Knox — were in attendance for Big Blue Madness on an unofficial visit to Kentucky in mid-October.

6. He grew closer to Calipari over the summer with Team USA.

Quickley got an early taste of what it is like to play for Calipari while playing for the U19 team in Egypt. Their time together gave UK an advantage in the recruitment, Quickley admitted after returning to the States with a silver medal.

“Everyone wants to know if him coaching me was an advantage because he’s one of the coaches that’s recruiting me,” he wrote in his USA Today blog. “And I’d have to say it was.”

7. He plays the drums in his church.

 

8. He’s into pottery.

From Quickey’s personal blog on USA Today High School Sports:

I’m loving my Ceramics class. It’s just cool to build things like cups and boxes and things like that.

UK’s College of Fine Arts offers several ceramics courses, ranging from intermediate to advanced.

9. He can really play.

See for yourself:

 

10. He is very good friends with Zion Williamson.

And he knows what to do.


Who is Immanuel Quickley? Breaking down the star guard’s game

Coach Cal got his guy, and he’s a good one.

Five-star point guard Immanuel Quickley committed to Kentucky tonight over Kansas and Miami, along with offers from Duke, UNC, Louisville, Virginia, Villanova, etc. All of the top programs in America wanted this kid, and for good reason.

Out of Bel Air, MD, Quickley is considered a top-ten prospect and the No. 2 guard in the nation.

But what does he bring to the table?

I had the opportunity to watch Quickley in person on several occasions, and each time he got better and better. His film shows all of the explosive dunks and impressive buckets, but watching just one of his games from start to finish is special.

Let’s break down what I saw from your newest Wildcat:

Scoring

Quickley is extremely polished in the scoring department, with the ability to score on all three levels of the court.

He has a nasty jab-step to feel out his defenders, and then attacks after figuring out their weaknesses. He’s very methodical, resisting the temptation to put his head down and do it all himself like some of the other top scorers in the nation tend to do. He’ll pull up over someone in transition, throw down a nasty dunk, or toss a no-look pass to a teammate for the assist. No matter the situation, the ball gets in the hoop whenever Quickley is on the floor.

As a pure shooter, he gets hot in a hurry. He has range well beyond the three-point line, and knocks them down in an efficient manner. Quickley is the deadliest whenever the game is on the line or he’s going heads-up with top talent. At the Adidas Uprising this summer, he and Zion Williamson traded buckets back and forth, creating one of the craziest atmospheres I’ve ever seen in a high school/AAU setting.

He tends to shoot himself out of cold streaks, however, which is something he’ll have to work on at the next level.

If that’s the one knack on his game, I’ll be just fine with it.

Court vision

Everyone focuses on Quickley’s scoring ability, but his court vision is just as impressive.

The Maryland native’s ability to find teammates in the smallest spaces is absolutely ridiculous. He is always scanning the court and thinking two or three steps ahead of his defenders. If the scoring lane is closed or he gets double teamed, he hits the open teammate for a basket. Again, he’s extremely methodical in how he goes about his on-court buisiness and his basketball IQ is sensational.

I sat next to some of the Team BBC program managers and assistant coaches at the Adidas Uprising Gauntlet in Spartanburg, SC, and they all said the same thing: “He has more fun finding the open man on big assists than scoring any basket.”

Judging by this half-court lob he threw at the event, I tend to agree.

His teammates missed several wide-open layups and shots when I watched him play in person, taking away would-be assists from the star guard. I don’t think he’ll have that problem at Kentucky.

Quickley is going to be an assist machine.

Defensive potential

The keyword here is potential.

He’s aggressive in the passing lanes, looking to poke out loose balls or pounce on lazy/sloppy ball handling. He sometimes gets into foul trouble by being overly aggressive on-ball, but he has gotten a lot better in this area.

Quickley gets lost off-ball on occasion due to ball watching, leaving opponents open for easy buckets. When he slips up, he usually makes up for it on the offensive end and focuses on it throughout the rest of the game. He doesn’t like making the same mistake twice.

There’s still a lot of work to do on defense, but he projects as a solid defender at Kentucky. He certainly has the tools to make that happen.

Size

At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be much to Quickley in this department. He weighs just 178 lbs., and has only added three pounds in the past year. At 6’3 with a 6’7 wingspan, however, he has the size to create separation from defenders, similar to Malik Monk this past year.

He’ll initiate contact and get to the free throw line, but that’s not where his bread is buttered. (He’ll knock them down, though.) He’s much better at finding open spaces in the defenses and creating shots.

Quickley is not the beefiest kid in the world, but he has the athleticism and length to make up for it.

Leadership

As a player, Quickley has that “it” factor you look for in a Calipari point guard.

Whenever the ball is in his hands, you can be confident he can make something happen with it. His impact on the game is massive, whether he’s scoring, passing, or just being a leader on the court.

In fact, his AAU program has already announced they will retire his jersey number, despite playing with the organization for one season.

One of his early criticisms from analysts was that he wasn’t vocal enough on the floor, but I feel like that has been a little overstated. When I watched him, he was yelling, directing traffic, slapping the floor on defense, etc. He wasn’t quiet at all.

He just committed tonight, but it has already been reported that Quickley has been actively recruiting for Kentucky for months. He told KSR he wanted to team up with Zion Williamson in a package deal, and Williamson responded by saying Quickley was the exact kind of point guard he wants to play with.

Last recruiting season, players actively rallied around Quade Green and vouched for him, and a similar thing is happening with Calipari’s newest commitment.

Top players want to be with Quickley because he has the makings of a championship-winning point guard. That in itself is special.


Welcome home, Immanuel Quickley.