Many of you have seen, or at least heard of, the 2012 American action film Act of Valor. Released back in February of this year, the film stars a group of active-duty Navy SEALs in a story of contemporary global anti-terrorism, as they embark on a covert mission to recover a CIA agent from captivity in the jungles of Costa Rica. Inspired by true events, Act of Valor takes audiences deep into the secretive world of the most elite, highly trained group of warriors in the modern world.
Fans of Kentucky football can only hope that the teamwork, dedication and selflessness shown by Act of Valor’s “Bandito” Platoon of the SEAL Team Seven will rub off on this year’s Wildcats, after Joker Phillips’ bunch watched the film during camp Saturday night. Every player, coach, manager and staff member were in the team’s film room to watch it after a long day of scrimmaging.
For the 2011-12 UK basketball team, it was Red Tails. For 2012 football, it’s Act of Valor. Let’s hope it has a similar effect on performance.
Matt’s on the road so you’re stuck with me again. Let’s get you ’10 From The Weekend’…
1. Saturday was the first scrimmage; Sunday was an off-day for the Cats.
After eight consecutive days of football, including what Joker called an “old school scrimmage” on Saturday, UK football took Sunday off to rest those legs and watch film. They’ll resume practice on Monday to build on what they learned from the first preseason scrimmage of the season, which Joker said he was pleased with.
As always, the scrimmage began with an emphasis on special teams and he was excited with how that unit performed.
“I think our scrimmage started really well with our special forces units, which is our kicking units, our punt team and our punt return,” he said. “Again, I’ve been saying that guys have been asking to be on those teams. It showed today how fast we played in it. It’s probably as clean as we’ve played in our kicking game.”
Punting will be a big part of Kentucky’s success this season, unfortunately, and the staff is very pleased with what they’ve seen in freshman Landon Foster. Joker said he’s the fastest UK has had at getting it off (cue the Pitino jokes in the comments section) and word on the street is he has quite the leg (you can squeeze out another Pitino joke with that one.) They’ll need him to help with the field position battle when the offense isn’t scoring, which will probably be quite often.
2. Max Smith takes the lead after the first scrimmage.
Morgan Newton started making some noise again when he outshined presumed starter Max Smith in Kentucky football’s Fan Day, but Smith regained control of the No. 1 quarterback spot in Saturday’s first scrimmage of fall camp. According to offensive coordinator Randy Sanders, Newton is still a “work in progress” after that shoulder surgery, while Smith is doing a “good” job.
“Max is doing a good job,” Sanders told reporters after the closed scrimmage. “Morgan is working hard, he’s doing pretty well, but it’s obvious that he’s coming off shoulder surgery. As I mentioned, before we got started practicing, any time you miss six months or seven months of throwing, it’s going to affect you somewhat. There’s no question that he’s still a work in progress coming back from that.”
Even though Smith had a better Saturday than Newton, it’s still a competition for who will take that first snap in the Governor’s Cup. Monday begins a new week of practicing and they’ll scrimmage again next Saturday. Sanders said whoever is the most productive throughout will earn the job, and he thinks the race will separate itself before the season begins.
3. The two freshmen are playing like freshmen.
A lot of you spent the summer singing Patrick Towles’ praises, saying he’s going to come right in and turn this thing around. While his game does deserve some praise, you have to remember, it’s not an easy transition from Kentucky high school football to SEC football. He and Jalen Whitlow, though gifted and hungry, still have a lot of adjusting to do.
Sanders said, “I like what the freshmen are doing, but they’re freshmen. They do some stupid things sometimes, boy. It’s amazing. Sometimes they revert back to things they did as a sophomore in high school. You wonder… What is that?”
Joker agrees that Towles and Whitlow aren’t quite ready for this level, but he did say they handled themselves well in the scrimmage.
“I thought they both did some good,” he said. “But, again, it’s a lot faster. There’s a lot more stuff on those guys.”
4. Running back won’t be a problem.
Well, I guess I should say, “Running back shouldn’t be a problem.”
If what we’re hearing about Dy’Shawn Mobley and Justin Taylor is true, the backfield is deep, talented and… deep. The two rookies already have SEC bodies and they’ve impressed everyone with their physicality thus far. Returning starter Co’shik Williams was one of two offensive players (the other being La’Rod King) Joker said made big plays on Saturday; he’ll likely get the first carry of the season. Raymond Sanders is healthy and ready to pick up where he left off before his injury last season. Josh Clemons looked like the next Herschel Walker (yeah, a bit of an exaggeration) before going down with a season-ending injury last year; he’ll be back to 100% before conference play. Then, of course, there is Jonathan George somewhere towards the top of the mix, probably at No. 3 ahead of Clemons. That’s not a bad group of backs.
Whether or not the line will create holes for them remains to be seen.
5. Switching over to to kickball, it looks like KSR’s newest writer had fun with two UK greats and another Kentucky-born Hollywood star.
You’re looking at Josh Hopkins, Kelenna Azuibuke, actor Josh Hutcherson and Tayshaun Prince, the four Kentucky representatives in Baron Davis’ charity kickball game in L.A.
I’m told Josh didn’t leave his dog in the car this time.
6. Anthony Davis is the youngest American to win Olympic basketball gold.
Yeah, Kevin Durant became Team USA’s all-time leading scorer in Sunday’s gold medal win over Spain. Sure, LeBron James put it away down the stretch with a big dunk and the three-pointer that sealed the deal. But who had the ball in his hands when the final buzzer sounded? Huh? Who grabbed the final rebound of the XXX Olympiad and casually dribbled the ball to end the game???
Anthony Davis did.
No one is having a better 2012.
7. Look out, Los Angeles.
The Goonies are in town.
8. The Harrison Twins must have an unlimited text messaging plan.
After leading Team USA to victory in the Big Strick Classic in New York, Andrew Harrison told reporters that his recruitment is getting hectic because of text messaging. The higher ranked twin of the Harrison package wouldn’t elaborate on the swarm of text messages, but he did reiterate that only five schools are in consideration: Kentucky, Baylor, Maryland, Villanova and SMU. He and his brother still do not have any visits planned as of yet.
Tom Crean, please stop texting Kentucky’s recruits. It’s weird. Thanks.
9. Trey Lyles’ father said “a whole lot” of schools have reached out to talk to his son.
You can’t even make that up. A lot of schools are interested in talking to Trey Lyles. “A whole lot.”
Although, Tom Lyles said his son has only talked to IU and the Hoosiers are still his favorite.
10. KSR is “Thinkin’ Arby’s” as the tour continues for one more week.
Matt will be at the Arby’s in Paintsville to kick off the final week of KSR’s affiliate tour across the state. I was supposed to be joining him for curly fries and apple turnovers but Monday’s website duties took priority. I think Ryan Lemond will be taking my place. The gang will move on to Somerset on Tuesday, followed by Lexington, the Middlesboro Cracker Barrel, and then West Liberty, the final stop on the tour.