What a weekend! Not only do we get a Cats victory that will last for ages (I think 27-2 should be a score that we never forget), but we also get the beginning of another epic college football season. The game of the weekend was the last one tonight, as the Phil Fulmer Job Countdown began with a UCLA 27-24 victory over the Vols. The story of the game (besides the Tennessee AD putting together the search committee) was the journey of Kevin Craft. The young quarterback, who in many ways was in a similar situation to Mike Hartline, had a terrible first half…..four INTs and looking lost on nearly every possession. But to UCLA’s new coach Rick “Double Down” Neuheisel’s credit, he stayed with the young gunslinger and he came out in the second half firing and looking like an elite level QB. Lots of lessons here, but maybe the most important is that young quarterbacks on big stages need a bit of time. Luckily for our own Mike Hartline, the Kentucky defense played well enough and he made few enough mistakes that he can develop over the next three weeks into what all hope he will be…..another in the long line of top-flight UK QBs.
Lots to get to, so we break it into football and basketball:
— If there was ever a story that symbolizes the change in the fortunes for the two main football programs in the state, it is today’s commitment by Louisville Central LB Ridge Wilson to UK. Wilson attended the game yesterday as a guest of UL and was wearing a “Red Out” shirt on the field of play. But what he saw was a rout in the other direction. So what did he do? He returned home, took off the shirt and committed to UK next season, joining the Corey Peters pipeline from Central. Kentucky has always owned the state in recruiting….but now they are creeping in big time in Louisville…..gotta hurt for UL to see its narrow base eroded even more.
— Rich Brooks addressed the game fall out today. Basically the Cats had no serious injuries coming out of the Louisville game and look to be completely healthy heading to next week’s contest against Norfolk State. When was the last time you could say that?
— Freshmen took the stage on Sunday against Louisville in large numbers. Randall Cobb, Eric Adeyemi, Matt Roark, Gene McCaskill and Danny Trevathan all saw action throughout the game. Cobb looked explosive and the others found some success in short bursts. Coach Brooks says to expect a couple more of the rookies to get time before the year is over.
— The star of the game continues to be Myron Pryor, who found himself the #3 play of the week on SportsCenter’s list. His attempt at a high step and “SEC level speed” helped make Pryor a highlight for the rest of the year. After some ups and downs, Pryor deserves the spotlight he had last game and here is hoping he fully enjoyed it.
— Rich Brooks also said he may have to tie Dicky Lyons to the ground in order to stop him from jumping during kick returns. This habit of Dicky’s nearly caused two fumbles and is one of the few things about Dicky that we dont all love.
— So what do we say about this Donald Williams story? As you know, Beisner interviewed his coach last week, who said that Williams would be redshirted for the coming season, prompting many including me, to wonder what the point of such a late pickup redshirting truly would be. There are some rumblings now about a possibility that Williams may have a scholarship this year and either walk-on or transfer after that, a result that I would suggest is highly unlikely actually to materialize (if it has even been suggested). Kids dont come to schools only to leave one year later and as Mark Coury showed us recently, kids who play (even if they arent good) want a scholarship. So if he is a difference maker, I cant imagine him walking on. Williams is a total mystery to me and I have not spoken with anyone who has seen him in person prior to coming to Kentucky. I did speak with an individual who is familiar with how he has played in the last week or so with the team and he said that Williams has been “solid” but didnt expect a great deal of playing time this year. Either way the Donald Williams mystery tour continues and it will be interesting to watch how it plays out over the next couple of months.
— I continue to hear great things about Josh Harrellson and his maturity since arriving on campus. He has lost a TON of weight and those familiar with the situation tell me that he may end up being the starter over Stevenson. In addition, Razor Ramon is once again said to be in the “best shape of any non-Patrick Patterson player on the team.” I expect the Razor to take a huge step up this year and to contend to be the third or fourth scorer this team needs.
More throughout the day as we continue to rag on Louisville, look at the SEC in Week 1, go back to a Barnstorming story that relates to this political season and learn more about Norfolk State. Stay tuned…..