When Lynn Nance resigned from the University of Washington in March of 1993, it opened the door for Mark Pope to transfer to Kentucky. Had Nance never stepped down after his four disappointing seasons at UW, Pope never would’ve moved to Lexington, the flattop buzz-cut wouldn’t have been a popular haircut in Kentucky in 1995, and UK never would’ve won the 1996 NCAA Championship. (Ok, that’s not exactly true. I’m being dramatic here.)
The former UK star turns 40 years old on Tuesday and it wouldn’t be right if he didn’t get the News and Views and a big “Happy Birthday” from Big Blue Nation. Pope scored 546 career points for the Wildcats in his two seasons (1994-95, 1995-96) and, in my opinion, wore the Converse denim better than anyone. It’s like he was born to wear athletic denim.
Pope is now an assistant coach at BYU after spending time on the staff at Wake Forest, Georgia, and in med school in New York City. He is married to one of David Letterman’s former assistants and the two have four daughters.
We saw him at the Nike Peach Jam and the buzz-cut hasn’t changed a bit.
News and views…
Joker Phillips met with the media for his Monday morning press conference to discuss the 41-14 win over Kent State and the challenge ahead with a tough Western Kentucky team. Joker opened things up with a lot to say about the Toppers:
“Western Kentucky was a real young team last year and improved tremendously from week to week and ended up winning 7 out of their last 8 games. The quarterback (Kawaun) Jakes right now is completing over 70 percent of his passes, which gives them another dimension in their offense. They already are a physical downhill running football team, and now they’re a team that can throw the football also. So another dimension that you have to be able to defend.
They get a lot of production from their tailback position. Their tailbacks are averaging over five yards a carry. This recruiting business is such that you look at the Andrews kid, and everybody was saying that he’s an athlete but he wanted to be a quarterback. The guy is returning punts for them. He’s playing tailback, doing an outstanding job. He’s averaging about 18 yards a punt return, 23 yards a kick return, and doing an outstanding job for them. He was a state champion quarterback at Fort Campbell, and a kid that I watched grow up in high school from recruiting down there. He’s doing a really good job for them. The tight end is one of the top tight ends in the country, big, physical guy that understands how to set in windows, and he catches the ball and gets upfield, does a really good job.
Defensively, I think their defense and offense also benefit from playing against each other. Their offense is a real physical team, a power running offense, and to have to defend that daily, you have to be physical on defense, and the defense ranks 12th in the country. Led by the linebacker (Andrew) Jackson, No. 4. He had 17 tackles for a loss last year. He now already has 4 tackles for a loss (this season), and he’s the leader for those guys on defense.
They had six quarterback sacks Sunday against Alabama, and the (Quanterus) Smith kid had three of those. That’s a very good defense. They do a really good job of playing physical, stopping the run, and getting after people on “D.” Huge challenge for us again.
We have got to be physical. That’s what this team likes to do on all three phases â€‘â€‘ offense, defense, and special teams. Again, huge challenge for us.“
Joker also talked about how well his underclassmen are playing and the pressure it puts on the older guys to perform:
“I think you hear so much about these young guys; it helps those old guys step up their game too. Aaron heard about those young receivers, I’m sure, how talented they are — and they are. They are talented. But Aaron worked his tail off. Again, his niche early was blocking.
Everybody is going to catch passes in this offense. Everybody is going to catch passes. You’ve seen that, we had 11 guys in the first game, 10 in the second game. Find your niche to get yourself on the field first. Aaron’s niche was, hey, where we were not a good perimeter blocking team, and their head coach is a guy that we must be a great perimeter blocking team. And the two guys that block the best is Aaron Boyd and E.J. Fields. Those guys are playing. That allowed those guys to get on the field. And now they both are benefitting from being on the field because you’re going to catch passes if you’re in this offense.”
Boone’s Butcher Shop Injury Report:
— CoShik Williams and Josh Forrest are day-to-day. The staff expects both guys to be ready by Saturday.
— Backup offensive lineman Trevino Woods is doubtful with a high ankle sprain.
— Josh Clemons and Glenn Faulkner are still out.
Bud Dupree is listed at the WILL linebacker on the updated depth chart, freeing up Taylor Wyndham to see more time at the Linebacker/Defensive End position. Joker said the move is about getting the best players on the field, considering Wyndham has lost so much playing time in the new hybrid defense that doesn’t always use two defensive ends.
Phillips said, “It’s a shame that a guy that’s been around four or five years, played a lot of football, because we moved from a fourâ€‘three to a threeâ€‘four defense, he doesn’t get to play as much. He’s got to rotate with another senior. So it was just an opportunity to get Taylor Wyndham on the field along with Bud.”
Tyler Brause, the starting weakside linebacker in the Louisville game, dropped all the way to the third option at middle linebacker on the new depth chart. Khalid Henderson is listed ahead of Malcolm McDuffen as Dupree’s backup.
The video of the Alabama fan is
The Southeastern Conference announced the kickoff time for Kentucky’s SEC opener at Florida on Saturday, September 22. The Wildcats and Gators will be on SEC Network with kickoff slated for 12:21 p.m. ET.
Where was John Calipari on Monday? The answer is all over the place.
We know he met up with Orlando Antigua and Kenny Payne in Indiana to see Trey Lyles’ workout at Tech High School. Jeff Rabjohns was in the building and he tweeted that Cal and Lyles spoke briefly after the workout and it “looked like a good conversation.”
Lyles picked up an offer from the Cats during the visit.
Cal also stopped by Apple Valley, Minnesota to check in on Tyus Jones, the No. 1 point guard in the class of 2014. Jones recently said, “I have a good relationship with Coach Calipari. They want to try and get me down for a visit. The past few years they’ve had a lot of point guards go pro and be successful, so that’s a plus.”
On Tuesday, he’ll visit Aaron Gordon in San Jose, California. Gordon has already set up four of his five official visits but the fifth, Kentucky, still hasn’t been scheduled.
USA Today interviewed Julius Randle on Monday after the Plano, Texas star hosted Calipari in his home on Sunday evening. The highlight of the visit for Randle was seeing Calipari’s NCAA Championship ring.
“He was rocking that championship ring,” Randle said. “It was nice! Real nice.”
Randle’s mother, Carolyn Kyles, also noticed the ring.
“You couldn’t help but notice all those diamonds,” Kyles said. “It was just blinding. That thing was impressive. And it’s something that they just won so it was nice and shiny.”
Coach Cal is worried about the turnout for Saturday’s alumni game — when Julius Randle visits Lexington — so he offered a deal on lower level tickets to drive attendance. To get the deal, simply enter promo code “TWENTY” at Ticketmaster.com and your lower level seat will only cost you a cool 20 bucks, as opposed to the original price of $40. If you already bought tickets, Cal wants you to know that your seat will be better.
He wrote this in an e-mail blast across campus:
“For those of you who have already purchased the $100 premium lower-level seats or the $40 lower-level seats, I want to ensure you that you have already purchased the best seats in the house. The $20 special discount tickets, while in the lower level, are not better than the $100 or $40 tickets previously purchased.”
$20 to see all your favorite Wildcats???
That’s a steal.
It’s Duck Season at Harbor House of Louisville. For the ninth year in a row, Harbor House will be giving away a Honda Civic from Sam Swope Honda World to one Lucky Duck. Also, if the third place duck is the MAESER MILLION DOLLAR DUCK, you will win $1,000,000. This year, the KEN-DUCKY DERBY will be September 22nd rom 12pm-5pm at the Waterfront by Joe’s Crab Shack. There will be live music, vendors, a food court, a kids section and much more. Adopt your duck today.