Steve Spurrier is ready for his second Thursday night closeup in a row.
This time last year, I had a little blog that was read by about 5-6 people per day (maybe one that wasn’t related to me) and I did a weekly college football write-up. It was probably one of the all-time exercises in futility as I spent a good amount of time every week writing about the upcoming weekend of football only to have my hard work perused by a handful of people, half of whom would post links to “Two girls, one cup”. So, since I’ve got a never-say-die attitude and because “Two girls, one cup” is so 2007, we’re going to give this post a whirl here on Kentucky Sports Radio.
It’s an interesting one for the Cats this week. Everyone seems to be discounting Norfolk State, but I’m not quite ready to do that. Wait, yes I am! We’re the Cats, baby, and we’re back! We don’t have to worry about losing these games anymore. (please go knock on wood)
There is no question that UK has more talent and should handle the Spartans quite easily, but with 15 (I think) transfers from D-1, Norfolk State will have some legitimate speed and size at several key positions (most notably QB), but their talent overall is not on UK’s level. That is, after all, why they’re on the schedule. So, Kentucky will win this game, but it’s more important for them moving on through the season to succeed in two areas.
First of all, the offense has to make some strides. Look for the timing to be a little better between Michael Hartline and his receivers and be prepared to go to bed feeling good about the quarterback position this week. The rush won’t be as fast and the coverage not as good, so look for Hartline to settle in and get into a rythym with his wideouts. Randall Cobb might take a few snaps, but let’s not get crazy here, folks. He’s not going to be a quarterback for this team if they want to make a bowl. I expect the Cats to move the ball pretty well, but don’t expect a 60-point night. I think you’ll see a very conservative playbook out of the coaching staff.
But, the most important thing is to make sure that the Cats walk away with no injuries. The next few game against lower-tiered opponents won’t provide much of a threat outside of practicing, but sometimes playing lesser talent makes you more susceptible to injury. Kentucky’s depth is definitely better than it’s been in probably a decade, but they still need to avoid injuries.
If they do both things, it will still be good times in the Bluegrass.
Things I am going to keep my eye on….
1. Dan LeFevour vs. The Georgia D – The quarterback for Central Michigan and his billboards likely aren’t going to be sitting at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York for the Heisman ceremony this fall, but it won’t be because of his numbers. LeFevour came to Central Michigan in 2006 and started as a freshman. In his two years as a starter, he’s thrown for almost 7,000 yards and 53 touchdowns. And, at 6’3″, 226, he’s also run for 1,600 yards and 26 more scores on the ground, 1,122 of them coming last year. Even Mel Kiper think’s he’s cooler than a polar bear’s toenails and has him ranked as the 10th best draft prospect in the class. But, how will he fare against a big, athletic defense that’s filled with potential NFL opponents? This is by far the most intriguing thing to watch on this poopy college football weekend.
2. Robert Marve – If you think it’s been a long time since Miami was relevant on the national scene, waiting for Marve to finally get on the field seems like an even longer wait to Canes fans. It’s only been a little over a year since the 8th-ranked quarterback in the country decommited from The Sabanator and became a Randy Shannonite, but with a car accident, a suspension and his dad taking a few jabs at the coaching staff in between, the Marve era has been well underway in Coral Gables for awhile now. Marve finally makes his on-field debut this week against the guy who’s touchdown records he broke in high school (Tim Tebow) and he looks to finally help “The U” find some offense on their way to a resurgence. Unfortunately for Marve, he’ll be lining up against the Gators. Oh yeah, he’ll also try to establish himself as a starter ahead of the guy who broke his records (Jacory Harris). The good news for Canes fans? No more of Kirby Freeman and his 1-14 with 3 INTs performances of a year ago.
3. Hey, look! Notre Dame is back on TV! –Just when you thought NBC had forgotten all about making you think that Notre Dame was the most important team in the history of team sports, they catch you napping and sucker-punch you in the junk with a midafternoon game against San Diego State on Saturday. A lot has changed from last year’s 3-9 debacle. They brought in Charlie Weis. Oh wait, he was there last year. Well, they have super-stud Jimmy Claussen under center. Oh wait, he was there last year. Hmmm. Well basically it looks like they brought in more over-hyped freshman, lost the Golden Gloves safety and Claussen won big at “non-alcoholic” Flip Cup and got more bald. I think I’ll do some yardwork at around 3:30.
Big Game Picks
South Carolina at Vanderbilt – You know it’s a tough week for high-quality games when the Thursday night feature is between the Gamecocks and the Commodores. The big news will be the end of the Tommy Beecher era and the Chris Smelley era starting over again. Smelley isn’t nearly as good as he looked against NC State in mop-up duty, but he’s more than enough to beat Vandy – who has probably reached their highest point under a solid coach but will still finish last in the SEC East. Gamecocks win a surprisingly entertaining game, 31-20.
West Virginia at East Carolina – East Carolina was the belle of the opening weekend ball after knocking off Virginia Tech. On the flip side, West Virginia didn’t look all that impressive in their closer-than-it-should-have-been over Villanova, who I think was D-II or non-existant about 3 years ago. But, don’t expect an upset here. Jesus Devine and Pat White are far better than the East Carolina defense and the WVU D should be just ok enough to let the Mountaineers outscore the Pirates. WVU wins, 42-27.
Miami at Florida – Oh, sorry I thought this was 2001 again. The only thing “big” about this game is going to be the score. Miami might be a little better than advertised and they might cover the 21 point spread, but it’s not going to be a close game. Gators roll, 45-17.
UConn at Temple – Please understand one thing. I am not trying to pass this off as a big game or try to urge you to watch this crapfest. However, UConn is only favored by 8 and Temple doesn’t have a shot. UConn returns 17 starters from a 9-3 team and they have a quarterback named Lorenzen. What’s not to like? Plus I used to work with an annoying pothead who went to Temple and they ducked the Cats this year. UConn wins by more than 8 and that’s all we care about.