There were new faces taking over the roles of those that left last season. They wore new uniforms. It was so brutal at times I had to cover my eyes. Yep, the Sons of Anarchy season premiere was a lot like UK’s football game on Thursday, but in the end, the viewer wasn’t left getting stabbed in the brains. FX’s hit series and my favorite (I hope you’re not reading this, Justified) show on television returned after what seemed like the longest hiatus in television history with 92 minutes of things my wife is going to tell me I shouldn’t be watching. And who doesn’t need that extra nagging in their life, right?
Now onto a few UK notes…
– The biggest story in college sports over the past few weeks is now official. Texas A&M is headed to the SEC. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, home of Randy Galloway’s turkey neck, is reporting that the announcement will be made Wednesday and that the Aggies will begin play as a member of the conference in 2012. Texas A&M adds a nice television market to the conference and gives a permanent foot into the state of Texas. More importantly, their addition ensures that the SEC West will forever and ever be the maroon capital of the world.
– Unless you’re a sports blogger hell bent on spamming my Twitter feed with ridiculous RT’s about conference realignment and jokes that even Matt Jones thinks are lame, you’re probably not popping a sports boner right now about what this means for every other college on the planet. So just know that, as of now, it appears that West Virginia is the likely 14th candidate for the SEC. I like this potential addition for a number of reasons. First, it’s a hell of a road trip. Second, it’s a hell of a road trip and close. Third, it’s a hell of a road trip that features Bob Huggins or Dana Holgorson. Fourth, it’s a hell of a road trip and they’re a team UK can compete with long-term in football. Fifth, it’s a hell of a road trip and no matter what, we can burn Gregg Doyel’s couch.
– If you were a Kentucky offensive player, there’s a very good chance that you had the pleasure of being called out publicly in some form or fashion Tuesday. The offensive linemen, who are not getting nearly the blame they deserve for Thursday’s putrid output, were the subject of the little dustup between Mike Summers and Kyle Tucker, while the wideouts got called out by Joker Phillips. Joker said that there will definitely be changes made in terms of who is seeing the field this weekend and pointed out that the glass is clearly half-empty in noting that the players that struggled Thursday were the same ones that struggled in practice today. The name that seems to be most prominently mentioned as a possibility to earn those extra snaps is freshman Demarco Robinson, though EJ Fields’ return from suspension could also be a factor.
– Why not Aaron Boyd?
– I don’t want to be “that guy”. I really don’t. But what are the chances that the Cats work the Wildcat package back into the play-calling for this week? The version with Randall Cobb was effective, though it was insanely predictable for the most part, which makes you wonder if Kentucky shouldn’t just try to utilize it more. I understand that there is a value to the pro offense and selling that success to recruits, though it’s going to get significantly harder without a turnaround. But I’m not asking for 100% gimmick. Just a little switch here or there. Something to help pick up a couple of first downs when guys aren’t catching the ball or if you’ve already used the draw and the screen and there’s still another down to go. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Cats tinker with it some this week. It might just be enough of a little wrinkle to kickstar the rest of the offense.
– Despite its public display of ineptness offense last week and the loads of criticism piled on today, I do believe that the UK offense is not that far away from being competent. Of course, that statement is predicated on a couple of significant “ifs” we saw against Western. If Kentucky’s offensive line is better than it looked – and I think it is – then the offense can make a signicant stride against Central Michigan. If Kentucky’s wide receivers can haul in just a couple of the deep passes Morgan Newton put right on the money, the tone for next weekend’s conversation can be 180 degrees different. If Newton can keep from tripping over his own feet, then…well…you get the point. The Cats looked terrible against Western offensively, but they were really, really close in a lot of ways to putting up some serious points. The eternally optimistic UK fan in me wants to keep thinking they’re just a couple of plays away from being competitive offensively too. Every other part of me thinks this week is going to tell us all everything we need to know about where this team is headed. Which brings me to my next point…
– As bad as it was Thursday, it’s not really that big of a deal. It’s early and Kentucky can still snag some momentum. Before the season, if you looked at the Cats’ schedule and tried to sort out the easiest path breaking through the six or seven win glass ceiling, it started in the first four games. Kentucky must respond with wins in their next two games if they want to chase bowl eligibility this season and must build some sort of synergy and confidence before their game with Florida in week four. That all starts with Central Michigan this weekend, where they’ll need to win by at least two – most likely three – touchdowns to truly feel confident heading into the Louisville game. Like we said before, it’s certainly possible if they can get the big guys up front to block and simply execute on some of the gimme plays the bungled against Western. I really think this Central Michigan game is going to be the true test. If Joker sits in the postgame press conference talking about another awful offensive night and plays the “we said the defense would have to carry us for a few games” card, we’re all in for a long, long season.
– On a completely different note, if you’ve ever wondered what $350,000 and 47 people will get you, your answer is coming this morning. The task force organized by Lexington mayor Jim Gray to look at the arena situation will get together and share their findings. The Norwegian firm in charge of the whole thing has said they think Rupp Arena can be renovated as long as the convention center portion is moved elsewhere and that’s most likely what they’ll return with. Then, the fighting will most likely begin. So just wait for the fighting. That’s what really matters.
– In basketball recruiting news, the man who will one day be a Friar, Ricardo Ledo, will apparently get his GED. The goal is to get to Providence by January instead of waiting until next season. If you are wondering what Ledo’s rush is in getting onto campus, you must not have read about his recruiting visit. Just ask the person sitting next to you.
– Remember your 21st birthday? Didn’t think so. Fortunately for him, John Wall had his documented by the Washington Post for the whole world to revel in. The former Kentucky point guard spent the evening hanging with Rudy Huxtable and Ludacris. When reached for comment, Rudy’s father had this to say.
– On a less fun note, Kentucky commitment and pre-season All-American Josh Harris is out for the season with a foot injury. The Mason County star injured his foot. And now he’s out. That about sums it up.
– On a more personal note, you might be aware that I’m now moonlighting as the producer of KSTV. As part of that moonlighting, they gave me an on-camera test to see how terrible I could be. You can watch that test here. I’m open to your critiques and suggestions on how to improve should they ever give me another chance. At the very least, I’d like help in determining if my head is so small it makes my man boobs look big or if my jugs are so giant that they’re making my dome look tiny. I’m still very confused.
That’s it for now. Make sure you stick around all day as Drew Franklin continues to be the greatest thing to ever hit this website. As usual, Matt will be by at 10 am to get you all fired up with the latest edition of Kentucky Sports Radio on Talk Radio 1080. In the meantime, enjoy this little bicycle safety PSA from our friend Josh Hopkins. Don’t take the training wheels off too early, kids!!!
See you in a few…