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The First KSR LEACH REPORT

leach

Tom Leach is going to be posting a bi-weekly column during the season here on KSR to preview and review the UK games. We are excited to have the “Voice of the Wildcats” here with us and here is his first post about UK and Western:

With Kentucky counting on so many guys who either were not here last season or played only a little, it’s logical to think that Mark Stoops’ first UK team will make significant improvement between now and the end of the season. But there’s also no denying that this opening game is a huge deal for the Cats and Stoops has been quite candid in acknowledging that.

Former UK assistant coach Steve Ortmeyer was on my radio show last week and said he could see some of the Rich Brooks’ forthrightness in Stoops. And it seems clear to me that Stoops and his staff quickly made a strong connection with this group of players, who the coach has admitted were lacking in confidence. It’s hard to guage how much that positive vibe can translate into the matchups on the field but it has to help to some degree.

Turnovers were a big problem for UK in last year’s 32-31 overtime loss to Western, as the ‘Toppers picked off four of Maxwell Smith’s passes. But just as significant was how WKU controlled the trenches, out-gaining the Wildcats on the ground 163-41. Stoops told reporters this week that folks might be a little surprised at how physical Kentucky is and that proves true, it’ll be a major key to reversing the outcome.

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KEY STORYLINES/MATCHUPS

1) Kentucky D-line v. WKU’s O-line. The front four is one of the Cats’ biggest assets and Stoops’ defenses at Florida State excelled at geting pressure on the passer. Bobby Petrino has a reputation as an air-it-out guy but his best teams balanced that with a physical rushing attack, too. If Kentucky defense is controlling the line of scrimmage early, hopefully without having to bring an abundance of extra people into the box, it’ll bode very well for UK. The center and left side of WKU’s offensive line has 80 combined starts but the right side has only two.

2) Home run hitters v. the WKU defense. Since Randall Cobb and Derrick Locke left town, Kentucky has been more of a singles-hitting team. An influx of new talent at the skill positions should put the “long ball” back into UK’s offense, especially with Neal Brown’s Air Raid scheme creating one-on-one matchups out in space. And remember that WKU ‘s biggest personnel losses on defense came in the line so if the Hilltoppers have to blitz to get pressure, it could open up some big play opportunities if the QB handles that pressure, which leads us to the other key storyline…

3) The UK quarterback. Whoever it is that starts needs to forget about making those big plays and just let them happen naturally with those fast guys winning their matchups. Brown has repeatedly said things like making routine plays and taking easy yards should be the focus of the quarterback in this system. Two key stats for this game and the season for Kentucky quarterbacks will be a high completion percentage and a low interception total–like a point guard who is a facilitator for the talent around him. Dusty Bonner followed in Tim Couch’s footsteps and led Kentucky to a bowl game by following that script.

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NUMBERS GAME

Kentucky had 146 plays last season that went for 10 or more yards, ranking 104th in the nation. Texas Tech (with Brown calling the plays) ranked third, with 257. And illustrating that “home run hitter” point, UK ranked 41st nationally in plays for 20-plus yards in 2010 (with Cobb & Locke) but fell to 120th the next year and 113th last season.

Yards-per-attempt is a good stat to tell which offenses are biting off yards in large chunks. Kentucky ranked 123rd last year with 5.5 yards-per-pass while Texas Tech was 37th nationally at 7.8.

Under Stoops, Florida State’s defense averaged 42 sacks per season while Kentucky’s average during that time was 22. The defensive ends keyed those numbers for Stoops and UK has a promising pair of DE’s in Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith. Incidentally, Dupree said this week that he and Smith knew other prior to their arrivals at UK, as they played AAU basketball on the same team in high school. Dupree described Smith as a Tim Duncan-type on the hardwood while Dupree says he’s more like Blake Griffin.

(stats courtesy of cfbstats.com)

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“When these coaches walked in the door, they had a walk to them–all of them. You could just see it on them. They didn’t have to say anything. You knew they were about business and they knew what they were talking about.”–wideout A.J. Legree talking about the “swagger” the new staff has brought to the UK football program.

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THIS WEEK IN BIG BLUE HISTORY

It was this week in 1997 that the “Air Raid era” of Kentucky football took flight under new coach Hal Mumme. Kentucky jumped on Louisville for 21 first-quarter points and never looked back in scoring an 38-24 win over the favored Cards. That will always be one of my favorite UK football wins because it marked my first game in the booth as the play-by-play announcer.

–listen to Tom each weekday morning at 9:06am eastern on “The Leach Report” radio network

–check out tomleachky.com for more of Tom’s coverage of the Cats and follow Tom on Twitter @tomleachky and via Facebook for “The Leach Report”

Article written by Matt Jones

34 Comments for The First KSR LEACH REPORT



  1. Woooohooo
    3:12 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    First?!



  2. Woooohooo
    3:13 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    Yeah! GO TL



  3. Ryan
    3:17 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    Tom Leach is the man. Great addition to the site!



  4. STLBetaNu1771
    3:18 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    Looks like Drew/Matt must’ve proof-read Tom’s first article and added some typos and grammatical errors…Great early use of BOLDING though, Tom!



  5. goUKats
    3:19 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    Nice read Mr.Leach.The good news regarding the WKU game is the Coach Stoops and the staff he has hired.The bad news,last years returning players often looked uninterested,unprepared,and better suited for flag football at the intramural level,and these are the guys UK will mainly rely on this year.



  6. Fake Tom Leach
    3:20 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    In my next post, I write about all the times I tried to open a water bottle only to have it explode on me. Also, I talk about the great bottles that Cumberland Gap Mountain Spring Water comes in that prevents spilling! #UncapTheGap #DanielBoone



  7. realme
    3:23 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    I don’t know who I like better, Tom or Fake Tom.



  8. Mark J. Burke
    3:23 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    Hell yes!! I love Tom Leach!!



  9. Sin The'
    3:29 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    Fantastic post.



  10. Sin The'
    3:32 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    I think the guys last year looked uninterested because they had no faith in the coaches.



  11. Fake Tom Leach
    3:35 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    I’m glad you guys like my post! If I had hit my trifecta over the weekend, I wouldn’t had to write it.



  12. PuddingTime
    3:45 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    Great write up Tom. In depth football analysis is what this site needs more of! Go Big Blue!



  13. mocha
    3:56 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    you know Joker was the first football coach in UK history to go to a bowl game in his first year. please LORD don’t let him be the only one on that list….come on STOOPS!



  14. Mike Whaley
    4:03 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    I love the stats you mention and yes I do feel more comfortable and picking our Wildcats now. Welcome aboard Tom



  15. jcatron
    4:03 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    FOOTBALL!!!!



  16. iamthebobcat
    4:06 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    Love the voice of the wildcats Tom Leach! But please update the photo – don’t want to be reminded ever again that Billy G was ever here (even if that is his best side!)



  17. UKCrewser
    4:13 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    Welcome Tom! See ya in Nashville!



  18. Tom Leach
    4:14 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    Forgot to leave my prediction.

    Western 35 Kentucky 6



  19. Toothless Temp
    4:18 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    Delete my post because I have a different opinion and can express it in a logical way. Do it KSR. Do it!



  20. BravoBigBlue
    4:19 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    Excellent post by a real pro, Tom Leach. Very refreshing and insightful. Brings ceditbalility to KSR, which really could use some.



  21. St. Paul Raiders
    4:31 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    16- I thought the same thing.



  22. Adam
    4:31 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    One of Tom’s sentences perfectly illustrates not only how poorly Joker managed the team last year, but also how far UK fans are underestimating the talent of this team.

    “But just as significant was how WKU controlled the trenches, out-gaining the Wildcats on the ground 163-41.”

    Kentucky threw the ball 61 times last year and only ran the ball 19 times. Only 17 rushing attempts were by a running back.

    In comparison, WKU ran the ball an astounding 51 times, 34 times with their number one back.

    Not to say the Cats couldn’t have played better on the line, its just that the 163-41 rushing difference isn’t a reflection of being controlled in the trenches as much as it is Joker Phillips being clueless.

    If Mark Stoops says its your birthday, light your candles.



  23. Nick Papageorgio
    4:34 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    Great post by Tom Leach! Excellent addition to the site!



  24. #stoopspoopsicecream
    4:46 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    I was also struck by the photo with Gillispie. It is funny to think of the difference between Cal and Gillispie. Leach had to talk endlessly to pull any information or thoughts out Gillispie. Now with Cal he just shows up and says “ladies and gentlemen, Coach Cal”, and Calipari will take care of the entire segment.



  25. Like a Leach
    6:27 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    Thank you Mr Leach for your effort to connect with your fellow Blue Brothers through bloggersphere…



  26. Tom Hatton
    8:31 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    Listen to Tom almost every morning and glad to see him on KSR. Now, we need to get his side kick Mr. Pratt on here, then we will have all we need.



  27. Chaz
    10:24 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    Very happy to see Tom Leach as a regular contributor for KSR. Had I worked in the sports field, there are two jobs I would have coveted and feared equally: To be the coach who came after Adolph Rupp or the broadcaster who followed Cawood Ledford.

    Thank goodness Kentucky had Joe B. and Tom Leach on call.



  28. Except
    11:15 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    Ralph Hacker followed Cawood and Leach followed Hacker



  29. Chaz
    1:12 am August 30, 2013 Permalink

    @28 – Thanks for the correction. I amend my comment to “Thank goodness Kentucky had Joe B. and Ralph Hacker on call”. Mr Hacker was the voice of the basketball Wildcats for nine years after Cawood retired and carried on the tradition admirably. Thank goodness Kentucky had Tom Leach to follow Ralph, who followed Cawood. Still miss you, Cawood, after all these years. GO CATS



  30. WestWorld
    5:21 am August 30, 2013 Permalink

    Great having a true pro on the site. Nice website too Tom!



  31. WeAreUK69
    8:43 am August 30, 2013 Permalink

    Awesome addition to KSR !! Look forward to reading throughout the season. Will this be for football & basketball ??



  32. Free Chelsea Manning
    9:02 am August 30, 2013 Permalink

    How will he preview and review each game if the posts are bi-weekly? That’s every two weeks.



  33. Over35 Matt Jones
    9:07 am August 30, 2013 Permalink

    Tom Leach had me at hello…..now he can help me teach Drew how to be more grown up.



  34. Over35 Matt Jones
    9:08 am August 30, 2013 Permalink

    Tom Leach had me at hello…..now he can help me teach Drew how to be more mature.