By Jack Pilgrim on ©October 17th, 2019 @ 11:35pm
Late this evening, 2021 five-star guard Devin Askew announced his commitment to Kentucky, choosing the Wildcats over Louisville, Memphis, and Arizona, among 16 total scholarship offers.
And though he technically committed as a 2021 prospect, he also acknowledged that he is considering a jump to the class of 2020 at the conclusion of his junior season at Mater Dei High School.
Askew, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound guard out of Sacramento, CA, is considered the nation’s No. 9 overall prospect according to Rivals.com and the No. 1 overall point guard. ESPN has him listed at No. 12 overall (No. 1 point guard), while 247Sports has him ranked No. 13 overall (No. 2 combo guard). The newest Wildcat comes in at No. 10 overall on the 2021 247Sports Composite Rankings.
But what do we need to know about Askew? And most importantly, what does his commitment mean for Kentucky?
Who is Devin Askew?
A knockdown shooter with elite floor general qualities, Askew is arguably the top point guard in the junior class for a reason.
This summer playing for Team WhyNot on the Nike EYBL circuit, Askew averaged 9.8 points (46.2% from three), 3.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 1.8 steals per contest during the regular season to go with 16.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 2.0 steals per contest during Peach Jam. During bracket play, Askew was instrumental in leading Team WhyNot to the Peach Jam finals alongside former UK target Jalen Green.
Throughout the entire Nike EYBL season, Askew made at least one 3-pointer in 16 of 20 total games, at least two 3-pointers in 11 games, at least four 3-pointers in six games, and at least five 3-pointers in two games. His status as one of the nation’s best shooters, regardless of class, is no secret.
As a sophomore at Mater Dei High School last season, Askew averaged 14.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 6.8 assists, and 2.1 steals per contest. He also had a 2.72-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Outside of being an elite shooter, the 6-foot-3 prospect is a superb floor general and a competitor through and through. With strong court vision, exceptional instincts as an on-ball perimeter defender, and efficiency as a playmaker, major recruiting analysts and experts were quick to move Askew from the late 20s/early 30s up to consensus top-15 status.
He’s not the type to dunk on anyone or separate himself on the floor as a pure athlete, but from a pure fundamental and competitive standpoint, Askew is second-to-none among 2021 guards.
After watching him in a few Nike EYBL events to close out the spring and begin summer, Kentucky assistant coach Joel Justus flew out to Phoenix, AZ on June 21 to watch Askew participate in the Section 7 Camp, which also included 2020 five-star guard Daishen Nix.
After a standout performance at Peach Jam, the Kentucky coaching staff moved forward with an official scholarship offer on July 26, where the Wildcats joined the likes of Vanderbilt, TCU, Villanova, Nebraska, Ohio State, Kansas, and Memphis as summer offers.
Louisville, the longtime favorite in Askew’s recruitment, received the first official visit from the five-star guard on September 1. From there, Kentucky head coach John Calipari visited the 6-foot-3 prospect at his school in Santa Ana, CA to open the fall recruiting period on September 12, with Justus taking another trip out west to see Askew on September 24.
Askew took an unofficial visit to Arizona on September 27, and followed it up with another unofficial to Memphis on October 3.
On the weekend of October 4, the five-star guard took his official visit to Lexington, where sources tell KSR that the Kentucky established itself as the runaway favorite to land Askew’s commitment.
After originally denying rumors of a commitment this week, the five-star guard officially announced on Wednesday afternoon that a decision was coming on Thursday evening.
Tonight, Askew officially became a member of the Big Blue Nation.
“I would like to thank all the programs and coaches for recruiting me and putting their time into me,” Askew said in an announcement video provided by ESPN on Thursday evening. “With that being said, I will be taking my talents to the University of Kentucky. I chose Kentucky because I feel that Coach Cal and all the assistant coaches have my best interest [in mind] and help me get to my goals. Some things I would like to accomplish at the University of Kentucky are win a national championship and become better as a player and improve to become a pro.”
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 18, 2019
“Coach Cal is a straight up honest guy,” Askew said in a statement to ESPN’s Paul Biancardi. “He loves his players and his players love him. He wants what’s best for his players. He helps you achieve you goals.“
Calipari’s big win over Chris Mack
While Askew is a phenomenal player and will be a major contributor in Lexington, the recruiting aspect of this commitment is rather significant at the local level.
Louisville head coach Chris Mack was hired in March of 2018, and immediately followed it up by prioritizing the five-star guard out of Sacramento. He watched him during the AAU season, became one of the first to offer Askew on August 13, 2018, began taking multiple trips out west to see him at his home and school, and brought him in on visits, both unofficial and official.
With over a year head start on Kentucky, the Louisville coaching staff built a phenomenal relationship with their prized guard target and established itself as the heavy favorite. If a decision had been made this spring, it would have been tough to imagine Askew landing anywhere other than UofL.
In just a matter of months, the Kentucky coaching staff managed to swoop in and solidify itself as a legitimate contender in his recruitment. They sold the idea of Askew coming in and competing against NBA players every day in practice and building his own draft stock in the process.
And then down the home stretch, John Calipari managed to do what he does best, sealing the deal on a commitment from yet another elite recruiting target.
In his very first major recruiting battle with John Calipari as UofL’s head coach, Mack came away empty-handed.
We know Askew is officially a Wildcat, but when will he end up on campus?
The Sacramento, CA native has gone back-and-forth on a potential reclassification, originally telling the world early this summer that he was open to moving to the class of 2020, but later telling Rivals.com in September that he will not make the jump.
“It’s always just joking around like, “Oh, Dev, you should come to college early,” but nah, I’m staying in the class of 2021,” he told Krysten Peek of Rivals.com in September. “I think it’s best if I stay and play my senior year here at Mater Dei, play with Coach McKnight, that’ll for sure make him happy. And with just all the guys on the team, we have all these returning players and can have a really fun year next year too.”
Just a few weeks later, though, both Askew and his father, Brian, confirmed to various publications that a reclassification was still on the table.
Just yesterday, Brian Askew told Evan Daniels of 247Sports that his son was committing as a 2021 prospect, but would “re-evaluate” after the season.
“He’s going to commit as a 2021 and then we’ll re-evaluate after the season,” the five-star guard’s father said.
Sources tell KSR that as of today, Askew is expected to reclassify to 2020 and join Kentucky’s upcoming recruiting class. That being said, 2020 No. 2 prospect Cade Cunningham is still available and is rumored to be leaning toward Kentucky, which could potentially shake things up.
While UK is recruiting both Askew and Cunningham for the class of 2020 and is hoping they both suit up in blue and white during the 2020-21 season, would Kentucky’s newest commitment opt to stick with his original class if the top senior guard prospect winds up in Lexington? It’s certainly something to consider.
What does this mean for Kentucky’s other guard targets?
With Askew now on board, Kentucky has a star point guard in its back pocket as they decide how to move forward. As mentioned in the previous section, the UK coaching staff is going all-in on Cade Cunningham, with the Wildcats currently maintaining significant momentum following an impressive official visit. 247Sports Director of Recruiting Evan Daniels submitted a Crystal Ball pick in favor of Kentucky, with fellow recruiting experts Jerry Meyer and Chris Fisher both following suit, as well.
If Cunningham commits to Kentucky, the only question at hand regarding UK’s future recruiting efforts in the backcourt is whether or not Askew decides to join him in 2020. If so, they move forward with Cunningham, Askew, Terrence Clarke, and BJ Boston as one of the most impressive individual guard classes in recent memory.
But it’s not a guarantee he reclassifies with the 6-foot-7 guard out of Arlington, TX on board. While UK is giddy at the idea of it coming to fruition, it’s easy to see why a player like Askew may be hesitant to make the jump. While he could follow in Tyler Ulis’ footsteps – come in as a freshman and develop behind a star guard before taking over the team as a sophomore – the 6-foot-3 prospect could opt to follow through with his senior season, become a McDonald’s All-American, play in the Jordan Brand Classic and Nike Hoop Summit, and go for the Peach Jam title once again next summer.
If Askew decides he wants to stick with 2021, Kentucky is still likely done in the backcourt and has an elite guard to look forward to in the 2021-22 season.
If Cunningham commits to Oklahoma State, there is no question that the Kentucky coaching staff will push Askew to make the jump, a move he will almost certainly make.
No matter the future steps for either high-level prospect, Askew’s commitment means Kentucky now has the flexibility to put all its eggs in the Cade Cunningham basket and not look back.
Not a bad cushion to have.
Welcome home, Mr. Askew.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©October 17th, 2019 @ 11:31pm
2021 five-star guard Devin Askew is a Kentucky Wildcat.
This evening, the No. 10 prospect in the 2021 247Sports Composite Rankings announced his commitment to the University of Kentucky over Louisville, Memphis, and Arizona, among 16 total scholarship offers.
Askew, a 6-foot-3 combo guard out of Sacramento, CA, is considered the No. 9 prospect in the junior class on Rivals.com, the No. 12 prospect on ESPN, and No. 13 overall prospect on 247Sports.
Rivals.com and ESPN have the newest Wildcat listed as the No. 1 point guard in the class of 2021, while 247Sports has Askew ranked No. 2 overall among all combo guards, with 2021 top-ten junior and major Kentucky target Jaden Hardy listed as the lone combo guard ranked ahead.
At the time of his decision, Kentucky had picked up 100% of all predictions on Askew’s Crystal Ball, including picks from recruiting experts Evan Daniels, Andrew Slater, Brian Snow, and Jerry Meyer, among others.
Long seen as a major reclassification candidate, Askew committed this evening as a 2021 prospect, but left the door open for a potential jump to the class of 2020 this spring.
This summer playing for Team Why Not on the Nike EYBL circuit, Askew averaged 9.8 points (46.2% from three), 3.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 1.8 steals per contest during the regular season to go with 16.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 2.0 steals per contest during Peach Jam.
Throughout the entire Nike EYBL season, Askew made at least one 3-pointer in 16 of 20 total games, at least two 3-pointers in 11 games, at least four 3-pointers in six games, and at least five 3-pointers in two games.
As a sophomore at Mater Dei High School last season, Askew averaged 14.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 6.8 assists, and 2.1 steals per contest. He also had a 2.72-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Outside of being one of the top shooters in all of high school basketball, the 6-foot-3 prospect is an elite floor general and a competitor through and through. With strong court vision, exceptional instincts as an on-ball perimeter defender, and efficiency as a playmaker, it’s no surprise that the major recruiting outlets have Askew listed among the best of the best in the junior class. He’s not the type to dunk on anyone or separate himself on the floor as a pure athlete, but from a pure fundamental and competitive standpoint, Askew is second-to-none among 2021 guards.
The Sacramento, CA native took home third-team honors on the MaxPreps Boys Basketball Sophomore All-American Team to go with fourth-team honors on the 2018-19 California Boys Basketball All-State Team. He also earned Southern Section All-Open Division Team, Orange County Register All-County Team, and All-SoCal Varsity Team honors as a sophomore.
Check out some of the newest Wildcat’s most recent highlights from this summer:
Welcome home, Mr. Askew.
With the main stories from SEC Basketball Media Day out of the way, it’s time for some leftovers. Here are ten more observations on a whirlwind day in Birmingham.
The Grand Bohemian Hotel sure is fancy
The venues for SEC Basketball Media Day have varied over the years, from the SEC Network studios in Charlotte to the concourse of Bridgestone Arena in Nashville to a teeny tiny conference room in the Omni Hotel across the street. This year, the event took place in the luxurious Grand Bohemian Hotel in Mountain Brook, a wealthy neighborhood near downtown Birmingham. Everything was set up in one room, with the main media stage on one end, the SEC Network set on the other, and player podiums on the sides.
With five million things happening at once and Tom Hart’s voice booming over all of it, it was nearly impossible to concentrate, but the plushy perks made up for it. Gone were the media buffet staples of chicken parmesan and stale rolls. Instead, we were treated to arugula salad with apples, cranberries, and brie; quinoa; asparagus pesto pasta, and, well, chicken, but it was fancy chicken. The sweet spread was shared by media, coaches, and players alike (hence the quality), so if you wanted to sit with SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey while you ate, no one was going to stop you; in fact, I don’t think Sankey left his table under the tent all day, more than happy to drink coffee and shoot the breeze with whomever came his way.
Not every hotel has a picture like this outside the bathrooms
I had that same expression when I saw the hot tea station, complete with six varieties of Tazo, honey, and lemon wedges.
Will Wade knows LSU got lucky with that no-call last year
LSU beat Kentucky in Rupp last year thanks to a last-second tip in that should have been called basket interference, but was not. This year, the NCAA added a rule allowing instant replay if a basket interference or goaltending call is made in the final two minutes, which doesn’t exactly address the issue, but likely came about because of that game’s controversial ending. Will Wade said as much.
“They got the rule changed because of that right? It’s unique with the rule change because there are going to be some residual effects from that that people aren’t going to like, actually, because if the ball doesn’t go in and they review and it goes to a jump ball, so the team that got the rebound may not necessarily get the jump ball. There’s going to be some issues. For that one situation, it would probably have worked because the reality was, you could have looked at it from 100 different replays. Unless the referee was sitting on top of the backboard, you probably weren’t going to get that call correct. With the rule change it will be interesting how they adjudicate that at the end of the games. We certainly were the beneficiary of it last year of that so we’ll take it.”
So, basically, he knows the Tigers got lucky. Got it.
Cuonzo Martin saved the rest of the coaches from an embarrassing moment
Cuonzo Martin’s session was mostly a snoozer, but shoutout to Mizzou’s coach for saving his colleagues from an embarrassing moment. The steps to the main stage were very tall, and after almost tripping on his way down, Martin pulled an SEC official to the side and suggested they find a new set of steps so no one would fall. Minutes later, a set of more manageable steps was wheeled in. Way to be your brother’s keeper, Cuonzo.
See, this is the hard-hitting journalism you send me to these events for.
Calipari is not a fan of adding more rounds to the NBA Draft
Kentucky fans have heard Calipari talk about the dangers of expanding the G-League many times, but he recited his stump speech for the rest of the league’s media yesterday, insisting that adding more rounds to the NBA Draft would lead to the demise of college basketball.
"If anybody supports more rounds in the draft … you do not care about college basketball or you're trying to ruin college basketball."
John Calipari explains why he's strongly against the expansion of the NBA draft. pic.twitter.com/JXNTGzbZk2
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 17, 2019
Buzz Williams loves John Calipari
I didn’t make it in time for the new Texas A&M coach’s session, but watching the video this morning, he could barely stand still on stage, wandering back and forth to better hear reporters. Like any new guy joining the league, Williams paid his dues and praised John Calipari, the longest tenured coach in the SEC.
“I love Coach. I think he’s as good as there is in the business. I think historically, he will be compared to some of the greatest who have ever coached, including at Kentucky. I think what he’s done in this era, with this level of exposure, in the ten years he has been there is remarkable. And I think as we get further and further away in time, relative to what he’s done, you’ll look back as a Big Blue Nation member and go, ‘Man, I can’t believe we were able to do all of those things.’ And I don’t think that it’s slowing down, I actually think it’s probably speeding up.”
“It’s kind of like the paparazzi coming to College Station,” Williams said of when Kentucky comes to town. “We’ll have to get an escort, make sure that we have security on whatever hotel. Coach may not want to stay at College Station. Coach may have to stay at that place where the football teams stay.”
Ben Howland loves Ashton Hagans
Several of the league’s coaches raved about Hagans, but none more so than Mississippi State’s Ben Howland, who watched Hagans dish 18 assists in two games vs. the Bulldogs last season.
“I think getting the point guard back, getting Hagans back, really helps because he’s phenomenal. He’s an NBA player. He’ll be an NBA player this season. I thought it was good for him to come back so he could get better at his stroke and his shot. It’s the only thing that limited him a year ago. I know he’s worked on it like crazy in the offseason.”
Ashton Hagans likes the idea of a three-guard lineup
Calipari has hinted at using a three-guard lineup this year featuring Ashton Hagans, Tyrese Maxey, and Immanuel Quickley. How does Hagans feel about that?
“It would be dangerous. We’d get up and down the court fast, get out fast. Cal loves playing with a fast pace, so that would be something he’s done before, but with this team, I think it would be very special because we’ve got EJ running the floor, Nick running the floor, so we can get a lot more lobs, things like that. On the defensive end, we’ve got three guards that are going to go out there and play defense. Why not let them attack the other guards?”
Ashton Hagans’ “Wipe Ya Nose” gesture
If you follow Hagans on social media, surely you’ve seen him put his finger under his nose, most often with a caption about slimes. I am not hip to what the kids say these days, so I asked my younger counterparts for some help. Apparently this is the “Wipe Ya Nose” gesture, which originates from Atlanta-based rapper Young Thug, who said in his popular song “Slimed In,” “Wipe your nose clean, f— your whole team.” Hagans does the gesture with his “slimes,” aka friends.
“You know, just something I always do,” Hagans said when I asked him about it yesterday. “Slime, like me and my brothers. After a good workout, ‘Good working, my slime,’ which is like your brother.”
I am so old.
EJ Montgomery is trying to come out of his shell
Hagans is a natural at these events, but I had to admit I was surprised that Kentucky brought EJ Montgomery as the other representative. The big guy is pretty shy when it comes to media stuff, or, as Seth Greenberg put it in UK’s recap video, a man of few words; however, you could tell he was making an effort to break out of his shell. On a team of big personalities, EJ will never be as outgoing as Tyrese Maxey or Kahlil Whitney, but it was good to see him having fun. That smile is contagious.
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) October 17, 2019
Read the rest of KSR’s SEC Basketball Media Day Coverage:
- No Smile November: Duke loss inspires Kentucky’s new mantra
- 5 Notes from Kentucky’s Session at SEC Basketball Media Day
- Calipari still hasn’t read new California law
- Will Wade ‘comfortable and confident’ with how he’s run LSU’s program
- Kerry Blackshear on why he chose Florida over UK
- Tennessee’s Jordan Bowden isn’t wrong about Rupp Arena
- Frank Martin: Politicians need to stay out of college athletics
For the third time in the last five weeks, Kentucky will head on the road and this time the Wildcats will be making the trip to Athens. The Dawgs are fresh off a stunning home loss to South Carolina and need to get back on track quick before a colossal matchup with Florida at the Cocktail Party on November 2nd.
Nuts and Bolts
In 1980, a freshman running back by the name of Herschel Walker bursted onto the scene. In Vince Dooley’s 17th season as the head dog, UGA would run the table thinks largely to Walker’s 1,616 rushing yards. The Dawgs would beat Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl and were crowned national champions. Nearly 40 years later, this program is still looking for its next national title.
In that time, UGA has won five SEC titles and had some really high points over the years. Dooley would run the program from 1964-1988, winning 201 games in 25 seasons. The most popular coach in program history finished in the top-10 seven times and laid the foundation for what would come next.
After a mediocre run for a decade, UGA decided to make a move. Mark Richt was the offensive coordinator for Bobby Bowden at Florida State for seven seasons before leaving. Under his watch, the Seminoles had some of the best offenses in college football and it made a ton of sense for UGA to tag him as their next football coach. Richt would spend 15 years in Athens and achieved a lot.
In that run, the Bulldogs a .740 winning percentage, finished in the top-10 seven times, and won two SEC titles. However, he could never get the big one despite coming close many times. After giving up play-calling duties and seeing the offense stall, the Bulldogs decided to part ways following an uninspiring 9-3 season in 2015. The goal was to compete for national championships.
Immediately, Georgia called alum Kirby Smart home to run the program. Nick Saban’s right hand man for many years was always a hot commodity who took his time before taking a head coaching gig. It seemed like a perfect fit from the start and the results have been pretty good to this point.
After a rough 8-5 finish in year one, the Bulldogs won the SEC and played for the national championship in year two before falling to Alabama. Year three saw UGA go 11-1 before narrowly losing to Alabama in the SEC title game. The Dawgs came out hot again this season before falling to South Carolina last week. However, they still control their own destiny and are 29-6 since 2017. Add in the fact that Smart might be the best recruiter in the country and the future seems very bright.
This will be the 73rd meeting between the two programs with UGA owning a dominant 58-12-2 advantage. The Bulldogs have won nine in a row in the series since UK knocked off the Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium in 2009. Since Kirby Smart arrived, UGA has averaged 34.3 points per game with UK never scoring more than 24. UK only has one win in Athens since 1978.
Out in the desert, Georgia is a 24.5 point favorite with a total of 48. That’s a projected final score around 36-12. UGA is 6-9-1 against the spread as a 20-plus point favorite under Kirby Smart. UK is 3-3 against the spread as a 20-plus point dog under Mark Stoops. The Wildcats are 0-6 against the spread against UGA under Stoops.
After losing Jim Chaney to Tennessee in the offseason, UGA promoted James Coley to offensive coordinator. The South Florida native worked with Mark Stoops at Florida State and was the play-caller at Miami the last three seasons of the Al Golden era. Despite some experience and familiarity with the roster, many were skeptical about the decision.
Through six games this season, the Bulldogs have some lofty national rankings. They rank in the top-25 in scoring, yards per play, yards per carry, yards per pass, sacks allowed, tackles for loss allowed, red zone, red zone touchdown rate. However, the Dawgs have had troubles with big play rate (73rd in 20-plus yard plays) and are struggling to find answers at receiver. That’s where they were exposed in the loss to South Carolina.
Not only did they lose their play-caller, but UGA also lost their top five pass catchers from last season and they are struggling to replace the production. In the wide receiver room, the Bulldogs have four former top-200 recruits in the rotation, but three are freshman. The offense is leaning heavily on a pair of transfers (Lawerence Cager, Demetris Robertson) and the former was knocked out of the South Carolina game and is doubtful for this weekend. This offense is fishing for answers on the outside, but there is one that who has a chance to be a great.
George Pickens was a huge late recruiting win in February and he is one of seven former five-star recruits that sees playing time on offense. Pickens leads the team in receiving and is fresh off a performance that saw him put up 98 yards on seven grabs. With Cager out, the top target will be the rookie.
The man delivering the ball has started 34 consecutive games and is on the verge of some passing records. Jake Fromm was a top-5o prospect out of Warner Robins, Georgia and after taking over for former five-star Jacob Eason in 2017, he beat out and forced former five-star Justin Fields to leave the program. The pro-style quarterback has completed 70 percent of his throws and is averaging 8.5 yards per attempt in 2019, but is fresh off his worst game as a college quarterback.
Fromm made 51 throws last week and three turned into interceptions. He completed just 54.9 percent of these attempts on 5.8 yards per attempt. Georgia is 0-4 when he throws at least 30 passes so the goal for every opposing defense should be to get him to that number. The problem is that the Dawgs are a very run heavy offense and more often than not they are passing for balance. It helps when you have three former top-50 recruits among your four-man rotation at tailback. Remember what D’Andre Swift did last season?
The Bulldogs ran for 331 yards in the de facto SEC East championship and Swift was a big reason why. In his junior season, the former five-star recruit is putting up 6.44 yards per carry and is fourth in the SEC in rushing yards on less than 15 carries per game. He has a chance to be the first back off the board in the upcoming NFL Draft, but he’s not the only one in the stable.
Brian Herrien is the primary backup and is averaging 6.28 yards per pop on 40 attempts. Five-star redshirt freshman Zamir White missed last season after tearing his ACL, but he is averaging 6.37 yards per carry on 38 totes. UGA has a plethora of talented options at tailback.
We’re used to talking about just how talented Georgia is at running back each season, but what was suppose to separate this team was the offensive line. Sam Pitman is known by many as one of the best line coaches in football and he has built one talented unit. Thanks to great size and really good recruiting, the Bulldogs should manhadle almost any opposing defensive front they face.
Andrew Thomas is the best tackle in college football and he’ll likely be a top-1o pick. Former five-star Isaiah Wilson has been a starter since last season and is a huge human being (6-foot-7, 340 pounds). Trey Hill could be the best center in the SEC and he’s only a sophomore. Left guard Solomon Kindley and his 25 career starts will likely be out of the lineup due to an ankle injury, but in steps in five-star true sophomore Cade Mays.
UGA’s depth, which was perhaps their biggest strength, has been put to the test recently and it’s likely their two top left guards (Kindley and Justin Shaffer) will not be available. However, this is a group that was beat most of the day by a very talented South Carolina front. They’ll be looking for a bounce back effort against a porous UK run defense.
On the other side of the football, Georgia also lost a coordinator with Mel Tucker leaving to become the head coach at Colorado. On this side of the ball, Smart also decided to promote by making Dan Lanning the new defensive play-caller. At only 33 years old, he’s one of the youngest coordinators in football.
In Lanning’s first season, the UGA defense is playing really well. The Dawgs rank in the top-3 in a ton of statistical categories in the SEC and have a handful of areas where they rank top-1o nationally. No defense in the league gives up fewer yards per carry than the Dawgs and they have yet to allow a rushing touchdown. In the 3-4 scheme, there’s not a lot of star power in the front seven but there’s a ton of depth.
UGA will play at least 14 players regular snaps in the front seven and the Dawgs have a nice mix of upperclassmen and young talent. Junior Monty Rice leads the team in tackles from his Will linebacker spot, but is only at 38 stops. The Dawgs have 13 players who have recorded at least 10 tackles this season. Inside, defensive tackle Tyler Clark leads the team in non-sack tackles for loss with 3.5 while redshirt freshman Jack linebacker Azeez Ojulari leads the team in sacks with 3.5. This is a talented group where the strength is in the numbers, but the star power is found in the secondary.
J.R. Reed started his career at Tulsa before transferring to Georgia and since becoming eligible, he has been a starter. The Frisco, Texas native was a preseason first team All-SEC selection and he has played to the hype. Reed is second on the team with 31 tackles and had a crazy good interception against Notre Dame. He covers a lot of ground, but his running mate might be just as good.
Richard LeCounte was a five-star prospect in the class of 2017 and the Riceboro, Georgia native has an insane amount of closing speed. With him and Reed on the backend, UGA might have the best safety duo in the country. However, the secondary’s most productive player was a former three-star recruit.
Eric Stokes is tied for third in the SEC in pass break-ups (7) and is more than willing to come up and tackle. Despite some big time blue-chippers, there are a few unheralded recruits making a big impact for the UGA defense.
Special Teams Breakdown
When talking about UGA’s third phase, you must start with the man they call Hot Rod.
The most popular player on the team, who rocks a beautiful pair of goggles, Rodrigo Blankenship entered this season as one of the nation’s top kickers and was perfect on the season before missing two attempts last week. Despite that, he is still a star. Most of his kickoffs go in the endzone, but when they don’t, UGA is great in coverage.
Despite not being used much, Jake Camarda is much improved from last season and is averaging over 45 yards per attempt. The Dawgs have only allowed two punt returns this season so expect some fair catches from Josh Ali. In the kickoff return department, UGA has been pretty pedestrian but Tyler Simmons is putting up near 17 yards per punt return. UK will need Max Duffy to be on this game.
Keys to Victory
- UGA has one of the best rushing attacks in the country and they rank sixth nationally in yards per carry. This week they are facing a UK defense that ranks 113th in yards per carry allowed. It certainly seems like it could get ugly for Brad White’s unit and the last two seasons we’ve seen UGA rush for over 300 yards in both meetings. However, UGA ranks just 43rd in 20-plus yard runs. UK must find away to limit the big play and then you can live with the constant efficiency.
- Georgia has one of the best big play prevention defenses and most importantly they do it on the ground. The Dawgs have only allowed two 20-plus yard rushes from opponents while UK ranks sixth with 17 20-plus yard runs. If Kentucky is going to have any shot at success of offense, they must find a way to create chunk plays on the ground.
- In the first five games, UK forced nine takeaways and was one of the more opportunistic defenses in the FBS. However, they haven’t produced a turnover in the last eight quarters. Fresh off a four turnover game, UK must hope the ball security issues are still there for Georgia.
- If you have some gadget plays, Saturday would be a great time to use them. If it’s close in the second half, UK can’t be afraid to let it rip. Consider onside kicks, fake punts, and unconventional fourth down attempts. Carry that swagger over from last week and bring some of that juice to Athens.
The 11 Personnel team is hitting the road this week to watch the Cats and Dawgs play some football “Between The Hedges”. Nick Roush and I will in Athens covering the game and mingling in some watering hole on Friday night. Make sure you check the latest episode of the pod as we wrap up the Arkansas win, preview the Georgia game, and tell you why UK still needs to roll with Lynn Bowden, Jr. at quarterback full-time.
We’ll be out on the town checking out the Blue-White game in addition to Pittsburgh-Syracuse, Northwestern-Ohio State, and Astros-Yankees. If you’re making the trip to Athens, holler at a player when you see him in the streets.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©October 16th, 2019 @ 11:00pm
Last year’s season-opening loss to Duke was a brutal wakeup call for Kentucky, and with another mega-debut on the horizon vs. preseason No. 1 Michigan State, Ashton Hagans is determined to learn from those mistakes. The sophomore point guard told reporters at SEC Basketball Media Day Kentucky has adopted a “No Smile November” mentality in hopes of being more focused when the season begins on November 5.
“No smiles,” Hagans said. “No Smile November. That’s our new term right now, so we’re just trying to go out there and compete.”
“Last November we got a little bit upset but that was the first game, so this year we’re just trying to go in with a different mindset. You know, just trying to stay more focused. Have everyone on all ten toes ready to go out there and fight the first game.”
When I think about the Duke game, I think of how confident Kentucky was in the tunnel, barking and yipping like a pack of dogs. Hagans admitted they didn’t know how to turn off the “fun button” and play, and it came back to bite them.
CATS READY pic.twitter.com/l0aOjeeHZS
— Tyler Thompson (@MrsTylerKSR) November 7, 2018
Kentucky players howling and barking during warmups. Keldon Johnson is terrifying. pic.twitter.com/53fFwXvBR1
— Tyler Thompson (@MrsTylerKSR) November 7, 2018
“Our coaches would say we sounded like a concert in the locker room but I would say people were just amped and ready to play that game than just more focused on it. But this year, everyone’s just locked in. We had a few jokes about us getting blown out but it’s past that so we ain’t looking back at that no more.”
John Calipari brought up the Duke game as an example of a young team going through growing pains, telling reporters the Blue Devils should have won by 100.
“So you want to bring the Duke game up when they beat us by 70 in the first game last year, maybe?” Cal said (the reporter did not). “We lose by 70 in the first game and literally, they could have run it to 100. It could have been a Wilt Chamberlain with the piece of paper, by a ‘100.’ We come back at the end of the year, I thought we should have won the national title. We get by that game and we’re in that Final Four, I felt comfortable with my team. So, it’s a step at a time. We’re not preparing to play Michigan State. I can’t do that. If I do, we’re screwed the next month and a half. This is what we have in when we play Michigan State; hopefully it’s enough to win.”
EJ Montgomery said Hagans was the brainchild behind “No Smile November,” and the whole team has embraced it…even Tyrese Maxey, who has been known to smile in his sleep.
“It’s hard for him. Me and him both love smiling, having fun with the game,” Montgomery said. “Just trying to stay focused, go at each other every day in practice so we’ll just be ready for all these games we’ve got coming.”
Montgomery said the rule only applies on the court, so this very fun group will continue to be all smiles off it; however, when the ball is tipped, it’s business.
“The name says it for itself,” Hagans said. “No Smile November. Just coming out with a chip on your shoulder ready to play against any team we’re going against and just ready to fight.”
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©October 16th, 2019 @ 7:00pm
Kentucky’s time at SEC Basketball Media Day has come to an end, which means the Cats are probably already in their private jet heading back to Lexington. I’m about to hit the road myself for Nashville, but first, a few notes.
Calipari covered a lot of old ground
Between UK Basketball Media Day and his interview on KSR last week, John Calipari didn’t cover much new ground during his 20-minute Q&A today. Once again, he expressed his concerns about the potential expansion of the G-League, claimed hasn’t read the California Fair Pay to Play Law, and talked about how EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards need to be more physical.
Here’s his response when a reporter asked him how EJ compares to PJ Washington, who also returned to Kentucky for sophomore season:
Everyone is raving about Ashton Hagans’ defense
Ashton Hagans was named Co-SEC Defensive Player of the Year last season, and his name came up plenty today as the league’s toughest defender.
“Big fan of his game,” Florida’s Mike White said. “I mean this all positively, he’s a junkyard dog in my opinion. Pitbull. Tough as they come. Probably as good an on-ball defender as there is in the country.”
John Calipari has had plenty of talented point guards, but said Hagans is the best defender of them all. Like a leader, Hagans credited his teammates when a reporter informed him of Calipari’s praise.
“Just keep doing what I do. Keep trying to do my best each and every day when I go to practice. Compete against the guards, Immanuel [Quickley] and Tyrese [Maxey]. Immanuel is looking ten times better than he was last year, so for him to keep putting in the work that he’s putting in to make himself better, it’s just going to make our team even better as the season goes on. Tyrese is a hard worker. No one’s really seen him play except for high school and the McDonald’s [All-American] Game but I guarantee he’s going to bring the same thing he brought in those games to Kentucky. Johnny Juzang, he came to college a year earlier, he’s ready to work and show everybody what’s he’s got. The guards are just ready to come out here and compete.”
…But he also hit 60 threes in 5 minutes in a recent drill
Ashton Hagans isn’t exactly known as a shooter, but Calipari told reporters that Hagans recently hit 60 threes in the team’s five-minute shooting drill, which is an eye-opener to say the least. Hagans said that last year, he would average around 39-45 threes in the drill, but this year, has hit as many as 65.
EJ Montgomery is back on Twitter
Did you know EJ Montgomery took a Twitter hiatus? Me neither. He’s back on social media as of yesterday, and encouraged fans to follow him @EJMontgomery23.
“I just felt like I needed a break, but I’m back now, so everybody go follow me.”
With no social media to distract him, Montgomery said he spent his extra time in the gym.
“I was just more focused, trying to get myself better, staying in the gym.”
He and Nick have been battling in practice
Calipari has forced his bigs to face off in practice recently in hopes of sparking their competitive fire.
“It’s a lot of battles,” Montgomery said. “A lot of cuts and bruises. We’ve just been trying to go at each other and just fight every possession as we try to compete.”
Cal said he’s noticed a big change in Nick so far.
“Nick is in the best shape I’ve ever seen him, which has built his own confidence now in himself,” Cal said. “He’s like running out ahead and has a smile on his face. Nick now, you’re seeing jump hooks. We did rebounding stuff and he’s getting every rebound. Proud of him. Proud of EJ.”
I’ll have more from SEC Basketball Media Day tomorrow, but in the meantime, you can watch my interviews with Ashton and EJ below.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©October 15th, 2019 @ 12:30pm
Kentucky basketball has been selected to win its sixth regular-season SEC title under John Calipari in the 2019-20 preseason media poll.
This afternoon, it was announced that the league’s media voted on UK to take home the program’s 49th overall regular-season title, the 15th time since the 1998-99 season the Wildcats have been named the overall preseason favorite.
Calipari, who is in his eleventh season at Kentucky, has led the Wildcats to regular-season SEC titles in 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016 and 2017, with UK also claiming the SEC Tournament title six times in that span in 2010, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
In addition to the SEC preseason poll, three Kentucky Wildcats were selected to preseason All-SEC teams. Sophomore guard Ashton Hagans was picked to the first team, while freshman guard Tyrese Maxey and sophomore forward EJ Montgomery were tabbed to the second season. Hagans also received one vote for preseason SEC Player of the Year, with former Kentucky target and current Florida Gator Kerry Blackshear Jr. earning those honors.
Hagans is joined by Blackshear, Georgia’s Anthony Edwards, Ole Miss’ Breein Tyree and Mississippi State’s Reggie Perry on the first team. Joining Maxey and Montgomery on the second team were Alabama’s Kira Lewis Jr., Arkansas’ Isaiah Joe, Florida’s Andrew Nembhard, LSU’s Skylar Mays and Tennessee’s Lamonté Turner.
Hagans shared 2019 SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors last season after picking up 61 steals as a freshman.
Kentucky will begin exhibition play with the program’s annual Blue-White Game scheduled for 7 p.m. ET on Friday on the SEC Network. From there, the Wildcats will participate in two more exhibition games against Georgetown College on Oct. 27 and Kentucky State on Nov. 1.
UK will then open up the regular season in New York for the State Farm Champions Classic against Michigan State at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN.
Kentucky is fresh off their first SEC win of the season and this past weekend at Kroger Field we saw a new look offense from the Wildcats. With two scholarship quarterbacks lost for the season due to injury and grad transfer Sawyer Smith extremely banged up, UK decided to turn to the best playmaker on its roster.
Lynn Bowden, Jr. was a star quarterback for Warren G. Harding in Youngstown, Ohio during his prep career and we have seen him used as a wildcat quarterback multiple times in his college career. Entering the Arkansas game, UK installed an entire offense for the wide receiver to run and the results were great.
Kentucky put up their highest yards per play total in an SEC game since last year’s win at Florida and ran for over 300 yards in the win. Bowden was the main reason why and he was named SEC Co-Offensive Player of the Week for the remarkable performance. He was able to have this success due to the option and read elements that Eddie Gran and his offensive staff were able to install in just two weeks.
One concept we saw UK use on Saturday over 10 times was what is known as a power toss read. In it, the offensive line blocks for a typical power play while the running back runs a toss sweep action. The quarterback reads an individual defender and that determines whether he keeps it for the QB power run or toss it to the back for a perimeter run. Kentucky ran this look multiple times, but also inserted a couple passes off of the look and one would result in the biggest passing play of the night.
This week on Inside The Play, we’ll take you inside the KSR Film Room and show you just how UK used this play to their advantage and why it will be a key play for the offense moving forward.
One of the first looks UK flashed with this concept got the slot receiver involved. Right guard Mason Wolfe pulls so you can see the QB power develop while Kavosiey Smoke carries out the pitch action. Lynn Bowden, Jr. is reading Mike linebacker De’Jon Harris (No. 8) and he immediately bites on the run action. As that is happening, Allen Dailey, Jr. is able to cross the face of Will linebacker Bumper Pool (No. 10) who is in coverage in the slot. The results is an easy completion on the slant and a first down. UK planted this play early in hopes of successful runs later in the game.
Later in the game, we see the QB power in action. This time there is no pass element involved because you see both Ahmad Wagner and Justin Rigg engage in blocks. A.J. Rose is on the toss action and this time Bowden is reading Bumper Pool (No. 10). The linebacker takes the bait on the toss and that means Bowden follows right guard Mason Wolfe (No. 77) in the gap scheme run. The result is four yards that sets up a third-and-short. This was a successful play that should only get better with more reps.
The toss appeared to be the most popular look tan from this action with Kentucky looking to use the speed of A.J. Rose and Kavosiey Smoke on the perimeter. Both tight end Justin Rigg and wide receiver Bryce Oliver block while the playside defensive end is left unblocked. You see right tackle Naasir Watkins (No. 66) block down while Justin Rigg heads outside and eventually meets the Mike linebacker. Bowden makes the right read and a better block from Oliver probably leads to a bigger play. Either way, Smoke gains five yards for a successful play on first down.
The biggest play for the concept happened on Kentucky’s first scoring drive. UK runs the same action as we’ve shown you above, but this time Justin Rigg leaks out. Bowden is again reading the Mike linebacker similar to the last pass. He bites on the run action and that leaves a wide open tight end in the area just below the free safety. Rigg gets some very nice yards after catch to big up a chunk play for the offense. The power toss read was good to Kentucky against Arkansas.
On Saturday we saw the power toss read, speed options, typical zone reads, draws, inverted veer, and other option looks. What is good about all these is that there can be pass elements baked into most of them because of RPO utilization in college football. With Kentucky planning on expanding the passing game for Bowden, don’t be surprised to see UK to take some deep shots off these actions now that opposing defenses have multiple things to be aware of when recognizing these concepts.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©October 14th, 2019 @ 12:10pm
After leading Kentucky to a comeback win vs. Arkansas, wide receiver-turned-quarterback Lynn Bowden has been named SEC Co-Offensive Player of the Week. He shares the honor with LSU quarterback Joe Burrow.
Bowden did it all vs. the Razorbacks, accounting for 274 yards and all three of Kentucky’s touchdowns. Two of those touchdowns came on the ground off 24 carries for 196 yards, including the game-winner. He completed 7 of 11 passes for 78 yards and one touchdown, a 10-yard pass to Clevan Thomas Jr. Bowden’s 196 rushing yards are the most for a Kentucky player against an SEC opponent since Rafael Little vs. Vanderbilt in 2005 and the second-most for a Kentucky quarterback in school history. He is also the first UK quarterback with two rushing and one passing touchdown since Patrick Towles vs. Mississippi State in 2014.
Bowden is UK’s leading receiver with 30 catches for 348 yards and one TD this season. He currently ranks 13th on UK’s career receptions list and is 18th on the career receiving yards list with 1,303 yards. Bowden currently leads the SEC and ranks sixth nationally in all-purpose yards, averaging 149.33 per game. He also earned Paul Hornung Award Weekly Honor Roll for the second time this season after Saturday night’s performance.
Not bad for a kid who hasn’t started at quarterback since high school.
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) October 13, 2019
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) October 13, 2019
By Drew Franklin on ©October 14th, 2019 @ 9:00am
You are struggling right now. You had a busy weekend and your brain isn’t quite ready to achieve greatness on this Monday morning. Your coffee tastes weak, your body feels weaker and that to-do list is staring you in the face. I can’t help you be great, but I can give you something to read as you prolong doing actual work just a little bit longer. It’s a new feature I made up like an hour ago — Monday Morning Things To Know (MMTTK for short) — and this first edition will summarize the entire weekend in one place for convenience so you can move on with your life and get back on the right track. Thank me next time you see me.
Lynn Bowden was awesome in Kentucky’s come-from-behind win over Arkansas on Saturday. Playing quarterback for the first time since his high school days, Bowden rushed the ball 24 times for 196 yards and two touchdowns, but also threw for 78 yards and another touchdown on 7-of-11 passing. When asked how he was able to pull off the amazing performance at a new position on such short notice, Bowden told the SEC Network, “Big time players make big time plays in big time games.”
Other notes from the game:
— Bowden’s 196 yards on the ground are the second-most by a QB in school history. Sadly, it ended his streak of 19 straight games with a catch.
— Kentucky’s 330 rushing yards were the most in a home SEC game since 2010. Fun fact: the Cats are 34-0 in games with 250+ rushing yards since 1985. Are we sure we want an Air Raid?
— Did you know Kentucky has one of the longest streaks in the entire nation? It’s true: After surrendering only 20 points to Arkansas, Kentucky has now played 20 straight games without giving up 35 or more points, the second-longest active streak of its kind
— It was the 10th time Mark Stoops led his team to victory after trailing by 10 or more points. That’s a school record for double-digit comebacks among head coaches on the UK sideline.
— With the win, Mark Stoops moved up to fifth on Kentucky’s all-time wins list, in a tie with Rich Brooks at 39 wins apiece. With two more wins, Stoops will tie Blanton Collier and Jerry Claiborne for third all-time; he needs eight to match Fran Curci’s second-best 47 career wins; and maybe one day he can match (and pass) Bear Bryant at the top of the list with 60 career wins as the head coach of the Wildcats.
Big Blue Madness
Big Blue Madness was Friday night and it was a good time. You can read “KSR’s Favorite Moments From Big Blue Madness 2019” for a complete recap of the evening. Or this video will do the trick:
For complete coverage from Big Blue Madness 2019, click right here to get all the way caught up.
Jack Pilgrim summarized all you need to know in his latest Insider Notes right here. If you prefer the condensed version, here are some of the major things to know:
— Evan Daniels logged a pick for Kentucky in Cade Cunningham’s Crystal Ball predictions. Cunningham is the top target on UK’s board, a potential superstar in college basketball, and the momentum has shifted in Kentucky’s favor. Cunningham plans to commit, announce and sign somewhere this fall.
— 2020 five-star forward Scottie Barnes will take his official visit to Kentucky this upcoming weekend. Barnes will be in for the Blue/White game Friday night, as well as all of the fun around John Calipari’s Fantasy Camp weekend. He will probably make a Keeneland appearance too.
— It appears 2021 five-star guard Devin Askew is still leaning toward skipping his senior season of high school and still leaning toward picking Kentucky.
— Sunday night was Benny Snell’s breakout night with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Snell got bumped up to RB2 due to an injury to Jaylen Samuels, the Steelers’ regular backup behind starter James Conner in the backfield. The former Wildcat seized the big opportunity by carrying the ball 17 times (one more than Conner) for a team-high 75 yards on the ground. Snell played the entire fourth quarter in the win while Conner dealt with a nagging quad injury.
— Former Kentucky linebacker Avery Williamson is out for the season with a torn ACL. His New York Jets hosted the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday — do you think he misses playing?
Williamson’s Jets upset the Cowboys, 24-22.
— New Green Bay superstar Za’Darius Smith will be on Monday Night Football tonight as the Packers host the Lions. Smith’s popularity has grown with his new over-the-top sack celebrations; he’s done five of them so far this year.
— The Titans suck.
Congratulations to KSR’s own Maggie Davis, UK’s Homecoming Queen 2019!
Maggie is only a little over a month into her senior year of college and her resume already kicks your resume’s ass. She’s had this sweet gig here at KSR since high school (Maria and I interviewed a young Maggie Davis on UK’s campus and she was hired in my brain before the interview ended); she interned at WLEX on Hey Kentucky!, both on camera and off; this past summer she moved to Los Angeles for a summer internship at ESPN (I’m sure you’ve heard of it); she seems to be involved in everything on campus; and now she can add Queen to the list.
I just hope she remembers the little people when life carries her on to even bigger and better things!
TV & Film
— The Succession finale was soooooooooo good, yet the show is now two full seasons in and I still don’t know more than two people who watch it. I think last night’s finale (and the entire second season) has it in the conversation with some of the best shows ever. It’s so well written are the characters are so unlikeable they’re likable. And that boat last night was ridiculous.
— I fell asleep watching El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie last night. Can’t wait to get back to it after work today. I shouldn’t start good movies I’m dying to see at 2 a.m.
According to this NPR story, five dead bulls were mysteriously found on a ranch in Oregon, mutilated and drained of their blood. The county’s sheriff’s deputy said, “A lot of people lean toward the aliens.”
HELP: Wedding planning is a lot. The lady and I are still venue hunting in the Lexington area and I’d love to hear any suggestions you may have because I can then take your suggestions and pretend I found them on my own and it’ll look like I’m doing a really good job. For real though — if you know of any good venues, or if you have a huge plot of land you’ll loan me for two days, do tell. This is an overwhelming process.
Did You Know?
It is National Dessert Day in the United States of America. Yes, the diet always starts on Monday, but not this Monday because you owe it to our country to eat dessert today.
— Mark Stoops will meet with the media at noon for his regular Monday press conference. As always, you can follow along via UK’s live stream that we will share here on Kentucky-Sports-Radio-dot-com. Stoops will have a lot to say about Lynn Bowden’s offense getting it done and what the hell they’re going to do with Georgia up next on the schedule.
— A new KSR Football Podcast will be available tonight before you go to bedtime. I recommend turning it on in the bedroom with your significant other. Under candlelight.
— Ryan Lemond answered the bell when jury duty called this morning. Will he make it to KSR for the show at 10 a.m.? I’m on standby just in case he goes to trial.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©October 13th, 2019 @ 11:15pm
Good evening, BBN! Welcome back to another edition of Pilgrim’s Insider Notes.
This weekend was a massive one in the world of Kentucky basketball recruiting, as UK hosted ten elite prospects for Big Blue Madness ranging from the best of the best in the senior class to unranked, high-potential athletes in the 2022 class.
The big names? 2020 five-star guard Cade Cunningham, 2020 commitments Terrence Clarke and Lance Ware, and 2021 five-star forward Paolo Banchero, among others.
So how did things go with the top targets, you ask?
Let’s dive right in and find out.
As I wrote in my Insider Notes post last week, the Kentucky coaching staff followed up Devin Askew’s official visit to Lexington by immediately preparing for Cunningham’s visit.
“Next week is the big one,” one source close to the situation told KSR last weekend. “[They are] not playing around, going for the kill.”
Sources told KSR that Kentucky head coach John Calipari took a visit to Cunningham’s school to talk things over and preview his upcoming official to UK.
Going into the trip, sources told KSR that Cunningham was never going to be sold by the lights, pyrotechnics, and smoke of Big Blue Madness. He also wasn’t looking for a pitch that only highlighted his abilities or the opportunity to take as many shots as he wanted like some other top recruits have and continue to do. With UK already picking up commitments from Terrence Clarke and BJ Boston, Cunningham was interested in learning how they would all work together as the most dynamic backcourt in college basketball next season and build their collective NBA Draft stock together.
Ask and you shall receive.
Sources tell KSR that outside the normal impressive official visit techniques the UK coaching staff held a film study session with Cunningham that resonated extremely well with the five-star guard. During this time, the staff broke down his game and how he would be utilized in Calipari’s system next year alongside numerous other elite prospects in what is looking to be one of the UK head coach’s best recruiting classes ever. Clarke – who I’m told (and as evident on his social media pages) has been “relentless” in recruiting Cunningham on his own – was also there during the film session, with all three parties (Cunningham, Clarke, and the UK staff) talking about how well the two star guards would work together. Cunningham had an idea of what he was looking for in this regard and the overall style of coaching, and the Kentucky staff blew him away.
— Terrence Clarke (@terrenceclarke_) October 13, 2019
Outside of the film work, Cunningham explored the facilities, watched practice, visited Keeneland, went to the Kentucky vs. Arkansas football game, and ate dinner at Jeff Ruby’s, among other UK visit regularities. All major boxes checked in terms of learning about the program and what everyday life would be as a potential future Wildcat.
I said on the Sources Say Podcast last week that for the first time since Cannen Cunningham, Cade’s brother, was hired on at Oklahoma State, I felt Kentucky had a legitimate shot at landing the elite five-star guard. The Wildcats were picking up significant momentum going into the visit, and the UK coaching staff went out of their way to go above and beyond to shatter those expectations. It takes a lot to screw up an official visit – seriously, when is the last time you heard of an official visit going wrong? It’s not often – but it also takes a lot to be a difference-maker in a top-five prospect’s recruitment. Kentucky did a phenomenal job making sure the latter came to fruition.
So where do things stand now?
As you guys are well aware by now, 247Sports Director of Recruiting Evan Daniels submitted a Crystal Ball pick in favor of the Wildcats this afternoon, a massive development. Daniels is 42/42 on recruiting predictions in 2019, as the recruiting insider never submits a pick until he’s pretty darn certain. He originally had a pick in for Oklahoma State this summer (when Cunningham was almost certainly going to follow his brother to Stillwater), then changed it to “foggy” when it became apparent he was not tied down to OSU and strongly considering a commitment elsewhere. Even when North Carolina buzz picked up, the popular recruiting held off on an official prediction. The fact that the recruiting insider – who has correctly predicted 94.4% of all-time picks – opted for Kentucky this afternoon immediately following Cunningham’s official visit is quite significant.
To provide some background, Kentucky feels it has done enough to secure a commitment from the 6-foot-7 guard when it comes time for a decision. To take it a step further, those in the Arlington/DFW area – Cunningham’s hometown – believe Kentucky is the firm leader at this point. There are also rumblings that North Carolina is no longer confident in landing the five-star guard, as they are aware of UK’s recent surge and Oklahoma State’s longtime status as the clubhouse leader. Another individual told KSR this evening that those around the UNC program now feel they are running third behind the Cowboys and Wildcats and will likely not land their prized guard target. As for the Cowboys, I can’t get too far into detail here, but there are some other rumblings that the current OSU administration – including his brother – won’t even be there by the time Cunningham ends up on a college campus. I’m not certain how much the five-star guard is factoring this into his decision, but it obviously can’t hurt Kentucky’s chances.
OSU is not losing hope quite yet, but UK’s internal confidence is growing louder. As it should.
Sources tell KSR that despite the UK buzz, Cunningham is still planning on taking his official visit to Washington next weekend, with the five-star guard planning on setting an announcement date not long after. There is strong speculation that Cunningham will then make his decision around Thanksgiving next month and sign during the fall signing period.
Kentucky was tasked with making a jump to the top spot in the 6-foot-7 guard’s recruitment this weekend, and I believe they did just that. It’s not over quite yet, as Oklahoma State will try its best to throw a counterpunch to UK’s momentum, but it cannot be discounted just how promising things look for the top guard in the nation.
A lot of people asked last week about how Kentucky’s positive momentum with Cunningham and potential commitment would affect the team’s pursuit of 2021 five-star guard Devin Askew.
In short, it doesn’t hurt in the slightest. In fact, it only helps.
Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader – who has done phenomenal work this weekend in Colorado Springs at the Team USA Minicamp – asked both Askew and his father what they thought of Cunningham’s potential addition, and they had nothing but high praise for the five-star guard and the idea of suiting up next to him in Lexington.
I talked about UK making certain both parties were okay with the idea of playing together on the podcast last week, so this confirmation straight from Askew today is certainly a good sign.
To take it a step further, I reached out to one source extremely familiar with Askew’s official visit to UK last week, and I continue to hear only positive news regarding Kentucky’s chances. In fact, this same individual told KSR on Sunday afternoon that it’s not a secret within the UK program that Askew is expected to become a Wildcat in the coming weeks, with a reclassification to 2020 likely to follow.
“Just go on and pencil him in to Kentucky [for the class of 2020] at this point,” the source said.
As crazy as it sounds for UK to land both Askew and Cunningham in the same class, it’s looking more and likely to be reality. With or without Cunningham, I would be shocked at this point if the Santa Ana, CA native ended up anywhere other than UK.
This week, Ben Roberts reported from Colorado Springs that 2020 top-ten prospect Scottie Barnes had scheduled an official visit for Kentucky next weekend for the school’s annual Blue-White Scrimmage. Around the same time, it was reported that Barnes would no longer be visiting Miami (FL) and cutting the Hurricanes from his list, leaving just Florida State, Oregon, and Kentucky in contention.
Oddly enough, both sets of news came not long after Kentucky commit BJ Boston went on Hey Kentucky and hinted at UK having a major silent commitment in the frontcourt.
Coincidence? Strangely enough – especially when you factor in Barnes’ hectic recruitment and the schools long seen as the strongest contenders – it actually might not be.
On Thursday evening, a source told KSR that despite the obvious Barnes may actually be the individual Boston was referring to, with the UK staff looking to utilize the 6-foot-9, 215-pound forward as a small ball four alongside Cunningham, Clarke, and Boston.
On the outside, it admittedly sounds ridiculous. After including Kentucky in his list of final eight schools (Miami, Oregon, Ohio State, Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, California, and Florida State) back in February, he later told reporters at Peach Jam that Oregon, Kansas, Ohio State, Miami and Florida State were the five schools he was most strongly involved with. Kentucky’s chances with the top-ten prospect seemed non-existent, with sources telling KSR that mutual interest between UK and Barnes was lukewarm, at best. In fact, one source close to Barnes told KSR back in the spring that he simply didn’t see a scenario where he would “ever” end up in Lexington.
In terms of the schools in the best position to land Barnes, Oregon has long been seen as the favorite, though Florida State has emerged in recent weeks as a major contender and the new likely favorite.
Admittedly, I have to see it to believe it simply based on the strong rumblings surrounding both the Seminoles and the Ducks and the longtime absence of UK buzz. That being said, the Kentucky coaching staff likes to move in silence and work behind the scenes. You just never know with Calipari.
I don’t feel strongly enough to stand behind the rumors – correct in the end or not – but it’s at least worth passing along given the five-star forward’s upcoming official visit to Kentucky. It’s also worth noting that the pro-UK buzz was out there before the visit was scheduled this weekend, it that means anything.
We’ll have more on Barnes following his trip to Lexington next week.
This past summer, a high-major Division I assistant coach recruiting 2021 five-star forward Paolo Banchero told KSR at Peach Jam that there was “no way” he ended up anywhere other than Washington.
Since then, though, Banchero has told everyone that will listen to him that the Huskies are not his leader, with one source telling KSR a few weeks back that he would be fairly surprised if the five-star forward ended up at Washington.
So where will the consensus top-four prospect in the class of 2021 land?
After his official visit to Kentucky weekend, I feel strongly that the Wildcats are one of Banchero’s top options, if not the firm leader in his recruitment. Things went extremely well this weekend, as sources tell KSR that the 6-foot-10 forward’s family was “in love” with the UK staff’s approach both on and off the floor. It’s not easy to send your child almost 2,000 miles away, but Calipari and his assistants did a phenomenal job making sure Banchero’s parents were comfortable in doing so, should he ultimately decide to sign with Kentucky.
On another note, despite telling various outlets that he is no longer considering a reclassification, sources in various recruiting circles (both nationally and locally) believe he will ultimately wind up in the class of 2020 when it’s all said and done.
If anyone were to be silently committed to UK for 2020, I’d venture to say Banchero certainly feels more likely than Barnes. After all, he did mesh well together with Clarke, Lance Ware, and Cunningham this weekend…
Calipari casually flaunting that national championship ring in front of Terrence Clarke, Paolo Banchero, and Lance Ware, who seem amused. pic.twitter.com/PlYOpWMVpI
— Tyler Thompson (@MrsTylerKSR) October 12, 2019
I try to stay levelheaded on these notes and try to avoid hyping things up, but it’s fairly obvious that this weekend was a massive success for Kentucky on the recruiting front.
There was no hiding from the fact that this was a monster game for the Kentucky football program. The team was fresh off embarrassing road losses to both Mississippi State and South Carolina after blowing a double-digit lead against Florida. Dealing with all kinds of quarterback injuries, the Wildcats had to figure out some type of spark in the bye week.
The decision was to move Lynn Bowden, Jr. to full-time quarterback and the gamble paid off after two weeks of preparation. The Youngstown, Ohio native was exhilarating in his first career start and Wildcats went on a 24-7 blitz in the final 35 minutes to win the football game.
Behind a unique offensive performance and a defense that made some timely stops, the Wildcats gave Mark Stoops his first SEC West win over a school not named Mississippi State and set UK up to have a nice finish in the last six games.
The Wildcats collected 418 yards (330 rushing, 88 passing) on 66 plays and put up 6.3 yards per snap. That was the offense’s second highest output of the season and their highest in an SEC game since the road win at Florida. The chunk play returned with the Wildcats collecting six plays of 20-plus yards with four of them occurring in the final quarter.
Lynn Bowden’s 51-yard run didn’t ice the game, but his 15-yard sprint on the next snap certainly did. The dual-threat quarterback finished with 196 rushing yards on 24 carries and he would have certainly got to the 200-yard mark if Kentucky doesn’t go to the victory formation on the final two plays. He provided the juice, but UK needed their running backs to do some heavy lifting.
A.J. Rose and Kavosiey Smoke combined for 135 yards on 27 carries to help power this ground game in between attempts from Bowden. Each provided a big play in the fourth quarter as Kentucky pulled away from the Hogs. The Wildcats are still struggling with their short-yardage offense, but when you rush for over 300 yards you are going to win a lot of football games. It was the sixth time they’ve reached that feat under Eddie Gran and the Wildcats are 5-1 when they hit that number.
It was a run heavy attack, but you still have prove you can throw the football. While this is never going to be an offense that goes all in on the pass with Bowden behind center, the future NFL wide receiver showed he can make some necessary throws to move the chains. The most impressive happened on a third-and-long in the red zone.
The star player can deliver the fade and also made some nice throws to Justin Rigg across the middle. He missed Christopher Rodriguez, Jr. on a beautifully designed throwback in the third quarter but otherwise did what he was asked. He’s limited as a passer, but can make more throws than you would think.
Whenever you have that big of day on the ground, your guys in the trenches have to be putting some work in. Again, the short-yardage offense needs work, but UK was moving people in the run game. The group gave up just one sack in limited in pass pro snaps, but also got some help from the tight ends. Keaton Upshaw had a beautiful downfield block to spring Lynn Bowden, Jr. on a 24-yard touchdown to put UK up for good in the final quarter. However, the Wildcats lost Landon Young to injury in the final quarter and his status will be something to monitor closely moving forward.
The performance by the offense was huge boost for the program for a lot of reasons. There was no denying that this group stunk up the last two games and Kentucky’s season would have been headed for a disaster if they didn’t fix things fast. With two weeks to prepare, they went all in on the Lynn Bowden, Jr. experience and it paid off.
UK established the run, converted third downs, scored on red zone trips, and created splash plays. This success allowed them to establish the tempo and make Arkansas play on their terms. That hasn’t happened the last two games and that will have to remain a trend if Kentucky hopes to continue winning football games.
Kentucky allowed 305 yards (183 rushing, 122 passing) on 57 plays and that was a yards per play total of 5.4. For the third time this season, UK held its opponent to 5.5 yards per less and that should win you some football games. With Nick Starkel struggling, the pass defense excelled while the run defense still needs a lot of work.
Rakeem Boyd entered tonight as the SEC’s second leading rusher and he showed why on the second play from scrimmage. The slasher can house it when given a crease and UK got stretched thin immediately out of the gate. After settling in, the Wildcats gave up 6.1 yards per carry and it was the second time this season an opponent put up that large a number. However, thinks to the style of a Chad Morris offense, the Hogs only attempted 27 non-sack rushes and that was a good thing because they put up over 201 yards in a small amount of attempts. This is a huge concern going into Athens next week.
There’s no hiding from the fact that the Wildcats are extremely young in the secondary and that youth is getting thrown to the fire. Brad White is playing a ton of freshman and sophomores in the backend and with that comes some growing pains. There were multiple coverage penalties, but other than that this group continues to grow.
Tonight might have been that group’s best work as they held a pass happy offense to less than 50 percent completions and just 4.5 yards per pass. This was the lowest total of the season for the Hogs and it was clear UK was ready for the challenge. After Nick Starkel was pulled, Ben Hicks had some success but the pass rush delivered when it was needed most.
Calvin Taylor, Jr. continues to play excellent football and the redshirt senior collected a huge third down sack to take Arkansas out of the red zone down just four. T.J Carter followed it up with a pressure on the next play that created a turnover on downs. Quinton Bohanna recorded the second sack of his career on a third down earlier in the fourth quarter and Boogie Watson continues to answer the bell by recording a sack fumble in the first quarter.
The Wildcats gave up too many third down conversions (6-of-13), but they did get some timely stops against the SEC’s worst red zone offense. Outside of the long run to begin the game, the last two Arkansas scoring drives were a product of possession that started inside the UK 35. The defense was put in some bad spots and they answered the challenge while showing some growth along the way.
Grant McKinniss continues to be a great kickoff specialist and the former punter now has a touchback rate of 82.1 percent as he is helping to eliminate any return opportunities. Max Duffy continues to do his thing with two punts downed inside the 20 with another one going 50-plus yards. However, Duffy punted out of his endzone and outkicked his coverage a bit and that setup Arkansas with a very short field that would result in a touchdown. However, Matt Ruffolo was the story of the night.
The walk-on missed a 47-yard attempt in the second quarter, but drilled one from 51 yards on UK’s first possession of the third quarter. After a sack and false start killed a promising drive, UK’s new kicked saved the team with a big kick to help keep the momentum building. UK should feel good about their kicking situation moving forward.
There were some issues in punt return and they were mainly due to a muff by Josh Ali on the first punt by Arkansas. UK was fortunate to recover and if they didn’t it could have been a totally different game. In the kick return department, Zach Johnson was very serviceable in putting up 48 yards in two returns.
There is no hiding from how big this game was for Kentucky. A loss likely meant a 5-7 season at best with your bowl streak ending while a win still gives you a legit chance at a 7-5 record and some momentum moving forward. With major quarterback issues and a hangover after the Florida loss that lasted two weeks, the Wildcats needed some juice. They got that from the best player on the team.
After a couple games of getting impatient with establishing the run, UK had to stick with the game plan this week after a slow start and it paid off. With some nifty option plays and some creation from a dynamic playmaker, Kentucky had their best offensive night of the season and gained some swagger that was lost in that fourth quarter loss to Florida.
The Wildcats are at their best under Eddie Gran when they are able to run the ball at will and throw no more than 20 times. This is where the coaching staff is most comfortable and that was easy to see in the win. The Wildcats were able to keep their defense fresh while riding an offensive line that led the way to over 300 yards being recorded on the ground. The result was exactly what the program needed and doing it after being down 13-0 makes it even more impressive.
Big picture moving forward is that Kentucky should have won that game. The Wildcats have a better roster than Arkansas at the moment and with an extra week to prepare, they should have been able to scheme up some things for Lynn Bowden, Jr. to have success at quarterback. Sometimes that can be easier said than done and we got to see some proof of concept on Saturday.
Moving forward, the Wildcats need to build on all the positives. The dominant ground game appears to be back and we should see a group that plays confident in the final six games. After the win, the staff now knows what Bowden is most comfortable with on the ground game and can now work to build the passing attack. A young defense continues to grow and now must figure out how to start fast. There’s plenty more things to grow with four home games remaining and a very winnable road trip to Nashville.
On to Georgia.
It was Jared Lorenzen Day at Kroger Field with the Kentucky football program desperately needing a win. UK’s top two quarterbacks were sidelined with injuries, so the Wildcats would be trying Lynn Bowden, Jr. to see if he had some of that Randall Cobb magic. Boy, did he ever.
Behind an offense that rushed for over 300 yards and a defense that played very well outside of the first series, the Wildcats got their first league win of the season and now there’s plenty of optimism entering the final half of the season.
1.) Lynn Bowden, Jr. Has The Juice
The star wide receiver spent the last two weeks getting all of the QB1 snaps in practice according to the UK radio broadcast and it was clear early on that he was going to get all of the snaps. Bowden received all the reps warming up and was throwing fades in short sleeve hoodie an hour before kickoff.
— Adam Luckett (@AdamLuckettKSR) October 12, 2019
The former blue-chipper rushed for 196 yards on 24 carries and made the big plays in the fourth quarter. Bowden’s 24-yard run put UK in front with under seven minutes left and a 51-yard run followed by a 15-yard gash iced the game on UK’s final possession.
He did his thing on the ground, but he also provided a much needed passing spark. The former high school quarterback hit Justin Rigg on pop passes on RPO looks in the first half and threw a beautiful back shoulder fade to Clevan Thomas, Jr. for a 10-yard score in the third quarter. He provided big time playmaking on third down and made the plays when the team needed it.
2.) Defense’s Progression
Kentucky is very young in the back seven this season due to a multitude of reasons and it has showed. Slow starts have been an issue and there was another one tonight. On the second play from scrimmage, Rakeem Boyd sprinted 74 yards for six on an outside zone and that would allow Arkansas to hold the lead until late in the third quarter. However, the group settled in quick.
UK gave up just one touchdown on three red zone trips, got timely stops, played just 57 snaps, and got two big pressures from their senior defensive ends to end it. After the big run, UK held Arkansas to just 4.1 yards per play. That will win you a lot of a ballgames.
3.) Setting The Pace
It’s no secret how Kentucky wants to win football games under Mark Stoops. The Wildcats want to establish the run and shrink the game as much as possible. UK is most comfortable when they are able to play under 70 snaps and stay with that pace all night.
Arkansas only got off 57 snaps on offense and they came into tonight averaging 73.2 plays per game. The Hogs want to get to at least 80 in their hurry-up, no-huddle offense that is built to go NASCAR fast. To pull off UK’s style, however, your offense has to pull a lot of weight.
Kentucky moved the chains 21 times in 66 plays and converted 50 percent of their 14 third downs. The Wildcats were perfect in the red zone until the kneel out to finish the game. Whenever you are able to run for 300-plus yards you are going to win a lot of football games.
4.) Kentucky Might Have A Kicker
Matt Ruffolo received his second start of the season and the junior would attempt his two field goals from 40-plus yards out. Kentucky entered today with just four makes on eight attempts and most everyone in the stadium seemed skeptical.
Well, the Ohio native had plenty of left of leg on a 47-yard attempt that just went wide. After going backwards on a red zone trip in the third quarter, UK would call on Ruffolo again and this time he delivered on a 50-yarder that would cut the lead to three on UK’s first possession after half.
Kentucky might have a reliable option at kicker.
5.) Pass Rush Delivers
Arkansas entered the game having only given up seven sacks and that ranked third in the SEC and in the top-25 nationally. The pass rush has been a thorn in UK’s side with the coaches recently challenging Boogie Watson to provide some more production.
He did that by recording his third sack in two games in addition to a forced fumble. However, others chipped in in timely scenarios. Calvin Taylor, Jr. continues to play excellent football and collected a huge third down sack on the final Arkansas possession. The next play, T.J. Carter would provide a pressure that would lead to an incompletion. Quinton Bohanna would also notch a sack while Jordan Wright is giving UK some outside pass rush.
This group needs to continue to develop and they are showing some positive signs.
6.) Chunk Plays
One of the main reasons for optimism for this season was that the offense was going to have some big play factor. With more speed at running back and Lynn Bowden, Jr. getting plenty of touches, that meant some more big plays for the offense.
The last two weeks those have disappeared for the most part, but we saw the splash play return tonight. Kentucky recorded six plays of 20-plus yards in the win and all of them came on the ground. We would get four in the final quarter.
The Wildcats got all of these on the last two drives of the game with Bowden’s two runs on the last drive icing the game. When the defense was tired the big plays came and this is something you have to have with Bowden at quarterback.
7.) Run Defense Still Needs Work
Kentucky entered Saturday giving up 4.92 yards per carry and this ranked 106th in the FBS. Tonight that didn’t get much better with the Cats allowing 6.1 yards per carry on 30 attempts. You had 74 of the 183 rush yards came on one play, but this defense continues to struggle at stopping opposing ground games.
When you take out sack yardage, Arkansas put up 7.4 yards per attempt and honestly did not run the ball enough. Leaning on the pass allowed UK to pickup some much needed three-and-outs in the third quarter to ride the momentum built entering halftime. Moving forward, this has to improve if the defense wants to continue the growth they’ve shown in other areas.
8.) Max Duffy Is Still Good
The best punter in college football was only used three times in the game and two of his attempts were downed inside the 20. He booted another attempt 50-plus yards but did outkick his coverage punting from the endzone. That punt led to a big return that was the largest UK has allowed all season. That next possession would give the Hogs their only second half touchdown.
He’s still doing his job and if Jamin Davis makes a tackle we’re likely talking about UK holding an SEC foe under 20 points.
9.) Surprising Pass Game
For those that read my KSR Film Room piece on Lynn Bowden’s prowess as a high school quarterback, you likely were not surprised with the throws he made. It’s very clear that he’s comfortable with the fade and is quite capable off getting it to the tight end in the middle of the field.
Bowden tossed a beautiful ball to Wagner in the third quarter that would have been a big play if he gets a foot down inbounds. However, the big receiver helped out later in the possession when he drew a flag in the endzone. The best throw of the night came on a third down late in the third quarter when Bowden hit Clevan Thomas, Jr. for UK’s first passing touchdown since the third quarter of the Florida game.
The ground game was the story, but the pass game showed some potential.
10.) Winning Is Fun
There was a lot of talk about fans checking out from a ton of people this week and many expected a poor crowd on Saturday. However, that was not the case with Kentucky being at about a 94 percent capacity on a beautiful October night for a college football game in Lexington. The Big Blue Nation knew a win was needed and they helped will their team to the finish line.
After a slow start that saw UK get down 13-0 with just under six minutes left in the second quarter, the crowd never checked out and helped UK go on a run from that point. The team delivered and gave the program a great day in what was a memoriam for Jared Lorenzen.
The Wildcats owned the last 35 minutes of the football game as the defense settled in and the offense took off. Lynn Bowden, Jr. provided the big plays while the defense got the timely stops. In end, Kentucky lined up in the victory formation and now there will be some optimism for the final six games of the season.
There were a ton of reasons to be skeptical entering this week, but both the team and the fans brought it and there is now a chance for this to be a good season again.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©October 12th, 2019 @ 11:30pm
Lynn Bowden hasn’t started at quarterback since high school, but on a day when Kentucky desperately needed a win, he stepped into his old role and delivered. With one touchdown through the air and two on the ground, Bowden pushed the Cats to a 24-20 win over Arkansas and may have saved the season altogether.
“It was special to me,” Bowden said of the opportunity to play quarterback. “Two weeks ago when they told me I was going to be in the room I just thought I was giving Sawyer [Smith] a little break. This game week, they were putting me in the rotation, my teammates and my coaches just trusted me back there to lead the team and there’s just something great about it.”
Bowden’s first rushing touchdown came towards the end of the first half to put Kentucky on the board 13-7. Until that point, the Cats were stagnant on both sides of the ball, but Bowden was determined to flip the momentum heading into halftime.
“Just keeping our heads up,” Bowden said of his message to his teammates when Kentucky was down 13-0. “All these guys on the team, they’re all fighters. From the sidelines on the field, everyone’s a fighter. No one wants to lose. Just keeping everybody’s confidence up. I think I did that tonight.”
“I’m a vocal leader on the team so if I get down, then the team gets down. Just kept confidence, always stayed positive throughout the whole game and I think it showed out there with our teammates and how we were effective.”
Bowden admitted that keeping the secret that he was QB1 this week was tough, but the moment really hit home when he saw his old high school coach before the game.
“It’s like a little homecoming thing. My head coach said it too, I saw him during the Cat Walk. It’s just a blessing to be doing that still. I was receiver here, it’s a blessing. I’m at a loss for words for real. Just giving all the glory to my teammates.”
Bowden interrupted Mark Stoops’ postgame interview with the SEC Network with a bearhug:
Lynn Bowden mobs Mark Stoops mid-interview. pic.twitter.com/kA79xYW8Fo
— TheCatsPause247 (@TheCatsPause247) October 13, 2019
“So proud of Lynn, obviously, for what he’s done and the way he’s prepared for the past couple weeks,” Stoops said. “But also just the team for playing really good around Lynn. Offensively, guys were very unselfish, did what they had to do. Blocking, doing tough things on the perimeter, just doing whatever we had to do to move the football.”
Was Bowden disappointed that he missed out on the chance to get another touchdown at the end of the game when Kentucky went into victory formation? Not at all.
“Victory. I just want to win. Anything can happen in football.”
By Nick Roush on ©October 12th, 2019 @ 10:44pm
On Jared Lorenzen Day, Lynn Bowden made magic as the Wildcats’ quarterback, carrying Kentucky to a 24-20 victory over Arkansas at Kroger Field.
Given more than simple wildcat duties, Bowden busted big plays with his legs and made all of the throws Kentucky needed to put the Razorbacks’ defense on their heels. He complete 7-of-11 passes for 78 yards and an incredible back-shoulder fade to Clevan Thomas in the end zone. Bowden carried the ball 24 times for 196 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Most importantly, Bowden kept the boat afloat even after Kentucky fell behind early. A Rakeem Boyd 75-yard touchdown on the second play of the game helped the Razorbacks jump out to a 13-0 lead before UK responded.
Arkansas had a chance to take the lead late, but UK’s pass rush didn’t let Ben Hicks deliver the ball. Leading by four, Calvin Taylor Jr. got a sack on third and eight. On fourth down, T.J. Carter applied pressure, forcing a throw into the dirt. Two plays later Bowden delivered a 51-yard dagger.
Injury woes have plagued the quarterback position all season. With a little help from Lorenzen, Lynn Bowden gracefully ended that trend.
After a much needed bye week, UK returns to Kroger Field and will be facing another SEC team that is in desperate need of a win. Arkansas and Kentucky are set to face for the first time since 2012 and the Hogs make their first trip to Lexington since Bobby Petrino’s first season in 2008. A lot has happened in the decade since.
Nuts and Bolts
Arkansas made the jump to the SEC in 1992 and the program had some rough sledding early on. After a disappointing five-year run by former Clemson national championship head coach Danny Ford, Houston Nutt stepped in for a decade.
The Hogs would win 75 games, go to eight bowl games, play in two SEC Championships, and finish in the top-25 three times under Nutt. Despite winning eight games and upsetting eventual national champion LSU on the road in 2007, the administration decided to make a move. Newly appointed athletic director Jeff Long made quite the splash with the next hire.
Bobby Petrino was fresh off a 41-9 run at Louisville before an embarrassing showing in the NFL . It seemed he resigned from the Atlanta Falcons in December to immediately become the Arkansas coach. What happened next would be the program’s best run in the SEC.
After a 5-7 start, Petrino would lead Arkansas to 29 wins the next three seasons with three top-12 finishes. The Hogs played LSU for a share of the SEC West title on Thanksgiving Friday in 2011 and all signs pointed to them remaining a factor in college football’s toughest division. Then the alleged motorcycle wreck happened.
After the media did some digging, Jeff Long decided to dismiss the very successful coach. Despite this, the program seemed to recover well by hiring Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema who won three Big Ten titles in seven seasons. The Iowa alum would go just 29-34 in five years causing both him and Long to be fired. After what was deemed a bad cultural fit, the Hogs decided to lean into Texas.
Chad Morris was a former state championship winning Texas high school coach before joining the FBS ranks. After one season at Tulsa, he joined Dabo Swinney at Clemson to help build what is college football’s most popular dynasty today. Morris recruited Deshaun Watson and was one of the pioneers in the hurry-up, no-huddle offense becoming a staple in college football. After four years, Morris was hired by SMU in a move that allowed him to return to the Lonestar State.
Despite some excellent recruiting, the wins have not come. Morris has just one winning season in five years and two years with 10 losses. After losing to San Jose State earlier this season, it appears the Hogs are in for another rough year with games against Alabama, Auburn, and LSU remaining.
This is, however, a program with a rich history. The Hogs have been to 42 bowl games, won a national title in 1964, finished second in 1965, and third in 1969 and 1977. The program won 13 Southwest Conference titles and had a great run from 1958-1989. Frank Broyles, Lou Holtz, and Ken Hatfield all had a winning percentage above .700 as the Hogs were perennial contenders in the SWC during those three-plus decades.
This will be eighth meeting all-time between the two programs with Kentucky owning a 4-3 series lead. The last time these two programs met in Lexington, it was Randall Cobb’s coming out party when he scored two fourth quarter touchdowns to complete a comeback victory.
Out in the desert, Kentucky is a 7-point favorite with a total of 53.5. That’s a projected final score around 30-23. The Wildcats are are 3-4 against the spread and 6-1 straight up as an SEC home favorite since 2014. Arkansas is 8-9 against the number under Chad Morris. The under is 4-1 in Arkansas games this season.
Joe Craddock came with Chad Morris to Fayetteville to become an SEC offensive coordinator at the age of 32. The Razorbacks utilize a spread offense with tempo that wants to throw the ball around the yard. That meant a total roster reconstruction after Bielema’s heavy run based system. So the Hogs have gotten really young, but it’s allowing some of their biggest recruiting wins to get on the field very fast.
— Arkansas Razorback Football (@RazorbackFB) October 4, 2019
Both Treylon Burks and Trey Knox have missed one game due to injury this season, but have started every other. The two four-star rookies have combined for 38 grabs, 529 yards, and two touchdowns. The duo is averaging 13.9 yards per catch and are slowly turning into quality wideouts. Burks is a big slot receiver (6-foot-3, 223 pounds) while Knox is guy the Razorbacks will use to stretch the field.
They aren’t the only weapons in the pass happy offense. Mike Woods has started 12 games and is a true sophomore who is the veteran of the receiving corps. He leads the team in receiving yards. Cheyenne O’Grady has been one of the best tight ends in the SEC and he will provide a unique challenge for UK. The big fella was unleashed against Texas A&M when he recorded a career-high eight receptions so you can expect plenty of targets to head his way. He can rumble.
Cheyenne O'Grady with some SERIOUS YAC on this play. ?
— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 16, 2019
The best weapon is found at running back. Rakeem Boyd was on Last Chance U and rushed for 1,211 yards at Independence Community College. The slashing back is second in the SEC in rushing and is on pace for a 1,159-yard season. Stopping the run will be paramount again.
Lining up next to Boyd at quarterback is a bit of a question mark. Arkansas lost two quarterbacks to transfer last season. Therefore, the Hogs brought in two grad transfer quarterbacks who had familiarity with the program. Ben Hicks started for Chad Morris at SMU for two seasons before not being a fit in the offense Sonny Dykes brought to Dallas. Despite being the program’s all-time leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns, he decided to make a move.
Arkansas landed Hicks, but wasn’t done on the quarterback market. Nick Starkel started his career at Texas A&M and beat out Kellen Mond in 2017 before being hurt in the first game. The next year, Jimbo Fisher arrived in Aggieland and Mond would win the QB1 spot. After being A&M’s primary backup last season, Starkel decided to move on. He landed at Arkansas where he would have two years of eligibility remaining.
Ben Hicks won the job leaving camp and started the first two games of the season. In those outings, he completed just 46.7 percent of his passes with a 5.3 yards per attempt average. He’s a game manager who plays it very safe and it was obvious he wasn’t the long-term answer. Therefore, Arkansas turned to Starkel the next week.
The big armed righty started the next three games and put up some pretty big numbers. The transfer isn’t afraid to let it rip shown by 7.8 yards per attempt average and seven interceptions in just 131 passes. The offense moved much better with Starkel in the lineup, but ball security is a major issue.
In the close loss to Texas A&M, Starkel was lost due to an elbow injury that occurred while trying to make a tackle after a red zone interception. Hicks stepped in and played his best game of the season. This week, Chad Morris states that Nick Starkel is good to go, but was vague about who the starter would be. There’s a lot of gamesmanship going on.
The offense’s biggest weakness through five games has been in the red zone. Arkansas ranks 126th in red zone efficiency and 120th in red zone touchdown rate. Kentucky could have an advantage when the Hogs get into scoring territory.
Back in 1995, Phillip Fulmer promoted John Chavis to defensive coordinator at Tennessee. The Vols won a national title three years later and the man they call Chief has called defenses for a quarter-century in the SEC. Tennessee, LSU, Texas A&M, and Arkansas have all employed Chavis, but lately his units have had some issues.
The Hogs currently rank 14th in the SEC in red zone touchdown rate, 11th in scoring defense, 12th in passer rating, and 12th in third down efficiency. Arkansas has been able to rush the passer and force some turnovers, but this old school 4-3 scheme has been a bend-but-don’t-break unit despite having a couple seniors in the front seven who will be draft picks.
McTelvin Agim was a five-star prospect reeled in by Bret Bielema’s staff and he’s played a lot since his true freshman season. The senior has over 30 career starts and will be a bear for UK’s interior offensive line to deal with when they run their normal inside zone concepts. Playing next to him on the line are a handful of seniors and true freshman Mataio Soli at defensive end.
At the second level, De’Jon Harris is back at Mike and the Louisiana native was a second-team All-SEC selection in both 2017 and 2018. The inside linebacker has recorded at least 115 tackles in each of the last two seasons and is a steadying force on the inside. Next to him at Will is sophomore Bumper Pool who is a future star. The Texas native was a blue-chip recruit in the first recruiting class for Morris.
In the secondary, Kamren Curl leads the team in tackles and has been giving the Hogs some very high quality safety play. The San Diego native has two sacks, one interception, and a forced fumble on top of nearly eight stops per game. The strong safety will play a huge role in run defense and he appears to be on his way to All-SEC honors. Surrounding Curl are three sophomore starters as the Hogs have gone full on youth movement in 2019.
Special Teams Breakdown
Connor Limpert is in his third season starting at placekicker and the Allen, Texas native has hit 83.3 percent of his 42 attempts. He’s made multiple 50-plus yard kicks and is a legit weapon for the Hogs when they get into scoring territory. However, in the kickoff department, Lippert has a below SEC average touchback rate of 62.1 percent. Returns will be there.
Arkansas ranks 13th in the SEC in punting, so hidden yards could be there in bunches when facing off against the nation’s best punter on the other side. The coverage teams have been good all season for the Hogs with opponents not picking up many yards.
Keys to Victory
- The offense for Arkansas has been absolutely brutal in the red zone all season and this comes a year after having the worst red zone touchdown rate in the SEC. The Hogs have had turnovers in addition to not getting the ball into the endzone. Through five games, UK has been okay at getting stops in the red zone. This a battle the Wildcats must win.
- Arkansas plays with tempo on offense and would prefer to run about 80 or so snaps on offense. There are quarterback questions to be answered, but there’s no denying that Kentucky wants its defense on the field for no more than 70 snaps. Whoever establishes the tempo and playing style early will have the advantage. UK must get the run rolling early to move the chains and own field position.
- Turnovers could play a huge role with both teams having opportunistic defenses and offenses with a history of loose ball security. If Ben Hicks is in the lineup, expect for the Hogs to be much more cautious. If it’s Lynn Bowden, Jr. at quarterback for UK, this is a question that must be answered.
A Hell of a Game
Kentucky will be honoring one of the most most memorable players in program history on Saturday and earlier this week Mark Stoops said his team was determined to play well. Jared Lorenzen left us back in July, but his memory will be fresh on everyone’s mind Saturday night at The Kroge. It’s no coincidence that this is happening the weekend Arkansas is here.
Back in 2003, UK hosted Houston Nutt’s squad in one of the most memorable college football games of the 2000s. In a contest that would go seven overtimes, UK would fall short but No. 22 would put together a hell of an effort. Back in regulation, he delivered an iconic line that is still being talked about today.
Win it for the legend.
As the big screen comes down and the popcorn gets swept up here in Rupp Arena, the KSR staff sits alone on press row, ready to reflect on all the fun that just transpired at Big Blue Madness.
For the most part, it was more of the same we see every year at the greatest tradition in the history of college basketball practice; although, this year we were introduced to seven new members of John Calipari’s basketball team. We also saw the return of the 3-point and dunk contests of a year ago, as well as Coach Matthew Mitchell, the mayor of Big Blue Madness, taking everyone to the Old Town Road.
I’m sure you have your favorite moments from the evening; below you will find all of ours (“ours” being me, Jack Pilgrim and Zack Geoghegan):
Coach Mitchell’s best dance routine yet
Finally, someone appreciates real country music. Old Town Road was Matthew Mitchell’s secret weapon for his ninth consecutive BBM intro-dance. Shoutout to Mitchell for pulling out the song of the century and killing every second of it. I will now dress as country Matthew Mitchell for Halloween.
— Zack Geoghegan
Kentucky’s slew of elite recruits had a great time
After staying in the back through the first few segments of Big Blue Madness, Kentucky’s ten high-profile recruiting targets made their way across the Rupp Arena floor seconds before the UK men’s basketball team was introduced. Sitting immediately behind the Kentucky bench, Cade Cunningham, Terrence Clarke, Paolo Banchero, and Lance Ware received quite a bit of screen time, most notably when John Calipari was interviewed (2012 National Championship ring exposed for the world to see).
Clarke jumped behind the television camera yelling, “I’m next! I’m next!”
Calipari casually flaunting that national championship ring in front of Terrence Clarke, Paolo Banchero, and Lance Ware, who seem amused. pic.twitter.com/PlYOpWMVpI
— Tyler Thompson (@MrsTylerKSR) October 12, 2019
After the event came to a close, Ware wrapped his arm around Cunningham, with Clarke joking right alongside. Cunningham then stuck around and took pictures with fans for the next 20 minutes until a member of the Kentucky basketball staff ushered him to the back.
Kentucky has landed four prospects in the class of 2020 – top-five prospect Terrence Clarke, top-ten prospect BJ Boston, four-star forward Lance Ware, and four-star wing Cam’Ron Fletcher – and there are rumblings that the UK coaching staff is prepared to add at least two more by the time the fall signing period begins in November.
Will Cunningham be one of those additions?
— Jack Pilgrim
Calipari’s State of the Program address was directed at Cade Cunningham
Speaking of Cunningham, the No. 2 prospect in the class of 2020 got an earful from Calipari during his annual State of the Program Address. Every year, the Kentucky head coach has a “theme” in his speech, and this one was without a doubt intended for the 6-foot-7 point guard out of Arlington, TX.
In an interview with Corey Evans of Rivals.com earlier this month, Cunningham said a major factor in where he ultimately decides to commit is which coach can develop him into a max contract-level player in the NBA.
“I have just been very transparent with all of the coaches recruiting me and I don’t want to just make it to the league but rather, I want to be an all-star and a max contract guy,” he said. “I feel if you just shoot to make it in the league, that is how you sell yourself short, so just telling him that I want to be a max contract guy, that is a good goal to set.
On Friday evening, Calipari came out swinging during his speech, bringing up the seven former Kentucky players who have earned max deals and the $2-billion-plus all 38 of his drafted Wildcats have made as a collective unit.
Calipari wants the nation’s top guard to lead his team next season, and he sure said all the right things to make it happen.
Bruce Buffer announced the player intros because why not
Bruce Buffer announcing the players and coaches was so unnecessary that it was actually brilliant. Who better to yell and scream at 20,000 fans than him?
Junior Nick Richards, a long lost Splash Brother?
Drew here, big Nick Richards fan, as you know. I’m expecting big things for Richards in the rare junior season for a McDonald’s All-American, and tonight he showed off a new outside shot that has Naismith Player of the Year voters salivating.
Richards hit not one, but two long balls in the brief scrimmage to conclude Big Blue Madness. Previous Big Blue Madnesses taught us to never overreact to what we see on this night, but I am overreacting and naming Richards a real weapon from the perimeter this upcoming season. Remember Jimmer Fredette at BYU in like 2011? Imagine that shot but from a big man who can protect the rim and finish lobs.
I’m kidding. (Kind of.)
Kahlil Whitney’s outfit on the Blue Carpet
Brad Calipari will find comfort in knowing the team’s drip is in good hands without him.
The real dunk contest happened during the scrimmage
While the actual dunk contest had its impressive moments – Kahlil Whitney jumping over three humans – and not-so-impressive moments – Ashton Hagans on just about all of his attempts (bless his heart) – the most fun dunks came during the scrimmage.
Whitney and Keion Brooks traded dunks on opposite ends of the floor, ranging from lob throwdowns, self-alley-oops, and windmill jams. Nick Richards and Nate Sestina each threw down several powerful reverses and windmills. Tyrese Maxey and Immanuel Quickley shined on breakaway dunk attempts.
There was little-to-no organized basketball during the actual “scrimmage,” but the dunks were entertaining.
Rupp Arena debuts its “cafes”
Rupp Arena debuted its new catalogue of food options at Big Blue Madness, with the concession stands around the venue now officially being called “cafes.”
Some of the food – like the “Hunk A Pizza” from Hunt’s Pizza – remained the same, while other options such as the “Full Court Press,” “Kentucky Melt,” and “Hot Brown Nachos” made their debuts.
Drew described his Full Court Press selection – which included braised short rib, cheese, and toasted bread – as “a big piece of s**t between two slices of bread,” while my Hot Brown Nachos were incredibly delicious. Order with caution next weekend during the Blue-White Scrimmage. Eat the Hot Brown Nachos, avoid the Rupp Arena McRib.
Lob City in Memorial Coliseum?
Jaida Roper not only has the highest arching shot of any Wildcat, but she can also toss a pretty nice lob. Her floating pass to Rhyne Howard had Rupp Arena holding its collective breath for a slight second as shades of Candance Parker dunking shined onto the court. The 6-foot-2 Howard didn’t go up for the slam, but slipped in a slick reverse layup off the beauty from Roper.
Blair Green went all 606
Gotta love that mountain pride!
We got shooters on deck
Everyone knows that it’s more fun to shoot from as deep as possible, especially if it goes in. Nate Sestina drilled two threes from NBA range while Johnny Juzang also pulled one from Steph Curry’s land. If preseason scrimmages with zero signs of defense tell us anything, it’s that those shots will absolutely translate once November hits. We got some shooters.
The Kentucky cheerleaders are not human
The 24-time national champions make my muscles, brain, and organs hurt. How they manage to pull off some of the flips while being tossed directly towards the jumbotron is something I will never understand. I think I did a cartwheel once during my senior year of high school. The cheerleaders probably cartwheel out of bed every morning.
This team is going to be a lot of fun
I feel like we say this every year (because we do) and we are saying it once again: this is a fun group with great personalities. The new class on this team is especially fun, easily the best collection of personalities among true freshmen. They’re so outgoing and loving every single second of everything that is going on around them as they approach their first season at Kentucky. Tyrese Maxey hasn’t stopped smiling since he got to Lexington, Kahlil Whitney is living his best life at all times, and Johnny Juzang and Nate Sestina are right up there with them in personality. We still don’t know how this team will do on the basketball court, but it’s clear the fan base won’t need long to fall in love with this group off of it.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©October 10th, 2019 @ 6:30pm
Two more visitors have been added to the confirmed Big Blue Madness visitor list, which now sits at ten total prospects.
Kentucky will now host at least three prospects in each of the upcoming 2020, 2021, and 2022 recruiting classes.
For 2020, the star of the show is No. 2 prospect Cade Cunningham, with UK commitments Terrence Clarke and Lance Ware also confirmed to be in attendance. Four-star forward and Bardstown’s own JJ Traynor will also be in Lexington for the event on an unofficial visit.
Cunningham, Kentucky’s top guard target in the class of 2020, received a visit from John Calipari at his school on Monday, sparking significant UK buzz in his recruitment over the past several days. The 6-foot-7 guard out of Arlington, TX is down to Kentucky, Oklahoma State, North Carolina, Florida, and Washington, with the Wildcats, Cowboys, and Tar Heels seen as the current favorites.
Traynor, a 6-foot-8, 180-pound forward out of Bardstown, KY, received a visit from UK assistant Kenny Payne last month and took an unofficial to UK last week. The top-100 prospect and No. 1 recruit in the state of Kentucky has not earned a scholarship from the school at this time, though one is expected in the near future. Traynor has not cut his list, though Kentucky, Louisville, Western Kentucky, and Cincinnati are seen as the top contenders in his recruitment.
Clarke, the No. 4 prospect in the class of 2020, and Ware, the No. 33 recruit in the nation (247Sports), both committed to Kentucky back in September.
As for the class of 2021, top-ten forwards Paolo Banchero (official) and Moussa Cisse (unofficial) lead the way, with four-star forward Trey Kaufman also in attendance on an unofficial.
Banchero, ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation (Rivals) and considered a consensus top-four prospect in the class of 2021, recently trimmed his list down to ten. Those in contention? Kentucky, Washington, Duke, Tennessee, Gonzaga, North Carolina, Michigan, Baylor, Georgetown, and Memphis.
Cisse, the No. 9 prospect in the junior class, received an offer from Kentucky back on September 30 when John Calipari visited him at his school. The 6-foot-9, 200-pound Memphis, TN native holds confirmed offers from Kentucky, Connecticut, Georgia, Pittsburgh, Texas A&M, Memphis, and Ole Miss, with the Tigers currently seen as the favorite.
As for Kaufman, he doesn’t currently hold an offer from Kentucky, though UK assistant coach Joel Justus made the trip to Sellersburg, IN to watch the four-star forward at his high school. At 6-foot-8, 210 pounds, Kaufman is listed as the No. 29 overall recruit in the class of 2021 on 247Sports and holds offers from Indiana, Lousiville, Xavier, and Purdue, among others.
Finally, top-15 prospect Brandon Miller and four-star point guard Paul McMillan IV will represent the 2022 class, with Eastern High School (Louisville) prospect James Jewell also making his way to Lexington. All three sophomore recruits will be in town on unofficial visits.
Miller, a 6-foot-6, 175-pound small forward out of Antioch, TN, is considered the No. 11 overall prospect in the class of 2022 in the 247Sports Composite rankings. His lone confirmed offer comes from the Tennessee Volunteers.
McMillan, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound point guard out of Cincinnati, OH, currently holds offers from his hometown Cincinnati Bearcats and Xavier Musketeers. 247Sports lists the four-star prospect as the No. 34 recruit and No. 5 overall point guard in the sophomore class.
To close things out, Jewell, a 6-foot-7 forward out of Louisville, KY, is currently unranked among all recruiting services, though he is considered one of the best up-and-coming prospects in the state and has separated himself as the No. 1 player in Kentucky for 2022.
Known for his elite athleticism, length, and motor, Jewell – who played varsity as a freshman last year – averaged 3.6 points and 1.8 rebounds per game as a role player off the bench in 2018-19.
Needless to say, it’ll be a busy weekend for the Kentucky basketball program…
By Nick Roush on ©October 10th, 2019 @ 4:30pm
Since Arkansas joined the SEC in 1992, the Razorbacks have only traveled to Lexington three times ahead of Saturday night’s showdown at Kroger Field. The previous two trips produced barnburners.
In 2008 a familiar foe was on the opposing sideline, Bobby Petrino. Undefeated against Kentucky during his time at Louisville, Rich Brooks was prepared to serve up a plate of vengeance.
The Razorbacks did what most Petrino teams do, take an early lead. Kentucky trailed 17-0 in the third quarter before punching back with a 71-yard touchdown reception by Alfonso Smith. Still, UK was down 20-7 with less than five minutes to play when Randall Cobb took over. Cobb caught touchdowns from 32 and 21 yards in two minutes of game time to give Kentucky a 21-20 victory and hand Petrino his first career loss to the Cats.
An exciting win, the 2008 game cannot compare to one hell of a seven overtime game in 2003.
In one of Jared Lorenzen’s finest performances, the UK quarterback led the Cats back from a 21-7 halftime deficit to tie the game with 2:10 to play on a 13-yard touchdown pass to Chris Benard. Regulation ended, but the game had just begun.
It took almost five hours to complete the seven overtime game that tied a previous NCAA record. The back and forth affair is too much to cover in print. Just watch it all unfold.
An Arkansas fan compiled the highlights, so you’ll have to deal with a few poor plays from UK early in the game.
The game ended when Lorenzen failed to reach the sticks on a fourth and three. He finished with an incredible stat-line: 326 yards passing and 2 touchdowns, along with 39 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns. Kentucky may have lost 71-63, but we’ll never forget Jared Lorenzen’s heroics in the epic battle.
Kentucky’s best chance at a victory was likely in the 5th overtime. With a defender wrapped around him, Jared flipped a pass to Jeremiah Drobney, beginning an incredible scoring drive that was capped off with Lorenzen rushing into the end zone with the ball held high above his head. Unfortunately, the pressure got to him too quickly on the two-point conversion, taking the game to a sixth overtime. Click below to start watching in overtime No. 5, or watch the game in its entirety.
How are Arkansas fans feeling about Saturday’s game vs. Kentucky? To find out, I spent part of the afternoon on their message boards — because that’s where all the sane, reasonable people hang out, right?
They are not pleased with Chad Morris
Arkansas looked decent vs. Texas A&M, but is still 4-13 in the Chad Morris era, 0-10 in the SEC. In a thread entitled, “Dismal Scenario” on Hogville.net, Razorback fans discuss whether or not it’s time to get rid of Morris, and if so, who could replace him. (Spoiler: Bobby Petrino’s name did not come up.)
I don’t see why people are surprised that our Dollar Store coach is not working out. Isn’t there an old saying about you get what you pay for? Did the PTB really think that Morris was going to be able to compete with Saban, Malzahn, Fisher, Mullins, etc….? I think Morris was able to scam JCP during his interview and then on top of that he had uncle Jerry backing him, and poof, we’re stuck with Dabo Lite.
In this forum, we have been continually regaled with the admonition that “We would be rolling in the clover and everything would be hunky-dory if we would JUST HIRE “______________”. Never mind the inconvenient fact that “_______________” is NOT INTERESTED in being hired by Arkansas. The Powers That Be must necessarily – and inevitably – choose from among those available choices who ARE interested in coming to Arkansas. A person who drives only high dollar new luxury cars is NOT going to shop at a Chevrolet Used Car Lot.
From a different thread whose sole purpose was to get people to be positive about the game:
I think we win this one but if we can’t beat KY after a bye week, then Morris should voluntarily clean out his desk.
They have the same attitude about backup QBs that we do
I had to do a double take on this thread about Kentucky’s quarterback situation because the comments read like they’re from a UK message board, not an Arkansas one.
One of the 2 will tear us a new one
Who ever it is we’ll make them look like an all world QB
We have certainly had a long run of making the opposing QB look like a Heisman candidate.
There is a debate over who the weather will favor
The weather is supposed to be chilly on Saturday, with morning rain showers clearing out to give way to mostly sunny conditions and a high of around 50 degrees at kickoff. Someone needs to give that updated forecast to this message board poster, who believes it will be cold and rainy, aka “Hog weather.”
58 for a high. Probably cooler by game time. Low of 37 Saturday night. 60% chance of rain. If that isn’t Hog weather I don’t now what is.
This one is shaping up to be a blow out. I’ve already predicted the Hogville will win 45 to 12. I may be a little off. I don’t think Kentucky will score 12. Gonna be some turnovers on both sides. Hogs will definitely handle the weather conditions better.
Not only is that forecast incorrect, his reasoning makes zero sense. Thankfully, other message board posters called him out on it.
I think your crystal ball is broken. The score seems to be flipped. As is your assessment of which team is better suited for cold wet conditions…Because you know… Lexington isn’t 250 miles more northerly than Fayetteville and 2/3 of our players aren’t from Ohio, or anything. Not to mention that kentucky rushes the ball more than we pass while arkansas throws it 9 more times per game than they rush.
Forecast in Lexington for a 6:30pm kick is 50 degrees with scattered clouds. Arkansas’ record playing in the fall in similar cool-to-cold weather starting in the low 50s during the past three seasons is 4-7. And one of those wins was the ‘Henry Heave’ game. So no, cool weather doesn’t favor the Hogs at all.
Ehh I’d say the nasty weather definitely favors Kentucky. They will put that running QB in and he’ll gash us for 120+ on the ground on broken plays. A tale as old as time.
They also have an “At least we’re not Tennessee” thread
A common pattern for down-on-their-luck football teams in the SEC is the “At least we’re not Tennessee” mentality. I noticed it on South Carolina’s message boards a few weeks ago and again today on Hogville.net. Here are the comments following a post about this video:
if you would’ve told me 20 years ago that Tennessee would be reduced to this, i’d be more pissed off we lost to them in 98 and in 6ot
What makes this even better……we were at my son’s game Saturday and one of the kid’s dad is a Vol. He walked up to me, showed me the score on his phone when it was 14-10. He then grabbed a screen shot of it and set it as his home screen, haha.
We think our program is bad… Tennessee is much worse…
Man, we’ve gotta beat Tennessee.
The “Separated at birth” thread is amazing
Like a lot of message boards, Hogville has a thread for celebrity dopplegangers for the opposing team. These three are my favorites:
You can’t unsee that Patton Oswalt comparison.