Hello, Big Blue Nation. It’s been a week since I put these typing fingers to use. They’re a little rusty, moving slow after a staycation. The much-needed rest and relaxation took my eyes away from screens, for the most part. As I cooled off in the AC on the Fourth of July, one picture from UK Football’s Instagram account made me stop in my tracks.
I’d like to think that my job has made me one of the best in the Bluegrass at identifying football players by face rather than by name or jersey number. The addition of masks has made that task exponentially more difficult. Even so, I quickly identified Nik Ognenovic on the right, but the guy on the left? No idea. I jogged my brain for minutes before seeing that the tagged player in the photo was Brenden Bates.
A top 20 tight end in the country in the 2018 recruiting class, Bates was most well known for his pass-catching ability in high school. At Cincinnati Moeller he spent most of his time split out in the slot, instead of doing what most UK tight ends do, maul people in the trenches. One look at that picture from the Joe Craft Football Training Facility tells me he’s put in more then enough work in the weight room in the offseason to succeed in the trenches in the SEC. Entering his redshirt sophomore season this fall, is there room for Bates to play consistently?
It’s difficult to remember a time where Kentucky fans were satisfied by the number of targets to tight ends. There’s a scenario where that changes this fall, although Bates will likely not benefit from prioritizing the position. Kentucky’s pass-catchers have experience but are unproven. Clevan Thomas, Josh Ali and Allen Dailey are expected to be the top three receivers next fall. Kentucky’s pushed all of their chips in on a big year from Terry Wilson. If that’s going to happen, he needs more than three reliable targets. Enter Vince Marrow’s tight ends. Dailey is the only big target, yet you may not consider him big standing next to 6-foot-7 Keaton Upshaw.
Over the last two seasons Ahmad Wagner served as the “just throw it up to him” guy on UK’s offense. This fall that guy will be Upshaw. Justin Rigg is the most proficient blocker and the most experienced of the bunch, but when in doubt, Terry can turn to the redshirt sophomore from Lima, Oh. to make plays in traffic. If all goes well, Rigg and Upshaw should combine for at least 35 catches and six touchdowns (@ColdTakesExposed).
PFF, Big UK Football Fans
It feels like at least once a week the college vertical of Pro Football Focus is releasing a new stat that finds creative ways to heap praise on a Kentucky Football player that does not often receive a ton of credit. Kentucky’s star-studded offensive line and Boogie Watson fair well in their statistical formulas. The latest subject of their admiration is Cedrick Dort.
Lowest completion % allowed at outside CB in 2019:
1. Cedrick Dort Jr, UK – 30%
2. Caleb Farley, VA Tech – 33%
3. Vincent Gray, UM – 34% pic.twitter.com/ZoEzK7Wc7b
— PFF College (@PFF_College) July 6, 2020
Just by looking at Dort’s raw stats, it’s somewhat of a surprise. He accounted for only 16 tackles and was third on the team in PBUs with five. The one stat you don’t get in a box score is the one that matters most — Dort did not allow one passing touchdown though 12 starts in 2019.
Upgrades at Jordan-Hare
If Kentucky fans can attend SEC road games this fall, they’ll see a new way Auburn Tiger fans celebrate touchdowns on The Plains. Jordan-Hare Stadium has added the latest craze in college football celebrations, LED lights.
Under the lights inside Jordan-Hare just got even more exciting. pic.twitter.com/OE8SGRBU0y
— Auburn Football (@AuburnFootball) July 6, 2020
At this rate, I’m afraid the LED lights will jump the shark quicker than the white/black/team color-out games.
Ice, Ice Terry
I’ve never been the guy with the cool cooler. I always envied the guys who had the sorority girls paint their coolers in college. Once I finished school six years later, the only sticker I slapped on the side was the warning label that came with the purchase. At this point in my life, I’ve accepted that my last name will be the only thing you’ll see on a cooler of mine for the rest of my days. I might reconsider that stance after seeing the following image.
This is the best thing to happen to Panama City Beach since Club La Vela. I just hope Scott Satterfield isn’t spending some time off in the Florida panhandle. I wouldn’t want this cooler to ruin his vacation.