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The Cats are Ready for Rivalry Football



– The most important tidbit in the Governor’s Cup rivalry doesn’t come from high-powered passing offenses. In the last 12 meetings (maybe 13) the winner of the rushing battle has won the game. With the Cats coming off back-to-back 200+ rushing yard games and the Cards only posting 78 yards on the ground vs. D-II EKU, the scale seems to tip favorably in Kentucky’s favor. Coach Stoops doesn’t see the Louisville offense as lopsided as it does on paper. They have a very physical run game between the tackles with Dominique Brown and Michael Dyer that prevents defenses from sitting back in coverage in an attempt to catch Bridgewater when he makes a mistake.

“You start watching their team in depth, and they’re good across the board. I think they do a nice job of keeping you off balance. They threaten you with their run game and they love taking their shots on play-action off of it because they’re very skilled at wide receiver. Bridgewater does a heck of a job with the play-fakes and getting the ball down the field. For a defensive coach through all of the years I’ve been doing it, always the teams that threaten you are the ones that are balanced- the teams that can pound it on the run and have some physicality about them, and then they’re skilled outside…They put you in a run-pass conflict all of the time and they’re good at what they do.”

– Penalties have been a BIG problem for the young Cats so far, giving opposing teams 152 yards on 16 penalties through just two games. This week the margin of error is slimmer than ever before, with the staff placing an extra emphasis on mitigating mental mistakes this week, “We got to get some of that cleaned up.  Some of it (happened) when we were trying to be more aggressive, but that doesn’t mean lose your sense and do silly things out there. We’re not good enough to overcome those decisions.” The penalties killed a few crucial WKU drives, with UK’s athleticism prevailing against Miami.

– Even with the UK defense featuring the nation’s best sack machine Za’Darius Smith, Teddy Bridgewater is a different type of beast. Bridgewater leads the nation’s 5th best passing offense, with Coach Stoops commending his stature in the pocket, “he plays fast without being in a hurry.” The Cats will need a big game from Bud Dupree, who acknowledges the tall task as hand this week, “He’s pretty good; the #1 Quarterback in the nation, and probably the #1 Quarterback in the draft this year. We have to have good practice preparing for him and any of the things that can happen. Good Quarterbacks make big plays happen.”

After WKU’s Quarterback thread through the UK defense in Week 1, the defensive line vastly improved in one week, which Bud attributes to playing more disciplined, “We played assignment football better this week than last week (against WKU). Last week everyone was trying to do too much, trying to be Superman on defense when we should’ve been doing our job playing our spot. We played gap assignments better this week and it made a big difference in the game.” Gap responsibility is important in the rush defense, but this week the emphasis must carry over to the pass rush. Playing a versatile QB like Bridgewater requires a disciplined pass rush as a whole: if only Bud and Z are getting good rushes, it leaves the middle of the field wide open for a QB scramble (and vice versa).

The Cats need a big performance from the nation's leader in sacks, Za'Darius Smith.

The Cats need a big performance from the nation’s leader in sacks, Za’Darius Smith.

– Fans enjoy the football rivalry as much off the field as they do on the field. UK and UL have been in recruiting battles more often than not recently, but for Coach Stoops this game really doesn’t affect recruiting; it didn’t at Florida State and he doubts it will in this rivalry, “It didn’t impact recruiting at Florida State‑Florida, it really didn’t.  A lot of our guys were committed before that game, to be honest with you.  I don’t know whether it will impact recruiting or not.  I really don’t know.  We have quite a few guys committed.  I think they do too.”

– The preparation during Week 1 was dramatically different than last week’s game preparations. The team needed to show the resiliency to overcome a disappointing loss, resiliency that was a reflection of the coach’s attitudes during Week 2. Jonathan George believes their work ethic was a valuable lesson for the young team,  “You could tell a big difference in practice, everybody was more focused. The coaches came out more intense; they pushed us through every little thing. The players responded well to that toughness from the coaches. It was a major help because now we realize that our margin of error isn’t that big and we have to come out every week and be focused because we don’t want to experience another let down like the first week. ”

– Sometimes a rivalry is bigger for the fans than it is the players (i.e. Willie Cauley-Stein didn’t know who Laettner was), but this football game has produced some hate for guys that have been playing the rivalry for multiple years. Adam Lefkoe asked both Bud and Jonathan George if they hated Louisville; they didn’t give U of Smell any bulletin board material, but you could tell they wanted to. George said, “I won’t say hate but there’s definitely a dislike factor,” saying, “I’m not a fan of the red team.” New players aren’t as engrossed in the rivalry as those that have suffered through both wins and losses, but social media has kep them informed that #LouisvilleHateWeek shouldn’t be taken lightly.

– The atmosphere at Commonwealth Stadium before the game was exponentially better than last season, but there were still only 54,000 butts in the seats. Neal Brown charged the fan base to Pack Commonwealth after the game Saturday, with Stoops echoing the same sentiment today, “I would expect us to have a full house.  I would anticipate there will be no tickets by the end of the week.  Our fans have not disappointed us yet.  So, sure, I’ll throw out a challenge to get them there.  We need them there. Then it’s our job to go deliver and play well.  I think you’ll see us prepared to play a great game this week, and you’re going to see a team that’s excited about this opportunity.


-The Cats are 2-3 against ranked Dirty Birds, so don’t say this week is Mission Impossible 5. @RoushKSR


Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

17 Comments for The Cats are Ready for Rivalry Football

  1. UKBlue
    2:55 pm September 9, 2013 Permalink

    We are going to lose this game, there is no point debating it. We are young, not very talented, inexperienced, not very deep, and we are just in the beginning stages of fixing Joker mess. If this game still exist 3 years from now then the game can be debated.

  2. RICK
    2:55 pm September 9, 2013 Permalink

    It will be a tall task to beat the cards. Not sure we can shut down that offense. Go BIG BLUE

  3. Go Big Blue
    2:56 pm September 9, 2013 Permalink

    I can’t wait to see a competitive game this weekend. Hope the cats can pull off the upset.

  4. RICK
    2:57 pm September 9, 2013 Permalink

    UKBLUE, Don’t beat your farm on it.

  5. Do you talk like that to your mama?
    3:03 pm September 9, 2013 Permalink

    What is with all the negativity? I mean c’mon man! I’m not saying we will win, BUT it is definitley not a case for downright denial of the possibility of victory. First of all, UK has pulled off some upset wins in games like this before. You never know when the injury bug will take a bite out of a team, hopefully the red team. Weird penalties and decisions can always be found in a rivalry game, hopefully for the red team. Also, if it is such a foregone conclusion then why is the spread in Vegas only at 7.5 pts.? Who knows…maybe we find another Stevie Johnson in this game. Then again, maybe we don’t but lets not write the game off entirely.

  6. Accept the Challenge
    3:09 pm September 9, 2013 Permalink

    UL has a better, deeper, more experienced team. Still, they are not unbeatable. If KY protects the ball and gets a turnover or two out of UL, then the game might be close. If it’s close, KY might win. That’s why the spread is relatively small. GO CATS!!!!

  7. KevinM
    3:17 pm September 9, 2013 Permalink

    You want to get ready for Bridgewater? Put JW on the other side of the ball and let the defense get after him. He’s the closest thing we have to sample what we are going to see Saturday.

    And I think we have a great shot to expose the Cards. Close one, 20-17.

    3:22 pm September 9, 2013 Permalink UK/UofL Rivalry rap!

  9. J in Orlando
    3:35 pm September 9, 2013 Permalink

    It’s hard to really know what expectations to have for this game because we do not really know how good UL is. All we know is that they are better than Ohio.

  10. BobbyPsNeckBrace
    3:50 pm September 9, 2013 Permalink

    Stub Hub has 1200 seats for sale, most less than face value. Mine included…
    Dirty Birds 52
    Cats 14

    It WILL be UGLY.

  11. Mc
    4:22 pm September 9, 2013 Permalink

    If UL can lose to UCONN last season, they are beatable. I’m not saying we’ll win. I’m saying they’re not a powerhouse. They have a good quarterback, and are in a joke of a conference. Nobody will know if they’re a good team with that schedule.

  12. Sittin' Bull
    7:59 pm September 9, 2013 Permalink

    wont sell out unless uk offers deal on tkts. ppl aint paying $81-$90 tkt 4 upper level

  13. kelleydog
    8:21 pm September 9, 2013 Permalink

    It seems like 78 yards against EKU could go either way. I can’t imagine anything that would make you work harder to improve upon. But, at the same time, how can you only have 78 yards against EKU.

    With Dyer moving up to 2nd spot I think this is a signal that something is going to change with the running game.

    If the running game gets turned around against UK, it’s over.

  14. Chicken Little
    8:40 pm September 9, 2013 Permalink

    #1 I do not know why people like you even follow sports, let alone are the first one comment on a post about UK-UL game. If you are such a negative bandwagon fan do BBN a favor and don’t worry what UK football is doing. You can just go to the basketball post and comment on them.

  15. Simple Math
    9:58 pm September 9, 2013 Permalink

    Mission Impossible 5 would be a mission if the record equalled 4 games. At 2-3, that is 5 games, thus making this Mission Impossible 6. I’m tired of KSR making so much money and not being good at writing, math, editing, analysis, etc.

  16. bigcombs
    9:09 am September 10, 2013 Permalink

    EKU is FCS/I-AA not D-II. Kentucky State and KY Wesleyan are D-II in football. All the same you would think UL would have had more yards then 78 on the ground. I think they were just showcasing Bridgewater vs lesser teams and they are going try to run more at the Cats.