Kentucky Sports Nation

Covering all things University of Kentucky athletics.

31 Aug

5 Thoughts about Tonight's Game

So, I'm sitting here, and like most, I'm trying to put together what just happened. Kentucky fell to Western Kentucky by a score of 35-26 that seemingly was more lopsided than what the score suggest.

I, myself, will admit that I didn't watch the game. My college (Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, KY) was competing against their biggest rival, Campbellsville University, in their home opener in the Battle of Highway 55.

As we speak, I'm watching clips of the game and trying to put together what went wrong for Kentucky, which turns out to be a lot. So here are a few thoughts about the game tonight.

1. The QB Controversy is Alive and Well:

I've said it on this blog before and I'll say it again. I think Max Smith should be the starting QB for this team going forward. Whitlow earned the start, and by reports coming out of practice, deservedly so. Whitlow made some great plays with his feet, including a 50 yard run that set up a Jonathan George touchdown. He also had a rushing touchdown, but I believe Smith was the better passer and unless Neal Brown decides he wants to run a read-option offense, Smith should be the starting QB going forward. Whitlow had the typical "deer in the headlights" look. His first few passes looked shaky and Whitlow looked rattled most of the time he was in the game. I think Whitlow can be used in special packages, but Smith should be the starter. Here are the quarterback stats from tonight:

Whitlow: 10/15, 78 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT

Smith: 8/13, 125 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT

2. Penalties, Penalties, Penalties.

Kentucky repeatedly shot themselves in the foot with false start penalties tonight that killed their drives and any semblance of offensive momentum that the Cats were able to put together. Kentucky had 10 penalties on the night, totaling 69 yards. It's difficult to keep a drive going when you have penalties setting you back. I didn't think this would be much of a problem, since the reports of Stoops bringing referees in to work on it in practice, but something needs to be done to limit the false starts going forward.

3. The Linebacker Corp has a LONG Way to go.

This was one of the major areas of concern going in and it showed why tonight. Depth is at a minimum at the linebacker position and the overall talent level there is not quite SEC Caliber. Avery Williamson is good, and played well for the most part tonight, but was out of position a few times and had his struggles. Even with Williamson playing well, he can't do everything. The Linebackers struggled to attack the gaps, allowing WKU to run all over the place. This is a young group, with several unproven players. However, they're going to have to step up and make plays.

4. The rushing attack will be used more than previously thought.

Neal Brown brought the Air Raid offense to Lexington, but sometimes, you have to play more to your strengths. Kentucky's strength on offense will be in the running game. With Raymond Sanders, Jonathan George, and JoJo Kemp, Kentucky has a solid core of running backs. Kentucky ran the ball often tonight, and had pretty decent success. Raymond Sanders looked really good tonight, rushing for 98 yards on 14 carries. Overall, Kentucky averaged 6.8 yards per carry. So while Kentucky will look to implement the Air Raid, look for the offense to be closer to a 50/50 split.

5. They didn't give up.

This, to me, was the biggest difference from last year. Kentucky played with an "Attack Every Day" mentality that we've seen the media latch onto. Maxwell Smith's touchdown to Robinson was late in the fourth, with Kentucky trailing 35-20. Mansour's extra point bounced off the upright, which would've made it an 8-point game. Being optimistic, I'm pleased with the fight the team showed tonight in the face of a dreadful situation.

ROME WASN'T BUILT IN ONE DAY, FOLKS!

I know it's a disappointing outcome, and surely not how Stoops and Co. wanted to start their season, but we have to keep looking ahead. Keep the faith, BBN. Don't give up yet.

15 Aug

Kentucky-Louisville Promo

Here's a video made by williamtitan prepping for the Louisville game and the football season in general. Get excited folks. Football is around the corner. 

14 Aug 1

Kentucky vs. Tennessee

For the first time since the 1952-1953 season the Kentucky Wildcats will not play a game at Tennessee. The Vols head coach Cuonzo Martin confirmed Tuesday that Kentucky and Tennessee will only play once in the upcoming season and that will be in Rupp Arena.

By: Dustin Oakes
12 Aug

Kentucky Players and Fans Warned About Autographs

Word broke this morning that before fan day last Friday the UK Athletic Department warned fans and players both about the consequences of signing and selling autographs. Players were allowed to sign autographs but were warned of the possibility of a situation such as Johnny Manziel's. Fans that attended the event Friday night were also told that they may jeopardize players' eligibility if they were to sell the autographs online. This looks to be a smart move by the Athletic Department and I would look for many other colleges to do the same thing in order to prevent eligibility issues.

Earlier this morning word also came out that this Friday Charlie Strong will not be allowing his players to sign autographs at their upcoming fan day on Sunday.

By: Dustin Oakes
12 Aug

Update on the QB Competition

Sadly, a starting QB has not yet been named for the upcoming season, but reports out of practice have seemingly given us a leader. I have previously stated on this blog that I believed Max Smith was the leader in the race, but reports out of practice have claimed the contrary. Jalen Whitlow is seemingly ahead of the pack to win the starting spot.

Reports came out that Max Smith has had reps limited due to injury concerns, which certainly are holding him back. Whitlow has seemingly been the best in practice, and has really improved his accuracy from last year, where there was a lot left to be desired. 

Whitlow certainly brings another dimension to the position with his ability to run. He is one of the best scrambling quarterbacks in the SEC and has that option if the receivers aren't able to break free and the play breaks down. If Whitlow is able to make quick decisions passing the ball, and improve his accuracy, I believe it's his position to lose. 

However, there are still several practices left and anything can happen between now and the Western game. It'll be interesting to see how the position battle unfolds. 

11 Aug

Marshall County Hoop Fest

Marshall County High School Gym

The Marshall County Hoop Fest  is scheduled for December 5-7 this year and features many of the Wildcats targets for the 2014 recruiting class including Emmanual Mudiay, Tyus Jones, Stanley Johnson, Dante Exum, Jahlil Okafor, and Cliff Alexander to name a few of them. This event has been known to bring in a slew of talent every year and doesn't look to disappoint in 2013. Here is the link to the site that has more information on the event including ticket prices, a schedule for the games, and the list of players not mentioned above who will be participating:

http://ukrecruiting.bloginky.com/2013/08/10/marshall-co-hoop-fest-schedule-lots-of-uk-targets/

By: Dustin Oakes

11 Aug

Matt Elam Tweets About Official Visit

This morning 2014 recruit Matt Elam tweeted that he would be taking his official visit to UK with Drew Barker and Denzel Ware. Barker has been working hard on the recruiting trail persuading too notch players to join him in the 2014 class. It seems now he has his sights set on Matt Elam and with Elam joining him on a visit it can mean nothing but good things for the Big Blue Nation. Elam has previously stated that he will announce his college decision at the Army All-American Game on January 4th. He is currently being recruited by Kentucky, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Louisville, and Alabama. With that list of schools it shows just how far Kentucky Football has came in only a few short months. In the past the Cats were lucky to even speak to a five star recruit let alone be considered in their top six and receive a visit from them. The future is bright for the Football Cats and with Mark Stoops at the helm Kentucky will continue to be in the mix for many highly ranked recruits.

By: Dustin Oakes

9 Aug

How Important Is The Western Kentucky Game

August 31st when Kentucky takes the field in Nashville there will be more than just a win or loss on the line. In the past year there has been a lot of trash talking that has taken place between the two squads leaving a bad taste in the mouths of Cat fans and football players as well. As Western Kentucky celebrated their overtime victory Kentucky fans were left wondering how bad this season was going to be.

Fast forward a year and the Cats are poised for revenge. With the memory of last years game fresh in their minds and with two new
coaches at the helm of each team this years game will set the tone for the entire season.

A win is what every fan wants but we as fans must realize that this is still a very young football team and they are still adapting to their new way of life. Coach Stoops has spoke repeatedly about how he has had to build his team's confidence after enduring a long season of disappointments and we as fans must stand behind the Cats win or lose.

I can guarantee you one thing though and that is that Kentucky will put a team on the field that competes every play and leaves it all on the field. Mark Stoops has made one thing clear in his short time at Kentucky and that is the fans will have a football team that they can be proud of, something that seemed to be lacking with last years team. When it comes down to it the Western Kentucky game is one that will set the tone for the entire season and possibly give us a peek at what we have to look forward to in the coming years.

By: Dustin Oakes
8 Aug

Will Dante Exum Play For The Cats


Dante Exum is a name that has been thrown around a lot here lately and people tend to know little about this Australian star. Dante Exum is 6'6 combo guard who at only 17 years old has many college coaches drooling over him including John Calipari. Exum has recently stated that Calipari has offered him a scholarship and that he wants to make a visit to Lexington sometime in September.

Exum is a member of the 2014 class along with Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor, and Emmanual Mudiay but could be eligible as early as the Spring semester of the 2013-2014 season. If Exum were to choose to come to Kentucky that means that he could be playing alongside the Cats already star-studded lineup.

Many people tend to think that if Exum does choose to come to college that he will only spend one semester and then turn to the NBA. If so would Kentucky still be interested? This is a debatable question considering the team that Kentucky already has. Would Calipari want to toss in a star like Exum in the middle of the season or would this throw off the chemistry that the team may have already built. Then there is always the chance that Exum decides to stay for more than just one semester and Kentucky then ends up with the likes of Exum and possibly Emmanual Mudiay in the backcourt. Along with Karl Towns and possibly Stanley Johnson or Jahlil Okafor the Cats will be poised for their tenth championship.

Kentucky was once thought to have been behind in recruiting in the 2014 class but as of the last couple of weeks it seems that they have made tremendous ground and are once again in contention for another number one recruiting class.

By: Dustin Oakes

5 Aug

5 Takeaways from UK Media Day

Sophomore QB Max Smith was surrounded by reporters at Media Day at Commonwealth Stadium.

Today was UK Media Day, where players and coaches were bombarded with questions about the coming year and the changes in the program. Here are a few takeaways from the day as a whole.

1. The Quarterback Situation may not be resolved for a while.

The Quarterback situation still seems to be a 3 horse race between Smith, Whitlow, and Towles. To me, I believe that's the order that it stands right now, with freshman Reese Phillips likely to take a redshirt this year. Neal Brown kind of shocked several people when he said he wouldn't mind using multiple quarterbacks in a game,citing Spurrier as an example, though he previously said he hoped to have a clear cut starter. Brown says the new system kept it pretty even in the spring, but he's looking forward to see if somebody steps up after the summer workouts. Brown and Stoops will work together to decide who is the starter, but it is ultimately Stoops' decision. Here is what Neal Brown had to say about each QB: 

Max Smith: Has the potential to be really accurate, has to stay healthy. Productive when healthy.

Jalen Whitlow: Didn't shy away when thrown into the fire. Has to build on a strong spring game. He's a playmaker. 

Patrick Towles: Very athletic, big -time arm, has to get rid of the ball quicker. 

As aforementioned, this is the order I believe they are in terms of the race right now, but this could definitely change anytime. 

2. Ryan Timmons will play WR.

Getting Timmons to stay in-state was a huge get for Kentucky and one of the biggest acquisitions in the 2013 class. Many thought Timmons could be a running back on the roster, but Neal Brown told the crowd today that he has been practicing as a wide receiver, and would only be used at running back if depth at running back became an issue. 

3. Alvonte Bell and Justin Day are NOT on the roster. 

Day is headed to Georgia Military Junior College for two years but is expected to join the UK roster after that. Bell is expected to head a similar route. 

4. Javess Blue WILL play this year. 

A lot has been made of Javess Blue. Message boards had been full of talk about him possibly being academically ineligible. However, that is not the case. He has reported to camp and will play this year. Neal Brown says he was a top 3 JUCO receiver next year and they expect him to be a factor on a thin receiving corp. 

5. Stoops was the best hire for Kentucky. 

In case you've lived under a rock since this past winter, Stoops has created a lot of buzz. However, his approach to the Kentucky job is just what Kentucky needed. A no-nonsense, hard-nosed, relentless worker who isn't too flashy, but can market the program. Some of his quotes today confirmed what we already knew about him being the best possible hire for the Cats. 

" We're gonna build this program brick by brick. We have to lay the foundation and do our work each and every day; go to work every day and give a honest day's work and we expect our players to do the same thing."
Better have some toughness about us. Better play hard. Very important to play hard. Doesn't take talent to play hard and relentless. You put that together and you will do good things...(on turnovers)you have to emphasize it. I've been on both ends of that, defenses wtih all kinds of turnovers and sometimes it doesnt go your way. Bottom line is you have to emphasize it and practice it and we will do whatever is necessary."
(on positivity) Proud of our guys, but we've not been perfect by any stretch. With 105 guys we're not going to be perfect but there has been a positive buzz and I think our guys feel that. They feel the support throughout the state and they're excited; they want go out there and produce."
"(on fan expectations) I think we're all excited, I want the fans excited about what we're doing. I want the fans excited about the hard work these players have done. I've said that before; most people understand where we are at as a program and where we can get to. We have a lot of work to do and were excited about doing it."

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  • RT @FballIsLife69: Why Wouldn't You Want To Play Under Stoops, Turn Around A Program, And Play In The SEC ?? #BBN #WhyNot 5 months ago
  • Struggling on the offensive glass, but overall good half for the Cats. 10 months ago
  • Tough losses like tonight can make or break a team. In my opinion Kentucky grows from this loss and will better themselves as a team. 10 months ago
  • RT @JonKYSportsco: Brohm the new HC at WKU & Petrino to return to U of L. http://t.co/Zk3TBRahPM 10 months ago
  • Winnable stretch of games coming up for the Cats: games against Mississippi State, Alabama State, Injury-riddled UGA, Vandy, and Tennessee. 1 year ago