Cat Scratches
Interactive Twitter Facebook

Two days before Kentucky's first road test of the season at Florida, the Wildcats had a light Thursday with a walkthrough and positional meetings.

"Players are focused and we're excited to get on that plane tomorrow," Stoops said. "We got one more run-through tomorrow. We'll have about a 45-minute to an hour practice tomorrow and then we'll get on that bus and load up and head to Gainesville. So putting the finishing touches on a good week."

Returning to practice were running back Braylon Heard and wide receiver Javess Blue. Though they were limited, the two playmakers will be on the flight down to Florida Friday afternoon.

"They were out there a little bit, so we'll see," Stoops said. "Yeah, they're going to make the trip. We'll get something out of them."

Zach West, on the other hand, has been ruled out for Saturday. With the starter at left guard out with a neck injury, Cole Mosier will step in. A week after the Wildcats allowed five sacks to Ohio, Stoops knows they will need to be better against an athletic Gator defensive front.

"We've got to play well," Stoops said. "We've got to do what we do and that's get rid of the football quick when we can, make good decisions. We've got to protect and have all 11 guys on the same page, so. We've worked hard and we'll go down there and they'll play well. They'll improve."

UK looks to 'put it all together' at Florida

| No TrackBacks | Add a Comment
Bud Dupree and UK will take on Florida on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Bud Dupree and UK will take on Florida on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
Quick starts, two games in, have become habit for Kentucky.

The Wildcats outscored UT Martin and Ohio by a combined tally of 52-0 in the first half, shutting out back-to-back opponents before halftime for the first time in 26 years.

Repeating the feat against an opponent UK hasn't beaten in even longer is a tall order. That doesn't mean the Cats won't give it a shot against Florida.

"I think it will be very challenging to jump out in front of them like we did the first two (games)," Mark Stoops said. "But that's what we're going to try to do."

The reality is that such a start is unlikely as a young UK team ventures into Southeastern Conference play for the first time at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. Making things even tougher is that the Cats will do it in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, better known as the Swamp, against a Florida team always among the nation's most talented.

All that makes for a different kind of test for Kentucky this weekend in Gainesville, Fla.

"We all know we're in for a higher level of competition, and we're excited about that," Stoops said. "The players and coaches will be excited. We'll see where we're at this week."

The Cats have indeed been excited in practice all week, sustaining and even building on the energy that has carried them to a 2-0 start entering a trip to face the Gators (1-0).

"It's our first big test," quarterback Patrick Towles said. "It's our first real test this year and this is why you sign up to come to Kentucky to play these kinds of teams in these kinds of atmospheres, so you can tell everybody's got a little extra this week going down there."

Adding fuel to the fire, at least in theory, are the 16 players on UK's roster from the Sunshine State. Even though sophomore running back Jojo Kemp has friends on the Florida team and a big contingent of family members planning to come on Saturday, he says the extra juice isn't about going home.

"It's not because we're from Florida," Kemp said. "It's really because it's an SEC team and just because it's Florida and the streak. A lot of guys just want to really focus on changing the program and like they're next up, so why not Florida to do it? They're next. We're going to out there and play our best game and hopefully we come out with a win."

The streak Kemp refers to, of course, is the 28 years UK has gone without a win over the Gators. There isn't a current Wildcat who was even alive when Kentucky beat Florida 10-3 in 1986, but Towles is aware of the drought and admits he thinks about what it would be like to put an end to it. At the same time, he knows history won't matter much after the opening kickoff.

"I saw somewhere, it's the 2014 Wildcats versus the 2014 Gators, we're not playing Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin and those guys," Towles said. "They've got a really good team. We're excited about going down there and giving them all we've got."

In making his first road start, Towles will look to find holes in a Florida defense with a well-established reputation under head coach Will Muschamp.

"Florida is Florida," offensive coordinator Neal Brown said. "The strength of their defense is speed."

Running a new scheme under former Duke offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, the same can be said of the Gators on offense.

Florida has moved to a fast-paced spread attack and it worked to the tune of 65 points and 655 yards in a season-opening win over Eastern Michigan. Quarterback Jeff Driskel, a year removed from a broken leg that ended his 2013 season early, is leading the way.

"I think they're much different offensively this year," Stoops said. "They got some weapons and they got some real speed outside, a great scheme. You know, I think they're much improved offensively."

Florida ran 86 plays against Eastern Michigan, playing with the kind of pace Brown looks for in his own Air Raid offense. Coping with it won't be easy, but UK's defense has racked up some applicable experience in practice.

"Going against our offense, being a tempo offense, has helped us a lot conditioning wise and getting us ready for all the offenses in the SEC that will go no huddle," Bud Dupree said. "The way you stop that, you just have to cut out the big plays first and then they'll slow down."

That might be easier said than done, but the attitude reflects confidence the Cats are carrying with them to Florida.

They get that they aren't a finished product. They understand how intimidating the Swamp is. They know how athletic the Gators are. They also believe all of that can be overcome if they do what they're supposed to.

"We have to play well on all sides to have a chance to win," Stoops said. "We're not dominant enough on offense or dominant enough on defense. When we put it all together, we're good enough to play with anybody. We just have to play well."


UK is facing its first Southeastern Conference test this weekend and dealing the natural boost that follows.

That doesn't mean the Wildcats are shifting their practice habits with Florida looming on Saturday.

"We had a good practice," defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said. "Guys seemed to be energetic, flying around, excited. It's just a typical Wednesday, so things went well."

For UK, that means a combination of team and scout work, the second of which being of particular importance given the Gators' change in offensive style this season.

Under former Duke offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, Florida has moved to a spread attack that plays at a pace similar to what the UK defense has dealt with in practice all fall camp and through the first two weeks of the season.

"They're a spread offense now," Eliot said. "Last year they were mainly a pro-style offense with some spread looks. And now they are a spread offense with a few pro looks."

Their opener declared a no contest due to inclement weather, the Gators have only played one game this season, a 65-0 thrashing of Eastern Michigan last Saturday. Florida racked up 655 yards on 86 plays in the win, throwing 47 times.

That means it will be all hands on deck for a UK defense playing a different style as well, though due to changes in personnel more than system. With Avery Williamson and his 102 tackles now in the NFL and UK rotating much more freely at linebacker, 16 Wildcats have four or more tackles, led by A.J. Stamps' 14.

That's just fine with Eliot.

"We're not concerned about who makes the play," Eliot said. "It's just that they're made. I would like to see a defense that all those plays are spread out amongst a lot of players."

Video: The acoUstiKats' national anthem performance

| No TrackBacks | Add a Comment

Cats showing 'a little extra' before first SEC test

| No TrackBacks | 1 Comment

Through two weeks, energy has never been an issue for the Kentucky football team.

The Wildcats came out raring to go in wins over UT Martin and Ohio, but they've still managed to find another gear early in preparations for a trip to face Southeastern Conference foe Florida.

"It's our first big test," quarterback Patrick Towles said. "It's our first real test this year and this is why you sign up to come to Kentucky to play these kinds of teams in these kinds of atmospheres, so you can tell everybody's got a little extra this week going down there."

For the first time this week, the Cats got a chance to unleash that extra in a full practice on Tuesday.

"First day back, back to real work," offensive coordinator Neal Brown said. "We walked through a little bit on Florida stuff yesterday. Kids are eager. Obviously we've got a lot of Florida kids, so a lot of those guys are eager about getting home."

Running back Jojo Kemp -- a native of DeLand, Fla., less than 100 miles from Gainesville, Fla. -- doesn't dispute that there's a different feel around the Nutter Training Facility this week. He does, however, believe it's for a different reason than the one Brown cited even though he attended more games in The Swamp than he can count growing up.

"We could have been playing Vanderbilt, Mississippi State," Kemp said. "Just because it's SEC time. We're here to change the program around and they're just next up."

The next test will also be the first time UK hits the road after two games in the comforts of Commonwealth Stadium. Towles isn't among a number Wildcats making their first SEC trip, but this will be his starting debut on the road. To prepare for the hostile setting, Towles has spoken to two former Kentucky quarterbacks.

"I went down there my freshman year when Morgan (Newton) played," Towles said. "So I know the atmosphere. It's kind of like a microwave when you walk in at first. It's so hot. So, so hot. We play down there at night, so it won't be as hot, but I've talked to Morgan a little bit about it and Jared (Lorenzen), Jared of course."

Brown says the noise in The Swamp won't be a major factor for a UK offense that relies mostly on nonverbal communication. That's good, because the Cats will have plenty to contend with against the Gator defense.

"Florida is Florida," Brown said. "The strength of their defense is speed. They run well. ... So we've got our hands full, but our kids are excited. It will be a really good - I think Coach (Mark) Stoops said this yesterday - it will be a really good measuring stick for where we are as a young football team right now."

Patrick Towles will lead UK into a matchup at Florida on Saturday. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Patrick Towles will lead UK into a matchup at Florida on Saturday. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
Eight times in 12 drives on Saturday, Kentucky's offense reached Ohio territory. All the Wildcats had to show for it, however, was 20 points after a pair of touchdowns to start the game.

The output was enough to send UK to a second straight win to open 2014, but it left Mark Stoops with a clear mandate for an area needing improvement in practice this week.

"Obviously we need to finish better," Stoops said. "We need to finish the games, finish the drives. We can't be leaving points out there as we step up the competition here in the SEC."

The step up is happening right away. A week after UK passed a tougher test against Ohio, the Wildcats travel to Florida for a matchup with the Gators on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET.

"We all know we're in for a higher level of competition, and we're excited about that," Stoops said. "The players and coaches will be excited. We'll see where we're at this week."

Stoops is accustomed to being in road games against talented opponents -- including multiple games at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium during his time with Florida State -- but many of his players are not. Relying on so many first-time starters makes going to The Swamp a tall task.

"Well, we have some inexperience, but it is what it is," Stoops said. "It will be a real challenge. I think it's a great venue, obviously one of the best venues in college football. You'll probably hear me say that every road game in the SEC. But it's a great place, a great atmosphere. Very passionate fan base. It will be a real challenge. It's certainly not easy."

It will be a lot harder if the Cats don't capitalize on every available opportunity, which is exactly what happened against Ohio.

One particular stretch of four drives to close the first half and open the second is the perfect illustration. On each of those possessions, UK held the ball for at least eight plays. The Cats gained a total of 179 yards, but mustered only a pair of made field goals and two more misses, one of which came after they had a first and goal at the Ohio two-yard line.

The good news is UK continues to create opportunities. Now it's about making sure they yield points.

"We've got to get it cleaned up," Stoops said. "There's no mystery, you can't get first and goal on the two and get nothing. That we've got to get fixed and we will. We'll work on that. We got to come away with some kind of points there."

Towles' running-game role a balancing act

Patrick Towles' big arm and quicker release might have gotten the attention when he was named UK's starting quarterback, but Stoops has always been quick to point out the sophomore's fleet feet should not be overlooked.

No one at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday needed any such reminder. Towles piled up 59 rushing yards against Ohio on a combination of called keepers and scrambles.

"I thought he made some good decisions," Stoops said. "That helped us at times."

Take out the 34 yards he lost on five sacks and Towles carried 17 times for 93 yards. Impressive as that may be, Stoops knows it's not sustainable given the physical nature of UK's next opponent.

"I don't think we really want to be in the business of going into The Swamp and running him 22 times," Stoops said. "I'm not sure that will be a good idea."

When there are opportunities, Stoops wants Towles to take them. However, Towles can't abandon the pocket too soon when he's under pressure as he was against the Bobcats.

"Then maybe he's got to learn to go through his progressions more as well," Stoops said. "He did come off his progressions a few times a little early, which he had not done."

Injury updates


Late last week, Zach West sustained a "strange" neck injury that forced him to miss the Ohio game.

As of Monday, there's not much more clarity on his condition

"He's bothered by that," Stoops said. "There's some fluid around it. He will not be cleared to play until he gets full range and strength. They have no idea when that will be."

In West's absence, redshirt freshman Cole Mosier stepped in and started at left guard. With the timetable on West's return very much up in the air, Mosier is listed as the starter on this week's depth chart as well.

Also working to return from injury are running back Braylon Heard and wide receiver Javess Blue. Stoops said both are day-to-day, adding "I don't feel great about Blue." Also, wide receiver Jeff Badet (eye/leg) will not play at Florida.

Phillips penciled in as backup QB

UK's plans at the quarterback position, after an offseason of heated competition, have crystallized.

Towles, of course, is the starter, while Reese Phillips is the backup. Drew Barker will redshirt, if circumstances permit.

"If something happened to where Patrick was going to be out for a long period of time, then we would address the situation," Stoops said. "If we can redshirt Drew, that's what we're going to do."

Though the plan is for Barker not to play this season, the true freshman remains very much involved in the meeting room and in practice, where he spends occasional time as the scout-team quarterback.

"Drew has been good," Stoops said. "He's still right in there with all the game planning. He's been involved, engaged. He still gets some reps. It's been good."

Video: Stoops' Florida week press conference

| No TrackBacks | Add a Comment

UK football depth chart -- Week 3

| No TrackBacks | Add a Comment
Offense

Tight end
85 Steven Borden, 6-3, 246, Sr-1L
80 Ronnie Shields, 6-5, 254, Sr-3L

Left tackle

77 Darrian Miller, 6-5, 292, Sr-3L
68 Nick Haynes, 6-5, 319, Fr-RS

Left guard
74 Cole Mosier, 6-6, 348, Fr-RS
75 Zach West, 6-4, 318, Jr-2L

Center
72 Jon Toth, 6-5, 301, So-1L
57 Zach Myers, 6-3, 287, So-Sq

Right guard
69 Ramsey Meyers, 6-5, 300, Fr-RS
64 Max Godby, 6-4, 298, Sr-1L

Right tackle
70 Jordan Swindle, 6-7, 306, Jr-2L
73 Kyle Meadows, 6-5, 294, Fr-RS

Wide receiver
9 Demarco Robinson, 5-10, 158, Sr-3L
6 Blake Bone, 6-5, 198, Fr-HS

Wide receiver
1 Ryan Timmons, 5-10, 195, So-1L
82 T.V. Williams, 5-10, 160, Fr-HS

Wide receiver
8 Javess Blue, 6-0, 191, Sr-1L or 2 Dorian Baker, 6-3, 197, Fr-HS
81 Rashad Cunningham, 6-4, 225, Jr-1L

Wide receiver
87 Joey Herrick, 6-1, 197, Jr-1L
19 Garrett Johnson, 5-11, 176, Fr-HS

Quarterback
14 Patrick Towles, 6-5, 238, So-1L
12 Reese Phillips, 6-2, 218, Fr-RS or 7 Drew Barker, 6-3, 216, Fr-HS

Fullback

39 D.J. Warren, 6-0, 251, Sr-3L
10 Jeff Witthuhn, 6-3, 246, So-Sq

Running back
5 Braylon Heard, 5-11, 189, Jr-Tr or 3 Jojo Kemp, 5-10, 194, So-1L

Special teams

Long snapper
59 Kelly Mason, 6-3, 223, Jr-2L

Holder
13 Jared Leet, 6-3, 196, Jr-2L

Kicker
99 Austin MacGinnis, 5-10, 168, Fr-RS

Punter
9 Landon Foster, 6-1, 198, Jr-2L

Kickoff returner

18 Stanley "Boom" Williams, 5-9, 200, Fr-HS
5 Braylon Heard, 5-11, 189, Jr-Tr or 11 J.D. Harmon, 6-2, 201, So-1L

Punt returner
9 Demarco Robinson, 5-10, 158, Sr-3L
1 Ryan Timmons, 5-10, 195, So-1L

Defense

Defensive end
94 Za'Darius Smith, 6-6, 263, Sr-1L
91 Farrington Huguenin, 6-4, 275, Jr-2L

Defensive tackle
90 Melvin Lewis, 6-4, 320, Jr-JC
69 Matt Elam, 6-7, 375, Fr-HS

Defensive tackle

50 Mike Douglas, 6-4, 288, Sr-3L
67 Cory "C.J." Johnson, 6-3, 299, Jr-JC or 96 Regie Meant, 6-4, 286, Fr-RS

Defensive end/Linebacker
6 Jason Hatcher, 6-3, 242, So-1L
47 Jabari Johnson, 6-1, 276, Jr-1L

Defensive end/Linebacker
2 Alvin "Bud" Dupree, 6-4, 264, Sr-3L
41 TraVaughn Paschal, 6-4, 257, Sr-2L

Middle linebacker
45 Josh Forrest, 6-3, 236, Jr-2L
41 TraVaughn Paschal, 6-4, 257, Sr-2L

Weak-side linebacker
22 Khalid Henderson, 6-1, 228, Jr-2L
33 Ryan Flannigan, 6-2, 225, Jr-JC

Nickelback
24 Blake McClain, 5-11, 194, So-1L
29 Kendall Randolph, 6-0, 168, Fr-HS

Cornerback
3 Fred Tiller, 6-0, 170, Jr-2L
11 J.D. Harmon, 6-2, 201, So-1L

Safety
5 Ashely Lowery, 6-1, 220, Sr-3L
15 Marcus McWilson, 6-0, 210, So-1L

Safety
1 A.J. Stamps, 6-0, 199, Jr-JC
28 Eric Dixon, 5-11, 193, Sr-3L

Cornerback
16 Cody Quinn, 5-10, 172, Jr-2L
21 Nate Willis, 6-0, 168, Sr-1L

Recent Comments

  • new fan : Hey KY ya'll played one heck of a game!!!!! I'm a GATOR FAN but everyone on your team can hold read more
  • gary tanner: What are they (you) going to do about finishing the game. This past game after the 2nd q. we seem read more
  • Steve in Dayton UKFBFAN: With UK it has always been about depth. Stay healthy and develop these other guys. read more
  • Greg Williams: I have two enhancement requests for the men's basketball schedule online. 1) Please list the days of the week with read more
  • Bill Coad: Having known Charlie since birth I might be bias in my opinion but this young man has what most of read more
  • Berdj J. Rassam: 2013 was a tough year for UK football, 2-10 overall and 0-8 in the SEC, so 2014 can't be much read more
  • Guy Ramsey: Yes, that is correct. The UK IMG Network will no longer televise games live or delayed. However, it will still read more
  • Guy Ramsey: We are still working on creating other pickup locations throughout Lexington and the state of Kentucky. In the meantime, you read more
  • Tom Payne: The uniform were indeed ugly, glad my TV survived. read more
  • Karen Miller: I always get my UK Football and Basketball schedules at McDonalds. But this year, McDonalds said they were not carrying read more