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Video: Stoops' Ohio week press conference

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UK football depth chart -- Week 2

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

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
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
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

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

Football notebook: Cats play 'clean' in opener

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A.J. Stamps (No. 1) made a highlight-worthy INT and several big hits in his UK debut (Chet White, UK Athletics) A.J. Stamps (No. 1) made a highlight-worthy INT and several big hits in his UK debut (Chet White, UK Athletics)
Asked to use one word to describe his team's 59-14 season-opening victory over FCS opponent UT Martin, Mark Stoops said the Wildcats' performance was "clean."

"I just think--really just clean," the UK head coach said. "I think they were just--it was relatively clean. Probably late in the game maybe it gets a little frustrating, sloppy. But the first half, I was pleased.  

"We came out and we wanted to start fast. We did. The guys were very energetic, but yet we went out and played with good poise and that's where--that was good to see."

By the final whistle, the UK coaching staff had a lot to be happy about with positives coming from all three phases.

Notably, UK's 59 points were the most it scored since dropping 63 on Western Kentucky in 2010, and the 45-point margin of victory was its most since a 57-point win over UTEP 12 years ago.

Kentucky also turned in six rushing touchdowns, the most in a game since vs. Kent State in 2007.

Defensively, UK forced five turnovers, one third of its total from the entire 2013 season.

Perhaps more importantly as a sign of improvement, UK had two interceptions. That output brought UK within one pick of matching the teams aggregate from a year ago.

And the Wildcats' special teams units to a certain extent too, with a fumble recovery on the opening kickoff of the second half as a feather in new special teams coordinator Craig Naivar's cap.

No. 1's shine


UK's 2014 roster has some duplicate numbers. Two players, for example, wear No. 1. A.J. Stamps on defense (safety), and Ryan Timmons on offense (wide receiver).

Each of UK's No. 1s was impressive in his own right on Saturday.

Stamps wowed those watching Saturday's game with one play in particular early in the game. The junior college transfer safety's one handed interception early in the first quarter made waves on highlight shows across nation.

"It was a nice feeling," Stamps said of the head-turning play. "I just saw the ball and had to go get it and make the play and fortunately it was me. That's something you do as a kid. I was out there practicing my one-handed catches before the game. It's just something you have to be prepared for."

Apparently witnessing plays has become commonplace for everyone on the UK sideline, who have seen Stamps in practices and scrimmages since he enrolled this past spring.

"We saw him walk out the first practice of the spring and you could just tell," starting quarterback Patrick Towles said. "(UK backup quarterback) Reese (Phillips) said the minute A.J. walked on campus that 'he's the guy.' He showed it today, he showed everybody that he is 'the guy.' "

And the player who wears No. 1 on offense didn't have such a bad game himself.

Timmons was UK's leading receiver in a game in which the UK offense had the fourth-best total offensive output in school history.

He finished with three catches for 75 yards, highlighted by a 56-yarder in the second quarter.

But it wasn't just Timmons' receiving that impressed his coaching staff.

Offensive coordinator Neal Brown saw Timmons' disciplined game as tying in with what was a pretty outstanding overall offensive performance for UK.

Timmons looks poised to deliver consistently as a sophomore upon the potential he showed in fleeting moments as a freshman in 2013.

Perhaps the biggest example of Timmons' maturity came not on one of his catches, but on Blake Bone's 29-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter.

"The thing that sticks out about that play, which had me fired up, is we blocked really well," Brown said. "Ryan Timmons had a really nice block downfield. That would have never happened a year ago."

Timmons' quarterback was even more impressed than his coordinator.

"Timmons when he got here was not a very aggressive guy," Towles said. "It was awesome to see. I got hit (on the touchdown pass to Bone), but I heard the huge roar and then I got up and saw Timmons on top of somebody. It wasn't something I was expecting to see.

"It's great to see the work he's done in the weight room pay off. I also made that throw to him down the sideline and he ran about 20 yards after he caught it."

Offense begins reflecting Brown's blueprint

Kentucky's offensive output in Saturday's win was impressive by just about any measure.

In piling up 656 yards of total offense, Brown's unit began to truly resemble a fast-paced, air-raid attack for arguably the first time in the Stoops era.

"Overall I was extremely pleased," Brown said. "We are better ... how much better? I'm not sure. We'll start to find out next week. Our tempo was better.

"I think we showed signs late in the first and throughout the second quarter of playing how we want to play. Now we can still take it up a notch. That'll be one of those things I want to get better at."

The strong output didn't just encourage Brown, whose offense was lacking for ideal personnel a year ago in his first season in Lexington. Watching his unit stockpile yards and points made for one of the most enjoyable games for Brown in a while.

"I just sent a text about how this was the most fun I had coaching since (November) of 2012," Brown said. "It's been fun all camp I've had a good time, and I appreciate the way our guys have worked. These guys really want to be good. Our talent is getting better. We haven't arrived by any means, but our talent is getting better.

"They're eager to do well, and they've been a fun group to coach ... I think you're going to see continued growth as we go along."

Promises of running back depth prove true

Throughout preseason camp, Kentucky's offensive coaching staff had intimated that running back was the team's deepest position.

Judging by Saturday's performance, the coaches weren't lying.

Three backs combined to score four of UK's five rushing touchdowns.

Braylon Heard touched the ball twice and scored on both of them, once with a run of 73 yards the other time for 43.

"(Braylon) might never want to play again because he has to have the highest per-rush average in school history, in the nation," Brown joked. "He might just say, 'I'm done.' Here's the thing, and this won't show up, but the two runs he had were extremely disciplined runs. We had some runs later in the game that weren't disciplined. The thing that's good for me is we turn on the film tomorrow and here's Braylon doing things exactly the way we coach it."

And while Heard's total 116 yards on just two carries was staggering, both Jojo Kemp and Mikel Horton also found the end zone.

Saturday gave position coach Chad Scott plenty of confidence about the possibility a three-headed monster ground attack with plenty of young talent waiting in the wings as well.

Nobody was more appreciative of UK's effective running game than its passer -- who just so happened to throw for 377 yards as UT Martin stacked the box in an effort to limit big running plays like Heard's touchdowns.

"Those two runs that Braylon had were just text book," Towles said. "Kicking out everyone you're supposed to kick out. To have him back there and to have guys like Jojo and Mikel, playmakers in space, is great. I was excited about the two runs (Braylon) had.

"I was running right behind him trying to chase him into the end zone. He's such a good guy, he does everything right. Coach Brown was talking about how good his runs were. He's just a disciplined guy. It's good to see him succeed."

The Kentucky running backs' next chance to succeed will come Saturday against Ohio in a game sure to be at least somewhat more competitive than the opener.

Video: UK football's 2014 intro

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Patrick Towles had one of the best starting debuts for a quarterback in UK history on Saturday. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Patrick Towles had one of the best starting debuts for a quarterback in UK history on Saturday. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
Two years ago, a second-quarter 71-yard touchdown drive led by then-true freshman Patrick Towles impressed a fan base desperate for excitement in the midst of a disappointing season.

On Saturday he showed his talent in broader strokes as he turned in one of the best statistical debuts by a UK starter of the last 20 years.

Towles' 377 yards on 20-of-29 passing with one passing and one rushing touchdown gave him a 189.5 passer rating.

The line was on par with fellow Air Raid signal-callers Dusty Bonner (34-62, 446 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT) and Jared Lorenzen (22-34, 322 yards, 3 TD, 3 INT) in terms of yardage. His performance was certainly better in terms of efficiency.

"I was very pleased with Patrick," Mark Stoops said. "Very happy for him. The big thing was, to me, he was very poised and he made very good decisions.  You know, we know he has the talent to get the ball down the field.  I think it was important for him to be efficient in the intermediate area and I thought he did that." 

And yet Towles' first start will also be compared with his previous Commonwealth Stadium outing.

"Two years ago was kind of a flash in a pan in terms of having a good first series against Mississippi State before getting injured," Towles said. "It was important to come out today and play clean to build a solid foundation for the rest of the season. Two years ago certainly gave me confidence in terms of playing in front of the Commonwealth Stadium crowd."

The drive in 2012 brought an injury-plagued Kentucky team within a touchdown of then-No. 20 Mississippi State, but more importantly showed the Big Blue Nation the hype around a former Gatorade Kentucky High School Player of the Year was justified.

This UK Athletics Department staff member won't forget tending to the CWS press box phone that day and taking calls from every major sports network on such basic questions as, "How do you pronounce Towles?"

But the excitement was quickly tempered.

Towles suffered an ankle injury on the ensuing drive and played sparingly the rest of a 2-10 season.

And then Towles did not play during Mark Stoops' first season at UK. Going into new staff's second season, the redshirt sophomore had to win a quarterback competition over formidable teammates Reese Phillips, Drew Barker and the experienced Maxwell Smith.

After winning the starting job, Towles entered UK's season opener looking to live up to a world of expectations given his performance in camp and his high school pedigree, not to mention the brief moment of brilliance he showed two autumns ago.

Saturday, facing an opponent admittedly not up to the level UK will face in Southeastern Conference play, Towles delivered on what his 2012 cameo appearance promised.

"Y'all know Patrick ... he doesn't lack for confidence, which is a good thing," UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown said. "That's a good thing. He thinks he can make every throw and he thinks he can make every run. That's exactly what you're looking for. I knew he was going to be ready to play."

Towles quarterbacked the UK offense to the fourth-best performance in terms of total offense (656 yards) in school history.

His game featured a 79-yard completion to Demarco Robinson on a first down from his own 13-yard line and a 22-yard touchdown run as highlights.

Towles' offensive coordinator and position coach was confident the player he placed faith in during the preseason would deliver, especially given the way recent practices had gone.

"On Wednesday he had his best practice that's he's probably ever--I know that he's had since I've been coaching, he had his best practice," Brown said. "Decision-making, throwing the ball. I sent him a text that next morning after I watched it and told him that same thing."
 
But Towles didn't enter the game completely assured of success.

"I was very nervous," Towles said. "I didn't get much sleep last night. I got some sleep, but not as much I would have liked to. I was just ready to go, I wanted to get out there and start playing.

If anything Brown was most impressed by his quarterback's response to adversity. After a turnover on downs to open the game, and some bad decisions early in the second half, Towles showed resilience.

The plays he made in response showed Brown he can depend on his quarterback when the competition gets tougher in coming weeks.

"The most important thing is he came out, first drive of the second half, and made two poor decisions," Brown said. "Made two poor decisions, then he came back the very next series and made two big plays. That's the thing: Bounce back.

"We've had this next-play attitude. That's what we talked about leading up to this game and I told you I preach it to myself more than those guys. But he did. He came out, had a bad series, bounced back, had a real positive series, had a nice run for a touchdown."

Looking back on his first start in a UK jersey, Towles' report card was good. But tougher tests remain.

"I felt like I did well as a whole," the UK starter said. "There were a couple bad decisions that were made by me but as you saw, I did what coach has been wanting me to and that was coming out in the next series and making two good decisions that canceled out my bad ones."

Towles certainly built off his previous CWS appearance on Saturday. The feat is not to be taken lightly given the excitement generated by his previous cameo.

And yet next week's test against a more competitive opponent in Ohio could go a longer way in showing UK's long-term outlook, if not just for the 2014 season.

Braylon Heard carried twice for 116 yards and two touchdowns in UK's 59-14 win on Saturday. (Elliott Hess, UK Athletics) Braylon Heard carried twice for 116 yards and two touchdowns in UK's 59-14 win on Saturday. (Elliott Hess, UK Athletics)
Throughout fall camp, Mark Stoops and his staff have preached the importance of making the simple play and executing assignments.

Braylon Heard's first two carries in a Kentucky uniform looked anything but simple.

The Nebraska transfer took the first 73 yards for a touchdown, sprinting through a big hole and slowing down only to make sure no UT Martin defenders were on his heels. They weren't.

On the next, less than four minutes of game time later, he found another seam and went 43 yards for another score.

The plays will surely end up on UK's highlight reel at the end of the season. And of course, they speak to the talent of the player who made them.

That doesn't mean they weren't perfect illustrations of what the staff has been saying.

"The two runs he had that he broke were extremely disciplined runs," offensive coordinator Neal Brown said.  "... The thing that's going to be encouraging to me is we turn on the video tomorrow and here's Braylon doing the thing exactly the way we coach it. Exactly, to a T, the way we coach it. Boom, big play."

Heard was far from the only Wildcat to make big plays on Saturday. All told, UK had nine offensive plays of 20 yards or more in a dominant season-opening 59-14 victory, not to mention the defense's two interceptions and three fumble recoveries, one of which Khalid Henderson returned 89 yards for a touchdown.

In reflecting on the win, though, Stoops didn't marvel at his team's newfound game-breaking potential. Asked what single thing stood out to him about UK's performance, he gave an answer that was characteristically simple.

"Really just clean," Stoops said. "I think they were just--it was relatively clean."

The fans at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday left singing a slightly different tune.

After all, they had just seen the influx of talent that Stoops has brought to Lexington back up the hype bestowed on it by recruiting services more than at any point since the second-year head coach's arrival.

They watched Heard -- limited to two carries by an ankle injury that knocked him out of the game for precautionary reasons -- led a ground game that rolled up 243 yards and six touchdowns on 28 carries. They cheered a young receiving corps that caught deep balls and turned short passes into long gains in equal measure, just as true freshman Blake Bone did on a screen pass that became a 29-yard touchdown.

"Definitely impressed," quarterback Patrick Towles said of the receiving corps. "The ball I threw to Blake that he scored on was behind. That should have been farther in front, but he made a really good play. The receivers all around played awesome."

Towles, starting for the first time at Kentucky, deftly ran the show. He completed 20-of-29 passes for 377 yards and a touchdown, adding 30 yards and another score on the ground.

"The big thing was, to me, he was very poised and he made very good decisions," Stoops said. "You know, we know he has the talent to get the ball down the field. I think it was important for him to be efficient in the intermediate area and I thought he did that. He missed a couple, but overall, just very pleased with his poise."

Towles was in Lexington before Stoops' arrival, but he's in the minority among UK's top offensive contributors. Players recruited to Kentucky by the current staff accounted for 529 of the Cats' 656 yards from scrimmage.

"I was very pleased with the young guys in general," Stoops said. "You can see the ability of some of the guys that we've been talking about, all the freshmen running backs, the freshmen wide receivers looked very poised out there and made some good plays."

That poise has everything to do with preparation, says running back Mikel Horton.

"I don't even think our coaches look it like freshmen being played because how prepared we are," said Horton, who carried seven times for 45 yards and two touchdowns. "Each freshmen, each senior, sophomore , junior are very prepared and each can rotate in and know the plays. I don't even look at it as freshman anymore. I look at us as players. When you're well prepared and you don't have a class on you, you can go in and handle your business."

UK's defense didn't rely quite as heavily on newcomers, but its biggest star on Saturday suited up in blue for the first time.

Safety A.J. Stamps has drawn raves all offseason from Stoops and defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot. The first-year junior-college transfer didn't wait long to back up the talk.

After Heard scored his first touchdown late in the first quarter to give UK a 14-0 lead, Stamps came flying into the backfield on the first play of the ensuing UT Martin drive. Before Ladevin Fair could hardly see him, Stamps flipped him into the air with a big hit for a three-yard loss.

"A.J.'s a very talented player and I've said all along he's been a great addition to our defense," Eliot said. "He's a very athlete, a very good football player, but he's also a good leader and he's got a lot of good instincts."

Those instincts showed up again on the Skyhawks' next drive. Reading a deep ball by UT Martin's Dylan Favre, Stamps sped over and snared the pass with his right hand, making a play sure to be seen again on the SportsCenter Top 10.

"Everybody said I could have made it with two," Stamps said. "But hey, one hand looked better."

Stamps -- who finished with a team high-tying eight tackles -- clearly had some fun on Saturday. He wasn't alone.

"This is the most fun I've had in a football game since (November) of 2012, probably," Brown said, recalling a text message he sent after the game. "And here's the thing: It's been fun all camp. It really has. I've had a good time. I appreciate the way our guys have worked, how they've prepared."

During camp, Brown joked about the gray hairs he's spouting coaching so many youngsters. In a good mood on Saturday following a big win, he talked about the flip side of coaching an up-and-coming group.

"These guys really want to be good," Brown said. "Our talent's getting better. We haven't arrived by any means, but our talent's getting better. They're eager, really eager to do well and they've been a fun group to coach. Not just myself, our whole offensive staff. We really enjoy coaching this group and I really think you're going to see continued growth as we go along."

On Saturday evening, UK released the following statement on cheerleader Brooke Gibbs, who was was injured after a fall on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium.

Brooke Gibbs, a sophomore on the UK Cheer team, has been treated and released from UK Chandler Hospital following a fall during the 4th quarter of Kentucky Football's victory over UT Martin. Brooke, her family and the cheer program are appreciative of the efforts and expertise of the athletic trainers, team doctors and paramedics who cared for her at the stadium, as well as the doctors, nurses and staff at the hospital. She has heard of the outpouring of thoughts, prayers and concerns from the Big Blue Nation and can't wait to get back on the field with her teammates and the football team soon.

Video: Post-UT Martin video interviews

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Head coach Mark Stoops


Offensive coordinator Neal Brown


Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot


A.J. Stamps, Braylon Heard, Ryan Timmons, Patrick Towles, Dorian Baker and Mikel Horton


Live blog: Football vs. UT Martin

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Live Blog Football vs. UT Martin
 

Recent Comments

  • dave and linda: we are looking forward to another exciting season of wildcat b-ball.This lineup of talent is second to none, and ANY read more
  • grady jobe: the 2 team lineup will work if the players get the act.also I feel sorry for the orther teams.lord merry, read more
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  • 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
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