Cats Look for Third Straight Win in Governor's Cup Battle
Sept. 14, 2009
Kentucky Game Notes | Louisville Game Notes | Depth Chart | Quotes from the Press Conference | Cat Scratches Feature: Turning the tables: UK has taken control of rivalry, but Cats know things can change in an instant
The Kentucky football team begins a three-game homestand when it plays host to intrastate rival Louisville for its home opener in Commonwealth Stadium. This marks the 22nd meeting between the Wildcats and Cardinals.
After an opening-week shutout win against Miami (Ohio), UK head coach Rich Brooks moved into sole possession of fifth place on the school career victory list. Against the RedHawks, the Wildcat offense exploded for 42 points behind 488 yards total yards and 29 first downs to mark the biggest win to open a season in 25 years. The UK defense posted its first shutout in 13 seasons to secure its third consecutive win in a season opener.
Kentucky carries an active 15-game win streak against non-conference opponents, dating back to 2006, into the annual battle for the Governors' Cup. The Wildcats have won the past two meetings in the series including a 27-2 season-opening victory in Louisville last season. UK leads the all-time series 12-9, a mark that dates back to 1912.
Louisville enters the matchup after a 30-10 victory over Indiana State to begin the year. UofL dominated in total offense, 419 yards to 101, and had four takeaways on defense.
Live Blog from Cat Scratches
Head Coach Rich Brooks
"There are some great things happening this year obviously with our volleyballteam and men's soccer team still being undefeated. Now it really does seem likefootball season has started, doesn't it, now that we've got the game you allwant to see.
"Injury report, I would say that John Connor is questionable. He will practice tomorrow and did practice yesterday. We'll see how that ankle responds going forward. Cartier Rice is also questionable. He did not practice yesterday but we will try and have him practice tomorrow. A new addition to the injury list would be Kyrus Lanxter, who had a hamstring pull last week in practice and looks doubtful for the game. We'll know more moving forward.
"Obviously, this is an extremely important game. One, it's an in-state rivalry with the Governor's Cup at stake and it is also our home-opening game and we need to keep our non-conference streak alive if at all possible and put us into better position as we go into league play next week. This is a game that both teams are going to want a great deal and the preparation has been a little bit different other than an opening game when you can prepare for however long you want in fall camp. Now there's been a two-week lead up to this game so I'm sure we all are anxious to get on the field and get the game underway. Questions?"
Do you personally hear more of a buzz from the fan base for the Louisville game compared to all of the other games as you move around town?
"Well, I'm not out and around town this time of year but I don't think there's any question that you get more buzz for the rivalry game then you do for many others. It's also hard to beat the buzz in some of the SEC games we have and certainly the ones we've had in the past couple of years. This is a huge game for a lot of reasons and certainly the in-state supremacy, which we were on the bottom tier for my first four years, that's not a fun place to be."
How did you guy use your bye week, as only playing in one game is not a good indicator of the direction of the team for the season, what did you guys correct?
“Well, we needed to correct some of the things that we made mistakes onin the opening game. Fundamentally some busted coverages, some busted assignmentson offense and some things in the kicking game that need to be cleaned up. Overall,I think it was a freshening experience with the exception of Kyrus Lanxter, whopulled a hamstring in a one-on-one drill on Wednesday. I think the players gota break from football for a couple of days on Friday and Saturday; they havetoday off so three of the last four days they've had off. I think at some pointwhen you're going, and you're going and you're going your body can get worn downas well as mentally and I was pleased with yesterday's extended practice. Fora Sunday practice it was longer than normal and we had shoulder pads on whenwe normally don't have any pads on. I think the focus is there and I think theattention to detail is there."
Do you expect Louisville to come out as a different team compared to their first game against Indiana State a few weeks ago?
“I think there's no question, they're going to play much better football,sharper, more focused than they did the first week and I'm sure we'll see morefrom them than they showed in the first game. I'm a believer that you have toget better every week as you go through the season and if you don't there areother people that are going to get better and you're going be sorry you didn'tget better. Last year we had a team that didn't get much better as we went throughthe regular season and after starting out 4-0 and lost a couple of close gamesit started to show up big. Not only did the injuries hit us but we also didn'tget any better."
How much do people hear of being on the losing side of a rivalry, how does it drive a team and how do you think Louisville is being driven?
“Well, you have to live in a vacuum to not hear about it all year longin this state. Any football fan, you hear it on the talk radio, you see it onthe message boards, just everywhere and you hear it when you're out in public.You get constantly reminded of what side of that equation you're on but likethe last two years we've been fortunate enough to win the game - that reallydoesn't count - what counts is what happens this year. This Saturday is whatis really going to count."
What about Louisville concerns you?
“I think they have more speed, it appears to me, than they had a year agoparticularly, on defense. We knew the offensive speed they had but their defensivespeed appears to have increased quite a bit. I think they're playing aggressivelyon defense and offensively we all know what kind of weapons they have. Our matchupwith our defensive front with their offensive front will probably be one of thekey things in the game, whether we can contain the running game and put someheat on their quarterback or not."
Can you talk about (Louisville) quarterback Justin Burke and the offensive package?
“We obviously saw him first-hand in high school, he was outstanding. Hethrew for nine million yards and lots of touchdowns and they had great successat Lexington Catholic. I think after a two-year period of not playing, he playedvery well in the first game."
Do you anticipate your defensive line developing so you're able to have a lot of pressure with your front four?
“Well, I hope so but three of those guys were in NFL camps and two arestill on NFL teams. You don't replace those kind of guys easily and I think wehave the talent that will develop, but I talk about getting better as we go throughthe year and that is one of the positions that need to get better and we needto get better game by game. With the lack of experience we have at that positiongoing into the first game it's a little bit understandable why we didn't seethe types of things that I had hoped to see. I expect to see a lot more of themgoing forward and certainly the road will get tougher this week and it gets toughereven going forward from this."
What does (Louisville receiver) Scott Long look like coming off the injury?
“He's obviously a talented guy who can beat you deep and he can catch itand break tackles and take it deep. He adds a different dimension to their passinggame that they didn't have last year."
How important was that big win two years ago?
“I'll be honest with you, two years ago feels like 20 years ago to me andI'd rather talk about the games coming up then the ones two years ago. To meit has no bearing on this game."
With Coach Kragthorpe calling the plays this year, have you noticed any difference in their play-calling or offensive scheme?
“I thought they used quite a bit of play-action pass in the first game.They also got Burke on the perimeter some off of play-action or sprint-out. Ithink that one thing that's clear from one game, which means it's about as clearas mud, is that they are moving the pocket, at least out of the first game. Nowwhether that will continue moving forward, we don't know, but that's somethingyou certainly have to prepare for."
What about defensively? Did you have to go back and look at Utah State film?
"We looked at that and we've looked at a lot of film from the defensive standpoint but we're trying to glean more out of the first-game performance because that also includes the personnel at least, probably not all of the defensive stuff we're going to see but the majority of it."
How is Danny Trevathan coming along and what percent do you expect him to be game time?
“Well, he has a little pain but he played with the same injury just withouta pin in it. It's a pain tolerance thing and he practiced yesterday and he willpractice Tuesday. He will play with a cast on.
Can you talk about your kickoffs, do you expect to make any changes?
“Anybody watch the Georgia/South Carolina game? Well, that's what you'regoing to get on our kickoffs. Now hopefully we'll cover them better but we arewhat we are folks. We all of sudden aren't going to have a guy kicking it outof the end zone or hanging it 4.2 because right now we don't have that. I can'ttalk about recruiting but that will be solved next year. This year we have whatwe have. We have to cover well and give people different looks, if you will,and the pressure is squarely on our coverage guys and in our first game our coverageguys responded extremely well. Again, I will say it, going forward they're goingto have to respond a lot better because the people we play and the returnersare going to be much better and we're going to see that first-hand this week.So, if we can get through this week it will make me feel a little bit better,but I promise you I'll be nervous every time we kick off this year.
Can you talk about Louisville's running game, especially Victor Anderson?
“Victor Anderson is a big-time back; he had a 1,000-yard year, and wasfreshman of the year of the Big East last year. He's got loads of talent andhe's a guy that can take it the distance on you and they've got another backPowell that they bring in there, he's much bigger but still has speed as wellso I think their running game is very dangerous.
Can you give us some examples of giving teams different looks on the kickoffs?
“Pooch kicks, different side-kicks, the first squib kick we ordered inthe game ended up a line drive to the two-yard line with a 2.2 hang. It's a workin progress that's all I can tell you. Hey, you know, look around the leaguefolks we're not the only ones that can't kick it out of the end zone. We've beenspoiled for four years and people got used to Tim Masthay, he isn't here, he'sgone!
How does U of L's first game penalty problems factor in when preparing for them this week?
“I think they had 14 penalties, and they weren't necessarily procedures,they were holding, holding, holding, some pretty big penalties. You cut thosein half and instead of 30-10 it's probably 45 or 50-10. You eliminate it downto two or three and you have a total rout. So, it makes a huge difference ina game when you have those kinds of penalties that disrupt drives.
You mentioned that Louisville was taking its pocket and putting it on the move, what unique challenges does that present to your defense?
“Containment and making sure that we don't give the quarterback more timeto throw the ball then he should have back there. That happens sometimes whenthey're dropping back and you don't contain and the quarterback bails out andavoids pressure. Then he bides time and if you're playing man-to-man that putson extreme pressure and if you're playing zone, it leaves a chance for receiversto work to the holes in the zone.
Coach you had no turnovers and very few penalties in the first game, is that attributed to the players maturing or just good coaching?
“I think it's probably attributed to good fortune because there will bemistakes made in games. Now I hope we don't have a whole bunch of them but inan opening game we had pretty much, with the exception of one player on offense,a fairly-experienced group starting. Defensively we weren't as experienced asa group and I think we were fortunate to not have more penalties.
Player Quotes from the Press Conference
Stuart Hines, offensive guard
What are your feelings on the game against Louisville?
"It's a rivalry game so there will be a lot of intensity and emotion. A lot ofpeople have a lot of motivation for this game and we have a lot of people fromLouisville, so it's a big game. This game means a lot to people across the state.Two years ago I was a redshirt, so I had to sit in the stands. Last year, I didn'tget to play because I was coming off an injury. This is my first game againstLouisville, so this is a big game for me."
How do you feel about being the favorite?
"It doesn't matter to me either way. I expect we will come out and play hardregardless if we are the favorite or the underdog. We are still going to playas hard as we can. We are hungry, we want to keep winning and show what we cando."
How is the team since the win against Miami?
"Confidence has gone up a little, but we know there is still a lot to improveon. We especially need to work on techniques and assignments. It was the firstgame so we expect to be a little sloppy, so we need to keep working."
Micah Johnson, linebacker
How important is it for Kentucky to stay on top in this series, knowing how it feels to not be the favorite?
"Speaking for myself, it gives me an edge because I want to keep winning and stay on top. It pushes me to want to play harder."
Is this game like any other game for you guys?
"It's a rivalry game, so everyone knows that it's a big game, but you have totake it as that because you want to win. Everything that comes with it is a littlemore for the fans and it is exciting, so we want to win it for them."
Have you watched much film on Louisville?
"We have watched film on them, and I personally did last week and over the weekend.I was surprised how much they ran the ball. They ran the ball a lot and thatis a lot different from what Miami did. They (Miami) tried to run the ball thefirst couple of plays, but after that were in five-wide spread about 70 percentof the game."
Ross Bogue, tight end
What are the challenges you face as a tight end going up against Louisville?
"They have a very good defense and a really strong linebacker corps so gettingto that second level and blocking them is going to be a challenge. That is whatwe are going to work on this week."
What type of things did you see that you can take advantage of against Louisville?
"Not really anything. Louisville is athletic every year and they have athletesthat can fly around the football field. It will be crucial for us to not makeany assignment errors or do things that we cannot be doing. If we do that, Ithink that we should be in a good position to have success."
What types of things did you work on as an offense during the open week?
"A lot of technique as far as the offensive line and tight end goes. We madea lot of mistakes as far as footwork and hand placement, those types of things.We could have improved on those against Miami and that is what we worked on inthe bye week to make sure we got better."
Ricky Lumpkin, defensive lineman
Does the number of sacks by a defensive lineman help tell how good of a game the defensive line played?
"There are other things that you have to see. We might not get sacks, becausethey are doing three- step drops and cuts. We got cut a lot against Miami ifyou really look at the film; now there were times when we didn't get cut andshould have gotten pressure. When you play a team who likes to cut like thatyou are not going to get pressure when they sit back and throw quick slants.You have to look at if you're in your gap, stopping the run and other things.We realize that we should have got more pressure on them, but it is one of thosethings where you watch the tape and try to improve."
How important was that game two years ago against Louisville?
"It was really important. I know that they will be back though and get into theswing of things. You never know, this could be their game and their year. Itis going to be an exciting game and an exciting year for both us and them. Usuallyrivalry games help tell you what a team is going to do that year because of theintensity and game speed. That is why Miami and Florida State play each otherat the beginning of the season because you get to see how fast your team willbe ready. It is going to be exciting to see what will happen in this game andhow the rest of the season will play out."
Where you on the field during that last play two years ago?
"Nope, I didn't play that game because I fractured my hip against Kent State.I missed that game. I was on the field after the game on crutches, getting pushedaround. I had to be escorted off the field because I was getting pushed aroundso much. It was exciting and I wish I did play in it."