Kentucky Football Begins Preparations for Mississippi State

Oct. 26, 2010

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky football team hit the practice field Tuesday to begin preparation for its trip south to take on the No. 23 Mississippi State Bulldogs at Davis Wade Stadium on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET.

Kentucky is expected to return senior tailback Derrick Locke, who has missed the past two games with a severe shoulder stinger. Head coach Joker Phillips joked with reporters after practice that he ran a few routes with the offense because wide receivers Randall Cobb, Chris Matthews and La’Rod King all took decreased reps in practice Tuesday.

“Randall sat out, Chris sat out, La’Rod sat out and I ran a few routes,” Phillips said. “It is that time of year, the guys are banged up and beat up, but we have some guys that are good at getting mental reps and should be good to go on Saturday.”

Defensively, Kentucky is expecting senior defensive end DeQuin Evans and sophomore cornerback Martavius Neloms back for the game Saturday, which is good news for a banged-up UK defense. Phillips said that Kentucky did not win the physical battle last Saturday against Georgia and must win it this week if they want to win, considering how well the MSU linemen, both offensively and defensively are playing.

“When you watch those guys play against Florida they re-established the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball,” Phillips said about Mississippi State’s offensive and defensive linemen. “It will be physical.

“We did not win the physical battle (against Georgia), so that’s a huge goal in this game. (State) re-established the line of scrimmage and ran the ball for four, five or six yards a carry and then the third-and-six’s they had they ran the ball and if they didn’t get it they punted and played great defense. I expect them to try and run that ball, that’s what they do.”

Kentucky will hit the practice field again Wednesday morning.

Hartline Added to Manning Award Watch List:
Quarterback Mike Hartline has been added to the watch list for The Manning Award in recognition of his impressive play so far this season, the Allstate Sugar Bowl announced.  The Manning Award is presented to the nation’s top quarterback.

Hartline has completed 184 of 273 passes with 2,144 yards, 17 touchdowns and only four interceptions. The native of Canton, Ohio, is completing almost 70 percent of his passes, leads the Southeastern Conference in touchdown passes and is second in passing yardage.  The senior has thrown from 300 yards or more in three of the last four games, including consecutive career highs with 349 yards in the upset of South Carolina and 353 yards vs. Georgia.  
After announcing 33 quarterbacks to watch during the preseason, the Manning Award opted to increase its focus players based on the many outstanding performances during the first half of the year. While these players have been added to the Watch List, every quarterback in the nation remains eligible to win the honor.

Ten finalists will be determined by a selected panel of national media covering college football, as well as each of the Mannings. That list will be released on Monday, Nov. 29. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, Jan. 19.

The Manning Award will be recognizing its seventh winner this year. USC's Matt Leinart was the inaugural winner of the award in 2005, followed by Texas' Vince Young in 2006. Both went on to be top 10 NFL draft picks. In 2007, LSU's JaMarcus Russell earned the award and was the NFL's No. 1 draft pick. Boston College's Matt Ryan claimed the award in 2008 and was drafted No. 3, quickly becoming the starting quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons. In 2009, Florida star Tim Tebow earned the honor - he also went on to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. Last year's winner was Texas signal-caller Colt McCoy, the winningest quarterback in college football history. McCoy was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the 2010 NFL Draft.