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
"There are some great things happening this year obviously with our volleyball
team and men's soccer team still being undefeated. Now it really does seem like
football season has started, doesn't it, now that we've got the game you all
want 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.
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
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
“Well, we needed to correct some of the things that we made mistakes on
in the opening game. Fundamentally some busted coverages, some busted assignments
on 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, who
pulled a hamstring in a one-on-one drill on Wednesday. I think the players got
a break from football for a couple of days on Friday and Saturday; they have
today off so three of the last four days they've had off. I think at some point
when you're going, and you're going and you're going your body can get worn down
as well as mentally and I was pleased with yesterday's extended practice. For
a Sunday practice it was longer than normal and we had shoulder pads on when
we normally don't have any pads on. I think the focus is there and I think the
attention 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 more
from them than they showed in the first game. I'm a believer that you have to
get better every week as you go through the season and if you don't there are
other people that are going to get better and you're going be sorry you didn't
get better. Last year we had a team that didn't get much better as we went through
the regular season and after starting out 4-0 and lost a couple of close games
it started to show up big. Not only did the injuries hit us but we also didn't
get 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 long
in this state. Any football fan, you hear it on the talk radio, you see it on
the 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 like
the last two years we've been fortunate enough to win the game - that really
doesn't count - what counts is what happens this year. This Saturday is what
is really going to count."
What about Louisville concerns you?
“I think they have more speed, it appears to me, than they had a year ago
particularly, on defense. We knew the offensive speed they had but their defensive
speed appears to have increased quite a bit. I think they're playing aggressively
on defense and offensively we all know what kind of weapons they have. Our matchup
with our defensive front with their offensive front will probably be one of the
key things in the game, whether we can contain the running game and put some
heat on their quarterback or not."
Can you talk about (Louisville) quarterback Justin Burke and the offensive
“We obviously saw him first-hand in high school, he was outstanding. He
threw for nine million yards and lots of touchdowns and they had great success
at Lexington Catholic. I think after a two-year period of not playing, he played
very 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 are
still on NFL teams. You don't replace those kind of guys easily and I think we
have the talent that will develop, but I talk about getting better as we go through
the year and that is one of the positions that need to get better and we need
to get better game by game. With the lack of experience we have at that position
going into the first game it's a little bit understandable why we didn't see
the types of things that I had hoped to see. I expect to see a lot more of them
going forward and certainly the road will get tougher this week and it gets tougher
even 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 it
and break tackles and take it deep. He adds a different dimension to their passing
game 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 and
I'd rather talk about the games coming up then the ones two years ago. To me
it 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. I
think that one thing that's clear from one game, which means it's about as clear
as mud, is that they are moving the pocket, at least out of the first game. Now
whether that will continue moving forward, we don't know, but that's something
you certainly have to prepare for."
What about defensively? Did you have to go back and look at Utah State
"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 without
a pin in it. It's a pain tolerance thing and he practiced yesterday and he will
practice 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're
going to get on our kickoffs. Now hopefully we'll cover them better but we are
what we are folks. We all of sudden aren't going to have a guy kicking it out
of the end zone or hanging it 4.2 because right now we don't have that. I can't
talk about recruiting but that will be solved next year. This year we have what
we 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 coverage
guys responded extremely well. Again, I will say it, going forward they're going
to have to respond a lot better because the people we play and the returners
are 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 was
freshman of the year of the Big East last year. He's got loads of talent and
he's a guy that can take it the distance on you and they've got another back
Powell that they bring in there, he's much bigger but still has speed as well
so 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 in
the game ended up a line drive to the two-yard line with a 2.2 hang. It's a work
in progress that's all I can tell you. Hey, you know, look around the league
folks we're not the only ones that can't kick it out of the end zone. We've been
spoiled for four years and people got used to Tim Masthay, he isn't here, he's
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 those
in half and instead of 30-10 it's probably 45 or 50-10. You eliminate it down
to two or three and you have a total rout. So, it makes a huge difference in
a 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 time
to throw the ball then he should have back there. That happens sometimes when
they're dropping back and you don't contain and the quarterback bails out and
avoids pressure. Then he bides time and if you're playing man-to-man that puts
on extreme pressure and if you're playing zone, it leaves a chance for receivers
to 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 be
mistakes made in games. Now I hope we don't have a whole bunch of them but in
an 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 as
a group and I think we were fortunate to not have more penalties.
Player Quotes from the Press Conference
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 of
people have a lot of motivation for this game and we have a lot of people from
Louisville, 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't
get to play because I was coming off an injury. This is my first game against
Louisville, 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 hard
regardless if we are the favorite or the underdog. We are still going to play
as hard as we can. We are hungry, we want to keep winning and show what we can
How is the team since the win against Miami?
"Confidence has gone up a little, but we know there is still a lot to improve
on. We especially need to work on techniques and assignments. It was the first
game so we expect to be a little sloppy, so we need to keep working."
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 to
take it as that because you want to win. Everything that comes with it is a little
more 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 that
is a lot different from what Miami did. They (Miami) tried to run the ball the
first couple of plays, but after that were in five-wide spread about 70 percent
of the game."
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 getting
to that second level and blocking them is going to be a challenge. That is what
we are going to work on this week."
What type of things did you see that you can take advantage of against
"Not really anything. Louisville is athletic every year and they have athletes
that can fly around the football field. It will be crucial for us to not make
any assignment errors or do things that we cannot be doing. If we do that, I
think 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 made
a 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 in
the bye week to make sure we got better."
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, because
they are doing three- step drops and cuts. We got cut a lot against Miami if
you really look at the film; now there were times when we didn't get cut and
should have gotten pressure. When you play a team who likes to cut like that
you 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 those
things 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 the
swing of things. You never know, this could be their game and their year. It
is going to be an exciting game and an exciting year for both us and them. Usually
rivalry games help tell you what a team is going to do that year because of the
intensity and game speed. That is why Miami and Florida State play each other
at the beginning of the season because you get to see how fast your team will
be ready. It is going to be exciting to see what will happen in this game and
how 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 pushed
around. I had to be escorted off the field because I was getting pushed around
so much. It was exciting and I wish I did play in it."