Oct. 19, 2009
Game Notes | UK
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Wildcats Look to Extend Non-Conference Win Streak
Kentucky plays host to Sun Belt Conference member Louisiana-Monroe on Hall
of Fame Weekend, carrying an active 16-game win streak against non-conference
opponents that dates back to 2006. It's the second-longest non-conference win
streak in the nation.
Last week, UK earned its first victory over Auburn in 43 years with a 21-14
victory at Jordan-Hare Stadium. ULM is coming off a 16-10 win over Arkansas
State at home on Tues. Oct. 13.
At Auburn, UK totaled a season-high 282 rushing yards - the most against
an SEC opponent in 14 years. The Wildcats produced two 100-yard rushers in
the game as Derrick
Locke gained a careerhigh 126 yards and Randall
Cobb rushed for career-best 109 yards. Each of the three quarterbacks - Morgan
Fidler and Cobb - rushed for one UK touchdown in the victory.
UK's defense held Auburn to 14 points and 315 total offensive yards, both
season lows. Danny
Trevathan and Sam
Maxwell achieved career highs in tackles with 14 and 10, respectively.
Fellow linebacker Micah
Johnson charted a season-high 14 stops (one shy of his career high) and
was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week. Coming off an injury, cornerback Paul
Warford also was impressive, totaling six tackles and three pass breakups.
Live Blog from Cat Scratches
"On the injury front, Taiedo Smith is sick. We had one other player that
was sick on Friday night that didn't play in the game that was Martavius Neloms.
I hope that the flu isn't going to start going through our team, but that is
always a possibility. Trevard Lindley I would say is out of this game, so is
Mike Hartline, obviously. Jake Lanefski is out and has still not had his surgery.
They are waiting for the swelling to go down. Derrick Locke is, I would say,
doubtful for this week. He is still very sore today and will not practice tomorrow.
I don't know if he will be able to do anything by Wednesday or Thursday, we
will just have to see. We have some other bumps and bruises, including Will
Fidler's shoulder which will limit his practice reps and throwing the football
this week. A bunch of other bumps and bruises but I don't think they will keep
them out of practice.
"You know, all last week it was gray, cold and wet and an amazing thing happened
Sunday morning. The sun was out, vibrant colors on the trees and it is amazing
what a win will do for you. In looking ahead to Louisiana-Monroe, we all know
what kind of team that they are. In 2006, we had to make a tackle on a two-point
conversion to hold on to a win here. They are an extremely well-coached team
and are leading their league currently. They are 4-2 and their two losses are
to Texas and Arizona State on the road. So this is a real football game. It
will not be an easy thing, particularly for us, who are trying to establish
a passing game again, more similar to what we are used to having."
Can you talk about any game that you have had before where your team had
no penalties or turnovers and what that says about having a total team effort
"I have had a lot of teams with no turnovers, but in conjunction with no penalties,
that would narrow the list down. Forgive me for my old age and memory, I know
there have been some but I don't know when or how many. Very few, probably."
Coach, even after losing games the last few weeks you still thought that
you were a good football team, does this win validate that a little bit?
"What do you think? I have said all along that I thought that we were a good
football team and we still were a good football team even though we weren't
healthy and didn't have all of our parts - and we still don't. Having said
that, the fact that we can go on the road and break one of the infamous streaks
in Kentucky football history speaks to the fact that this is still a good football
team. How close we are to being better than that, or how close we are from
being better than that I will leave to you guys to judge."
Have you refreshed the memories of the players of how ULM played in Commonwealth
a couple of years ago when you had a pretty good team?
"I did and will continue to the rest of the week."
Can you talk about all of the quarterbacks and their play in the game
Saturday, one at a time?
"Well, what we didn't want to do is have the young guy take the first snap, so
he took the second (laughter from audience). That was brilliant strategy I might
add. Having said that, I really think that (Morgan) Newton did remarkably well
with his poise early in the game, when you think that he might be a little bit
more nervous taking a snap or doing the wrong thing at the wrong time. From a
poise standpoint, I thought that he did really well. He overthrew some balls
and under-threw a ball on a reverse flea-flicker pass up in the wind, but he
got killed at the same time he releases it and actually got a roughing the passer
penalty. I thought he did really well, and then as the game went on he started
to make more mistakes. It looked like the pressure of trying to move the offense
and make something happen was getting to him a little bit. Whatever it was, he
turned the wrong way and missed a handoff and had to scramble. We ran a reverse
with Randall (Cobb) and he didn't put him in motion and it was a terribly timed
play and we had to scramble to get back to the line of scrimmage on it. He was
starting in the passing game to just drop back and look and pull it down, even
though he didn't need to pull it down as quick. That is when we made the change
and Will came in and settled things down I thought. He handled himself as a guy
who has been around a lot should. He directed three pretty good drives, one of
them we missed a field goal. The other two we ended up scoring and he scored
his first touchdown as a Wildcat on a quarterback draw. I thought that he did
some very good things.
"Randall is just Randall. The question is how much can you do with Randall.
He is again, hobbled a little bit this week so we have to be a little bit more
careful. He is just a spectacular competitive playmaker. A lot of you guys
that write or speak for a living will be more elegant and find the right adjective.
He is just a great football player."
Does he remind you of any player that you have had in the past?
"You know, I have had a lot of undersized running backs. Locke would be one of
them. I have had some guys at Oregon, that were spectacular that way too but
not with the same athletic set of skills that Randall possess -- the exuberance
and leadership capabilities and personality and All-American smile and you would
be glad to see your daughter bring him into your house. This guy is just the
Can you talk about how proud you are of Will with the way that he has
handled not starting but still came in and played great late in the game?
"I couldn't be prouder of Will Fidler if he was my own son. He has been through
a lot here and it hasn't gone his way so to speak. Every day he goes out there
and works and competes and does everything that he can to make it right and to
help this team. Last week, was kind of, in a lot of ways, the ultimate slap in
the face for him. We elected to start the freshman quarterback and he handled
that very well. That is one of those decisions as a head coach that sometimes
are not popular and sometimes not popular on your own team. They are hard to
make but you make them because you think it is the right thing to do for that
game and the future and he handled all of that with absolute class. He is one
of the toughest guys on our team and had never been afraid to pull the ball down.
He is not one of those quarterbacks that are going to hook slide, he is going
to try to run you over. He has a good arm and I am very hopeful that this experience
in the last two games will help him to become a more consistent playmaker, because
he is just an outstanding young man."
How does a game like Saturday factor into what you have done the last
"Some people like to dwell on our shortcomings in the games that we have lost,
but if you look over the last three and a half, four years, we have won probably
more close games that we have lost. We have come back in the fourth quarter numerous
times over the last three or four years as well. There is a belief in our team
and in our locker room that we can make it happen. The old attitude that is so
hard to shake, that you can't get it done, no longer prevails on our football
team. All you have to do is look historically at how difficult it has been for
Kentucky to win under any circumstances with any type of team regardless if you
think Auburn is a good team or an average team this year. There have been other
average teams that Kentucky hasn't beaten down there. This year this team found
a way to do it missing their starting quarterback and best defensive player by
Can you talk about Paul Warford's play?
"We went from thinking that we were going to get 20-25 plays out of Paul, to
Jim Madaleno telling him in the elevator coming down for the pre-game meal, `Well
looks like you are 100 percent now instead of 70 percent because Neloms is sick.'
Guess what? He was 100 percent and played the whole game. It was a remarkable
performance by Paul Warford. I am really glad that Micah Johnson got SEC Defensive
Player of the Week. It well could have gone to Paul Warford or Danny Trevathan.
There were a lot of players on our team that played one of their best football
games. That was very close to Paul's best football game, coming off a very difficult
injury and knowing that he was not 100 percent physically. He played an outstanding
game. Those pass breakups were key, especially one late in the fourth quarter."
Coach, who are you starting at quarterback on Saturday?
"I am not sure. We will see how it goes, but it will probably be Morgan Newton
again. Again, that is probably not fair to Will after what he did in the fourth
quarter. I kind of feel that if things are not going well then it is better to
bring an experienced hand off the bench than an inexperienced hand off the bench.
We will probably work it to where both quarterbacks are going to play in the
first half rather than doing it and waiting to see if we are doing OK or not
doing OK. We will plan it differently because I have confidence that both of
them can do some things. We have to start throwing the football better. We cannot
win many games going forward passing like that. What did we end up with, 75 yards,
Can you talk about your overall linebacker play?
"This was Danny's biggest chance to show because we were in regular defense a
majority of the game. I think that we played nickel only six or seven snaps.
They ran more conventional personnel even though they spread the field. They
have a tight end, and basically two running backs and receivers most of the time.
So we left our regular defense (in the game), which is all three linebackers,
so that left Danny to record some stats because he has probably only played a
third of the snaps in a lot of the games. In this game he was spectacular. He
made tackles starting from over here (right fist extended outward) all the way
over to the far sideline for two-yard gains. We have never had a linebacker as
fast as he. Wesley was close to being as fast, but he wasn't as big as Danny,
particular at his sophomore season. He is very instinctive, other than the kickoff
against South Carolina when it took him three tackles to get the guy down, he
is a really good tackler. Part of the tackling that is a challenge for him is
that he doesn't have a free hand on that cast hand. He had a spectacular game."
Is this the best offensive line that you have had here at Kentucky?
"You know, I said a year ago that I thought that we were going to have a really
good offensive line and some of these guys were the components of that. I backed
off a little bit on that because I didn't want to put the pressure on them that
much this preseason, but the performance so far is clearly better than any offensive
line that I have been here. You just look at the number of sacks given up and
the rushing yards against quality defenses. It is a very good group. Do you know
the old theory about mushrooms? You keep them in the dark and you feed them that
fertilizer stuff, you know? Usually when you start to praise your o-line, for
some reason in my past experience, they don't play as well very quick. I praised
them last week in a loss and obviously, they are getting a lion's share of the
recognition this week, which they deserve. Now, I just have to hope they understand
how they got to where they are and don't get fat-headed."
Can you tell us more about Louisiana-Monroe and your concerns about them?
"Misdirection again, it is a problem offense and one that last game was our best
defensive performance against in a similar type of offense. Although, (Auburn
quarterback Chris) Todd didn't have a great night of throwing the ball because
of the wind and the cold and it wasn't a great night throwing the ball. It was
like the twilight zone throwing the ball for both teams. They are a team that
runs the read-option. They will play against us a redshirt freshman quarterback
that finished the game against Arkansas State. They lost their starter who had
thumb surgery and is out for the short term. Defensively, they are going to present
a totally different set of problems for our offense and offensive line and our
quarterbacks making checks. They are a three-man front. They do a lot of stunting
and twisting, very quick and athletic defensive linemen, and it will be major
challenge for our offensive line because we haven't seen a defense like this.
They are only giving up, I think, 93 or 94 yards a game rushing. You look at
it and say, `Man we ought to be able to run here,' and all of a sudden people
are running around everywhere or someone is free in the backfield. They are very
athletic and very quick on defense up front. It is a totally different defensive
front eight that we have seen. I am concerned about it giving us problems."
If (Derrick) Locke can't play, is Alfonso (Smith) ready to go?
"It is still not healed, the thumb. He will still have to have a splint on it
but it should still be much better this coming Saturday then it was last Saturday
and the Saturday before. He will have to be a bigger factor, as well as Moncell
(Allen) and our other backs. I am very hopeful that Locke will be able to go,
but it is truly doubtful at this point because he is really struggling with that
If Locke cannot go, do you tell Smith that he goes from 70 percent to
100 percent with that thumb?
"Pretty close, pretty close."
Will Locke's knee problem be something that is a week-to-week thing or
if he doesn't play Saturday that will help him rest-wise the rest of the
"It is just a matter of time. The MCL has some different grades, you can completely
tear it like Mike Hartline did off the femur, and it usually takes three to four
weeks for that to tack down and get the movement back if you have no other problems
with the knee. Then there is a grade two where it is torn a little more severely,
and if it was a grade two he would be out this week. It is a grade one, which
is different than just a strain. There has been some tearing but it is not significant
and usually that can settle down in three to four days. Having said that, you
never know, it depends on how he heels. For a running back it is a little different
than a lineman, particularly for a fast and quick running back. What you don't
want to do is put him out there if he is dragging that leg and an easy target
because then something else might get hurt."
Behind Moncell and Alfonso, who would get the reps at running back?
Locke and Cobb are your big playmakers but are smaller guys, can you talk
about how important it is to keep them healthy down the stretch and what
you will do to make sure they do stay healthy.
"You say that and what has Locke had, he has had 20, 24 and 19 carries in the
last three games? Cobb has had a lot too, including the occasional receiving
and punt and kickoff return. You have to be cognizant of it and you have to be
cognizant of it at the beginning of the week in practice. You don't want them
getting banged too much in practice because they need to heal and be fresh. At
the same time, you can't send them out there in their beach umbrella and sunglasses
and let them enjoy the day. It is one of those things that you are damned if
you do and damned if you don't sometimes. We obviously, need to have the ball
in their hands quite a bit of the time."
You had three linebackers with 10 tackles or more is that a testament
to how the defensive line played as well Saturday?
"Corey Peters has been outstanding all year, that is a given. Ricky Lumpkin played
probably his best game all year in this game. Our defensive ends are getting
better almost every series but certainly every game. They are becoming a much
bigger factor in the run game as well as the pass game. It is developing into
a good SEC defensive line. We are not where we need to be yet, but we are heading
into the right direction."
Do you have an idea of when Trevard (Lindley) will be back?
"I think that he has a legitimate chance of playing possibly next week. That
depends on how he does, he is out of the boot and can get up on one foot bouncing
on his toe which is a good indication. He is in an air cast, not a boot, right
now walking around in normal shoes. He will probably get into the treadmill and
hopefully by the end of the week will be jogging, it is just a matter of functioning
before we can judge if he will be ready next week. I would hope by next Wednesday
he would be ready to practice. We will judge that almost on a 24-hour basis.
The good news is that he is over the hump and up on a foot and can bounce on
it, which is a key thing, and then it is a progression from there. Again, it
is a progression that is different than if you were on the offensive or defensive
line. He needs that speed and quickness back there and if you lose a step you
are in trouble back there."
Is there a key to facing an offense like ULM? Is it reading the keys and
what they are trying to disguise?
"Well, it is and that is one of the better things that we did against Auburn
against a similar style. Each one of the spread offenses has a different wrinkle
or strength. For a team (Auburn) that has averaged 38 points and almost 490 yards
a game and played some good SEC teams to do that, it was probably our most complete
game defensively against a difficult offense. The good news is that Louisiana-Monroe
plays a similar offense and Mississippi State has a similar offense. If we can
carry forward what we did good out of the Auburn game this week and then next
week hopefully you will see some steady progress. We need to do that, because
we are challenged offensively right now and cannot let people score a lot of
points on us until we get back into the swing of things offensively."
You congratulated your assistant coaches after the game Saturday. What
was it they did that really made you happy and proud?
"I think that if you saw the discipline of how our defense played, all of the
assistant coaches did a good job of getting their guys to understand. As I always
said, it doesn't make any difference what you know as a coach but what your players
understand about what you know and can go out and execute it. We have struggled
with that in all phases at different times, but the fact that (against Auburn
UK had) the lack of penalties and breakdowns in coverage and missing gaps. They
did an outstanding job against a difficult offense. The other thing on offense
was that given the change in quarterback in a noisy stadium, we didn't have the
procedure penalties, the blocks in the back or personal fouls which would have
been difficult for us, given we weren't throwing the ball well. Even though we
had the big blocked field goal, the kicking game, again, I thought was very well
executed. The kickoff coverage and (Ryan) Tydlacka's punting in particular in
the second half pinning them deep, there was a lot of good things that were translated
from what you were trying to get them to do and finally seeing it happen. Hopefully
we can carry that forward, too."
How does Louisiana-Monroe look?
"They have had a pretty good schedule where they have played two top-ranked teams
[Texas and Arizona State], and they have put up some points on them. We need
to come out with our head right, focus in practice this week and take on the
How do the running backs look?
"I know we have the backs to run the ball and I know we have the guys to do the
job up front, so the play of our backs doesn't surprise me one bit. There is
nothing better than pounding the guy in front of you and seeing your running
back go for 20 or 30 yards in a carry."
What do you attribute to the offensive line's success?
"We are very experienced on the offensive line right now. We can go two-deep
if we want to. Even when we had injuries last week, we can still get the rotation
there and have the experience to pound the ball. There have been instances on
the field where the opponent's defensive line will come up to us and say, `Man,
you guys are the toughest players we have faced so far. You guys are really coming
after us and don't stop.' We wear them down during the game."
How do you feel about quarterback Will Fidler after his play at Auburn?
"For as much as he has been through, I have a lot of respect for Will. He has
been through it all, the ups and the downs. When we didn't get the nod to start,
he took it like a man and he prepared in practice just like he always did. When
he was called into the game, he came in and proved what he can do."
How did Morgan Newton play against Auburn?
"For being a true freshman, coming out of high school without playing a down
[in college], and coming into Auburn, he managed the game very well. You couldn't
ask for anything else. When he got pressured, he threw the ball away. He made
good decisions. He didn't throw any picks and he took care of the ball."
On the run game ...
"There is nothing more heart-wrenching than running the ball for 200 yards.
When defenses see that, they get a reality check and realize who they're facing."
On if he sensed any frustration from Auburn ...
"During TV timeouts and stuff they said we were the toughest O-line to
come after them and the one that kept hitting them in the mouth. They said
we were out there doing our thing, not giving up and we're a very good bunch. "
On how it is to hear the opposition say something like that...
"It's great. It's what you want to hear. When you hear the opponent say
something like that it means that they're giving up, at least in my point of
view. I would never tell a guy that they're kicking my tail like that."
On Louisiana- Monroe ...
"Every game is a must-win game. Just because they're from the Sun Belt
Conference and just because of this and that; we still have to come together.
Just because they're not an SEC team doesn't mean they can't beat us. Three
years ago they came in here and lost by two points. We have to come out focused
and ready to play ."
On his ankle and other injuries ...
"It's (ankle) doing a lot better. I wasn't in pain when I was playing
Saturday. My ankle wasn't hurting. My hip flexor wasn't hurting and neither
was my turf toe. It was like I was magically relieved."
On if the defense felt more pressure having inexperienced quarterbacks
at the helm...
"They (Auburn) were the number one offense in the SEC and we just wanted
to go out and stop them. We had to make something happen or else the points
were going to pile up. We were confident in Morgan (Newton) and Will Fidler.
I have seen Will ever since I got here and know what he can do. With Morgan
there will be more growing pains, but he'll be able to make some plays on his
legs. All in all, I think both of them played well."
On the team putting a satisfying win behind them and moving on...
"I don't think it will be that tough. Coach has been doing a great job
of making us understand that we're mid-season right now and that game came
at a critical point. That was our sixth game of the season, we could have been
2-4 or 3-3, and 3-3 makes it a lot easier to do what we need to do. It's not
the end of the season; we have six more and other good opponents we have to
go up against. We have to stay focused and take each game one at a time."
On keeping it together ...
"We had to keep everything in-house. If you get focused on everything
that's being said it can get frustrating and tear your team down. Everybody
has their own opinion; so as long as we know that we have to keep on getting
better we'll be fine."
On how badly UK needed the Auburn win ...
"Bad, bad, bad. Everybody on the team knew it. Everybody needed it, and
it was huge."
On winning against Auburn for the first time in 43 years...
"It was huge to get a win down there and I was happy for Coach Brooks
and this team because we've been so close after a lot of little things here
and we haven't gotten many breaks. It was a game where we were close and we
kept fighting and won. It was a great win and the team is very excited but
we still have six more games left and we need to continue to win."
On the team gaining confidence with a tough road win over Auburn...
"I think the win does raise our confidence sky high and I think we deserve
that. The stretch of our three losses came against three of the toughest teams
in the country, although that's really no excuse because we could have won
the South Carolina game. We came back and went back to work that week of practice
and prepared for the Auburn game."
On still believing that UK is a good team despite the stretch of losses...
"Coach Brooks continued to tell us that he thinks this is one of the best
teams he's had and guys continued to believe and it really paid off."
On Louisiana-Monroe this upcoming weekend...
"Louisiana-Monroe is a good team and we know they're number one in their
conference. They have two losses against two good teams. They are a good team
and a few years back they came in here and gave us a bit of a scare, taking
it down to the wire."
On the program getting more recognition with wins and individual player
"The 14 tackles (vs. Auburn) wasn't the biggest deal to me, it was more
about the win. We had a lot of guys step up. Danny Trevathan played a great
game, Paul Warford coming back from injury, they weren't even sure if he was
going to be able to play and he came out and had six tackles plus a pass deflection.
Sam Maxwell and the defensive line played a great game even if they didn't
make a bunch of tackles. I think that showed when they freed up a bunch of
linebackers during other plays."
On going into the fourth quarter down, carrying a three-game losing streak...
"It shows a lot about the character of our team and how we've grown together.
It shows a lot about our team."
On the performance of the offensive line ...
"We came into camp wanting to run the ball and be physical up front and
I think we've grown in becoming that type of offensive line."
On Morgan Newton's presence in the huddle ...
"He was very confident. That's one thing that surprised me. He was very
confident and calm. When he came in, we listened to him."
On having no penalties ...
"In a hostile environment like that it's very tough. I've had my share
of penalties as everybody knows. It was good to come out of there without being
that guy who messed it up."
On putting the win behind them regardless of the magnitude ...
"With big wins like this you have to be able to come back and not have
a letdown. To do what we want to do, right now we need to focus on Louisiana-Monroe,
have a great week of practice and come out ready to play."
On Louisiana-Monroe's only two losses coming at No. 3 Texas and at Arizona
"I've watched a little film and they look legit. We need to come out ready
to play against them."