Its Football Time in the Bluegrass

by:Matt Jones07/26/06
I hope everyone had a chance to take a look at this blog in the last 24 hours. Over the course of yesterday we had posts discussing the Vegas lines on football, a debate as to the best looking women in Mayberry and an inside report on the barhopping ways of former UK basketball players. Folks you wont find that type of thing all together anywhere else, and it is why this blog should be must reading. And we follow all that up today with actual news. Yes, yesterday was the beginning of SEC Football Media Days. With Kentucky one of the teams on stage yesterday, much football news was discussed and there actually was a bit of news to report. Here were the days highlights: (1) Rich Brooks mentioned that one of the two quarterbacks had "made up some ground" so far this summer and was the early leader in the clubhouse for the starting job. Of course Brooks declined to mention which QB he was speaking of, but most in attendance took his comments to mean that Andre Woodson was the current favorite. However Brooks soon after seemed to contradict himself saying, "They go into fall practice relatively even. The summer has a little something to do with it and one of them has gained a little advantage during the summer over the other. So we will see what happens when fall camp opens and see if the one behind can close the gap." He also made clear that one, but not both, of the freshman Quarterbacks would be redshirting this year. The guess here is Hartline. (2) Wide reciever Keenan Burton made clear that he believed the WR corp would surprise many people this season. He mentioned that many of the players (especially Logan) have made strides over the summer and that the group would make more plays than people believe. (3) Rich Brooks made clear that freshman sensation, Micah Johnson would get playing time this year, but cautioned fans to hold down their expectations. The transition for players from high school, especially those not at the speed positions, can be difficult and he cautioned fans to be careful about having the view that Johnson will be a game changer early in his career. (4) A piece of gossip was confirmed today as Wesley Woodyard indicated that the swirling story that Braxton Kelly punched his teammate during a summer drill was actually true. During the heat of the moment, the individuals (the second of whom was not named) got into an intense skirmish and Kelly did what happens on fields all across the country, and punched his teammate. Woodyard spoke about it is as proof that the team is ready to go this season. (5) All of the players at the press conference mentioned how the questions concerning Rich Brooks return had fired the coach up and all believed that he has more energy than at any point in his time here. It is clear from all these guys that Rich Brooks and more importantly, his staff, have the respect of the team and they truly want to win for him. (6) Brooks was clear where he thought the success or failure of the team might end up saying, "The key to our season will be if we can hold up at cornerback when teams start throwing the ball downfield on us." Cornerback is likely the weakest of the UK positions and Brooks mentioned that the team simply must have players step up when teams attempt to exploit this weakness. (7) Wesley Woodyard made clear that he had no intention of accepting another struggling season. He said, "Can you get an X-ray on my heart" as a means of articulating his belief that no one can understand how much he and the other Cats want to win. I am quick to criticize Brooks but in the past year, it has been clear that these guys have the desire to win....the question will be if they have the corresponding talent. (8) Here are quotes from Keenan Burton: (On the opener vs. Louisville) "Any game is big, just like any win is big. We just hope that this game will be a chance to gain confidence. We hope to win every game and make the coaches proud." (On the top quarterbacks situation) "We have two great quarterbacks this year [Andre Woodson and Curtis Pulley]. Andre has a great arm and can get outside of the pocket really well. I am confident that the coaches will make the right decisions during the game between the two." (On having QB coach Randy Sanders) "It is great to have him. He is very laid back, but intense when he needs to be. He is one of the coaches that you want to have around." (On atmosphere differences from basketball) "They support us, the fans support us. Our fans have stayed constant. They love Kentucky football and hopefully we can give something back to them (9) Quotes from Wesley Woodyard: On Coach Brooks) "We have most of our scholarships back this year and are in the top 50 in recruiting. We have great guys coming back from injuries. Having good players makes it easier as a coach. It is not easy for a coach when your team is not winning, but the guys this year have the right attitude. We have play like brothers on the field and have our fathers on the sideline." (On defense) "Anytime that you have a great defense you win. It is our job to stop the offense from scoring and if they don't, we win. We have really focused guys that want to win. They want to stop everyone. We have to do our job on defense before we can say anything about how anyone else plays. I may be small for a linebacker, but my heart is bigger than anyone's on the field." (On schedule) "I can't predict if our schedule will be able to get us into a bowl game or not. All we can do is come out ready to play. It doesn't matter what team it is, you have to treat them all like national power houses. Last year we had great chances to win, but just didn't take them. We just want to finish strong this year and turn things around." (10) Finally some words from Rich Brooks on Quarterbacks and new QB coach Ricky Sanders: Well, I think, first of all, I'll address the last part of that. I'm very fortunate. I'm very excited to have Randy Sanders join our staff. He brings experience as a play-caller, as a coordinator, and obviously has coached some pretty good quarterbacks in his tenure at Tennessee. I think that Curtis Pulley brings athleticism to the quarterback position. He ran a couple in against Florida in the second half. He can pull the ball down and make a bad play a good play with his feet. He's not quite as accurate on the deep throw as Woodson has been. Woodson, I think, for the first year as a full-time starter, handled himself very well throwing the football. What they both have to do is eliminate negative plays. Andre's problem was fumbling last year. He didn't secure the ball well enough in the pocket, then occasionally when he did run, he didn't secure the ball well enough. Eliminate the negative plays, make more positive plays, and that will determine who's going to be the starter against Louisville. It will be determined probably after the first several weeks of fall camp. Here is the audio link to the entirety of the Rich Brooks interview . It is interesting to hear the positivity in his voice and hopefully it will carry over to the season.

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