The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers: Offense

September 8, 2010 11:51 pm

Western Kentucky heads to Lexington to open up the 2010 home schedule for the Cats fresh off of a 49-10 loss at #8 Nebraska. The good news is that the Toppers put up nearly 300 yards of offense against one of the nations best defenses on Saturday night and actually dominated the time of possession. The bad news is that September 20, 2008 was the last win for WKU. Kentucky kicked off WKU’s 21 game losing streak in 2008 in what has been the only meeting between the 2 schools.

Quarterback- Kawaun Jakes enters his sophomore campaign after taking some lumps his freshman year. He started 9 games as a true freshman throwing for 9 scores and 9 picks. He is a duel threat QB and can hurt the Cats if he gets out in the open field. If the backers can keep a good “spy” on Jakes I don’t think he will beat UK with his arm.

Backs- This group moved the ball very well at Nebraska as starting tailback Bobby Rainey rushed for 155 yards on 30 carries with a TD. If that name sounds familiar it’s because as a freshman Rainey racked up 248 all-purpose yards against the Cats in WKU’s 41-3 loss. If this group plays well again this Saturday, they may help WKU keep this game a little closer than it needs to be.

O-Line- With 4 returning starters from last season’s team that averaged 173 yards a game on the ground, I guess it’s not a huge surprise that they were able to put up the numbers like they did against Nebraska. It will be pivotal that the front 7 for Kentucky stop the run and get off the field on 3rd downs.

Wide Outs- Western Kentucky will open and primarily stay in a 3 wide receiver spread set. Seth Tamme, Quinterrance Cooper, and Marcus Vasquez are the 3 wide outs. Seth Tamme is the younger brother of former Kentucky TE and current Indianapolis Colts TE Jacob Tamme. This is a group that will go after the short routs but on occasion Quinterrance Cooper has the speed to stretch the field.

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Kentucky-23 Louisville-16

September 5, 2010 7:47 am

Kentucky came out on Saturday afternoon and jumped out to a quick lead using a 2 play :44 second drive to take the lead for good against the Cards. After Randall Cobb’s score early in the 2nd quarter to give Kentucky a 20-3 lead it seemed as if the Cats dialed it back a little and had to survive a Louisville run in the 2nd half.

Kentucky @ Louisville 3:30 ABC

September 4, 2010 5:23 am

The Louisville Cardinals: Defense

September 2, 2010 7:10 am

At first glance, it appears that Louisville returns a lot of experience on the defensive side of the ball (5 SR’s, 4 JR’s, 1 SOPH, and 1 FROSH). Further research however reveals that Charlie Strong has his work cut out for him if he is to in anyway replicate the success he had in Gainesville. The Cards return only 2 defensive starters from the 88th ranked defensive unit in ’09. Here’s how they break down.

  • D-Line: Going up a SEC running attack is a difficult way to break in 4 new starters along the defensive line but that is the task that will be up to the Louisville front line. Tim Highs and Greg Scruggs provide some good size at the tackle positions but will need to hold up as 2 freshmen wait on the sideline to as their replacements. Neither however have ever played meaningful downs at the college level so their play will be a determining factor on if the running trio of Locke/Cobb/Russell can get rolling. The ends that are getting the nod on Saturday for the Cards are extremely undersized averaging about 245 lbs and UK’s revamped offensive line should be able to move them around pretty well. This matchup (UK O-Line vs UL D-Line) I believe is the key matchup of the 2010 edition of the Battle for the Governor’s Cup.
  • Backers: Once again, starting a true freshman at middle linebacker, and 2 undersized outside backers (one of which hasn’t played meaningful downs) is not an ideal situation against any team, let alone a SEC team, but that again is the situation facing the Cards. Louisville’s weakside backer Brandon Heath is the only returning starter in Louisville’s front 7 and will be the leader of a unit that I believe will be overpowered by the ground game of Kentucky
  • Secondary: Johnny Patrick anchors this unit as he is the leading returning tackler on the team. The Cards are hoping that he won’t have many tackles Saturday but I believe that the Cat’s will break through the front 7 at will resulting in a lot of work for the Louisville secondary. The matchup is a bit of an unknown when the passing game is brought up as Mike Hartline hasn’t played many downs since his injury in Columbia last October. He really started to look for the deep ball in that game and whether or not he can do that on Saturday will be the determining factor on the final outcome of the game.

As of Thursday morning, the spread sits at Kentucky -3. I definitely think that the Cats will cover that and I do believe on paper that Kentucky is around 15-20 points better than Louisville. This game is a rivalry game though and on the road so because of that here is my prediction: Kentucky-31 Louisville-21

Go Big Blue!

The Louisville Cardinals: Offense

August 31, 2010 8:59 am

Over the next few weeks, we will continue our traditional scouting reports of Kentucky’s upcoming opponents like we did during basketball. I will try and stick with a pattern of Tuesday we break down the upcoming opponents offense and on Thursday we will provide a scouting report for the defensive side of the ball.

Up first for Kentucky is the in-state rivalry that has seen the Big Blue take home the Governor’s Cup the past 3 years after Louisville dominated the mid-2000’s taking home 4 in a row before that. The Cats still hold the all-time advantage against the Cardinals 13-9. An interesting number to keep an eye on during Saturday’s ballgame is that since 1999, the team that has won the rushing battle has also won the game.

Louisville will also be heading into this match-up with a head coach who has only 1 career game under his belt. Charlie Strong came from Florida and brought longtime Urban Meyer assistant Mike Sanford to install a Spread Offense which the Cats have historically struggled to defend. The good news is that Louisville doesn’t have the fire power that many of the teams of the SEC have and that should give a very young Kentucky defensive front 7 a little easier assignment on Saturday.

  • QB: Adam Froman won the starting job during fall camp for the Cards over Justin Burke. Froman is entering his senior year and is fresh off of a 1354 yds, 6 TD, and 5 INT season. He was injured last season for a game and lost his starting job in the process but regained it later to lead Louisville to a 4-8 record. Froman also presents a threat with his legs as well as he ran the pill for 192 yds last season. Working out of the spread will surely give Froman a few options to run and it will be up to Danny Trevathan, Ronnie Sneed, and Jacob Dufrene (UK’s starting backers) to slow him down.
  • Backs: Senior Bilal Powell is set to get the start at RB for Louisville but they will use a committee of talented ball carriers against the Cats. Powell will be joined by junior Victor Anderson and senior Blayne Donnell. All three carried the ball at least 89 times last year and they all gained at least 434 yards. It was a well balanced ground attack in ’09 for Louisville.
  • Receivers/Tight End: The Cardinals are transitioning to a 3 receiver set this season as part of their Spread Offense, the problem is they have very little experience at the wide out spot. Doug Beaumont is the only returning player that’s not a back who has a catch (38 catches for 465 yds and 0 TD’s in ’09). Beaumont will be joined out wide with JUCO transfer Josh Bellamy as well as sophomore Andrell Smith. Not a great group to break in against UK’s very talented secondary. Cameron Graham gets the nod at TE and is not a threat to stretch the field but can find the endzone in the red zone. Travathan and Dufrene will be responsible for keeping Graham in check if the Cards work their way into scoring position.
  • O-Line: This looks to be the strength of the Louisville offense as they return 4 of 5 starters as well as 9 of the top 10 in the rotation. 4 seniors will also be apart of the o-line which should help improve from a somewhat disappointing 125 yards per game last season. During former coach Steve Kragthorpe’s 3 year reign, the rush yards per game dropped significantly each season along with the wins each season….coincidence? Be sure that Charlie Strong will focus on this area and I expect the Cards to try and move the ball on the ground against a young and untested UK front 7. Keep in mind, the winning team in each of the last 10 contests in this series has gone on to win the game.

Breaking News: Kyle Wiltjer To Kentucky

August 28, 2010 8:28 pm

At halftime of the Boost Mobile Elite 24 game tonight, Kyle Wiltjer surprised the Big Blue Nation by becoming the 4th player to commit to Kentucky for the class of 2011. Wiltjer, a 6’9 forward from Portland Oregon is the #25 player in the class of 2011. Another great pickup for Coach Calipari and the Cats.

1 More Week…..

August 28, 2010 4:00 pm

2010-2011 UK Basketball Schedule

August 26, 2010 5:41 pm

  • Nov 1- Pikeville (EXH)       TBA           Big Blue Sports Network
  • Nov 5- Dillard (EXH)          TBA           Big Blue Sports Network
  • Nov 12- East Tennessee State     TBA    Big Blue Sports Network
  • Nov 19- vs. Portland (Rose Garden) 10:30 PM    ESPNU
  • Nov 22-Oklahoma#             5:30                   ESPN 2
  • Nov 23-Virginia/Washington  TBA         ESPN/ESPN 2
  • Nov 24-EA Sports Maui Invitational#    TBA     ESPN/ESPN 2/ESPNU
  • Nov 30-Boston      TBA          Big Blue Sports Network
  • Dec 4- @ North Carolina     12:30      CBS
  • Dec 8-vs. Notre Dame (Freedom Hall)  9:30   ESPN
  • Dec 11-Indiana      5:15           ESPN
  • Dec 18-Mississippi Valley St     TBA     Big Blue Sports Network
  • Dec 22-Winthrop     TBA     Big Blue Sports Network
  • Dec 28-Coppin State      TBA       Big Blue Sports Network
  • Dec 31-@ Louisville      12:00            CBS
  • Jan 3-Penn      7:00      ESPNU
  • Jan 8-@ Georgia    4:00       SEC Network
  • Jan 11-Auburn       7:00       ESPNU
  • Jan 15-LSU             4:00        SEC Network
  • Jan 18-@ Alabama       9:00          ESPN
  • Jan 22-@ South Carolina      6:00       ESPN
  • Jan 29-Georgia       4:00      ESPN
  • Feb 1-@ Ole Miss          7:00           ESPNU
  • Feb 5-@ Florida (ESPN College Gameday) 9:00   ESPN
  • Feb 8-Tennessee    9:00      ESPN
  • Feb 12-@ Vanderbilt    1:00       CBS
  • Feb 15-Mississippi State         7:00         ESPN
  • Feb 19-South Carolina         4:00         SEC Network
  • Feb 23-@ Arkansas             8:00      SEC Network
  • Feb 26-Florida          4:00         CBS
  • Mar 1-Vanderbilt     9:00            ESPN
  • Mar 6-@ Tennessee      12:00         CBS
  • Mar 10-13-  SEC Tournament       SEC Network/ABC

Kentucky-96 Western Ontario-68

August 16, 2010 11:16 pm

Kentucky moved to 2-0 on their Canadian trip knocking off the Western Ontario Mustangs 96-68. Tonight’s game went a lot like last nights game against Windsor with the Cats getting off to a slow start in the the 1st half before using a late run to end the half and then flexing their muscles in the 2nd frame. A couple quick notes from tonight.

  • I’m trying not to get too excited because it’s just an exhibition game against a Canadian team, but Brandon Knight is impressive. After 2 games his assist to turnover ratio stands at 5.3/1. To put that into perspective, John Wall’s assist to turnover ratio was 1.6/1 last season. Knight once again shot the rock well, got to the rim well, and found the open man in transition. Another good night for Brandon as he recorded a double-double with 17 points and 12 assists.
  • Doron Lamb struggled in game 1 of this 3 game set but he found his shot tonight and led all scorers with 24. #20 shot the ball well from the field going 9-14 and found his stroke by making his way to the charity stripe a few times and knocking them down tonight, unlike last night. A good recovery for Doron.
  • Darius Miller and DeAndre Liggins are going to be the leaders of this years team and they both were aggressive again tonight. Miller dropped 20 and Liggins had 11 but once again was very efficient going 4-5 from the floor including nailing his only 3 point attempt.
  • Terrence Jones will be sidelined for the rest of the trip with a stress fracture in his ribs. That is what was causing his shoulder pain but he should be back for individual workouts starting in mid September.

That will do it for tonight. Tomorrow at 11 AM will be the 3rd and final game of this trip north of the border where the Cats will once again face off against the Windsor Lancers. We’ll be back tomorrow to fill you in as Kentucky looks for the sweep in Canada. As always, Go Big Blue!

Kentucky-95 Windsor-62

August 15, 2010 11:58 pm

Kentucky got off to a slow start tonight in Windsor as the Lancers used a 9-0 run with 6 minutes to play in the first half to take a 3 point lead. After that, it was all Kentucky. The Cats finished the half with a 15-3 run and pulled away in convincing fashion in the second half to win 95-62. A few notes from a dominating night north of the border.

  • One thing everyone should keep in mind is that this was a scrimmage, against an inferior opponent, in the month of August. So don’t get to excited about some of the performances by the freshman, and don’t get discouraged by some other players performance. This was one game after only 10 days of practice. Keep in mind that just last season it took a game winning shot by John Wall to defeat Miami (Ohio) in the 2nd game.
  • With that said, Brandon Knight played a very good game. He has the impossible job of filling John Wall’s shoes, but I think he may be able to do it. He’s not as flashy on the court as John, but he may be more effective. He showcased his great jump shot by nailing a deep 3 and showed he knows how to attack the rim and get to the foul line going 8-8 when he had his opportunities. He may not be John Wall, but he’s pretty close.
  • Darius Miller looked like a new, possessed man tonight. He took the ball to the hole with authority tonight and showcased his perimeter shooting going 4-5 from behind the arch. It’ll be Darius’ job to be the veteran leader on this team this year and he showcased tonight that he can take this team on his back. The question is can he do it in February on the road in SEC play?
  • DeAndre Liggins was the man who had all the buzz around him heading to Canada and he showed glimpses of why that was. He shot 5-6 from the floor showing great offensive efficiency. I want to see him insert himself into the offensive flow a little more to see if he can maintain that efficiency. A very solid showing though for another upperclassman.
  • Terrence Jones only played 9 minutes before he was sidelined for the end of the 1st half and the entire 2nd half. He came into this game hobbled by a sore shoulder and ankle and it appeared he re-injured his shoulder and his availability for the remainder of the trip is unknown at this time
  • Josh Harrellson and John Hood joined Miller, Liggins, and Knight in the starting lineup tonight. They each contributed 9 points. Harrellson joined Miller as the only players in double figures in the rebounding category as Josh pulled down 11 boards and Darius had 12.
  • Doron Lamb had a rough night as it seemed his jumper was a little off as the man Coach Calipari refers to as “Buckets” only netted 6 points. Freshmen Jarrod Polson and Stacey Poole each contributed 4 points tonight.

That will wrap up are review of tonight’s game. On a football related note, the 3rd wide receiver on the depth chart, Gene McCaskill tore his ACL in Saturday’s scrimmage and will miss the entire 2010 season. A tough break for the wide receiving core as that will hurt the overall depth there and add more pressure to Randall Cobb and Chris Matthews. Don’t forget that tomorrow night at 7 PM, the Cats take the floor again in Windsor, this time against the Western Mustangs. Go Big Blue!