UK returns 2,000-plus tickets for Louisville game

Louisville season ticket holders received an email from the school today that Kentucky returned more than 2,000 tickets from its ticket allotment for the annual rivalry game.

It’s roughly the same number of tickets returned by Kentucky in 2012.

The returned tickets for the Nov. 29 game at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium will go on sale to Cardinals season ticket holders first for $56 apiece at a later date.

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Which newcomers could help Cats right away?

Coaches have said often how much a red-shirt season benefitted several Kentucky players who could be impact makers on both sides of the ball this season, players like projected starting right guard Ramsey Meyers or backup right tackle Kyle Meadows or backup left guard Nick Haynes.

Last week before one of his many meet and greets, UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown offered a look into his thinking on some of the newcomers that could help the Cats’ offense right away and others he hopes to give a little more time.

“We’d like to red-shirt all those O-linemen if we could,” Brown said of players like Jarrett LaRubbio, Josh Krok, Nick Richardson and Jervontius Stallings. “I think that’s important. We were able to do that last year and you were able to see Ramsey Meyers is a much better football player after red-shirting, sitting out and learning. Nick Hayes and a couple of those other guys also. So I think the freshmen really need that.”

The running back and receiver on our side of the ball are the easiest to play right away,” Brown said, noting that he believes players like slot receiver Garrett Johnson could step in and help right away.

Expect one if not both of the long receivers Dorian Baker (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) and Blake Bone (6-5, 198) to see playing time right away, too. “At least one of them needs to step up and play,” the offensive coordinator said.

But Brown and wide receivers coach Tommy Mainord both have said they like to play 10 or more wide receivers if possible and UK now has 11 scholarship wide outs on the roster along with a handful of walk-ons.

As for the running back spot, which appears to be well stocked this season with Jojo Kemp, transfer Braylon Heard, Josh Clemons, Brown said he expects one of the two freshmen (Mikel Horton, who enrolled early, or Stanley “Boom” Williams) to play this year as well.

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Cooking Cats? Tumbling Cats? Flying Cats?

As you anxiously kill time waiting for football season to begin, here are some fun little tidbits I found while gorging on the Kentucky football media guide this week.

Fall camp starts on Monday and until then, a few notes for your entertainment:

Remember the story about UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown and line coach John Schlarman trudging through a blizzard and spending the night on training tables at a high school? (If not, here’s the link)

Well, the player they landed with that nightmare trip was freshman center Jervontius “Bunchy” Stallings, who reports he will wear No. 65 in honor of Schlarman, who told him to “make it legendary.”

  • Freshman running back Stanley “Boom” Williams said he will wear the No. 18 to continue on the legacy of Randall Cobb and Jacob Tamme (not bad company if he has NFL dreams).
  • Junior cornerback Fred Tiller said he selected his No. 3 for former Cats quarterback Andre Woodson.
  • Freshman wide receiver Blake Bone said he will wear No. 8 because it’s the infinity symbol turned sideways.
  • In their media guide bios, there are plenty of players who claim to have mad cooking skills, including offensive lineman Max Godby and quarterback Maxwell Smith. Offensive lineman Shaquille Love says his dream job is to be a chef. Defensive lineman Mike Douglas wrote that he cooks for his mom and grandmother when he goes home to Florida.
  • Other strange “skills” noted in the media guide bios include defensive lineman Jacob Hyde’s claim that he can “wiggle his ears.”
  • Freshman linebacker Dorian Hendrix meditates daily.
  • There are two reported tumblers on the team: wide receiver Javess Blue and linebacker Khalid Henderson.
  • Some musically inclined Cats include center Jon Toth, who plays guitar and sophomore walk-on Jerry McCray, who plays five different instruments.
  • Two defensive players want to get in on the Air Raid with both linebacker Josh Forrest and defensive end Farrington Huguenin reporting they want to fly planes.
  • Some interesting future professions (other than NFL dreams of course) for players include safety Marcus McWilson’s goal of becoming a child psychologist, offensive lineman Darrian Miller wants to be a virologist, down the line from him, Kyle Meadows wants to be a research scientist studying entomology. (Eww.) New cornerback Kendall Randolph aspires to be an orthopedic surgeon. Long snapper Kelly Mason says he wants to be an actuary.
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LB Flannigan will be ahead of game before he arrives

One of the Kentucky defense’s biggest concerns going into fall camp will be how the Cats can replace tackles leader and vocal leader Avery Williamson at middle linebacker.

“We have a big hole to fill there,” defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said before a luncheon with the Greater Louisville Alumni Association. “And so I don’t know exactly who or how we’re gonna fill that spot yet, but we’re gonna have a plan before the first game.”

A name that is often floated as the likely replacement for Williamson is junior college linebacker Ryan Flannigan, who is expected to be on campus at the start of fall camp on Aug. 4.

As the center of the UK defense, Flannigan will have to get up to speed quickly.

But Eliot said coaches — including UK’s strength and conditioning coaches — have been in constant contact with Flannigan to make the transition easier.

He’s doing the workout that he needs to do,” Eliot said. “I’ve been on the phone with him on a regular basis explaining the defense to him, so he’s gonna be ahead of the game before he gets here.”

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Brown plans to ‘turn up the heat’ on QBs

Neal Brown can’t get through a day without the quarterback question.

Who it’s going to be, when he’s going to name him, etc.

So Kentucky’s offensive coordinator tackled the topic early in his short back and forth with the media before the Greater Louisville Alumni Association luncheon on Friday.

Brown met with Cats’ four prospective quarterbacks Drew Barker, Reese Phillips, Maxwell Smith and Patrick Towles on Friday morning before leaving for Louisville.

His message was get ready to be tested come the start of fall camp on Aug. 4.

“I’ve got a good feel for how they learn, what makes them learn, what makes them tick, what motivates them,” Brown said of the quarterbacks. “Now what we’re going to do is turn up the heat on them. I’m going to try to put a lot of pressure on them early, see which one of them reacts. We’re going to throw a lot at them and try to put them in tough situations.”

Brown reiterated again that he’d like to name a starter “sooner rather than later.”

He’s excited to see them throw the ball for the first time since the spring game, too.

“They’re eager; they’re excited,” Brown said. “I think they’re fresh, which is important at this time of the year. I know they’ve got a much better feel for the offense than they did even in the spring. I’m excited to see them.”

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UK’s Stoops talks about Louisville rivalry

Even though the game is still months away, the series between Kentucky and Louisville has been front and center in recent days with luncheons and perceived snubs and such.

So while in Louisville at the annual Alumni Association luncheon on Friday, Coach Mark Stoops fielded a couple of questions about Louisville and the rivalry, which was renewed in 1994 after a 70-year layoff.

“I think it’s very important,” Stoops told media and a select group of UK football alumni before the luncheon at the Galt House. “Any time you’re an in-state rivalry, it’s important. I think both groups, both institutions have such strong fans and fan base, it’s important to them; it’s important to our players, it’s important to us. There’s no denying that.”

Stoops pre-emptively side stepped any questions about the Governor’s Cup luncheon and his decision to not attend this week.

“Sometimes people don’t realize there’s 11 other games that we’ve gotta get to,” he said. “But it is important, and we embrace that challenge.”

The UK coach was asked if the Southeastern Conference went to a nine-game league schedule if he thought the rivalry would continue.

“Oh, yeah. I do,” he said. “As you know, that’s probably above my pay grade, but I do anticipate that staying.”

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Bring on the Sooners?

Mark Stoops’ big brother had a lot to say on Wednesday when he took his turn at the ESPN Car Wash in Bristol, Conn.

Bob Stoops, head coach at Oklahoma, had some interesting words about Alabama, the competitive balance of the Southeastern Conference (or lack thereof) and the lack of high-level scheduling by some in the league.

Mark Stoops seemed OK with the idea of scheduling up and playing his brother’s Oklahoma team, which faces SEC foe Tennessee this upcoming season.

“Bring em on,” Stoops said laughing, not quite clear on whether his tongue was planted firmly in cheek or not. “You can put that in print: Bring on the Sooners, because we don’t play a difficult enough schedule.”

  • In non fairytale schedule discussions, Stoops also was asked about various reports that Cincinnati might be trying to schedule Kentucky for future dates. The UK head coach said it was “too early to talk about any of that right now.”


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Stoops updates status for Robinson, Lowery

After being suspended for the final two games of last season, senior wide receiver Demarco Robinson is still not completely out of the Cats’ dog house.

“There’s still some additional penalties that Demarco needs to go through,” Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops said on Thursday before speaking to the Rotary Club at Fasig-Tipton.

Robinson missed the final two games last season for an unspecified violation of team rules and was allowed to return for practices in the spring, still earning his way back on the team, Stoops said.

The senior had eight catches for 115 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown catch late in the game. He earned praise from his head coach after the final scrimmage of the spring.

“I’m really proud of the effort that he’s made off the field,” Stoops said of Robinson in April. “He’s not perfect. Demarco has a lot of work to do in certain areas, but he’s trying and he’s battling and I’ve been proud that he’s really improved in a lot of ways.”

Last season, Robinson was the team’s third-best receiver with 20 catches for 213 yards and two touchdowns. He also returned 11 punts for 114 yards.

Another potential question mark for the Cats this off-season was the status of safety Ashely Lowery, who played all of last season but wasn’t allowed to speak with the media, with a driving under the influence charge still pending in his hometown in Georgia.

It appears nothing has changed on that front.

“There’s no change in that,” Stoops said of Lowery, who had 46 tackles and an interception last season for UK. “We’re working through a few things. … Ashely is in good standing right now.”

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Stoops speaks out on event absence

Before attending one of many pre-season speaking engagements on Thursday, Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops was asked about missing another one the day before.

UK officials announced earlier this week that Stoops had opted out of an annual joint news conference and charity event to publicize the Governor’s Cup rivalry game with Louisville at a country club there.

The Cats’ coach said he let organizers know early on that he wouldn’t be attending because he had other things to do, but apologized for “any confusion in that area.”

“We have a lot to do,” he said. “We’ve had quite a few media obligations and different events. It was just strictly a time management deal. I do apologize if I offended anybody that wasn’t clear on I wasn’t coming. I made that known sometime ago.

“We’ve had plenty of opportunities to talk about that game. No problem talking about it, it’s just that’s a full day for me where I need to be in the office and get some organization going for this upcoming season.”

When asked why organizers didn’t make it known that Stoops wouldn’t be attending, even promoting on the event website that both head coaches and the governor would be there for a day of golf, Stoops said: “I don’t want to comment on any of that. I take responsibility. I can’t put that on anybody else, so again I apologize for any confusion in that area.”

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Kentucky’s Fan Day set for Aug. 9

Kentucky’s Fan Day took a little longer to pull together with all of the construction fencing around Commonwealth Stadium, but UK announced the finalized plans on Thursday.

Fans will have to rise early for autographs, signings for players and coaches are scheduled for 9 a.m. at Nutter Fieldhouse next to the stadium. Following the session, an open practice is scheduled to run from 10:45 a.m.-noon.

Parking and admission are free with parking available in red, green and blue lots surrounding the stadium.

Kentucky’s fall camp officially will begin on Aug. 4.

The practice on Fan Day won’t be fans’ only chances to see the Cats in the pre-season. Coach Mark Stoops also plans to open practices on Aug. 11, Aug. 12 and Aug. 18. Times and places to be determined.

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