Stephen Johnson No. 1; could Gunnar Hoak be No. 2

Gunnar Hoak, second from left, could be pressed into action Saturday. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Gunnar Hoak, second from left, could be pressed into action Saturday. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Quarterback Drew Barker did not practice Tuesday because of his lingering back issues and offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said Stephen Johnson will be the starter Saturday night against South Carolina.

“Stephen is be the guy and they’re still getting evaluated and still getting in stuff with Drew. That’s all we know right now. Right now, Stephen’s the guy,” Gran said.

Johnson played well in UK’s 62-42 win over New Mexico State after Barker went out after throwing an interception on the first series. Kentucky amassed almost 700 yards of offense with Johnson at quarterback.

Big Blue Madness tickets to be distributed Sept. 30

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Tickets for the 2016 Big Blue Madness in Rupp Arena will be available on Friday, Sept. 30 at 10 p.m. at the Memorial Coliseum ticket windows on Avenue of Champions and online at Ticketmaster.com. Big Blue Madness, the first open practice opportunity for UK’s 2016-17 men’s and women’s basketball teams, is Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. It will also air live on the SEC Network.

Stoops not happy with secondary play, calls out Marcus McWilson

Safety Mike Edwards has been UK's most consistent secondary player this season. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Safety Mike Edwards has been UK’s most consistent secondary player this season. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops, a former defensive coordinator and secondary coach, pulled no punches Monday about the way his secondary has been playing and certainly called out the play of safety Marcus McWilson.

How has Matt Elam been playing?

Matt Elam (Vicky Graff Photo)

Matt Elam (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Going into the season, Matt Elam was supposed to be perhaps the biggest key to Kentucky’s defense.

He had lost weight and had experience from last year to build on. Coach Mark Stoops was counting on him to anchor the defense line.

He played almost 80 plays the first game, but his playing time has dropped significantly the last two games.

Kenny Walker remembers Charles Hurt as “great guy”

Charles Hurt

Charles Hurt

By LARRY VAUGHT

Funeral services for former Kentucky basketball standout Charles Hurt will be Saturday at the Shelby County High School gymnasium. That seems only fitting because Hurt led Shelby to a state championship and won Mr. Basketball honors there.

Hurt passed away Friday at age 55 after a long battle with leukemia.

He was a high school Parade All-American at Shelby County. The 6-6 Hurt played in 124 games at UK from 1979-83. He scored 786 points, grabbed 496 rebounds, gave out 104 assists and made 74 steals. He was a 59.3 percent career shooter and seldom took bad shots.

QB Drew Barker still No. 1 on depth chart

Drew Barker lasted only a few plays against New Mexico State before leaving with back issues. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Drew Barker lasted only a few plays against New Mexico State before leaving with back issues. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Even though Stephen Johnson threw for 310 yards in last week’s win over New Mexico State after starter Drew Barker was injured, Kentucky coach Mark Stoops indicated today that Barker will be the starter on Saturday against South Carolina if he is healthy.

“He’s listed as the starter on the depth chart for a reason,” Stoops said Monday.

Cats need more plays like Derrick Baity made to help save Saturday’s win

Derrick Baity made a key fourth-quarter interception Saturday. (Wade Upchurch Photo)

Derrick Baity made a key fourth-quarter interception Saturday. (Wade Upchurch Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

With Kentucky holding a 55-42 lead late in Saturday’s game with New Mexico State, the Aggies were deep in the red zone when UK sophomore Derrick Baity picked off a pass in the end zone to seal the win for the Cats.

It was the kind of winning play that coach Mark Stoops had been wanting.

Benny Snell: “I live and die for football.”

Benny Snell (Vicky Graff Photo)

Benny Snell (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

On the football field, Benny Snell only knows how to play one way — all out.

“Whenever my number is called, I just try to make the most of it,” he said. “I am an emotional physical player. I live and die for football. I am glad to be part of such a good team that is rising right now. I just love it.”

UK vs New Mexico State Photo Gallery

Photos by Vicky Graff

What did UK defense change in 2nd half?

By LARRY VAUGHT

Safety Mike Edwards had a career-high 12 tackles, including eight solo stops and one tackle for loss, along with three pass breakups in Kentucky’s 62-42 win over New Mexico State Saturday night.

The Cats still gave up 500 yards again but allowed just one score in the second half.

So what did coach Mark Stoops say at halftime?

“Pretty much just to stop thinking and play football. We were just trying to do too much and do other people’s jobs and just think about that. We just have to focus on our jobs, personally, and to focus in on what we have to do and just be a better team,” Edwards said.