Stoops confident Stephen Johnson can take care of football

johnson-4By LARRY VAUGHT

After fumbling three times against Alabama last week, Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson has spent a lot of time in drills this week working to secure the football better against Vanderbilt Saturday.

“We’re trying to strip it every time he has the ball. I’m not gonna beat a dead horse. He knows the deal. He can’t do it anymore. It’s unacceptable. That’s the deal,” said UK offensive coordinator Eddie Gran.  “So we’re gonna keep coaching it and coaching it hard and he’s gotta handle it. He’s gotta take care of the rock (football).”

Maggard was right about Bunchy Stallings

By LARRY VAUGHT

On signing day for UK’s 2014 recruiting class, I asked former UK quarterback Freddie Maggard who was perhaps the sleeper in the class.

Remember this was before Maggard became the UK media star he is now. But his answer proves why he is such an expert on UK football because without hesitation he said Alabama lineman Bunch Stallings.

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops certainly is on the Stallings bandwagon.

“Bunchy is doing a lot of good things. He’s a physical guy but he’s very athletic and quick-twitch for a big guy,” Stoops said. “He’s been doing some good things.

Eating broccoli, hiking helped Humphries slim down

Isaac Humphries (Vicky Graff Photo)

Isaac Humphries (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky sophomore Isaac Humphries is the first to admit that he tends to analyze things way too much. Always has, probably always will.

Humphries got the message that he had to get quicker and become more of an offensive threat to get on the court more this year. To do that, he went to work losing weight to increase his quickness and it seems to have worked.

He says he was not under a “strict diet” but ate less carbs and  more vegetables.

Stoops all for early signing, 10th assistant

Mark Stoops (Wade Upchurch Photo)

Mark Stoops (Wade Upchurch Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Since he arrived at Kentucky, coach Mark Stoops has been in favor of an early signing period just like basketball and other sports have.

Now the NCAA is talking about the possibility of an early signing period and Stoops is all for it.

“I saw it. I’m all for it. I think most of my counterparts there in the SEC are not for it, but I would be. I think what exact date or how we work through that still needs a little bit of massaging, but I’m all for an early signing period,” Stoops said.

Dream: Achieved! Arin Gilliland Called up to United States Women’s National Team

1By CHRISTOPHER SHOALS

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Former University of Kentucky women’s soccer player Arin Gilliland has achieved her life-long goal of being called up to the United States Women’s National Team, it was announced by U.S Soccer on Thursday. She becomes the first-ever UK player to be called up by the USWNT.

Gilliland will be participating in a camp that features 24 players, including seven defenders. Gilliland joins Abby Dalhkemper, Merritt Mathias, Kelley O’Hara, Becky Sauerbrunn, Casey Short and Emily Sonnett.

Guest post: Football picture not all gloom and doom

Sophomore Denzil Ware (35) is one of the promising players on the UK defense. (Wade Upchurch Photo)

Sophomore Denzil Ware (35) is one of the promising players on the UK defense. (Wade Upchurch Photo)

By KEITH PEEL

Now that we have reviewed the bad (offense) and ugly (defense) let’s look at the good for Kentucky football.

Contrary to how I felt by starting the season with a “come from behind” loss to Southern Miss, I do see improvement in some areas. Let’s start with coaching hires. I believe overall this is the best group of coaches Mark Stoops has assembled since he became head coach in 2013.

Cats know stopping Webb won’t be easy

Linebacker Josh Allen will be chasing Vandy running back Richard Webb Saturday. (Wade Upchurch Photo)

Linebacker Josh Allen (41) will be chasing Vandy running back Ralph Webb Saturday. (Wade Upchurch Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Even though Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason says he will look at other offensive “options” for Saturday’s game at Kentucky that could involve more passing.

Most of the season, the Vanderbilt offense has been running back Ralph Webb. He’s had his hands on the ball in about 40 percent of Vandy’s offensive plays. But the Commodores have struggled more on offense than even Kentucky has.

Eli Brown still learning how to execute system

By LARRY VAUGHT

Redshirt freshman linebacker Eli Brown had his best game at Alabama last week and defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot noticed.

“Eli has really good instincts. I think Eli is very athletic. Eli is a very sure tackler,” Eliot said Wednesday. “Eli, though, is a freshman. Eli was just with our scout team last year and didn’t get any reps within our scheme, so where he needs to work is continuing to understand the scheme and execute the scheme.

“He’s getting better, so that’s why Eli is getting more playing time and I think the better he gets the more playing time he’ll see and the more plays he’ll make.”

UK Football-Keeneland Shuttle Returns Saturday

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Nothing says Lexington like a fall Saturday split between watching horse racing at Keeneland and Kentucky football at Commonwealth Stadium. Once again, Lextran has partnered with UK and Keeneland to offer a shuttle that will allow fans to do exactly that.

The shuttle will make its 2016 debut on Saturday, Oct. 8 as the Wildcats take on Vanderbilt at 4 p.m. Lextran will offer a shuttle to and from Commonwealth and Keeneland for $1 each way so that fans can enjoy the signature Kentucky doubleheader without having to drive back and forth in their own vehicles.

Guest post: Has UK defense improved since Mark Stoops became head coach?

By KEITH PEEL

Perspective is a funny thing. Related to sports perspective seems to come mostly from the “eye test.” at least for me. I watch a fair amount of college football and every UK football game. The eye test for me has provided the only perspective that I have so far in evaluating Mark Stoops’ defense during his tenure at UK.

But since my perspective can always use some calibration, let’s check the facts.

Also in the interest of transparent disclosure let me say that I am not a fan of D.J. Eliot as a defensive coordinator but I did think that Mark Stoops was a great defensive coordinator and a tremendous hire as head coach in 2013.
Now, on to the facts:
UK football currently ranks 92nd in scoring defense out of 128 FBS teams. At the end of the 2015 season UK finished 69th in scoring defense. In the 2014 season UK defense ranked as the 93rd best in scoring defense. And last but not least, in Stoops’ first year as head coach (2013) UK ranked 89th in scoring defense. To finish the perspective Joker Phillips’ team ranked 85th in scoring defense for his last year in 2012.
If Stoops had been able to continue his upward trajectory for his defense into this season (or even hold steady at 69) I might be able to say that his recruiting and coaching schemes were having a positive effect. But since we are currently ranked 92nd in scoring defense after five games it is difficult to find areas of improvement.
The secondary looks better but linebacker and defensive line play have been inconsistent at best. The “eye test” tells me that we don’t look any better against quality teams when it comes to stopping them from scoring points and the facts seem to bear that out. We have given up 44, 45, 42, 10 and 34 points respectively to Southern Miss, Florida, New Mexico State, South Carolina and Alabama. Based on the facts and the “eye test” it doesn’t appear that 3 1/2 years of recruiting and coaching have changed the results very much.
So whether emotion or personal preference or anything else tells us that Mark Stoops is a good defensive coach unless he can get his team to 69th or better in scoring defense by the end of the year it appears that a perspective based on the facts will win the day when evaluating whether or not he has improved UK’s Football situation on the defensive side of the ball.