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By LARRY VAUGHT
Wonder how Kentucky coaches will be aligned on game day/night? Here’s the explanation Kentucky coach Joker Phillips gave this week about who will be on the field and who will be in the pressbox:
“On offense, Coach Sanders and Coach Nord will be up top.Ã‚Â Special teams, special forces, Coach Nord is in charge of the overall organization.Ã‚Â Even last year, we have different coaches in charge of different segments.Ã‚Â Everything will be ran through him.Ã‚Â But each coach on the sideline will have their area they’ll be in charge of.Ã‚Â So that’s how we’ll handle the special forces.Ã‚Â Nord was on the field last year, but we feel we need some more eyes up top to help Coach Summers to see what we’re seeing on defense,” Phillips said.
“The rest of the staff on offense will be down, Coach Martin, Coach Woodson, down on the sideline.Ã‚Â He and Coach Martin will be the guys communicating with Morgan in-between plays, in- between series.Ã‚Â Coach Summers will be on the sideline. Defensively Coach Minter will be on the sideline.Ã‚Â Coach Brown will go up also with Coach Sanders.Ã‚Â The rest of the defensive staff will be on the field.Ã‚Â A couple GAs (graduate assistants) up top as well.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Morgan Newton obviously needs all the experience he can get with Kentucky’s offense after playing sparingly last year and only starting in the BBVA Compass Bowl when Mike Hartline was suspended. However, Kentucky coach Joker Phillips knows he also needs to find a way to play backup quarterback Maxwell Smith, a true freshman, and hopes he can do that Thursday night in Nashville when the Cats play Western Kentucky.
“We don’t have a backup quarterback that has any snaps.Ã‚Â So we’ve got to start getting one ready.Ã‚Â We’ve learned a little bit of a lesson from a few years ago with Morgan (when Hartline got hurt). We had to put Morgan out there as a true freshman,” Phillips said. “But we had a backup (Will Fildler) that had played a few snaps.”
Phillips admitted UK went with Newton whenÃ‚Â Hartline went down because the staff thought he was a “bit more talented” and the season was only half over.
“Now, we don’t have an opportunity to have a guy with experience in front of a talented guy, so we’ve got to start getting some snaps (for Smith).Ã‚Â I would hate, four, five games, he’s thrown in there with his first snaps having no experience.Ã‚Â We have to find an opportunity to get him some snaps,” Smith said.
Phillips says it’s not really possible to prepare a game script with an exact time to use Smith and take Newton out.
“It will just be a feel thing.Ã‚Â We’ll go from there.Ã‚Â Our quarterback situation, I was thinking about it the other day.Ã‚Â We have done a really good job of developing quarterbacks.Ã‚Â That’s my opinion.Ã‚Â I don’t know what everybody thinks, but I think we have,” Phillips said. “We were kind of screwed up in our cycle because we lost a really good quarterback (Curtis Pulley) about five or six years ago.Ã‚Â It kind of screwed us up in our cycle of quarterbacks.Ã‚Â It was in between Andre’ (Woodson) and Mike Hartline.Ã‚Â So we lost a couple years in that.
“I think we’re back on schedule where this guy (Newton) will have a really good career here for two years, then the next one comes, then we got one (Patrick Towles) already committed to us that he’ll be in a perfect situation to take it over after that one.Ã‚Â We’re now back on schedule with our quarterbacks.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn., (August 31, 2011) – The Nashville Sports Council announced event details for tomorrowÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Western Kentucky vs. Kentucky football game LP Field at 8:15 p.m. CST.
Ã‚Â Traffic / Directions
Fans that have pre-purchased parking passes, detailed directions to LP Field lots are located on the back of each assigned parking pass with specific instructions on stadium ingress. For fans that do not have a pre-purchased parking pass, directions to LP Field are as follows:
From North of Nashville:Ã‚Â Proceed south on I-65 to I-24 east and exit at James Robertson Parkway.Ã‚Â This is now Interstate Drive, stay in the right lane.Ã‚Â Go through first traffic light (crossing over James Robertson Parkway) and through the second traffic light (crossing over Woodland Street).Ã‚Â ShoneyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s is on the corner of Woodland Street and Interstate Drive.Ã‚Â Take the next right onto Russell Street.Ã‚Â Turn left onto 2nd street; follow directional signs to parking lots.
From South of Nashville:Ã‚Â Proceed north on I-65 to I-40 east to I-24 west and exit on the Shelby Street exit. Go left at the light onto Shelby Street.Ã‚Â Proceed over the bridge and through the light, to 2nd street, follow directional signs to parking lots.
From East of Nashville:Ã‚Â Proceed west on I-40 to I-24 west and exit at Shelby Street.Ã‚Â Go left at the light onto Shelby Street over the bridge and through the light.Ã‚Â Go right on 2nd street; follow directional signs to parking lots.
From West of Nashville:Ã‚Â Proceed east on I-40 to I-65 north to I-24 east and exit at James Robertson Parkway.Ã‚Â This is now Interstate Drive, stay in the right lane.Ã‚Â Go through first traffic light (crossing over James Robertson Parkway) and through the second traffic light (crossing over Woodland Street).Ã‚Â ShoneyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s is on the corner of Woodland Street and Interstate Drive The next right is Russell Street.Ã‚Â Take Russell Street and follow directional signs to parking lots.
Parking options:Ã‚Â Gameday parking at LP Field is not sold out. Lots A, B, E and F are available and passes can be purchased on-site at LP Field available lots.Ã‚Â Parking passes are $20 per pass.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Lots are open to fans beginning at 2 p.m.Ã‚Â Fans interested in alternate parking options not at the stadium, please visit http://www.parkitdowntown.com/.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â The Woodland Street Bridge will be open to vehicle traffic.
Tickets for the College Colors Day Kickoff Game featuring Western Kentucky and Kentucky are on sale through Ticketmaster.com and are available at any Ticketmaster outlet including the LP Field Box Office.Ã‚Â The LP Field Box Office opens at 10 a.m.Ã‚Â LP Field gates open two hours prior to kickoff.
FREE Pregame Concert Information
Featured Artist:Ã‚Â Laura Bell Bundy, Mercury Records Recording Artist
Where:Ã‚Â Downtown, Riverfront Park
Cost:Ã‚Â FREE Concert
Time:Ã‚Â 5:30 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 7 p.m.
*There will be vendors on-site for food & beverages
Concert talent provided by The Art of The Game
By LARRY VAUGHT
About this time a year ago Kentucky running back Derrick Locke was predicting that true freshman running back Raymond Sanders was a potential star.
Now that Sanders goes into the 2011 season as UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s No. 1 tailback after the graduation of Locke, he also has a prediction about a soon-to-be star in freshman Josh Clemons, another Georgia running back.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He is a smart back. He reminds me of me. He comes in and is anxious to learn,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Sanders. Ã¢â‚¬Å“He is a big, strong guy that is hard to tackle. He reminds me of (Heisman Trophy winner) Mark Ingram (of Alabama), a guy that is just hard to tackle. He is powerful, but heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s also fast. He can do a lot of good things for this team and be productive.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Sanders knows what impact a freshman back can have after the success Marcus Lattimore had at South Carolina last season.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He is the type guy that can be a great back in this league. He is a big cat that can flat run,Ã¢â‚¬Â Sanders said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“He is going to make peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s eyes open with the things he can do. He is just going to be a great guy because he wants to be.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He is not coming out and feeling sorry for himself when he makes a mistake. Everything he does, it is full speed. He is working hard to be the best and that is one thing that keeps us pushing. As a group, we all come out here and push each other to be the best group out here and make some noise in this league as a group. Josh is bigger than me, but with his smarts and ability to understand our offense, he is like me. I came in and made a couple of mistakes, but he understands what is going on, where the line is going,Ã¢â‚¬Â Sanders said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“He is a natural football player.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Sanders has known that about Clemons for years.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We played park ball (Little League) against each other. He was a great player then. My team always beat him. My team was always the best, but he was a great player back then even,Ã¢â‚¬Â Sanders said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We had to make a game plan around. He can do great things with the ball. Actually, we didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make a game plan, but you knew who to watch out for and who the home-run hitters were and he was that guy even back then and he can be that guy for us, too.Ã¢â‚¬Â
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach Joker Phillips remains convinced that junior quarterback Morgan Newton is not an unknown and will do fine filling Mike HartlineÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s shoes. He started eight games in 2009 as a true freshman when Hartline was hurt and started the bowl game last season after Hartline was suspended.
Phillips says he wants Newton to Ã¢â‚¬Å“get the ball in the end zone and win gamesÃ¢â‚¬Â because thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what quarterbacks are basically judged on.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If you’re going to judge Morgan, he’s won games around here as a starter. People talk about managing the game. I want a quarterback that can manage the game. I want a quarterback that can help us win games also. I think Morgan is ready for that also,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“You don’t recognize the guy that we had in the bowl game. I mean, he’s a lot different than what we saw in the bowl game. He’s much improved. A lot of it has to do with his confidence. A lot of it has to do with getting reps and understanding of schemes better, understanding our protection.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“But let me tell you this, when he played as a true freshman, he knew nothing. I mean, he knew nothing. He didn’t know how to protect himself with protections. We had to be as simple as we possibly could be. Like I say, that’s the process of our quarterbacks.Ã‚Â It takes a little bit of time. Now he has it. He’s fixing protections. He’s checking plays. He’s doing all the things that the good quarterbacks we’ve had here did.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Phillips is still waiting to see exactly who will emerge to replace Locke, UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s top rusher last season, and his big-play capability. Sophomore Raymond Sanders will start Thursday with true freshman Josh Clemons No. 2 on the depth chart.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I really like the running backs. Do we have a difference-maker? I’m not sure of that yet,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think a couple young guys are really talented. I’m waiting to see if there’s a difference-maker in the group, a difference-maker that can hold up for 12 games, a difference-maker that can go the distance like we had last year.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Phillips plans to use several running backs because the top five have all shown flashes he likes.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“There’s not a lot of separation amongst them, so we got to try to find some separation in the games now,Ã¢â‚¬Â the UKÃ¢â‚¬Ë†coach s
By LARRY VAUGHT
Willie Taggart hopes Kentucky will see a noticeable difference in Western Kentucky Thursday compared to last year when the Wildcats blitzed the Hilltoppers 63-28.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Our guys got bigger and stronger and faster, and now itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s time to go on the football field and do something. The thing I want Kentucky to say after the game is that this team was totally different than what they played the year before,Ã¢â‚¬Â said the Western Kentucky coach.
Western did break a 26-game losing streak last year, but still finished just 2-10 andÃ‚Â last in the Sun Belt Conference standings. Taggart has brought in a new defensive coordinator, new offensive coordinator and two new position coaches in hopes of moving the program forward. However, what could help Western more than anything is the return of highly-touted running back Bobby Rainey Ã¢â‚¬â€ he had 187 of 1,649 rushing yards against UK last season Ã¢â‚¬â€ along with quarterback Kawaun Jakes Ã¢â‚¬â€ he was 140-for-291 passing for 1,680 yards and 10 scores in 2010.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Kawaun looks great. I felt good about Kawaun after the spring game. He looked amazing. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s maturing, and he is understanding what his role is and what he has to do to make this team better,Ã¢â‚¬Â Rainey said.
Rainey led the nation in rushing attempts in 2010 with 340 and averaged 137.42 yards per game. He went for 100 or more yards in WesternÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s last five game. He likes the idea of Thursday nightÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s game at NashvilleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s L.P. Field being on ESPNU and being on the only college game played at that time.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“All the attention is on us,Ã¢â‚¬Â Rainey said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Who wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to show up and be that guy? All eyes on us. If we beat them, weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re good. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a rivalry, and to have it televised in front of a nice crowd on a nice field, is huge. Everybody is excited about the whole thing Ã¢â‚¬â€œ television, Titans stadium, big crowd. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s all exciting.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Kentucky coach Joker Phillips still remembers Rainey wrecking his defense last season and heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s on the Doak Walker, Maxwell and Paul Hornung watch lists going into the season.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He’s a great back. He makes people miss. He runs through tackles. He knows how to run around you. He can run over you. That’s a huge challenge,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said.
Taggart, a former Western quarterback and assistant starting his second season as head coach, is apprehensive against Kentucky, which returns 10 defensive starters and six offensive starters off last yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 6-7 BBVA Compass Bowl team.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“They are good (on defense). TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re fast. They are big and athletic, which you anticipate with them being an SEC team. They changed it up, so I think what we will see will be a little different than what we saw last year. I expect to see a lot of speed,Ã¢â‚¬Â Taggart said.
He says there is a bit of an unknown factor with UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s offense after the departure of 2010 stars Randall Cobb, Derrick Locke,Ã¢â‚¬Ë†Mike Hartline and Chris Matthews. The defense also add some intrigue with the addition of Rick Minter, a more aggressive coach than previous coordinator Steve Brown, as coordinator.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d like to know going in, but like I tell our football players Ã¢â‚¬â€ if we just do what we do and understand what we do and block our routes, we can block anything they show us. Our guys have got to understand that. Just be really good at what you do and be sound and disciplined in what you do, and it will get there.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Vaught’s note: Joker Phillips talks about the value of playing in Nashville as a recruiting tool. What do you think? Also, why are you going to the game or why are you not going? Let me know.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Coaches Joker Phillips of Kentucky and Willie Taggart of Western Kentucky both believe ThursdayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s season-opening game at L.P. Field in Nashville, the home of the Tennessee Titans, is a plus for their program.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Big for us. We tried to hit (that area) really hard in recruiting. It’s also close to western Kentucky, which we’ve done well there in the past also,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Phillips. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Been a really good recruiting tool for us in that area. It’s been a really good recruiting tool to say we’re playing at an NFL stadium. We did it two years ago (in the Music City Bowl). We’re doing it again this year. We’ll go back in two years (to play Western again). It’s been really good to use that as a selling point.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Taggart says the opportunity to play a Southeastern Conference team in what is considered a home game for Western is a big opportunity for the Hilltoppers.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think it is big-time for our university, our community, our football guys and the whole Hilltopper nation that we go down there and put on a good showing,Ã¢â‚¬Â Taggart said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We know Kentucky is going to travel well, and they always do, and we have to show that we can do that, too. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not just WKU football; itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Western Kentucky University and our community, all of Bowling Green and all of our alums. We canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t do it by ourselves, and that is why we picked this place Ã¢â‚¬â€ we expect to have a sea of red in that building.Ã¢â‚¬Â
By LARRY VAUGHT
The player co-defensive coordinator Rick Minter projects will have a breakout year is junior end Collins Ukwu, who has added strength and weight.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He had a great spring and a really, really good fall. Everything that we are telling him to do, he is doing,Ã¢â‚¬Â UK defensive line coach David Turner said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“He is practicing at a different speed than everyone else. He is hustling and putting himself in position to be a really good player.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He has done all we have asked and is working at it. I think he has a chance to be a very solid player. Now it is just a matter of going out on the field and doing it. But he has put himself in position to have a really good fall.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Turner has not been as consistently happy with junior Taylor Wyndham, the other starting end.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Right now he needs to be playing and practicing better. I feel a little disappointed in his fall camp, but he is working at it and I have seen some improvement in his play. He hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t performed up to the level I expected coming into fall camp, but I expect him to get that corrected and get back to a high level,Ã¢â‚¬Â Turner said.
The backups are seldom-used senior Antwane Glenn, sophomore Tristian Johnson and redshirt freshman Mike Douglas.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Sometimes young guys have to play because of depth. Sometimes they have to play because of injuries. We are still trying to figure it out,Ã¢â‚¬Â Turner said about possibly have to use even true freshmen in the defensive front. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think in time all three of the freshmen we have have a chance to be really good players. Christian Coleman right now has done some good things and is a guy we have to take a long look at. Farrington Huguenin at times has looked really good. Travaughn Pashcal, a guy we got real late, has shown speed and in time has a chance to develop. Right now it is still kind of early to tell, but we tell them to approach it like they will play and put yourself in position to play.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hard for true freshmen to play in the defensive line in this league. More so than skilled positions because you are playing against 300-pounders and are playing in a confined area. You have to be strong and durable. When you are playing a skilled position, you are out in space and have a little bit more room to show your athletic ability.Ã¢â‚¬Ë†ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s different from defensive and offensive linemen to play just from an experience, strength and durability standpoint.Ã¢â‚¬Â
UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lack of proven depth is TurnerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s biggest worry going into the season.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are still trying to develop depth. If we stay healthy, I think we have a chance to be a much improved front,Ã¢â‚¬Â Turner said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“If we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t, we still be better be. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just a matter of who it is going to be. Right now the problem area with me is depth and just trying to get consistent guys to do it every day.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Western Kentucky Head Coach Willie Taggart
On the depth chart:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“A lot of guys have been working hard, some guys hadnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t practiced as much and then other guys have just been working a little harder. That depth chart changed quite a bit, and I let our guys knowÃ‚Â that it is going to be that way, but at the end of the day those guys that we have there are going to be the ones who have been practicing well and we feel like are going to help our football team.Ã¢â‚¬Â
On sophomore linebacker Andrew Jackson:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He competed, and he competed every single day and made plays. It wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t one day or two days. It was every day that he went out and did it. He plays the game differently than most people. He plays the game like we want our defense to play, and I think our other guys have seen that too and really cultivated through it. He has a lot of potential and he has been doing a lot of good things for us throughout training camp, and now it is time to go on the football field and do what he has been doing. I feel like if he can go out and play like heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s practiced, folks will know who he is.Ã¢â‚¬Â
On freshman wide receiver Boe Brand:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He is a good athlete. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a really good athlete who is really smooth when he runs, and some things he does you just cannot teach. We have to find way to get him the ball and help our offense, but he is still a young guy and a young guy who doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have it all down yet. He is going to make some mistakes, and we just have to make sure they are not big mistakes that are going to kill us. But he is also going to make plays that are going to help us, too. It is going to be a learning process for him, but I think it is going to be a good one where he is going to be able to help this football team.Ã¢â‚¬Â
On if Kentucky will notice a difference in WKUÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s team from last season:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I hope so. Our guys got bigger and stronger and faster, and now itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s time to go on the football field and do something. The thing I want Kentucky to say after the game is that this team was totally different than what they played the year before.Ã¢â‚¬Â
On the excitement leading up to the first game of the season:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It is great. You have been working, working, working in the offseason, and now you are ready to see how all that work is going to pay off. You are excited about it. For me, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m ready to see how much our team improved. Our guys have worked really hard this offseason, and they have been doing the things we asked them to do. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m seeing the culture change and seeing the guys do things how we want them to. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m really interested to see how we go out and perform on the football field now. I think it will be different.Ã¢â‚¬Â
On KentuckyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s defense:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“They are good. TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re fast. They are big and athletic, which you anticipate with them being an SEC team. They changed it up, so I think what we will see will be a little different than what we saw last year. I expect to see a lot of speed.Ã¢â‚¬Â
On knowing KentuckyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s offense:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d like to know going in, but like I tell our football players Ã¢â‚¬â€œ if we just do what we do and understand what we do and block our routes, we can block anything they show us. Our guys have got to understand that. Just be really good at what you do and be sound and disciplined in what you do, and it will get there.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã‚Â On the possibility of a good turnout of Hilltopper fans in Nashville:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think it is big-time for our university, our community, our football guys and the whole Hilltopper nation that we go down there and put on a good showing. We know Kentucky is going to travel well, and they always do, and we have to show that we can do that, too. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not just WKU football; itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Western Kentucky University and our community, all of Bowling Green and all of our alums. Everyone come out and take pride in your university and lift our team to the kind of effort that we are going to need. We canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t do it by ourselves, and that is why we picked this place Ã¢â‚¬â€œ we expect to have a sea of red in that building.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Senior Defensive Lineman Jared Clendenin
On the excitement level entering game week:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re really excited to play Kentucky this week. We are tired of hitting each other. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been hitting each other for four weeks. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re ready to hit some blue. We are working out all of the details and all of the little things. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re trying to be sharp for these last couple of days so we can go out there and do what we have to do.Ã¢â‚¬Â
On the defenseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s progression throughout fall camp:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We have come a long way and grown up a little bit. We have different starters at a couple of different positions than the last game [against Kentucky].Ã¢â‚¬Â
On Kentucky quarterback Morgan Newton:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Morgan may have a tendency to take off more, and we are going to have to keep him contained and maintain our pass rush lanes.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Senior Running Back Bobby Rainey
On the teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mindset leading into the game:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re the only game at that time on television, so all eyes are on us. Offensively, we have to step up and give the people a show. Basically all the details are important because itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s game week and everybody has to be focused.Ã¢â‚¬Â
On the teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s level of preparedness:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Our first day of camp was better than last yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s, so thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a good start. With the practices we had going on and the athletes that came in, theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re all getting better. Everything is better than last year basically.Ã¢â‚¬Â
On the training camp play of quarterback Kawaun Jakes:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Kawaun looks great. I felt good about Kawaun after the spring game. He looked amazing. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s maturing, and he is understanding what his role is and what he has to do to make this team better.Ã¢â‚¬Â
On playing on national television in the seasonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s first game:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s against Kentucky Ã¢â‚¬â€œ from our state. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a rivalry, and to have it televised in front of a nice crowd on a nice field, is huge. Everybody is excited about the whole thing Ã¢â‚¬â€œ television, Titans stadium, big crowd. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s all exciting.Ã¢â‚¬Â
One prevailing premise that global rating systems such as Sagarin use as a basis for their pre-season rankings is how a team finished the previous season. The new pre-season rankings presuppose that teams, on average, do not vary much, year to year. On average, I believe this is a valid presumption, but I believe we can all agree that for any specific team, the assumption of exact consistency is baseless. Some teams will perform in the new season at a more efficient level than they did the previous year, and some teams will perform at a less efficient level. Returning players gain maturity and experience. Teams replace their departed players with new recruits.
Is there an objective basis to predict whether a particular team will improve or lose efficiency, and is there an objective basis to quantify these likely efficiency changes? One indicator of this trend may be the number of returning starters that a team brings into the new season from the previous season. I do not know the answers to these questions, but I will use the 2011 season with Kentucky and its 12 regular season opponents to begin the analysis. Then I can assess whether this parameter has promise for further study, or whether some other parameter, such as returning cumulative playing time.
According to the UK Media guide for UK opponents, and the Tennessee Media guide for the three SEC West teams not on the 2011 schedule, these teams return between 6 [Auburn] and 19 [Vandy] starters from their 2010 teams. The average team in this group returns 13.9 starters. Eight of them return 15 to 19 players, while seven return 13 to 6 players, with one team [Central Michigan] returning the group average 14 players.
I have monitored football efficiencies and believe that the Net Game Efficiency, in Points Per Possession, is an excellent measure of the teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s strength. An increase in a teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s NGE, one season to the next, corresponds to better play, and a stronger team. Conversely, a decrease in a teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s NGE, one season to the next, corresponds to poorer play, and a weaker team. At this point, the change in NGE is shown a zero for all 13 teams, but as the season unfolds, each teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s NGE will update in this table in real time. At the end of the 2011 season, I will use the data to test the following hypothesis.
Teams with the lowest number of returning starters will perform at a lower NGE in 2011 than they did in 2010, and the teams with the highest number of returning starters will perform at a higher NGE in 2011 than they did in 2010.