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Kentucky WR Demarco Robinson
On reaction to today’s game:
“We’re always down when we lose. I feel like we move the ball good at times, but we’ve gotta learn how to finish, to stick it in the end zone.”
On the first interception:
“It was just a bad pass, a little bad luck on our part, but you know, we work hard to make it better. We just have to keep going.”
On being a close game:
“It definitely hurts a lot. Obviously, we see the chance to capitalize on turnovers and things like that, but you know we just have to work harder to capitalize and stick it in the end zone when we can.”
On what is keeping the team from finishing drives:
“I’m not sure. It’s a mixture of things. Whether it’s someone not doing their assignment or jumping off sides, penalties or anything, dropped passes, or missed holes. It’s everybody’s fault. We just have to come out and work harder.”
On Coach Stoops’ reaction:
“He was real fired up. He said we fought good. He liked the effort, but like we said we have to get the W.”
On dominating first half and still being down:
“We always just take what we got. We aren’t looking at it bad or good, we just take the situation we got and move forward.”
Kentucky RB Raymond Sanders
On being more of the same:
“We just gotta learn to finish plays. We got started a couple of drives and didn’t execute on third down plays.”
On what’s preventing the team from improving:
“It’s the momentum. We need to learn how to pick things up. When a penalty is called on us, we can’t just get down from there on, we just have to learn to come on and bring ourselves back together.”
On being tougher because it’s a close game:
“This really was a disappointment. We just have to keep going. Keep it up at practice, keep going, and start over on Georgia next week.”
Kentucky WR Javess Blue
On the close loss:
“This really was a disappointment for us. We gotta keep going and keep it up at practice. We’ll start over on Georgia next week.”
On the cause of the offensive struggles:
“It’s just momentum. We need to learn how to pick things up. When a penalty is called on us, we can’t just get down from there on. We just have to learn how to bring ourselves back together and get the first down.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said “it doesn’t look good” for freshman receiver Ryan Timmons playing Saturday against No. 9 Missouri.
“ Looks like he’s got an ankle sprain. Unless he makes a drastic improvement here in the next day or so it doesn’t look like he’ll be able to go,” said Stoops Wednesday on the Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference. “It definitely changes us. He’s a guy that we’ve featured and tried to find ways to give him the football. We have to have some other guys step up.”
Timmons is UK’s second leading receiver and one of Kentucky’s fastest players. He hurt his ankle in last week’s 48-14 win over Alabama State in the second half just a few plays before he was going to come out of the game.
Stoops did confirm that receiver Javess Blue — who didn’t play last week after getting hit in the eye with a football during pregame warmups — “should be fine” for Saturday.
“(Blue) is fresh with sitting out last week. So Javess is good,” Stoops said.
Freshman receiver Alex Montgomery is out for the season after injuring his knee celebrating a touchdown catch last week. But Stoops said junior Demarco Robinson is improving as is sophomore A.J. Legree.
“Jeff Badet had a very good game last week with another freshman stepping up and improving. Our other guys are starting to come along. Demarco is as healthy as he’s been in a while. So it’s good to get him out there and get him going. A. J. is starting to improve. So we just need some other guys to step up (at receiver),” Stoops said.
The coach said junior Daryl Collins, who has played sparingly, is also “working a little bit” more at receiver this week.
Kentucky will face another top 10 team in Missouri, one that Stoops says has no glaring weakness.
“Missouri’s a very good football team, very well-coached. Good in all areas of the game. Their offense has been outstanding and very balanced with the run and the passing,” Stoops said. “I think they’re a very physical team. Their o-line is playing extremely well, and of course we know about the quarterbacks and their big wide receivers, so we’ll have our hands full. Defensively, they’ve been extremely aggressive playing very good football. The thing that jumps out at me is how hard they’ve been playing and how passionate they seem to be playing and flying to the football.”
Stoops again said it didn’t change preparation if quarterback James Franklin, out three games with a shoulder injury, came back this week or if redshirt freshman Maty Mauk continued to play quarterback.
“It’s a great testament to their team and the depth that coach has built there. You see these guys, and you see their maturity. I think you look at them last year and look at them this year and you see the maturity and really the health of their offensive line,” Stoops said. “Their wide receivers are big and strong.
“I don’t think it really matters what quarterback’s in there. You watch both of them, and they’re both very impressive. Maty Mauk’s done a very good job in leading their offense, and you really don’t see much drop off. I think earlier in the year when you watched James, you see a very talented quarterback and a guy that’s very comfortable back there and the poise the he has, just the experience. But with getting all these games under his belt for Maty Mauk, I think I’m sure he’s getting more and more comfortable each time he’s back there.”
Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said the Missouri “offense doesn’t change” no matter who plays quarterback.
“They still run the same offense. Both the quarterbacks are very good players. I look at both of those guys as guys that could be starters on just about any SEC team,” Eliot said.
He’s also impressed with the Missouri offensive line.
“Those guys are very, very good blockers and most of the guys who played last year are young guys and now they’ve developed into good veteran players. It’s going to be quite a challenge for our guys,” Eliot said.
Stoops hopes Kentucky quarterback Jalen Whitlow is feeling more comfortable, too, after throwing for two scores and running for two last week.
“He seems to be rolling along pretty good,” Stoops said.
The coach knows UK has to start well because of the way Missouri plays.
“They come out firing. That tempo with the great execution that they’ve shown in just about all their games early, it’s hard. But we’ve got to make some stops. That’s just it. Like I’ve said over and over, there’s no — you’ve got to go out there and make plays against a good football team,” Stoops said.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops confirmed Monday that receiver Alex Montgomery is out “for the remainder of the year” after tearing the ACL in his knee celebrating after a touchdown catch against Alabama State last week.
“It’s probably not good news for Ryan Timmons for this game. So we’re getting pretty thin.” Stoops said.
Timmons, a receiver, sprained his ankle against Alabama State.
Stoops did not that receiver Javess Blue, who hurt his eye in pregame warmups against Alabama State, “should be fine” for Saturday’s game with Missouri.
The coach does plan to address touchdown celebrations with his players after losing Montgomery.
“We have to address that today as well. I do think about it. When they are doing that stuff, even in practice sometimes we’re having fun. You don’t want to take away the energy. You want them excited,” Stoops said. “We want to be cheering quite a bit and creating big plays. We want the excitement there. We’ve got to be smart about that. We’ve got a couple of those guys that can do back flips and sometimes they’ll do that before practice and get guys sparked up. I’m a little leery of that as well.
We might have to get our feet on the ground for our celebrations right now. We can’t afford to lose anybody else.
“We lose enough guys during games and practice. We can’t lose them in pregame and doing celebrations, that’s for sure. We’re not going to overdo it, but I’m going to definitely talk to them about relaxing a little bit with the jumping and chest pumping and all that stuff.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Offensive coordinator Neal Brown was talking to recruits when receivers coach Tommy Mainord came to find him before the Kentucky-Alabama State game.
“I could tell it was not going to be good,” said Brown.
However, he had no idea that Mainord was going to tell him UK’s top receiver and kick returner Javess Blue was not going to play because he injured his eye throwing football with teammates on the field before the Cats even started pregame warmups.
“Coach Mainord told me Javess got hit in the eye, it was swollen and did not look good,” said Brown after Saturday’s 48-14 win. “There were a lot of things we were going to try to do early to get him the ball, and we had to adjust at the last minute.”
Brown thinks Blue “will be fine” to play in UK’s next game against Missouri.
“You just have to be careful with eye injuries. I know because I had two when I played here,” Brown said.
However, that was not the only receiver Brown lost.
Freshman Alex Montgomery caught a 6-yard scoring pass on the first play of the second quarter. He was all alone in the end zone. After making the catch, he went to celebrate and jumped to chest bump teammate Demarco Robinson. Another Wildcat also joined the celebration and when Montgomery landed, he hurt his knee.
He had to be helped off the field and later returned to the sideline on crutches.
“I am just better off not commenting,” UK coach Mark Stoops said initially when asked about the two injuries. “It is frustrating. He was just out there throwing it around like the guys do, getting out there, getting loose, and just took a ball right in the eye. So that closed up and he couldn’t see out of it. Then I popped him in the other eye; he couldn’t see out of that one. So he had two black eyes.
“No, you guys (in the media) are going to put that in print and people are going to start arresting me. You know I’m joking. Then with Alex, that was really disappointing with Alex, and we’ll see. Hopefully, it’s not serious, but I’m afraid it may be because he’s been solid all year and getting better for a young guy. To get that touchdown, we’ve got to learn to celebrate better.”
Stoops said while it is a good problem “for sure” to talk about how to celebrate touchdowns, he will do that with his team.
“I think we need to talk about it certainly because we may have gotten somebody seriously injured doing that. And somebody was telling me today, I guess, a Georgia player or something did the same in the first game. So we definitely need to look at it,” he said.
Photos by Victoria Graff, and property of Schurz Communications, Inc., and vaughtsviews.com. All rights reserved; images may not be reprinted in print or online without permission of the owners. Reprinted images must be attributed to vaughtsviews.com and linked to the original site.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Junior college transfer Javess Blue now leads Kentucky in receiving with 24 catches for 319 yards and two scores, including a touchdown catch against No. 1 Alabama last week. Blue and the Wildcats have this week off after losing to No. 1 Alabama — their fourth straight loss to a top 20 team — and he shared his thoughts on several things after Saturday’s game.
Question: What did you think about playing Alabama for the first time?
Blue: “It was a great experience and about what I expected out of them. They are ranked No. 1 and you know they are coming with the hard hits.”
Question: Did the offense take a major step back against Alabama by gaining only 170 yards?
Blue: “I kind of think we did. When Jalen (Whitlow) got hurt and Max (Smith) had to come in and made some plays for us, but the offense took a step back. I felt like everyone got kind of down as soon as they seen Jalen was hurt. They have to keep that motivation in their hearts that the game is not over. We have a man down, but we can still fight and keep up. It is hard to stay up, but at the same time you have to keep a man’s mentality.”
Question: Did Alabama maybe intimidate some younger players?
Blue: “I think so. A couple. But at the end of the day, they have to step up and be a player.”
Question: Why was this so different from the previous three games?
Blue: “I felt like it was more hard on us because everyone think Alabama is ranked No. 1, but there was no reason to come out and be scared. Just come out and play like we always have been.”
Question: Are you starting to feel like a go-to receiver?
Blue: “That’s something I was trying to do as soon as I came here. That’s what I expect.”
Question: Can a bye week help this team now?
Blue: “I think so really so we can fix some things up. We have to execute and make them third down plays and be better. Defense making tackles and working on form. Things like that.”
Question: How do you stay mentally up after a beatdown like this?
Blue: “Just know the season is not over with basically. We have more games to play and I expect to play them with a better mind and mentality. We have to tell each other this is not the end of the season. We still have more games to play and a chance to make it to a bowl game. It is kind of hard on some guys, maybe the seniors. But we have to move forward.”
Question: Does it mean anything at all to become only the second team to score a touchdown on Alabama this year?
Blue: “I didn’t know that. It means something to me, but at the same time you have to move on to the next game. It was good to have something to pick us up and keep going from halftime on out. We went down with Jalen, or that’s what it felt like.”
Question: Do you think offensive coordinator Neal Brown is frustrated by the lack of offensive production?
Blue: “I have a feeling that he is a little frustrated, but at the same time he knows he is going to come out next week and work hard on it and get things down pat.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Really, everyone should have known it was just fool’s gold when Kentucky and No. 1 Alabama were tied 0-0 after one quarter. But this was A-L-A-B-A-M-A, the team that has won the last two national titles and three of the last four, and one had to know the Tide wouldn’t keep losing fumbles deep in UK territory as it did twice in the first quarter or dropping a touchdown pass as it did early in the second period.
Once the Tide got rolling, it was reality time as Alabama cruised to a 48-7 victory over outmanned, outnumbered and outtalented UK.
“There is nothing magical you can do against that team,” said Kentucky coach Mark Stoops. “I was disappointed in our overall effort.”
Alabama’s philosophy under coach Nick Saban is extremely simple. The nation’s best athletes executing simple plays on offense — similar to what John Calipari wants to do with Kentucky basketball — with a quarterback, A.J. McCarron, that doesn’t make bad decisions and a swarming, hard-hitting defense with speed that doesn’t miss tackles.
Kentucky? It took the Wildcats 31 plays to cross midfield, which wasn’t that surprising considering starting quarterback Jalen Whitlow went out with an ankle injury on UK’s second series and backup quarterback Maxwell Smith had trouble finding any rhythm against Bama’s defense.
UK’s defense just wore down and couldn’t keep Alabama from eluding tackles or making yards after contact. Defensive end Bud Dupree didn’t dress. Three players played with broken hands. Several others were hurt during the game.
Kentucky managed just 170 total yards, but did at least become only the second team — Texas A&M was the first — to score a touchdown against the Tide on Javess Blue’s 30-yard reception from Smith in period three. Call it a statistical milestone in a game where Alabama had 668 yards — and a 300-yard passer and two 100-yard rushers in the same game for the first time ever .
Alabama showed UK that while Louisville, Florida and South Carolina were good teams, there is a big step up to playing the nation’s No. 1 team and just what a job Stoops faces if he wants to close the talent gap on the SEC’s best team.
“That is a team that does everything right. From top to bottom, an extremely physical team,” Stoops said. “We got beat up out there tonight. We need to execute better. We certainly can do better in all facets of our team, but they do that to a lot of people.”
Stoops was most disappointed in his team’s overall effort, but also realized it might not have all been what his team wasn’t doing as much as what Alabama dictated.
“I thought we would compete a little bit harder than that, but give credit to them. They are No 1 team in the nation for a reason. I was impressed with them,” Stoops said. “They are physical, they can run it. They had us off balance most of the night like they do to a lot of people.”
Stoops said there was “nowhere to hide” against a talented, physical team like Alabama.
“You have got to man up and play. It is tough sledding,” the UK coach said. “I wanted to go play the game the right way and play as hard as we can and be in the right spots and look like a good football team.”
So did offensive coordinator Neal Brown, and he knew that did not happen.
“They were as good as advertised. But I am very disappointed. Our production is unacceptable,” Brown said. “We have to play better and coach better. You’ve got to be able to move the football better than we did.”
Senior Raymond Sanders ran for 72 yards and said all the Cats can do is look at why Alabama dominated the game and learn from it.
“We need to look at what they did right and I know our offense has got to help our defense more,” Sanders said. “That is a big, strong, physical team. They get after you. They are fast and physical. They play disciplined. We have to learn from all that and be that way. We played a great team, but we can play better than we did tonight.”
FINAL SCORE: No. 13/12 South Carolina 35, Kentucky 28
Team Records and Series Notes
- Kentucky is 1-4, 0-2 in the SEC. South Carolina is 4-1, 2-1 in league play.
- South Carolina leads the series 17-7-1, including 8-3-1 in Columbia. USC has won three in a row.
- Kentucky’s second-half comeback fell short as the Wildcats rallied from a 24-7 deficit at halftime to cut the USC lead to six at 27-21. UK answered a USC touchdown to make the score 35-28 late in the fourth quarter before the Gamecocks were able to run out the clock to end the game.
- Kentucky had over 300 yards of total offense for the fourth time this season.
- The Wildcats won the time of possession battle for the first time this season.
- UK was 2-for-2 on fourth-down conversions in the game and is now 8-for-11 on fourth downs this season.
- The UK offense scored a touchdown on every trip to the redzone and is now 15-of-19 on the season in redzone scoring.
- The Wildcat defense limited South Carolina’s offense to just 103 yards of total offense.
- Kentucky won the turnover battle against South Carolina forcing a fumble. The UK defense has forced six fumbles this season, recovering four.
- Kentucky returns to action Sat. Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. when the Wildcats host No. 1 Alabama. The game will be televised on ESPN2.
- Quarterback Jalen Whitlow completed 17-of-24 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 17 times for 69 yards and a touchdown. Whitlow now has a rushing touchdown in three of UK’s five games this season.
- Raymond Sanders rushed 14 yards in the game on seven carries, moving to 25th on UK’s career rushing list. A complete chart is in the notes. Sanders scored his second rushing touchdown of the season, 10th of his career, on a two-yard run in the second quarter. Sanders needs just three more yards to tie Chris Hill for 24th all-time on the career list.
- Freshman wide receiver Ryan Timmons caught four passes for 36 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown was Timmons’ first collegiate touchdown and came on a great grab at the side of the end zone on a 14-yard TD play.
- Junior wide receiver Javess Blue led UK in receiving with four catches for 62 yards, including a 33-yard reception.
- Senior tight end Jordan Aumiller had his best game of the season with three catches for 34 yards.
- Junior Demarco Robinson caught a touchdown pass in the game, his second of the season.
- Linebacker Avery Williamson finished the game with nine tackles. He now has a streak of 24 consecutive games with at least three tackles.
- Defensive end Alvin “Bud” Dupree made three tackles. He extended his streak of 20 consecutive games with at least three tackles.
- Dupree’s quarterback sack in the second quarter extended his streak of four consecutive games with a sack. The last Wildcat with a sack in four consecutive games was Jeremy Jarmon in 2007.
- Freshmen Jason Hatcher and Blake McClain had the first quarterback sacks of their careers. Hatches ended the game with three tackles, while McClain had four.
- Junior Nate Willis had nine tackles in the game, which is a career high.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Perhaps Kentucky’s biggest improvement against Louisville was just the way UK competed. Sounds simple, but the Cats just looked like a team that was playing harder with more desire.
“We sat down together and talked and came together as a team. That helped us,” said receiver Javess Blue, a junior college transfer.
Blue was not here for UK’s 2-10 debacle in 2012, but he was on the field to open the season when UK lost to Western Kentucky for a second straight year. He admitted embarrassment from that loss has motivated the team.
“Exactly. Embarrassment is something nobody wants. It hit us right in the heart. We don’t want to feel like that and we are going to respond to that,” Blue said. “We are going to push every team until the end. We are going to make you run every play you have until the end because we are going to fight on and not quit fighting.”
That was a common theme from UK players during spring practice and preseason camp, but it didn’t come across that way against Western when UK was outplayed physically and emotionally. But it was a different Cat against Louisville, especially on defense, with players flying to the ball more and making few mistakes.
“That’s just the way we have been practicing,” linebacker Avery Williamson, UK’s top tackler again this year, said. “Coaches have been drilling in our heads to be like that and we have to be physical. We set the tone early that we weren’t going to be a pushover defense. I feel like we did a great job against Louisville and we have to do that in the SEC. I thought we would do that from the start this year, but we were just kind of unsure of ourselves that first game.
“But we showed against Louisville that we have fight in us. I feel like we dominated them sometimes in the first half and even sometimes in the second half we did.”
Williamson admitted that despite the loss, he feels better now about UK going into the next game Sept. 28 against Florida than he did before the game.
“I feel like we are a physical team and we have great talent all around. I know we can win games. We let this one slip away with simple mistake,” he said. “But I know we didn’t lay down. I didn’t lay down and I know the guys beside me didn’t lay down. We just have to keep grinding.
“Defense has to try and get turnovers. We missed out on a couple, but it’s part of the game. You have to get better. We did get a little tired, fatigued. But we have to pick up slack for the offense. We’re in this together and have to play that way.”
Williamson knows Louisville is a top 10 team coming off a Sugar Bowl win over Florida to end last season with a potential Heisman Trophy winner in quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
“They were a good team. I will give them credit for that,” he said. “But I feel no different about any team. I am going to do the same thing, be physical and play hard. We are all going to be downhill players and keep playing the same way. We saw what we can do when we all play our hardest from start to finish.”
That’s why Blue thought a late touchdown by the offense — which missed scoring chances in the red zone because of turnovers — was important.
“It is something we have to work on, learning how to finish. That last play that we need to get scores, we have to pick that up in practice and work on it,” he said. “But we put up a fight until the end. We didn’t stop. We put another touchdown on the board. We need to plays to get everybody’s adrenaline going. Big plays are going to make us fight and keep going.
“Right now everyone is going to be at each other. ‘Come on man, pick yourself up. We have got to work at this.’ We have to go back and work even harder. But we most definitely have a better attitude than we did a few weeks ago.”
Even Blue knew the effort against Louisville was something that had not only been missing this season, but was missing last year when UK went 2-10.
“We fought to the end against Louisville,” Blue said. “That is something that last year’s team probably would not have did, but we stuck it out and we’re going to keep doing that. We are not the same Kentucky. People are going to start seeing that more and mor
Vaught’s note: WLAP Sunday Morning Sports Talk host Mark Buerger is a football season-ticket holder and regularly attends games and tailgates with his wife and two sons. This is his response to comments from fans who were not happy with UK’s offense against Louisville. Enjoy @meisterbuerger.
By MARK BUERGER
In retrospect, I should have known – Should. Have. Known. – that it wouldn’t last. It couldn’t last. That the lovefest that surrounded the new UK football coaching staff and the program in general heading into the season couldn’t make it to the end of the year. In some circles, it didn’t even make the bye week. Yes, in retrospect I should have known that among the 55,000 people or so who rolled into Commonwealth Stadium for the Blue-White game, there were at least some who were simply staking out their place along the rail, so they could be the first to jump ship at any sign of trouble.
That’s why I shouldn’t have been surprised when an hour or so into Sunday Morning Sports Talk after the UK football opener against Western Kentucky we received out first “I told you we should have hired Bobby Petrino” call. And I shouldn’t have been surprised when I saw a vaughtsviews tweet Monday that indicated Larry had heard from fans who weren’t happy.
What weren’t they happy about? The way the offense is being run. Seriously. I’ve heard complaints too, but the ones I heard were that the offense had been too conservative. These were more along the lines of the offense being too wide open and not sustaining drives. Heck, I’ll wait while you read them yourselves.
First, this isn’t the run and shoot. It never was. It has similarities in that it’s based on short, quick passes, but the run and shoot almost NEVER ran the ball. Even the Hal Mumme Air Raid used the pass to allow him to stick the ball in a guy’s belly and send him downfield. Second, this isn’t the Hal Mumme Air Raid. If that’s what you’re looking for, I don’t know what to tell you. You were warned. Neil Brown ran the ball a lot at Texas Tech. He told you he’d do it here. He has.
And here are the stark realities of this football season:
1) The Western Kentucky game was the single greatest indictment of the Joker Phillips era we have ever seen. There were few if any positions on the field where Kentucky’s player was physically better than Western’s. Beyond that, Kentucky’s players looked like they were basically re-learning the game, primarily because they practically were.
2) The offense Neal Brown wants to run is predicated on having an accurate quarterback who makes decisions quickly. That guy isn’t here right now. Instead, Brown is running the offense with a guy who hasn’t been able to stay healthy for five consecutive games and whose shoulder issues are going to be an ongoing problem (even before the injury against Louisville, it was clear Max Smith wasn’t the same thrower we saw early last season), a quarterback the last coaching staff was apparently terrified to let throw the ball (and all off-season evidence that Whitlow’s accuracy had improved evaporated as soon as games went live) and a quarterback who – though highly touted – has been unable to beat out the other two with two different coaching staffs (eliminating the “Randy Sanders just didn’t like him” argument).
All that said, if you’re watching this football team and not seeing a bright future, I can’t help you. The defense has improved by leaps and bounds each week and the newcomers on offense – Timmons, Montgomery, Kemp, Blue, etc. – are stars in the making. There are just not enough pieces there yet to put the whole puzzle together. There are more pieces on the way. This is a three – maybe four – year process. That’s how bad things were when Stoops, Brown and the others took over.
So I’ll say again what I told that caller after the Western game. Straddle that rail and jump ship now if that’s what you want to do, but if you take that route you deserve to be left in the water. And when you do, I’ll be standing back on deck waving – and probably laughing – at you.
Mark Buerger hosts Sunday Morning Sports Talk with Larry Vaught and Anthony White every Sunday from 9 am-Noon on NewsRadio 630 WLAP in Lexington. You can also listen online at wlap.com or on your smart phone through the I Heart Radio app. You can follow him on Twitter at @meisterbuerger.