Most Recent Posts
- Kentucky gets the Gator off its back, beats Florida 75-70 in SEC semis
- Willie Cauley-Stein says Cats “obviously 100 percent” believe they can beat No. 1 Florida
- John Calipari has assigned assistants to monitor players’ minutes in games
- Kentucky Wildcats TV: How you approach the end
- John Calipari says Kentucky must “make some jump shots” to play with Florida
- John Calipari: “To have people say this team is done, I just don’t believe it”
- Jarrod Polson, Jon Hood will be “getting in their ears” to tell teammates about March play
- ESPN’s Jay Bilas has fun watching Gators, a team without “big shots going pro” after one year
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown thinks having young players from winning programs has helped them withstand the rigors of UK’s 2-8 season going into Saturday night’s game at Georgia. However, he also knows guidance from veteran players has helped, too.
“They’re not necessarily beat down. But I think the best thing those other (older) guys have done is whatever happens, when they get to work on Monday, when they get to this building, it’s over with — whatever happened on Saturday — is over with and they’re focused on the next opponent,” said Brown. “And we talk about having a ‘next’ attitude all the time, whether it’s next play, next series, next game and I think those guys have done a good job of leading the way, teaching our younger guys.”
He cited several seniors for “showing guys how to persevere” this season.
“I think (tight end) Jordan Aumiller comes to my mind right away as a guy that’s come to work every day with the right mindset. (Lineman) Kevin Mitchell is a guy that really works hard every day and is playing through … he’s banged up, and he’s playing through a lot of injuries,” Brown said. “(Tight end) Tyler Robinson has a great attitude, somebody that’s really kind of really been hampered this year with a back injury, but he’s got a good demeanor every day.
“I think those type of guys, it shows our younger guys, ‘Regardless of what happens, you don’t lose the same game twice, so whatever happens on Saturday, you come to work on Monday and you get better.’ I think those guys have kind of led the way.”
He says there is no doubt that senior Avery Williamson is “the leader on the entire team.” However, he has seen younger players trying to be leaders on offense, too.
“You’re seeing some guys, like (Jordan) Swindle’s a guy that didn’t redshirt, but he’s taken a leadership role,” Brown said. “I think as they get older, Jojo (Kemp) and some of those other, Jeff Badet and Ryan (Timmons) and some of those other guys that are playing early in their career and kind of going through some down times, I think they can lead us, lead us to some better times.”
Brown is hoping players like Timmons, a receiver, and Kemp, a back, can learn to sustain explosive plays instead of occasionally making them as they have this season.
“There’s two types of explosive plays. There’s ones that I can create through a game plan and maybe schematically, and then there’s ones that the guys create by making people miss in space,” Browns said. “Those two guys both have the ability to do that, and I think those are the type that other people feed off of. If you can get into the secondary and make a safety miss, it gives us energy, it’s momentum on our side, plus it makes those guys second-guess themselves. So the next time they’re in that one-on-one situation, that safety’s a little less confident.
“There’s a bunch of things we track, and I think we talked about those earlier in the year: explosive plays and winning the turnover battle. If you can win the number of explosive plays, and you can win the turnover, all right? You’re going to win most of those games. I think we only lost one of those at (Texas) Tech in three years where we did both of those. We just need to have more.”
The good news for Brown and UK is that Georgia’s defense is on pace to set new program marks for most points allowed and most yards allowed. The 2009 team surrendered 337 points, which is a program high for a season of 12-plus games. This year’s team, which is surrendering 30.2 points per game, has already allowed 302 points with three games to play. The Bulldogs are also on pace to surrender 5,029 — potentially just the second time in school history that Georgia allowed 5,000-plus yards after last season’s team gave up 5,009 in 14 games.
Of course, Kentucky ranks 104th nationally with 349.2 yards of total offense per game. Georgia slipped to 82nd nationally in scoring defense (30.2 points per game) and 53rd in total defense (386.9 yards per game) by surrendering 43 points and 566 yards in last week’s loss to Auburn.
Question: What’s the rundown of some of those guys who have been injuryed?
STOOPS: “Yeah, we’re banged up. It looks like we should be better, I think, (Ryan) Timmons should be better, no setbacks. He only played four or five plays. Darrian (Miller) should be back this week. Nate Willis, I think, his knee, I don’t think he’ll be able to play. The rest of the guys I think we’re just banged up. We should be getting better.”
Question: What about linebacker TraVaughn Pascal?
STOOPS: “TraVaughn is doubtful (for Georgia Saturday). The rest of them we’ll have to see. But yeah, TraVaughn doesn’t look good.”
Question: Was it an ankle or something for Darrian?
STOOPS: “Just banged up with a knee.”
Question: What about Kevin Mitchell?
STOOPS: Yeah, he’s banged up, but he should be back, as well. He’s been beat up. It’s tough, as you all know, playing in this league. He’s fought through it. I thought Kevin did some really good things. There was one series maybe he was beat up on this past game where he didn’t play very good, but the rest of the time he really had a pretty strong game. That’s a case where, again, we need to continue to develop some guys and be able to get some rest here and there”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown said he wouldn’t know until after today’s practice whether freshman Ryan Timmons, UK’s second leading receiver, would play at Vanderbilt Saturday. Timmons injured his ankle against Alabama State and did not play last week against Missouri. Brown said the Franklin County product was “getting better” daily.
“If he does play, it probably will be in a limited role,” Brown said Wednesday.
Brown said Timmons will continue to blossom at receiver and running back in the years ahead.
“I think he’s learning at wide receiver. The way he was used in high school is really kind of the same way we’re using him right now, in a sort of hybrid running back/receiver,” Brown said. “He can improve his route-running a lot. You’re going to see a ton of growth between where he’s at now and when we kick off the season next year, where he’s at from a route-running potential. But I’m pleased with him. He’s given us quite a bit.”
Here’s more of what Brown had to say after Wednesday’s practice — UK’s final media availability of the week — going into the Vanderbilt game.
Question: Is quarterback Jalen Whitlow becoming a better leader?
Brown: “ “I think he’s growing. Yeah, I think he’s growing. I think he gets better – as we go along, I think he gets better. Is he where I would like him to be? Probably not. But I don’t know if that’s the case for anybody. I think coaches, by nature, we always want more. But I think he’s getting better. And I always have to remind myself that he’s a young kid that hasn’t played quarterback a whole lot. So I think he’s getting better.”
Question: Is anyone else showing the leadership you are looking for?
Brown: “Yeah, well, really I think our seniors have done a pretty decent job. I know our record doesn’t show that, but I think those guys have really competed hard. I think Jordan Aumiller has had a really successful senior season. I think he’s done a really good job from a leadership standpoint. I think Kevin Mitchell is playing through a lot of injuries. He’s done a good job just by toughness; not a real vocal guy but a good job. I tell you somebody that’s really growing, that I’m really encouraged by for the future is Jordan Swindle. He’s really playing well, at a high level. He competes hard, he plays hard, he’s tough. So he’s a guy that I think has a lot of potential to kind of take the reins in a leadership role as we go forward.”
Question: Does it help that Swindle, a tackle, has a nasty streak?
Brown: “Yeah, no question. I think any really good football team that I’ve ever been on, the tone is always set up front. And I really believe that you have to have some nastiness. You’ve got to play within the rules, don’t get me wrong, but you want a tough, physical presence up front. And when you have that, you have an opportunity to be good. Last year (at Texas Tech), arguably our best player was our left tackle. His name is LaAdrian Waddle. He’s starting for the Detroit Lions now, and he was a physical, nasty — and I mean that in a positive way — player, and he set the tone for everything we did on offense.”
Question: Is Whitlow doing things that you can build the offense on?
Brown: ““I think you see positive signs, no question. I thought he ran the ball extremely well in the third quarter (against Missouri). Now we’ve got to get him to do that all the time, but I thought he ran the ball really, really well in the third quarter. And hit a couple deep balls – the one that Ray fumbled, I thought that was a really nice pass. It’s the same exact play against Alabama State that he kind of bounced out there. So I think you see improvement. I think he can still play at a high level all the time. I think he is, like a lot of us on offense, inconsistent. But I do see things that lead me to believe that he can be a really good quarterback in this league.”
Question: What do you still need physically from Whitlow?
Brown: “I think he’s got to be consistently accurate with the football. I think that’s – and he knows that. He’s been inconsistent passing the ball. But there’s signs in every game that he’s played that he’s capable of doing that. We’ve just got to get him, from a fundamentals standpoint, to do that consistently.”
Question: What about his decision-making?
Brown: “I think it’s a work in progress. I think it’s significantly better than it was the Western Kentucky game. You know, we give him a lot of latitude. We don’t necessarily check a bunch of plays at the line of scrimmage, but in our offense we try to be as all-purpose as possible. Because we used to be an outfit that kind of checked at the line of scrimmage and maybe was a look-at-me a little bit more, where we all looked to the sideline, but defensive coordinators really caught onto that; when we check, they’re checking. So what we do is we try to have all-purpose plays where we’ve got maybe it’s a run/pass, a run/screen combination, and the quarterback makes the decision at the line of scrimmage either to run the ball or throw the ball. And those things, Jalen’s much improved, but he can still get better. What it does is it gives you easy yards. So if the numbers are in the box, he can throw it outside and we can get easier yards than trying to block all those people inside.”
Question: Are his mechanics improving?
Brown: “Yeah, no question. And you all can tell, too, with the naked eye: when his feet are really close together, he’s not accurate. And he’s improving. At that technical issue, he is improving. He’s definitely improving.”
Question: Why is walk-on fullback Cody Jones playing so much?
Brown: “He’s just determined. He’s really – I should’ve talked about him from a leadership standpoint because he’s given us some backbone. He’s a tough, physical kid, from Kentucky, walked on here. It’s important to him. And his toughness shows. And he just won the job. He really just won the job. He competed. I think we had him at five or six knockdown blocks in the game. And he’s been a real pleasant surprise.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
When Neal Brown was offensive coordinator at Texas Tech, he went against Missouri twice and knows what Missouri defensive coordinator Dave Steckel can do with his personnel in Saturday’s game here.
“We had two really competitive games against those guys. I think when you talk about Missouri, everybody thinks about their offense because they’ve been so good going back to (quarterback) Chase Daniels. And they still are. I’m aware they’re very good on offense and that goes into my train of thought as I get our game plan together, too. But they’ve been very good on defense, too,” said Brown.
“They’ve had as many good defensive linemen in the last five-seven years as anybody in the country. The first thing that jumps off the film when you’re watching Missouri is their defensive line. They go two or three deep at each position. They can really run. They have the fastest D-line that we’ve played and they play super hard and they chase the ball probably better than anybody we’ve played and their Mike linebacker, 48, his name’s escaping me right now (Andrew Wilson), he gets a lot of tackles.
“Those inside guys do a good job of keeping the linemen off him and he does a good job making tackles. The secondary guys, a lot of them are the same that we played against. They’ve gotten a lot better.”
Brown said Missouri is also “doing some different things” because of their defensive line depth compared to when Brown faced the Tigers at Texas Tech.
Brown hopes sophomore quarterback Jalen Whitlow can settle down and make better throws and decisions.
“I think he rushes, and his base gets real narrow. He’s got to train his mind to really focus on it all the time. I think it’s — I don’t know if experience is the right word. I think it may be a lack of reps, you know what I mean? He needs repetitions where he was hurt a little bit and where he had to split some time when we were trying on doing the quarterback competition, I think that’s part of it,” Brown said.
The offensive coordinator said Whitlow played better against Alabama State in last week’s 48-14 win than he originally thought because he focused on the “four or five really bad throws” and not the good throws he did make.
“I was really encouraged after watching the film because he threw the ball well, especially downfield which is something he hadn’t done a whole lot of. Some of those underneath throws, we can get that fixed,” Brown said.
With Alex Montgomery (knee) out for the season and Ryan Timmons (ankle) likely out for Saturday, Brown said older receivers like Demarco Robinson and A.J. Legree need to “step up and produce” against No. 9 Missouri. He said tight ends Anthony Kendrick and Steven Borden both could play some at Montgomery’s spot to provide depth.
Both Legree, a sophomore, and Daryl Collins, a junior, have played sparingly this year but will get their chance to play more Saturday.
“Legree’s picking it up. He made a great play in the game on Saturday night. He took the ball, really took it away from the Alabama State defender. He’s practicing a lot better. His confidence really grew on how he performed on special teams. He’s really done some nice things for us on special teams and gained some confidence and he’s brought that to offense,” Brown said.
“And Collins, he just hasn’t been productive with the snaps he’s had earlier in the year. He’s obviously, he’s got increased reps this week and if he continue to produce then he’ll get in there and have a chance to play on Saturday. I think he’s got some skills. He’s got to be focused every day. He’s got to take advantage of opportunities, but I definitely think he’s got some skills. I think he runs pretty well. He’s a solid built kid. I think there’s no reason why he can’t help us.”
Brown said he does not want to use true freshman quarterback Reese Phillips this year to void his redshirt season unless it is absolutely necessary. Maxwell Smith, a former starter, continues to be Whitlow’s backup.
“You always take the player, Reese’s, situation into account but as part of the whole unit, the whole football team. If it was a situation where he was going to be the guy, I think it’s still a viable option for him to play,” Brown said. “If it’s a situation where maybe it’s just to finish a game or do something like that — and it’s coach (Mark) Stoops’ decision — I think we would be cautious and try to keep his redshirt on him. In a perfect world we’d love to keep him redshirted. We’ve redshirted him this long. We’d like to keep Jalen healthy and go with him for the rest of the year.”
He also said that sophomore running back Dyshawn Mobley, who Stoops joked needed to get the ball more or he would put him on defense because of his stellar special teams play, would play a “key role” against Missouri.
“He’s gotten more opportunities the last two weeks. It took him awhile to kind of figure out his role and to really get a good feel of what we’re trying to do in this offense. I think he has that now, and he gives us a different running style. He’s a physical, downhill runner,” Brown said.
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.”
Photos by Clay Jackson, 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
At times, adjusting to playing for Kentucky has been a bit easier than Franklin County freshman receiver Ryan Timmons thought it would be. At other times, it has been a bit harder.
“I have been able to adapt to the offense and the different speeds. It’s not much harder than high school, but there are a lot of different calls and things like that and obviously the defenses are a lot better,” said Timmons. “I don’t think anyone can be totally ready for the speed of the game and playing against such great players every day and every game. Scoring and getting open is not easy. The competition is so much better than anything you have faced before.”
Yet Timmons is more than holding his own going into Saturday’s game against No. 1 Alabama. He has even been named to the College Football performance Awards 2013 National Freshman Performer of the Year Watch List.
He has 19 receptions for 208 yards, including six against Florida, and made his first scoring catch last week at South Carolina — a 14-yard play in the corner of the end zone. He’s rushed eight times for 11 yards. He’s averaging 11 yards each time he touches the football. His only major mistake was a fumble in the opening game against Western Kentucky.
“He’s a playmaker, but we knew that when we got him,” offensive coordinator Neal Brown said. “He works and he’s just going to get better and better.”
Timmons, a five-time state track champion, was sensational in high school. He rushed for 1,306 yards and 25 touchdowns his senior season, averaging an amazing 15.7 yards per attempt, and caught 33 passes for 1,004 yards and 16 scores. He returned all three kickoffs to him for touchdowns. As a junior, he rushed 62 times for 1,382 yards and 20 touchdowns and had 38 receptions for 1,100 yards and 18 touchdowns.
“I am surprised by the success I’ve had,” Timmons said. “I just want to be a player to make plays for the team when they need me.”
His success has been good for his family and high school coaches as well.
“I talk to my coaches. They are proud of me making plays at the next level and they told me if I had a good work ethic, I would have no problems making plays here,” Timmons said. “My family is very proud of me for what I’ve done. They are close to me and they are glad I am here at UK where they can see me. But they are really proud.
“It’s really good for me to have that support. If I have a bad game, I can go back home and talk to my mom and see her. She is such a positive person. I can see teammates that don’t have that close support. That’s what I try to help with. We have a lot of guys from Kentucky on the team, so if a teammate needs support, they can go with one of us to our family and talk to them.”
He’s also been pleased with his relationship with Brown, one of the primary reasons he picked UK.
“Coach Brown is a lot of fun. I knew it was very exciting what he had done in the past and he’s going to do that here. He wants us playing very fast. You can’t ever let down because he’s always on the go and wants you that way,” Timmons said. “We can move forward and improve a lot. We have a lot of room to keep getting better.”
That includes the way he feels about his play.
“My whole game has to get better. Running routes smoother and better. Quicker off the ball than I am now. Work on my blocking. Blocking is not the hardest thing, but it just takes a lot of effort,” Timmons said. “In high school, I didn’t have to put that effort into blocking.
“But the games are great. I like to play against the best. If you want to be the best. you need to play againsts them. I am really excited for games like what we are playing now (UK is playing four straight top 20 teams for the first time in school history). When I committed here, I knew these were the games we would play and I was ready then to get out there.”
Timmons says even his academic work has been fine.
“That’s not a big problem. We have tutors and study sessions to help us out. It’s not as difficult as I thought. You just have to stay organized and keep up with your work, just like in football,” he said.
After UK lost to Western Kentucky, some wondered about the direction of the UK program. However, improved play against Florida and South Carolina even in losses has shown that new coach Mark Stoops is making his team better.
“I am very confident about my decision to come here. I am glad I came to UK. I am happy where I am and would not want to be any other place,” Timmons said.
He tries to convey that same message to recruits when he can.
“When they are around, I talk to them. I don’t want to be all over their back, but if they ask me something, I tell them. They know they are free to ask me anything about Kentucky, and I will tell them straight,” Timmons said. “I try to let them have their own time, but I also get in a few comments about what a great place this is and how great we are going to be in the future.”
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
From Florida coach Will Muschamp’s perspective, the Gators’ offense was just fine when backup quarterback Tyler Murphy had to take over during last week’s 31-17 victory over Tennessee.
“We had a lot of confidence in Tyler. He’s improved as a passer,” said Muschamp. “We will not change much of who we are offensively. He can get us in and out of the right plays like he did last week. There are some procedural things he can do better, but that is almost to be expected in that situation.”
Murphy had to take over last week when starting quarterback Jeff Driskell broke his leg. Murphy will make his first start Saturday at Kentucky. He was 8-for-14 passing for 134 yards and a touchdown against Tennessee. But he also ran for 84 yards and a score and gave the Gators a running threat they lacked with Driskell. However, Murphy had thrown just one pass in four years — a 2-point conversion try.
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said Driskell’s injury and Murphy’s start will only change UK’s preparation “a little bit” this week.
“I think both guys can run the ball a little bit when they want to and certainly Murphy showed some athleticism and some speed, and I’m sure they’ll want to use (that) from time to time,” Stoops said.
Under previous UK defensive coordinators Steve Brown and Rick Minter, UK often had trouble stopping a run-oriented quarterback like Murphy seems to be. Stoops, the former defensive coordinator at Florida State, has basic points he stresses to his defense for this situation.
“There are certainly some things you have to look at when you’re doing that, yeah, absolutely. That’s why it’s a big deal in the NFL all the way down to college,” Stoops said. “It gets to be a numbers issue with how many guys committing one way or the other. When the quarterback can run the ball, it’s an added dimension. With them, they’re quite physical when they want to be as well. When they get under center, it’s a lot of downhill running. They’re not getting away from that. I know Will (Muschamp) and how tough he wants to be and how tough his team is on offense and on defense, so they’re going to get under center and they’re going to run the ball downhill as well.”
The Gators (2-1, 1-0 SEC) have had a hard time getting into the end zone when they move inside the opponent’s 20-yard line this season. Florida has been into the red zone 17 times in three games and has come away with just seven touchdowns. That’s 41 percent, or 113th out of 125 FBS teams.
They’ve also settled for three field goals inside the 20. That raises their scoring efficiency to 58.8 percent, but only Southern Mississippi, Louisiana-Monroe, SMU and Miami (Ohio) are worse.
Muschamp says he has a “lot of respect” for Stoops and called UK defensive end Bud Dupree an “outstanding” player. He also noted that end Za’Darius Smith leads the SEC in sacks while linebacker Avery Williamson leads the league in tackles.
“They are going to be very sound fundamentally,” Muschamp said.
Kentucky was idle last week after falling to No. 7 Louisville in its last game.
Stoops hopes the off week helped his team.
“We are, like most people, a little bit banged up. So it was good for us. We needed the time just to work on ourselves, to continue to get better,” Stoops said. “So fundamentally, we had some good, hard work last week and used the weekend to heal up a little bit.”
Muschamp says his highly ranked defense which leads the SEC in most categories will be tested by Neal Brown’s offense Saturday.
“Neal does a nice job mixing the run-pass issue for you,” Muschamp said. “They are up tempo, on the ball constantly. The two quarterbacks (Maxwell Smith and Jalen Whitlow) are both effective in what they do. You have to be very cognizant of who is in the game.”
He cited Ryan Timmons and Demarco Robinson as two “talented” receivers but warned that UK was not a pass-happy offense.
“They effectively run the ball to spread you out,” Muschamp said. “We have our work cut out for us.”
Stoops has a mutual feeling about the Gators.
“It’ll be another great challenge, as we all know. Very solid team on all phases. I’m very familiar with Florida, having played them the last three years and knowing quite a few players on their team,” Stoops said. “Very good team, very well coached in all phases of the game, very physical team, so we’ll have a real challenge ahead of us this week.”