2014-10-15 / Sports

Surprising Cats still face tough task

Bob Watkins
Sports in Kentucky


Bob Watkins Bob Watkins Remember the hitch in Cawood Ledford’s call during a Kentucky football game? Following a productive play by the home team, Ledford would say, “... hold the phone!”

Fits today. Last time Kentucky won five games to open a season was 2010 and the Wildcats finished 5-7.

At the halfway mark in this season, Coach Mark Stoops’ team is one play from unbeaten, half a game behind Georgia in the SEC East, and already owns more wins than two previous UK teams combined.

Big Blue Nation is abuzz and, on the EKG graph to gauge heart rate before Big Blue Madness this week, is still reasonable.

It follows that some in the media herd have (to be noticed) gleefully moved-the-chains, ignored ruffians still on the schedule and even indulged in bowl- game happy talk.

This week, pollsters took a step toward climbing on the bandwagon too — Kentucky is 26th, says ESPN, 29th says The Associated Press, and 31st say the coaches.

Hold the phone!

Kentucky is 1-0 against the MAC, 2-0 against Sun Belt teams, struggled with Vanderbilt, and South Carolina (3-3) was overrated.

At midterm, CBS Sports’ analyst Jerry Palm’s bowl bid possibilities for SEC teams are practical if too big a bite. Alabama and Ole Miss will get bids. So will Georgia, Florida, Texas A&M, Auburn, Missouri, Tennessee, LSU and South Carolina. Mississippi State could be in the national championship game.

Using logic and schedule, I would trim off Tennessee and perhaps Missouri. If Kentucky still has health and momentum, the Wildcats can beat both.

Still, Kentucky’s “all new people” cover is blown. The Wildcats are on video. Good reason then, to “hold the phone!”

LA-Monroe Notables

Louisiana Monroe jumped out 14-3 and experts said Kentucky “is flat” ... “suffering fat head” after its South Carolina win. I preferred the assessments of first-year tackle Matt Elam and Monroe quarterback Brayle Brown’s too.

“We came out and played at their level,” Elam said. “Then, we started playing at our level.”

Brown: “(Kentucky) adjusted to everything we were doing and they played a good game.”

Best wrap-up quote came from Javess Blue. “... our chemistry just keeps building up. We’re really bonding every week so it’s an amazing feeling. I (have) never had a family and a team like this that can just get down and talk to each other without the coaches being in the room and just have a group meeting and get to understanding (each other). It’s pretty amazing when we all come together and work.”

Notables ... v See if “breaks” stay the Wildcats’ way:

• Deflection off Elam’s helmet becomes an interception-andtouchdown by Josh Forrest.

• Javess Blue went for one-hand circus catch and came down with loaf-of-bread touchdown instead of another coulda been. v See if quarterback Patrick Towles heeds good advice from SEC Network analyst Andre Ware about eliminating happy feet? v More of the platinum helmets, please. v Before LSU’s first tailgate in August, Tiger coaches and fans wrote in a win-over-Kentucky in ink not pencil. v A two touchdown underdog at Death Valley in late October, not bad for Kentucky’s All-New- People who acquitted themselves well enough at The Swamp. v SEC-East intrigue. Georgia comes to Lexington November 8. See how many arms Georgia offi- cials twist to get SEC premier running back Todd Gurley reinstated.

CAL’S NBA Show

Craft Center. No media allowed, no fans either, but Univer- sity of Kentucky let its ball coach invite an army of NBA vultures to a basketball practice last week. An ESPN camera crew was on hand, too, naturally.

Never mind that professional league scouts can see Kentucky play on television 32 times this season – SEC Network, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and CBS.

After the practice, John Calipari whined that the NCAA would probably ban his NBA scout combine because it was his idea.

Question rises for you: Does Cal’s Cattle Show give Kentucky an unfair recruiting advantage over rivals Florida, Kansas, Duke and others?

Interestingly, little more than a month ago Calipari was complaining that Mike Krzyzewski coaching Team USA at FIBA World Cup amounted to an unfair recruiting advantage for Duke.

Parting Shot

“Some people try to find things in this game that don’t exist, but football is only two things: blocking and tackling.” – Vince Lombardi on football.

And so it goes.

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