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Kentucky Hires Mark Stoops
To Take Over the Football Cats
Can UK Football Be Fixed
By Just Replacing Its Coach?

Read One View That Sadly Concludes
It Is Not Likely



Cats Close Out A Disappointing Season With 20 Point Loss At Tennessee
Finish 2-10; 0-8
Focus Now Shifts To The Coaching Change


Cats Give Joker Phillips A Win In His Commonwealth Stadium Farewell
Cats Get Second Win, 2-9; 0-7


Statement from Joker Phillips:

"We, as coaches, are measured on results. We didn't get the results we had worked and hoped for, therefore change is needed. In my current 10-year stay at Kentucky, we've had some memorable moments as an assistant, coordinator and head coach. We've had the opportunity to coach some fine young men and I am grateful to have had the privilege of watching them grow as players, as students and as people.

I am very appreciative of Mitch Barnhart and Rich Brooks for providing the opportunity to have been the head coach here. Mitch is the best athletic director I've ever been associated with. He's fair and honest and he's “all in” in terms of student-athletes' well-being. Rich is the best mentor a young coach could ever have. I learned a lot from him in terms of plowing ahead. They are dear friends. Dr. Lee Todd and Dr. Eli Capilouto have both been very supportive. I appreciate the Big Blue Nation and encourage the fans to stay behind their team going forward.

I love our players and am proud to be associated with them. I expect them to continue the behavior we have asked of them academically, socially and with football. I'm thankful for the staff's hard work, dedication, and what they have done in coaching and mentoring the players. I'd like to thank my wife and family for all their support and for being behind me 100 percent."


Kentucky Fires Coach Joker Phillips
Athletic Director Mith Barnhart Issues Open Letter To Fans


Cats Fall To Vanderbilt 40-0 In A Near Empty Commonwealth Stadium
Record slips to 1-9; 0-7


Cats Travel To Missouri, Return Home Defeated
Record Slips To 1-8; 0-6



Cats Return To Commonwealth, Give Georgia A Fight For Victory
Cats' Valiant Effort Falls Short

Cats Slide to 1-7; 0-5 with Four Games Remaining



Cat's Get Embarrassed In Lightning Shortened Game
Lose 49-7 When Game Called with about 20 minutes Remaining

Cats Slip To 1-6; 0-4 as Second Win Becomes Less Likely


Blanton Collier's Daughter Speaks Out
UK Football Problems Are Not Due To Coaching

This has been my message to anyone who will listen since 2000
I am embarrassed that it took me over 30 years to learn that lesson


Cats Drop Fifth Game of Year; Lose Second Quarterback of Year

Patrict Towles Burns Redshirt For 1 TD and Season Ending Ankle Injury

Record Slides to 1-5; 0-3


Cats Use First Half Breaks To Build 10 Point Halftime Lead
But It Was Not Enough
Smith Lost To Ankle Injury On Second Offensive Play

Cats Slide To 1-4; 0-2


Cats Open SEC Season At Florida
Without Maxwell Smith, Offense Flounders Behind Newton
Strong Defensive Effort Squandered

Cats Fall To 1-3; 0-1


What Is The Real Problem With UK Football?


Cats Lose To Western Kentucky In Overtime

Cats' Record Falls To 1-2; 0-0
SEC Play Begins Next Week At Florida


Cats Show Signs of Life In 33 Point Win Over Kent State

Cats Even Record at 1-1; 0-0


Cats Open Season With 18 Point Loss At Louisville

Start 2012 Season 0-1; 0-0


CLICK HERE To Begin The Season With Louisville
or Scroll To Down
Then Read from Bottom For Chronilogical Sequence of Posts


A Position by Position Examination of the
2012 Kentucky Football Team
Thank You Jennifer Smith and the Herald Leader
For This Annual Series

Scouting UK football:

Scouting The Offensive Unit:
Offensive depth chart, unit review

Coordinator: Randy Sanders, seventh season at Kentucky, fourth as coordinator

Position coaches: Randy Sanders, quarterbacks; Pat Washington, wide receivers; Mike Summers, offensive line; Greg Nord, tight ends; Steve Pardue, running backs; Andre Woodson and Tyler Sargent, graduate assistants; Glenn Holt and Sam Simpson, student assistants

Scheme: Multiple

Last season: Kentucky finished last in the Southeastern Conference and 118th (out of 120) in the nation in total offense, managing just 260 yards per game.

Returning starters: La'Rod King, receiver; Larry Warford, guard; Matt Smith, center; Maxwell Smith, quarterback; D.J. Warren, fullback; CoShik Williams, tailback; Craig McIntosh, kicker

What to watch: In nearly every statistical category, UK had its worst offensive output in more than a decade last season, averaging just 260 yards of offense (231 in SEC play) and 15.8 points (11.8 in SEC). With all but one skill player back, the Cats will try to improve those numbers dramatically. Kentucky has a wealth of depth at running back and seems to have improved its collection of receivers.

Question marks: Will the offense look better than it did last season? Will receivers be able to start catching the ball? Will an unproven offensive line be able to hold up and give its quarterback time to work the offense? But the most basic question going into the season is: Will the offense be able to score points?

Outlook: The numbers last season made offensive coordinator Sanders sick through parts of the off-season, but he has said he already has more faith in the offense this season than he did through much of last season. The offense will be relying on young players again to be successful, but they're not fresh-out-of-high school green, which should help. The offense is going to need to find its identity and its playmakers early, or it could end up losing confidence again and sputtering through the season.

Depth chart:

Left tackle: Darrian Miller, Jordan Swindle
Left guard: Zach West, Teven Eatmon-Nared
Center: Matt Smith, Max Godby
Right guard: Larry Warford, Shaquille Love
Right tackle: Kevin Mitchell, Trevino Woods
Tight end: Ronnie Shields, Tyler Robinson
Wide receiver: La'Rod King, Aaron Boyd
Wide receiver: Demarco Robinson, Daryl Collins
Wide receiver: E.J. Fields, DeMarcus Sweat
Quarterback: Maxwell Smith, Morgan Newton
Fullback: D.J. Warren, Cody Jones
Tailback: CoShik Williams, Raymond Sanders
Kicker: Craig McIntosh, Joe Mansour


Scouting The Defensive Unit:
Defensive depth chart, unit review

Coordinator: Rick Minter, second full season at Kentucky

Position coaches: David Turner, defensive line; Chuck Smith, linebackers; Mike Cassity, defensive backs; Kyle Krantz and Steven Montalvo, graduate assistants; Braxton Kelley, student assistant

Scheme: Multiple

Last season: Kentucky finished 10th in the Southeastern Conference and 58th in the nation in total defense, allowing 377 yards a game.

Returning starters: Collins Ukwu, end; Mister Cobble, tackle; Donte Rumph, tackle; Mikie Benton, safety; Martavius Neloms, cornerback (from safety)

What to watch: There have been a lot of position switches and reset glitches in the defense, but Minter hopes the end result will be a sound defensive unit. The front line consists of veterans who may have to be a stopgap as the second and third tiers of the defense (linebackers and secondary) learn their way. The secondary especially looks dangerously thin and true freshmen likely will see action at various points this season, which is always a worry. UK did see a dramatic increase in takeaways (24 last season, up from 15 the season before) and will try to keep improving those numbers.

Question marks: Will a completely rebuilt secondary and mostly untested linebacking group be able to hold up against high-caliber talent, especially in the SEC portion of the schedule? Is there enough depth in the secondary to make it through a season? Will Kentucky not only be able to keep increasing its number of takeaways, but turn them into points?

Outlook: Minter likes the team's talent and says talent overrides experience almost every time. He's banking on it with a lot of last season's backups stepping into key roles and positions. The defensive line is stacked with veterans, who have size and athleticism. Minter hopes the big guys up front, especially in the middle with Cobble and Rumph, will make up for any missteps (especially early) as the linebackers and secondary learn their way.

Depth chart

End: Collins Ukwu, Farrington Huguenin
Tackle: Donte Rumph, Tristian Johnson
Tackle: Mister Cobble, Mike Douglas
End: Taylor Wyndham, Alvin Davis
Linebacker: Bud Dupree, TraVaughn Paschal
Linebacker: Avery Williamson, Demarius Rancifer
Linebacker: Tyler Brause, Malcolm McDuffen
Hybrid safety/linebacker: Miles Simpson, Josh Forrest
Cornerback: Cartier Rice, Fred Tiller
Safety: Mikie Benton, Dakotah Tyler
Safety: Ashely Lowery, Daron Blaylock
Cornerback: Martavius Neloms, Eric Simmons
Punter: Landon Foster, Joe Mansour

Scouting the UK QBs:
Maxwell Smith named starting quarterback for UK

The main man: Maxwell Smith, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound sophomore, added some spark to a lethargic Kentucky offense late last season. Coaches like his leadership and his accuracy among other things. Smith finished the season with 819 yards and four touchdowns, completing 84 of his 153 attempts in eight games.

The supporting cast: Morgan Newton, who struggled at times last season guiding the young, inexperienced UK offense, is always a threat to run the ball. The senior, who has started 17 games for the Cat, rushed for 272 yards and two touchdowns last season and passed for eight touchdowns and 793 yards.   

Newcomer(s) to watch: Patrick Towles and Jalen Whitlow both show promise in different ways, but a year in the system would help them grow into big-time quarterbacks. There has been no decision on who will be the No. 3 guy this year.

Outlook: For whatever reason, the offense looked better under Smith at the end of last season and after a lengthy, quiet battle in the pre-season, Smith still came out the best option over Newton and the two freshmen. Smith should be even more effective this season, with a more complete playbook available to him. He was a strong leader in the spring and summer and coaches (and fans) hope he can turn the struggling offense around. 


Wide Receivers:
Scouting the UK receivers:
New coach striving to rebuild unit's confidence

The main man: Senior La'Rod King's 40 catches and 598 yards exceed the totals for all other returning receivers combined. Of UK's 12 receiving scores last season, seven were to King. The former North Hardin standout struggled at times this spring, but seems to have embraced his role as a leader.

The supporting cast: Part of UK's problem offensively last season was the lack of a supporting cast. Coaches think those younger receivers are starting to show themselves now, led by Demarco Robinson. Others like E.J. Fields and Gene McCaskill have proven they can make plays, just not consistently. Daryl Collins, Bookie Cobbins, Aaron Boyd and Rashad Cunningham are going to have to be effective this season, too.

Newcomers to watch: Two freshman receivers, Demarcus Sweat and A.J. Legree, have impressed in camp and probably will be contributors this year. Sweat is the faster of the two. Legree is more of a possession receiver, with big-play ability after the catch.

Outlook: If Kentucky's offense is going to get out of the basement, it's going to need big plays and consistent catches. New receivers coach Pat Washington seems to have instilled a quiet confidence in the group, and many have said they've developed good chemistry and timing with newly named starting quarterback Maxwell Smith.

Running Backs:
Scouting the UK running backs:
Competition creating strong backfield

The main man: Take your pick. Kentucky has a wealth of players who could be the starter any given game. Look for either junior Raymond Sanders (5-8, 197 pounds) or senior CoShik Williams (5-9, 184 pounds) to get the start versus Louisville. Both of them will see significant action.

The supporting cast: There is serious depth and versatility at this position. Included in that is senior Jonathan George (5-10, 223 pounds), who has run 60 times for 233 yards and two touchdowns. There are still questions about whether or not sophomore Josh Clemons (5-10, 204) will be available as he continues to have issues with his surgically reconstructed knee.

Newcomer to watch: The Cats' running back bench got a big boost with freshmen Dyshawn Mobley and Justin Taylor, who are getting rave reviews by coaches and teammates. Expect to see both big, powerful backs play this season and make an impact.

Outlook: Injuries forced Kentucky to go deep into its running back stockpile late last season, but the Cats found a gem in former walk-on Williams. With all but Clemons healthy and 100 percent, this could be a powerful position for UK this season. Expect to see running backs rotating in and out all game and all season, which could provide the Cats with some serious versatility on the ground.

Offensive Line:
Scouting the UK offensive line:
Smith, Warford anchor young squad

The main man: Coaches aren't shy about saying senior Larry Warford could be one of the best lineman in school history when he leaves UK. The 6-foot-3, 333-pounder from Richmond was rated among the SEC's top linemen in pre-season polls.

The supporting cast: Matt Smith, a two-year starter at center, coupled with Warford, have been strong leaders for a line that is mostly untested and unproven. Darrian Miller and Kevin Mitchell both showed promise as backups most of last season and should be strong this season. Don't be surprised to see freshmen play an important role as well.

Newcomer to watch: Zach West, a former Lexington Christian standout, used his red-shirt year to get stronger and absorb the playbook. As the penciled-in starter at left guard, he is expected to do big things.

Outlook: Perhaps the biggest concern out of the Blue-White game this spring was the lack of discernible depth on the offensive line. The Cats clearly had some strength and athleticism in their first group, but the second group struggled. But fall camp, including some strong freshmen contenders, has made coaches and linemen more optimistic. If the first group can stay healthy, it could be a surprise team strength by season's end.

Young Kentucky line leaning on veteran duo


Tight Ends:
Scouting the UK tight ends:
Cats boast wealth of potential weapons

The main man: The position has had its share of bumps and bruises in fall camp and it's been tough to figure out who has the upper hand. Ronnie Shields (6-foot-5, 243 pounds) had a big spring and looks to be a front-runner along with Tyler Robinson (6-3, 258 pounds). It's likely they will be used situationally, with Robinson being the more physical of the two and Shields being the finesse player.

The supporting cast: Behind Robinson and Shields are Jordan Aumiller (6-4, 240) and Anthony Kendrick (6-3, 241), who could provide solid depth. With so many injuries in the pre-season, senior Gabe Correll (6-5, 231) has been able to make his move up the depth chart.

Outlook: One of the pluses of this group is that there is no "main man" per se. It's also one of the minuses. There are four players who have seen significant action, but none has put up significant numbers that make him look like a true playmaker. Each of the players does something different that can help the offense, though, so they could become more of a collective weapon for the Cats.


Special Teams:
Scouting the UK special teams:
All Cats on board with 'special forces'

The main man: The Cats' veteran in this group is two-year starting place-kicker Craig McIntosh from Lexington Christian. He joined the team as a sophomore after hearing that UK was looking for a kickoff specialist. Now he's one of the leaders.

The supporting cast: Joe Mansour has handled kickoffs for the past two seasons and is battling for the starting punter job. The Cats are testing a variety of players at the return positions, most notably wide receiver Demarco Robinson on punts and running back Raymond Sanders on kickoffs.

Newcomer to watch: Landon Foster, a 6-foot-1 true freshman, is probably the Cats' starting punter. As a senior in Franklin, Tenn., he averaged 41.3 yards a punt.

Outlook: UK's coaches want to see more productivity and firepower from this group, especially in the return game. With an average of 1.8 yards per return, UK's punt returning was the second-worst in the nation. Ryan Tydlacka was one of the more productive punters in the Southeastern Conference last year and Foster will have big shoes to fill.

Scouting the UK secondary:
Neloms makes switch back to cornerback

The main man: Martavius Neloms, who has gone from cornerback to safety back to cornerback again, has the most experience and knows every position in the secondary. The 6-foot-1 senior was third on the team in tackles last season with 71.

The supporting cast: Safeties Mikie Benton and Ashely Lowery will carry a big load as well as Cartier Rice at the corner opposite Neloms. They also have been called on to teach a lot of young players like Eric Dixon, Eric Simmons, Jonathan Reed, Daron Blaylock and Josh Harris.

Newcomer to watch: Junior Dakotah Tyler stepped away from football for a season, but is battling for a starting spot now that the depth at safety has come into question. He could be a big boost to a position searching for warm bodies.

Outlook: Defensive coordinator Rick Minter refers to there being a "generation gap" in the secondary and he's right. After players like Neloms, Benton, Lowery and Rice, there is tons of unproven talent. Some of them haven't even been in a game. "We'll just do the best we can with what we have," Minter said when asked about the lack of depth, which could be a big problem if there are any more injuries like the one to Glenn Faulkner, who is out at least six weeks after ankle surgery. The returning players seem enthusiastic about the youth around them, though, and think it can contribute.


Scouting the UK linebackers:
Williamson leaps into leadership void

The main man: Since the spring, coaches have been calling Avery Williamson "the man." The 6-foot-1, 245-pound junior who had 49 tackles last season has become a vocal leader of the defense.

The supporting cast: While Williamson is the leader, sophomore Bud Dupree could be the star from the hybrid position. He had 21 tackles last season and has added nearly 40 pounds of muscle since he arrived on campus. Malcolm McDuffen and Miles Simpson have been solid contributors and will try to elevate their status this season. Demarius Rancifer, Josh Forrest and Kory Brown are players to keep an eye on.

Newcomer to watch : He's not exactly new, but coaches are high on 6-foot-4 sophomore Tyler Brause, who emerged in the spring as a smart, versatile defender. He's seen action at more than one linebacker spot this fall.

Outlook: Kentucky has had a linebacker on the Southeastern Conference superlatives list each of the past six seasons. For that trend to continue, the Cats' young group will have to elevate their play quickly. Almost all of these players were productive backups to longtime starters last season and they seem primed to show what they can do.

Defensive Line:
Scouting the UK defensive line:
Cobble, Rumph the new leaders

The main man: A veteran front line was led in tackles last season by Mister Cobble (33), who is being counted on as a team leader off the field as well. But he has plenty of company in the leadership department.

The supporting cast: Seniors Collins Ukwu and Taylor Wyndham are vocal leaders, who are calling for an elevation of play by the defensive line. Ukwu is the veteran, having played in 35 games, starting 24. By the end of last season, Cobble and fellow tackle Donte Rumph had become such a dominant duo inside that teams were changing the way they ran the ball against Kentucky. There is serious depth behind the starters as well with coaches talking up players like Farrington Huguenin, Christian Coleman and Tristian Johnson. It is possible that some of the freshmen could get in on the action, too.

Newcomer to watch: When asked about defensive line depth, Coach Joker Phillips had lots to say about junior Tristian Johnson, who was sidelined much of last season by a shoulder injury, saying the tackle has “made as much improvement as anyone in this off-season.”

Outlook: Kentucky's coaches talk about recruiting smaller guys and developing them into SEC type linemen. Some of the fruits of that could pay off with this collection of veterans, who are expected to be anchors while the rest of the defense (which is short on depth in key positions) finds its playmakers this season.

UK Quarterback Is Up For Grabs

Patrick Towles Grabs Attention At Media Day

In that there is a quarterback competition, this interested observer puts the opening pecking order as such:

¦ No. 1 is sophomore Maxwell Smith, who finished last season as the starting quarterback, if you don't count the win over Tennessee in which a wide receiver (Matt Roark, now graduated) started at quarterback.

¦ No. 2 is Morgan Newton, who began last season as the starting quarterback, more or less lost the job, was later injured but is now healthy again. More or less.

¦ No. 3 is true freshman Patrick Towles, who played in 45 games as a high school quarterback and happened to win 44.

¦ Also at No. 3 is true freshman Jalen Whitlow, a “quarterback/athlete” who was rated as the No. 12 dual-threat quarterback in the nation by one scouting service.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks

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SugarHill Communications of Kentucky
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