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UK gridders can’t take day off in SEC



A kid I knew growing up in eastern Kentucky had never heard of Midnight Madness at the University of Kentucky.

The kid looked forward to October not for Street & Smith’s Basketball magazine, but for the shirt pocket-sized white card with blue lettering issued by a local bank — the University of Kentucky Basketball Schedule.

Pencil in hand the kid would sit down, examine names of every opponent date-by-date, home and away, and check “this is a win … this is a loss … this is a win.”

One October, having made his picks, he reviewed them all and discovered he had penciled in 25 wins, an undefeated season. And, it happened.

More important, the boy cherished each game on radio, kept individual statistics, one game at a time. To miss an evening with Claude Sullivan’s play-by-play was unthinkable even when the opponent was Georgia, Ole Miss or Tulane.

Sullivan made every play, shot and rebound sparkle in a kid’s mind. It was magical. A zone where dreams were born.

The point? Has media hurry-up to the next shiny thing, slick talkers and glitz and VIP glamour rushed Kentucky fans into forgetting the joys of one-game-at-a-time?

Have fans surrendered to tunnel talk – “… we ARE Kentucky! Never mind the regular season, lets win the SEC Tournament … get on to the Final Four … finish 40-and-oh.”

Not you, right? You’re more in tune with the kid back in eastern Kentucky, right?

LOUISVILLE: This is it.

Michael Jackson’s tune is Louisville’s theme that tops the marquee this week.

No. 2 ranked Florida State (7-0) at Louisville (6-2). This is it.

College game of 2014 in Kentucky? e

Premier game on the college weekend menu?

Defending national champion Seminoles, highest ranked team the Cards will play, are fresh off surviving Notre Dame.

And, the man Cardinal fans will love to hate – Heisman Trophy holding quarterback Jameis Winston.

For the bowl eligible Cardinals, a crossroads game at arguably the perfect time. A week after DeVonte Parker ate up North Carolina State for 132 yards receiving, tailback Michael Dyer broke out with 173 yards rushing, and quarterback Will Gardner got his groove back and threw two touchdown passes.

What to watch for: How Winston handles Louisville’s pursuit. And, can the Cardinals keep the score within range of kicker John Wallace’s range.

This is it.

UK: Back From Train Wreck

While Mark Stoops, his staff and players picked themselves up from a good old country whuppin’ last week, a good laugh at themselves could help.

Straight line comes from a Kentucky sports writer who said after the LSU train wreck, “… the toughest teams on the schedule are yet to come.”

Really.

Lessons to be gleaned from UK’s 41-3 pummel job? v A half-loaf is still a half-loaf.

Stoops’ all-new-people roster includes a growing number of fivestar athletes. Enough to elevate his program into recruit rankings’ top 20. Trouble is, LSU and other SEC ornery(s) are recruiting top 10 caliber athletes and more of them.

Stoops knows even if sunny side bowl predictors don’t the SEC is the Big Boys League and Kentucky “isn’t there yet.” v Level of play in this league.

I believe the inexperienced Wildcats have barely an inkling of the level of precision and urgency required to compete in an SEC game.

UK cannot take-a-day off on any Saturday not named Open. More, until another layer of top recruits is added, Stoops’ Wildcats cannot coast, dilly-dally take a play off. v Applies to coaches and preparations too. At LSU, the set defense played well enough to win. The offense didn’t.

Play selections, sequences and directions were predictable, as if UK coaches calculated LSU coaches had skipped watching game film.

Run blocking was not good, pass protection was spotty, quarterback decision making was too slow, and 55 yards in penalties hurt too.

Finally, the best part of a bad Saturday in October is another opportunity at hand. No. 1 Mississippi State is a behemoth. So was LSU.

So, this week’s question to be answered: Did Kentucky’s young players learn lessons from a big old country whuppin’ at LSU?

Find out when America’s number one ranked team plays in Lexington Saturday.

Worth Repeating

During an interview on CBS last week, Pete Rose said he believes he will be in Baseball’s Hall of Fame one day.

“Sure, I don’t know if I’m going to live to see it. Someone, at some period of time, will feel it in their heart to give me a second chance. I may be six feet under, but that’s what you’ve got to live with.”

Rose said he “screwed up” and doesn’t know why he “risked it all.”

“That’s a good question, I can’t answer that. I usually have an answer for everything. The best way to say it is, I screwed up.”

And so it goes.



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