Well, once again I find myself in the heart of ACC territory in the Palmetto State. Of course, there is one good SEC school nearby in South Carolina, but just off to my southwest and northeast lie Clemson, UNC and of course, Duke, and even though I am technically in South Carolina, North Carolina is just a stone's throw away.
Being here is always nice, but sometimes those nice, fancy wireless technologies can work less perfectly than they should. But I am now back online and should be for the duration of my reconnoiter down here on the Atlantic coast. Now, to Wildcat business.
The good news, which I am sure most of you have heard by now, is that the Kentucky offense scrimmaged against the defense on Saturday, and the result was much more competitive. Both Hartline and Cobb were said to have done some good things in the backfield, and the offensive line was apparently much more aggressive and cohesive, particularly in the running game. Overall, this scrimmage was seen as a definite step forward for the offense, but there are rumblings of players taking plays off. Even in the heat of mid-August, the coaching staff is not going to take kindly to that.
There is still some concern about the receivers and how they are performing, including unpleasant news of dropped balls, poor routes, missed blocking schemes and just general greenness. Concerns or no, the time has come to prepare for the Louisville Cardinals this week in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. From now on, there is no margin for error. We need to get healthy, focused and prepared for what is to come next Sunday.
So now, it's time to check up on both UK and Kentucky to see what the state of play is. Mike at Card Chronicle reports on the unfortunate loss of senior middle linebacker Mozell Axson for the season due to a medial collateral ligament tear. Mike wants to know if practice is just a little to rough in the 'Ville:
Quick question: are we using knives in these non-contact drills? Because if so, it's sort of defeating the purpose.
Ouch. This is at least the second significant injury in the last week or so with their best returning receiver, Scott Long, being out indefinitely due to a fracture. I said before and I'll say again, I want both teams healthy. I don't want to hear "If only's" from them, and I know they don't want to hear them from us.
Kentucky isn't exactly a picture of health, but we have not been as unfortunate lately as Louisville. Several Wildcats are dinged up with minor, "owies," as Rich Brooks likes to call them, but knock wood, nothing serious so far.
Chip Crosby has this piece today in the Herald-Leader noting how Louisville natives have fueled the resurgence of Kentucky. I think we can all thank Bobby Petrino for this, as I think the gave short shrift to many of the local folks. Most of you remember the revocation of Brad Durham's scholarship offer by Petrino when he found someone he thought was better at the position (How did that work out for them, by the way? Think maybe they would like to have Durham this year?) It was that type of ethical relativism and general disrespect for local talent that has been a boon to Kentucky. In fact, from 2004 to 2007, Petrino only signed 3 more players from Louisville than Kentucky did (10 vs. 7). I think that to some extent, Petrino was seen as a guy who would rather take a low 4-star from elsewhere than a high 3-star from near home.
Whatever the case, there is no doubt that Louisville is playing a huge role in the resurgence of Kentucky football. Even if Louisville wins the game this year, it is likely that unless the wheels fall off, Kentucky will still be seen as a team on the rise, and Louisville as a program that is at best treading water unless the Cards pull off an unexpectedly strong season. Either way, UK has never been stronger in the city of Louisville, and that trend has helped us enormously.
Kenny Colston at UK Wildcat Country debunks some myths for us about UK's season, and the Louisville "myth"seems relevant:
1. Louisville's experience at quarterback will be enough for the team coast to a 6-6 or 7-5 season.
Verdict: Total bull. Listen here Louisville fans, have many teams have you seen with a good quarterback, and Cantwell is good but not great, will his team to victory? Sure, you have a 6'8 receiver who will be hung out to dry some many times he won't have ribs. Your best returning WR has a bullet in his back. And you're running game isn't THAT great. Your defense won't put you in the best field position. Sorry folks, this pre-season myth is bull.
Well, I myself have never heard this argument put forward, but then again, I'm sure Kenny has to listen to more U of L fans in person than I do. But either way, he's right -- Cantwell seems to be a solid quarterback, but Louisville is notoriously short of pass catchers, and last time I checked, a completed pass required a receiver as well as a passer. In addition, I don't think all that much of the Big East, but it is a tough enough conference that nobody can just "coast by"on the services of a strong-armed quarterback.
I think that's enough for now, but if my sketchy Internet connection will cooperate, you'll be hearing from me frequently from deep in ACC country. And a big "Thank You" goes out to Ken for not letting tumbleweeds roll through this place while I was incommunicado.