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Kentucky Wildcats Morning Quickies: First SEC Road Game Edition

Kentucky tries on Ben Simmons and LSU tonight in Baton Rouge.

Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Tuesday Morning Quickies. Tonight, the Kentucky Wildcats head down to the bayou to take on the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge.

While nobody expects this game to match the quality of the Kansas Jayhawks’ triple-overtime victory over the Oklahoma Sooners last night, it’s important to both Kentucky and UK fans. The last true road game the Wildcats played (versus UCLA) didn’t work out too well.

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Your Quickies:

Kentucky football
  • Kentucky commitment Landon Young stands out at the Army Bowl practice sessions. Hearing that a UK offensive tackle commitment is playing standout football is like food for a starving man.

  • #1 center in 2016, Drake Jackson, ready to enroll at UK. You’re talking sweet to me with all these good incoming OL’s. I’m all about the OL’s these days.

  • In case you missed it, defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley has been promoted to co-defensive coordinator. I have two words for anyone that cares — defensive line.

  • Eddie Gran and Darin Hinshaw lay out their vision for success at Kentucky relative to the offense:

    "We want to be balanced. We want to be physical. We want to run the darn ball. We really do. We want to get after people and that’ll be something from the first day. We’re going to be talking about physical and toughness and effort, disciple, pride, all those things that you have up on the board. They sound cliche but that’s what we’re going to be. We have to be in this league."

    Talk to me about the offensive line, coach. That’s really the big thing on my radar. We have skill players, we have a serviceable quarterback. But can we block the run? Can we keep the quarterback off his back? Those are the important questions to me.

  • Two hires, one promotion. Different result? We’ll have to see.

  • More Gran and Hinshaw here. I guess if anything gives me hope about Gran, it’s that he’s not a young gun but an experienced hand. Kentucky has been flush with young up-and-comers at OC lately, and having a guy who’s been around the block and enjoyed plenty of success seems like the logical place to go from the youth movement at the spot recently.

  • Eddie Gran apparently passed on the UK job last year. That helps explain why Dawson was one-and-done here. When Gran doubtless intimated to Stoops that he might be persuaded this year, I suspect that was all Stoops needed to make the change.

  • Mark Stoops is working hard to keep assistants that are being wooed by other schools. That might be the biggest success of 2015 for him, and it’s not insignificant.

Kentucky basketball
  • Zac Ellis of Sports Illustrated notes Kentucky is one of the "top three contenders" in the SEC. I must admit, Vanderbilt did not impress me the other day against LSU; they looked vulnerable and the offense looked mostly sclerotic. Texas A&M, at the moment, looks much better.

  • This is Kentucky Basketball, New year edition:

  • UK-LSU won’t be Labissier vs. Simmons. No, Labissiere is still very much a work in progress, and much more so than we’d like to see. Simmons is anything but a finished product, but he’s having a much better year so far.

  • Happy birthday to you!

    Mmm. Brownies. Okay, 1970’s collegians, don’t even go there. I know what you’re thinking.

  • From your lips to God’s ear, Coach.

Other Kentucky sports
College football
College basketball
  • Three takeaways from Kansas’ defeat of Oklahoma last night. I agree with him that Buddy Hield should be the favorite for Player of the Year. Ben Simmons of LSU is talented, but for a guy who can do things few big men can, his inability to shoot makes him ineffective at times. Hield is always a threat.

  • Dana O’Neil further hypes the Kansas-Oklahoma game. I get it, but really:

    Fifty-five minutes, 215 points and one winner but honestly no losers. Kansas might have claimed the victory, 109-106, but no way Oklahoma is a loser here. Call them No. 1 and No. 1¾.

    This is just too much. Ask Oklahoma and its fans if they feel like winners. Ask Kentucky if they felt like winners when IU made the big shot against them in 2011. Ask John Calipari if he felt like a winner when Mario Chalmers drained the 3-pointer that ultimately cost him the 2008 NCAA Tournament championship.

    Hype much, Dana?

  • The road is tough everywhere. Virginia loses to Virginia Tech for the first time in 11 tries.

  • Garry Parish and I are thinking the same way about Vandy:

    Coaches poll: I had Vanderbilt ranked in the preseason, and I’m a fan of the way Kevin Stallings runs his program. But, at some point, you are what your average resume says you are and thus undeserving of Top 25 votes. And Vanderbilt has reached that point.

    Yes. Injuries, I get, and they have a critical one, but after watching the LSU game, I think they are what their resume says they are.

Other sports news
  • Sports Illustrated writes that 2015 was a very bad year for ESPN:

    Narrative. It’s an interesting word. ESPN remains the dominant media player in sports and will be so for some time. But the company’s narrative for 2015 was decidedly awful. There were the layoffs, the cancelation of millions of cable subscriptions ("cord cutters"), a decline in SportsCenter and NFL ratings, the shuttering of Grantland just months after pledging long-term commitment, a region (New England), at least anecdotally, that no longer trusts the network’s reporting, the still-awaited launch of The Undefeated, high-profile talent suspensions, company personalities threatening NBA MVPs, the First Take-ization of content beyond that show (Stephen A. Smith has become the on-air face of the company​), an NFL reporter exhibiting an embarrassing display of entitlement off hours at a parking garage, an acrimonious split with Bill Simmons, a continuing inflexibility when it comes to institutional attribution of other outlets and on and on and on.

    For a company that has showed a great talent for moneymaking in recent years, and despite the huge success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Disney’s stock has taken a beating largely on the perception that ESPN is shedding subscribers as well as employees.

    I have seen this coming for a while. Forays into politics, questionable decision-making and hype over journalism has damaged ESPN in multiple minor ways, like a slow foundational rot.

    This is not something that just happened, the groundwork for retrenchment was done over the last decade. We’re now seeing the results of that misjudgment, along with the inevitable subscriber decline due to cord-cutting and the lack of response by Disney (among others) to that increasingly popular phenomenon.

    ESPN is not too far gone, not by a mile. But they need to get back to what made them the most important sports network in the world.

  • John Wall is your Eastern Conference player of the month. Congratulations.

Other news