Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, and welcome to the Tuesday Morning Quickies.
It seems a little below the radar for some reason (I know basketball is big, but…) that Kentucky football has begun spring practice. There are a ton of questions to be answered about next season’s team, especially who will be backing up Bennie Snell, and who will be the "lightning" to Snell’s "thunder."
But probably more pressing are the defensive line questions, who will replace Jon Toth at center, and what will the offense look like compared to last season, when Kentucky committed to a run-heavy strategy to feature Boom Williams and Snell. Will we have the talent in the backfield to do that again, or will we have to adjust that strategy.
Stay tuned, Wildcats football fans.
Tweet of the Morning
I wonder if John Calipari publicly scolding Georgia in their own building saved Mark Fox's job.— Rob Dauster (@RobDauster) March 7, 2017
Well, we’ll see if it happens.
Mark Stoops is excited to see what comes from his new defensive staff. Also some bad news:
Kentucky tight end C.J. Conrad will sit out spring practices while coming back from an offseason surgery, Stoops confirmed. Conrad played in all 13 games last season and had 19 catches for 262 yards and four touchdowns.
He joins a few others on the injured list, including Alvonte Bell (knee surgery), quarterbacks Drew Barker and Walker Wood, who both are coming back from offseason surgeries as well as running back Bryant Koback.
Mark Story says that it’s hard to imagine anyone but Stephen Johnson at quarterback this season. Barring injury, I have to agree. Barker’s still not ready to go, and Johnson got us a long way last season. It would take an injury or a catastrophic event for him to lose the spot.
Nico Firios, once thought to have great potential at the linebacker spot, is transferring.
Coach Cal says the Wildcats have "learned to fight," but:
"But there’s something that is not quite right that we have a few days to try to fix."
You know, this is as apt a description as there is — something "not quite right." It’s a little hard to put your finger on, and what that means is that it’s probably a combination of little things and consistency.
Malik Monk is a second-team All-American according to Sports Illustrated.
Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox were named second- and third-team All Americans respectively by USA Today.
That doesn’t mean experience may not be preferred, however. That’s true even at Kentucky, for better or worse the one-and-done poster child since coach John Calipari arrived in spring 2009. Duke may now be almost as one-and-done driven as the Wildcats, but it’s Cal who takes the heat for it. [my emphasis]
Embrace the hate.
Other Kentucky sports
SEC baseball week in review from Team Speed Kills. Riley Mahan of UK gets the POtW nod.
Happy birthday, indeed!
A very happy birthday goes out to our fearless leader, @UKCoachGolda! We hope you have a great day, Coach! pic.twitter.com/2vFuSL3aSB— Kentucky W. Golf (@KentuckyWGolf) March 7, 2017
Rules committee recommends changes for this season. I find this a bridge too far:
The committee also proposed including the nameplate area of the jersey in the current horse-collar tackle rule.
The groups also endorsed placing a heightened focus on sideline management, particularly toward coaches entering the field to protest officiating decisions. A document detailing current rules and expectations was developed and endorsed by the committee and will be distributed to coaches and officials.
… is probably overdue.
John Gasaway’s Tuesday Truths, every one is a must-read. Here’s a teaser:
We began the 2016-17 season by talking about the top two teams in the preseason AP top 25: Duke and Kentucky. Now, 18 weeks later, the Blue Devils are ranked No. 14 and on track for perhaps a No. 4 seed. The Wildcats have fared rather better, ranked No. 8 and looking at a probable spot on the No. 2 line in the bracket that comes out Sunday evening.
Make no mistake, a No. 2 seed after a 26-5 regular season is: a) outstanding; and b) about as outstanding as it gets for a team with so little experience returning from the previous season.
Oh, dear. The dreaded "Vote of confidence."
From Georgia AD Greg McGarity: "We are NOT in the process of exploring our options to replace Mark Fox. We look forward to Mark leading …"— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) March 7, 2017
USA Today taps Kansas’ Frank Mason as Player of the Year. Well deserved, I think. Mason has been amazing.
They also named Lonzo Ball as freshman of the year. That’s a little more disputable — I’d be more inclined to go with Markelle Fultz.
Other sports news
- Boogie makes an uncharitable comment to a heckler. Foul language warning.