by Ira D. Combs — Tri State Sports Media
With the annual fan day festivities behind us and the first week of fall camp in the books, things are starting to take shape for the 2013 Kentucky Wildcats football team. But make no mistake, the next 12 practice days, or two weeks over all, will be the most important in settling the depth charts on both sides of the ball as well as most all special teams roles.
We were at last Saturday’s open practice, and along with picking the brains of a few other long time media members, here is the top five tidbits of information we can share with you this week now that we are beginning our 10th year with this weekly syndicated column covering UK sports:
1 - As many inside the UK football program predicted back on signing day, several freshman have already made a significant impact on this football program in the first week of fall camp. It appears based on several post practice comments by coaches Stoops and Brown that two freshman wide receivers have caught their eye: our state’s own homegrown Ryan Timmons and Floridian Alex Montgomery. Those two players have been referred to the most, but Coach Stoops has been very quick to point out that he has been pleased with all three incoming freshmen wide receivers and JC transfer Javess Blue.
2 - On the defensive side of the ball, the young pups who have been impressive are DE Jason Hatcher out of Louisville Trinity and DB Marcus McWilson, one of Stoops prize recruits out of northern Ohio. Hatcher, along with JC transfer ZaDarius Smith and outside-linebacker-turned-rush-end Bud DuPree, should upgrade the Cats’ pressure on those athletic and talented SEC quarterbacks to keep the defen-sive backs from hanging out on that island so long as in past years.
3 - Specialty teams, especially the two return teams, should be much more produc-tive this year with the influx of speed, athleticism, and elusiveness in players like Ryan Timmons, Demarco Robinson, and Javess Blue. Field position is such an im-portant part of football, and with the return of second team all-SEC punter Landon Foster and return specialists like those mentioned earlier, the Cats hope to be able to flip the field in the kicking game on their opponents this year for a change, in-stead of having it flipped on them.
4 - In my opinion, based on Saturday’s open practice, the quarter-back competition appears to be slowly separating itself with Maxwell Smith and Jalen Whitlow showing a little more consistency, comfort, and confidence in execut-ing the new Air Raid 2 version of Neal Brown’s offense. Although I think this com-petition has really been blown out of proportion because with the 12-game sched-ule this team has to work its way through, there will be plenty of snaps for at least two QB’s if not all three.
5 - It was also learned after Saturday’s open practice that Offensive Coordinator Neal Brown and Defensive Coordinator D. J. Elliott will both be on the sidelines during games with Coach Stoops as they make the calls for each play on their re-spective sides of the ball. Other assistant coaches will be up in the press box relay-ing information down to the coordinators before, during, and after each play to as-sist them in making their calls. However, Stoops can intervene at any time and make changes and suggestions to each coordinator, especially on those strategic third down plays.
Future UK football news coming this week
For those of you who feel like this year’s 2013 UK football team is destined for youthful mistakes and general sloppy play, but hold hope and enthusiasm for the future due to Mark Stoops’ obvious recruiting ability, keep an eye on the running scroll of the main page of our website www.combsbrothersonkysports.com later this week around Thursday or Friday.
The SEC athletic directors are meeting this week, so you should see the official SEC football in-conference schedule released for 2014. UK already has three of its four non-conference games under contract for 2014 (Louisville/Away; Ohio Uni-versity/Home; UT at Martin/Home). Kentucky’s fourth non-conference game for 2014 has not been decided as of this date, but if history holds true it should be a third non-conference home game.
Cal’s special fall hoop events set
As usual, John Calipari, the guru of college basketball recruiting has come up with a couple more special recruiting perks to spice up the 48-hour experience recruits are allowed to have when they take their official NCAA visit to Lexington and the UK campus.
The 2013 UK Alumni Charity Game is the first fall hoops extravaganza that will ac-tually be on Sept. 9 when the 2010 Elite 8 team of Wall, Cousins, and company will battle the 2012 NCAA championship team of Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist, and company at Rupp Arena with the tip off set for 7p.m.
The second special hoops game is a pre-season NBA exhibition game between John Wall’s Washington Wizards and Anthony Davis’ New Orleans Pelicans team which also has Darius Miller on their roster as well. This game will be played at Rupp Arena on Oct. 19 with tip-off slated for 7 p.m., which is the night after the an-nual Big Blue Madness extravaganza that always draws premier recruits from across the country.