Ira D. Combs — Tri State Sports Media
September 23, 2013
Let’s dream a little this week. Heck, we all said there would be a surprise somewhere down through the schedule this fall, why not this week?
Remember when Jerry Claiborne used to make all his incoming freshmen read “Power Of Positive Thinking,” a book that he hoped would instill in his players a mindset that if you’ll close your eyes and visualize it long enough, and even dream, it will eventually happen. Sounds good to me; nothing else has worked the last 26 years or however many it’s been. So, when the Commonwealth football fans hit the sack each night this week everybody just close your eyes and say, “We can beat the Gators, we can beat the Gators,” until you drift off into a deep sleep.
To trump that new mind set, we now have a new Gator injury scenario dumped in our lap to trigger the upset. So, can it finally happen? Can the Florida losing streak finally be laid to rest this Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium?
It’s the only streak remaining of any significant interest, or should I say embarrassment, to Kentucky football. You have to admit it will be kind of ironic if it does happen, because on the opponents’ sideline will be old true blue Joker himself, the former UK player and head coach now a Florida receivers coach that laid to rest both the Tennessee streak and the other ugly losing streak to that arrogant old ball coach down at South Carolina.
There isn’t any question that it seems to be the best time in recent memory for it to happen, with the Gators’ offense limping into town without their starting QB, as Jeff Driscoll is out for the rest of the season with a broken tibia bone in his lower leg. Florida comes to Lexington fresh off an ugly turnover marred 31-17 pasting of a 2-2 Tennessee team that only has it’s two wins thanks to 10 red zone turnovers provided to them by Austin Peay and WKU in their first two games.
Over in the UK camp, the Wildcats have a wounded quarterback themselves in Maxwell Smith who had to exit the Louisville game with a tender shoulder in his right throwing arm. Smith is the Cats’ best threat through the air with Neal Brown’s spread offense, but his part time starting brother, Jalen Whitlow, may have to weather the storm for a couple weeks until some strength can be rebuilt in Smith’s right arm. Smith himself, however, has claimed all through the open date week last week that he would be ready for game action come Saturday when the Gators arrive.
We won’t know the UK starter at QB until game time, actually until the first offensive series for the Cats. First year coach Mark Stoops has made it plain so far that he will not reveal any info on a players’ injury or game status period. That’s only for him to know and the rest of us to find out.
Another Wildcat injury status that will not be known until game time is senior DL Donte Rumph, who left the Louisville game midway of the third quarter and didn’t return. That’s about the time Louisville started gashing UK with runs up the middle right where Rumph had played. You could say Rumph’s status is as important, if not more, to a UK upset bid as the quarterback quandary because the Gators will more than likely depend on their running game this week with a new QB in their own camp.
So, the scene is set for Saturday with two beat up and injury-marred teams probably without their best quarterbacks, but the Gators still have a much deeper roster talent wise across the board. Sometimes that old oblong ball bounces in odd directions and opportunity knocks. The question is if it does, will the Cats be able to answer the bell?
Cats land recruits and Big Blue Madness ticket distribution set
John Calipari and Matthew Mitchell both are winding down their recruiting efforts for the early period this November and 2015 recruits as well. Cal has two recruits now verbally committed for November in 7’ 1” Karl Towns from St. Joseph’s H.S. in New Jersey, and Tyler Ulis, a 5’ 9” point guard from just outside Chicago. Towns is ranked sixth and Ulis 38th in ESPN’s latest rankings.
Matthew Mitchell landed two verbal commitments last week in Alexis Jennings, a 6’ 2” post player from Huntsville, Alabama, who is rated as one of the top 75 players in the nation by ESPN. Mitchell also got a commitment from a top five in-state player and Miss Basketball candidate in the class of 2015 in Maci Morris from Bell County, who had been attracting major attention in recent months from schools like Tennessee, Louisville, Duke, and several other Div. 1 women’s college programs. Morris’s father Lewis is the Bell Co. H.S. boys basketball coach and was a multiple sports star in his high school days when he was voted the Male high school athlete of the year. Maci’s mother was a stellar multi sports star in her high school days as well.
UK announced last Friday that fans could start the line for those coveted Big Blue Madness tickets at 5 a.m. on Oct. 2 in front of the Memorial Coliseum ticket office. There will be a limit of four tickets per person, and fans are asked to be respectful to the ongoing construction projects in and around the coliseum area.
First family of SEC football showcased on ESPN Tuesday
If you’re a fan of SEC football, there is another SEC Storied series on ESPN this Tuesday night at 8 p.m. being aired for the first time on the Manning Family and their lifelong love affair with football, and how the family has bonded over the years with a father and three sons who have lived a very blessed life in many ways through football that others can only dream of.
It’s titled “The Book Of Manning” and will be aired in a 90-minute time slot from 8 to 9:30 on the sports network’s feature channel ESPN.
The show will feature never-seen-before video of each family member during their various levels of football participation, from flag football youth days to the grueling recruiting days of their high school years, to their NFL careers highlighted with Super Bowl wins.
Regardless of your allegiance to a certain school, it’s a must-see if you’ve followed SEC football like I know many in the Bluegrass have.
You can go online at www.combsbrothersonkysports.com for more coverage of UK football and basketball as well as KHSAA football and basketball.