Cats set sights on big match-up with No. 1 Alabama

Ira D. Combs — Tri State Sports Media

October 7, 2013

The good news is that it appears Mark Stoops and Neal Brown have finally found their quarterback in sophomore Jalen Whitlow.

And even better unexpected news is that relentless never give up mental toughness Stoops keeps talking about that we’ve all seen grow a little each game showed up big time in a place that UK football hasn’t seen in many years — on the road in the SEC.

The bad news is at the end of the day this Saturday it may appear that the quarterback situation may have taken another step backwards. If it does, don’t fret, it’s mainly because the Cats will have America’s most elite college football team lined up across from them the entire night. That won’t happen again for at least four more years, and by then Stoops will have stockpiled a full roster of SEC type athletes. Plus it’s highly doubtful Nick Saban will still be in Tuscaloosa.

Even though the Cats sit at 1-4 on the season, UK officials expect a near capacity crowd with this being the only Saturday of the fall that fans will have the opportunity to experience the time-honored tradition of watching those beautiful fast ponies run at Kentucky’s historic Keeneland race track during the day and catch some SEC football in the evening.

After being beat down mentally and physically from playing against three consecutive top 20 college football programs, you could say this may be a game that Big Blue Nation needs to leave the women and children home this Saturday. It could be ugly, but then again it could be another special building block game that is gaining steam in the renovation project Mark Stoops and his staff have attacked head on without reservation.

Nobody over on Cooper Drive has cried wolf yet, so it says here not to expect anything but a good solid effort from Stoops’ Cats. Obviously, Bama being Bama, it doesn’t need any help, so playing a turnover free game is paramount if the Cats are to give the Crimson Tide a competitive game. Wouldn’t hurt matters either if those old ugly football gods from the past 40 years showed up with a little help as well, and dropped a driving rain storm over Commonwealth Stadium to equalize the size, speed, and athleticism Bama has over UK. Problem is for that to happen, the weatherman needs to make adjustments because at this writing the advanced weather forecast for the Lexington area this Saturday calls for a spot on perfect fall day and night, with clear blue skies and temperatures between 68 and 75 degrees.

The scoreboard doesn’t show it, but Stoops’ first team has been giving quality efforts and had a chance at the half of every loss with several opportunities in the second half of each game to make it very interesting, only to have those opportunities to fall astray to lack of executing and not taking advantage of a few turnovers provided by the opponent.

The good news is as the Cats hit this week’s game, it remains free of any season-ending injuries with its front line players and in great shape to make a run at a few wins in the second half. This week, however, the goal should be to survive and take advantage of the game day reps provided for UK’s young inexperienced players against college football’s most elite program.

UK basketball schedule now complete with live TV for all games

If you have access to the SEC TV Network, ESPN Network, CBS, Fox Sports South, Fox Sports 1, and CSS (Comcast Sports South), you will not miss one live minute of UK basketball this coming season, from the annual Big Blue Madness festivities Oct. 18 to the annual Blue-White scrimmage on Oct. 29, all the way through the regular season and into hopefully another Final Four appearance at the new state-of-the-art Cowboys Stadium in Dallas next March.

The early non-conference games in November are what you need to check daily, because those games are all over the TV market with Fox Sports South holding the rights to many of those early games. Once you get into December, the games level out to the major TV networks.

The satellite owners should have no problem no matter what network holds the rights, but cable TV people need to refer to your schedule a day or so in advance of those early games to make sure that game is on.

A complete list of this season’s schedule can be seen by going online to www.combsbrothersonkysports.com, or you can go to www.ukathletics.com and pull the schedule up off the men’s basketball link and make a copy for referencing this season.

UK men’s basketball media day

While the Wildcats’ elite hoopsters have had a couple private media sessions with some of the local Lexington media outlets in the past few weeks, John Calipari will officially launch the 2013-14 season this Thursday around midday when he welcomes the Commonwealth’s entire media contingent, plus a few national outlets to the Joe Craft Center.

Coach Cal will give his opening season comments on UK basketball first around 1:30, then release the reporters to the men’s basketball practice facility around 2:30 for interviews and a picture session with his team.

After contacting John Hayden , UK’s assistant media relations director for men’s basketball, we were officially informed that Coach Cal will have at his disposal a roster of 16 players with 12 of them being listed as scholarship players and four with some type of a walk-on oriented label, with those four players being Todd Lanter, Brian Long, Sam Malone, and E.J. Floreal.

While this media session is private and not open to the public, you can start looking around 2 p.m. Thursday for coverage to start popping up on today’s Twitter accounts and other social media related networks.