The first part of Kentucky’s season is over and the Wildcats are 4-0 heading into the conference opener at Alabama next week.
Spent some time with Western’s players aftereward, including Tristan Jones, former GRC star. All were impressed with Kentucky’s defense, but gave the Tide the nod when the two teams meet next week.
Braxton Miller, a former standout at Lincoln County wasn’t impressed with UK at all.
“I didn’t think Kentucky was that good,” he said.
Jones said Kentucky was good, but said he thought Alabama was quicker and more experienced.
Kentucky held Western to 157 total yards and surrendered just 15 through the air.
Kentucky coach Rich Brooks quote.
“Mike Hartline is 4-0 as a starting quarterback. He’s thrown one interception and I don’t know how many touchdowns – quite a few. He’s doing a really good job of handling situations …. The good news is that we have a young quarterback learning while we win.”
Kentucky extended its lead to 31-3. Alfonso Smith crossed the goal line on a 35-yard run and Mike Hartline connected on a 2-yard touchdown pass to Moncell Allen to give the Cats a cushion. Aside from the first quarter, the hosts have picked up the pace and delivered a knockout punch and didn’t give Western a chance to make a statement. Like Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said earlier in the week, Kentucky was the team that needed to make a statement. The running game has picked up the slack and of course the defense has been impressive as well.
Smith has 61 yards, Locke 34 and Hartline is 17-28 for 155 yards.
Western has just 117 total yards and just eight yards through the air.
First half notes
A ‘Locke’ for the Cats?
Kentucky running back Derrick Locke had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown after Western booted a 50-yard field goal to narrow the margin to 10-3 in the second frame. Locke’s score fired up the Kentucky crowd, which had been looking for some form form of an offensive or special teams explosion.
Locke has turned in a solid performance and could be moving up on the depth chart in the next couple of days, especially if he finishes with some impressive numbers. In the opening half, Locke has 144 all-purpose yard for the Cats.
* The surprise has been the running of Western running back Bobby Rainey, who has rushed for 96 yards, including a 40-yard gain.
Locke joined Derek Abney, Keenan Burton, Craig Yeast and Kirk Johnson as the only players at the school who have had kickoff returns of 100-yards or more for a touchdown.
- Former George Rogers Clark standout Tristan Jones is seeing extensive action for the Hilltoppers at tight end. Jones just missed hauling in a touchdown pass from quarterback K.J. Black with under four minutes left in the first half. Black overthrew the ball as Jones appeared wide open on the play.
- Kentucky had just 146 yards of offense in the first half. Western was held to 95, including MINUS 4 through the air. Kentucky’s secondary is making a statement.
- UK QB Mike Hartline is 10-18 with 77 yards and one interception.
- Myron Pryor has six tackles to lead the defense.
Can you say defense? Kentucky held Western to minus 5 yards in the first quarter. The Toppers picked off a Mike Hartline pass, but lost seven yards on the drive. Johnny Williams and Ventrell Jenkins have
UK only has 68 yards of offense. A plus, Ryan Tydlacka hit first career field goal – a 45-yard kick – the longest of his career.
J.B. Holmes, sporting a No. 17 jersey, was introduced to the crowd before the start of the quarter and received a standing ovation.
Tony Dixon’s 1-yard touchdown gives UK 10-0 lead at 11:43 of second quarter.
Just got finished eating my pre-game meal, compliments of Larry Vaught, sports editor at the Danville Advocate-Messenger. The dinner was a super-sized salad from Zaxby’s. Thanks, Larry.
Guess you could say I’m eating healthy!
Ran into Paul Just the long-time SID at Western Kentucky University. A fine person and someone I got to know when I covered Eastern Kentucky University. Paul and I talked about Western’s transition to I-A football and a little bit about the Colonels, who yanked out a 13-10 win over Austin Peay in Richmond.
The upset of the day was Ole Miss, which handed Florida a 31-30 loss in Gainesville earlier today. That’s the talk of the press box here before kickoff.
I have to say, Western Kentucky’s unforms are impressive. We’ll be keeping an eye on No. 33 (former Clark star Tristan Jones). He’s a starting tight end for the Hilltoppers.
Things to watch
* Can Kentucky’s offense get on track, especially in the backfield.
* What about the kicking game? Some adjustments have been made.
* How will Kentucky respond after an open date?
Kickoff is now just 10 minutes away.