Thursday, October 25, 2007

Welcome to the SEC

My wife and I spent two weeks in Europe at the beginning of October... We flew to Paris on October 7th and was there for four days and five nights before taking a train to Germany to spend five days and attend my sister's wedding... Yes this means I missed the LSU game but the trip was well worth this sacrifice...

Paris is a wonderful city and the area that my sister lives in Germany is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been too... The village we stayed in Germany was over 2000 years old!!!

My sisters wedding was a really beautiful ceremony and the reception afterwards was one of the best wedding receptions I have ever been too... I am working on a trip summary for a future blog that will detail the trip... We took over 700 pictures while we were there so the visit is well documented...

Welcome the SEC

What a ride...

Here is what I wrote at the start of the year...

"Old Brooksy just may have Kentucky on the right path… As I stated he needs to have at a minimum had a repeat of last year… They need to beat EKU, Mississippi State, Florida International (watch out for Howard) and Kent State and then win three out of the four with Arkansas, South Carolina, Vandy and Louisville… This team has confidence and confidence can be a great thing or a dangerous thing which could lead to some marquee upsets…"

So they are about where I expected them to be at this point... With that said I am bit disappointed because this team should be seven and two... The pulled the marquee upset and then cancelled it out by losing to Mississippi State... I need to see two of the last three as wins...

The SEC is a great football conference and I am happy to see the success of all the teams this year...

UK vs South Carolina

This is no doubt a game that UK should have won!!! They are better then South Carolina... You cannot beat any team when you have four turnovers especially when two of them are returned for touchdowns... Woodson had a bad game but still had UK in the game in the 4th quarter... I thought that two of the turnovers in the game were the result of bad play calling when UK was ready to score and should have ran the ball down USC's throat vs trying to throw the ball around...

I did not like Joker's play calling in this game at all!!! This was a game that UK should have ran the ball down South Carolina's throat (much like Arkansas did this past weekend)... South Carolina has one of the best pass defenses in the country and allot of that is due to the fact their run defense is terrible... UK had three healthy backs in this game and should have utilized all three... Bad, bad game plan!!!
The defense played another good game in the second half but at times were picked apart by Steve Superior... I do not care for Superior (not to many opposing coaches I like any way) but this guy is one hell of a coach and he handed the UK coaching staff their jocks... Spurrier won an ACC Championship at Duke (this was of course an ACC with no FSU) and had some great teams at UF but in my opinion may have over coached a bit at UF... I am not sure he will have the same level of success at South Carolina he had at Florida but he continues to dominate UK...

UK vs LSU

What can you say??? This was not a game that I thought UK could win and they proved me way wrong... I felt this team at the beginning of the year could beat anyone and play with anyone but I thought that LSU's team speed and size would wear UK down...

Woodson had his best game as a Wildcat and the defense stepped up when they needed to... I thought that LSU looked worn down at the end of the game and the UK players looked fresh... Derrick Locke played a great game and he wore the LSU defense down...

Although we were not there we were certainly there in spirit and via the text meassages during the game... When we got the text they were in OT I was pretty much beside myself and then when we got the one that they won it was a surreal moment and the second celebration was on...

UK Vs Florida


This was an opportunity for this team to make a statement... ESPN's game day was on site in Lexington and the game was on national TV...

The tailgate before the game was electric (we had forty plus in attendance that day alone), The Cat Walk was exciting, the ESPN Game Day crowd was out in full force and made a great showing (my wife and nephew Matt were part of that crowd)...

This game was made even tougher for UK because of where it fell in the schedule... I am not sure that there is any team in the Country that play, much less beat LSU one week and then come back a week later to play and beat Florida... Factor in Florida's spread offense, UK defense struggles against this type of offense historically, and Florida's team speed then I knew UK was in for almost impossible battle...

Kentucky struck first with a nice toss from Andre Woodson to Dicky Lyons and the stadium went absolutely crazy which I am guess were shades of what it sounded like for the LSU game... Florida then marched right down the field and scored and before you knew it we were in the third quarter and Florida was up 24 to 10

At this point I told my buddies Wayne and Brad that we would see now what the Kentucky team had in their guts as they looked like they were out of gas... The Cats did make a nice come back to outscore Florida 20 to 18 (the last touchdown does not count in my book as it was meaningless) but in the end was just out of gas which brings me to my next point... How could the SEC schedule Kentucky to play LSU and Florida back to back???

As for the rest of the game I personally did not like the on side kick call in the 3rd quarter or the last kick off when Kentucky should have kicked it deep vs. giving Florida the ball on their own 40 on a squib kick (if you were going to on side kick do it there)... Woodson missed some open receivers but overall had a good day... The Cats no doubt missed Little in this game...

I have said all along that I think reality is that Kentucky can be an extremly competitive football team in the SEC year in and year out... I think that Kentucky can every three or four years have a chance to compete for an SEC East Title but when you look at their year in and year out schedule and the ever present talent gap due to recruiting between Kentucky and the Florida's, LSU's, Alabama's, Auburns, Georgia's and Tennessee's will make it even tough in a year when all the pieces are in place as they are this year...

By the way Florida upset UK according to ESPN...

UK vs Mississippi State


This was a game that I was concerned about since UK had so many injuries and was coming off of three very emotional games... Win this game, get a week off win two of the last three and this team is in a New Years Day bowl game for sure and quite possibly in the SEC Championship Game... Lay an egg and the team is in a fight for it's post season life... Egg layed and LSU win now means nothing!!!

I did not like the play calling in this game on offense... With the injuries I thought UK would run, run, run with the fullbacks leading the charge (Hey Joker do you remember the fullbacks that played so well through the first of the season???) and with Locke, Smith and Ginter all three getting carries throughout the game... Great teams overcome injuries and great coaching staffs devise game plans around the talent they have at that moment to win these types of games... Injuries, turnovers and not being ready to play killed this teams momentum...

They say that their are five plays during a game that will decide a game and Kentucky was one of five on these plays that I identified... The one was on a fourth and eight when Woodson through a strike to Stevie in the corner on a great throw and great catch...

I thought the Mississippi State coaching staff had a great game plan that was executed very well... Their opening drive was a thing of beauty and pretty much set the tone for the rest of the game and left the UK defense on their heels the rest of the way... Mississippi State is the last rated passing team in the SEC and we made there quarterback look like he was All Conference...

After the game I was happy to hear Papaw step up and take the blame for this loss as I think he is correct on pinning this one on himself and his staff... Injuries, sminjuries, You have to overcome them if you want to be successful in this league...

Can this team win the last three or two of three??? If they win only one and finish 7 and 5 would that make the season a disappointment??? Would you say the team under achieved if it goes 7 and 5??? Stay tuned... I will be in Nashville Saturday to root them on!!!

Shag's Top Five


1. Ohio State

2. Kansas (they have not lost a game and until they do they are here)

3. LSU

4. Oregon

5. Oklahoma

Fantasy Sports Update


This is my first year playing fantasy pro football... I thought this would force me to be more interested in the games... No luck... I still cannot follow it... My team is 2 and 7 but I will keep fighting...

In College Football Pick'em (against the spread) I started out on top... After four weeks I was First in Fans of Kentucky, First in Fans from Kentucky, tenth overall on Yahoo and first in my ShagOnFootball Pick Group...

The next five weeks were tough... I dropped out of the top 100 on both of my Fans Group, third place in ShagOnFootball and to about 5000 place overall on Yahoo... This week I went 13 and 4 which moves me back in the top 50 in both of my fan groups and to 2500 place overall on Yahoo and second in ShagOnFootball... If I were betting $10 a game then I would be up $260 as I am 106 and 80 for the year or 57% which is what I finished at last year... Four weeks to go...

UK Basketball

I am not putting allot of stock in the loss to Garnder-Webb... I think Billy G threw the game in the tank... During the second half I could see directly into the huddle during timeouts and Billy G was laughing at his players and during one timeout even tried to hand the players his clipboard as if to say, "You guys coach"...

I think he sent a message to this team that I let you do it your way and you got hammered and now we are going to do it my way...

UK's issue is they have no point guard and no help for Patrick Patterson who is not only a good offensive player but a great interior passer and pretty good defender... He just does not have anyone to throw the ball too...

This teams needs to shed Joe Crawford and Smooth Bradley (these guys are scarred) and let the young guys play but without Bradley no one can play the point (Jasper is done for the year)...

Biggest problem I have is that it is now confirmed that Billy G is partying like a rock star... I don't know about you but this is not what I want my coaches doing during their off time... Everyone should have a good time but let's do it with charecter and integrity...

Bottom line for me is I am a huge Arkansas fan for the moment except for when they play UK... If John Pelphrey can be successful there then he will be the next UK coach... Let's hope that is not in the next few years but with many more losses to teams like Gardner-Webb it may be sooner then we think...

Random Thoughts


- UK's defense ranks last in the SEC even though they are much improved... Defense, not offense wins championships... I am not sure UK can ever have a top rated defense and I would much rather have an entertaining point scoring machine as I think that is how you win football games consistently at UK...

- Florida had beaten Georgia several years in a row after coming off a bye week... This year Georgia was coming off a bye week and beat Florida... Hmmmmmmm!!!

- Did they play the World Series??? I guess my two weeks in Europe took me right out of the picture... I did not watch one inning of any of the playoff games and only watched two innings of the World Series... If the Games were on at a decent time during the week and if they played day games on the weekends like they should then I would probably watch more when my team is not playing... Congrats to the Red Sox, as they were the best team most all year (second only to Yankees in payroll)!!!

- Brooks meter stays at +6 after going 1 and 3 over the last four games... I thought this team could be 6 and 3 at this point and with some luck 7 and 2... After they beat both Louisville and Arkansas I expected this team to be 7 and 2... I still am not drinking the kool-aid until I see the body of work the rest of this year and next...

- They were giving out stickers at the game a few weeks ago that said "Brooks For Govenor 07, He's got my vote"... Pretty good turn around for Rich with the fans but then there is the Mississippi State meltdown...
- The officials blew the fair catch call in the U of L vs UConn game a few weeks ago... If replay is meant to get calls right then why would that call not be reviewable... U of L still had a ten point lead in the 4th quarter and should have won... U of L can win two of their last three and salvage their season!!!

- When I look at Tony Larussa's record in St Louis it makes me feel like signing him for two more years is a good idea... Much better then the Reds hiring Dusty Baker... That was a bad hire for the Reds... Nice hire by the Yankees to get Girardi and time will tell if the Dodgers made a good hire with Torre...

- Kelvin Sampson... Can you hear me now???

- During our visit to Paris they were having the Rugby World Cup... My wife and I watched it on TV allot... It is an interesting game with lots of non stop action... My buddy CT played for UK when he was in college and he has explained the rules to me now where it makes sense... My favorite non American sport is still Australian Rules Football...
ShagOnMusic
We went to see Tori Amos the other night... She plays the piano, sometime two at once and has a wonderful voice... Our wedding song was Tori singing the Zepplin song Thank You... Tori's opening act was Yoav who played the guitar and does not have a record out yet... He was excellent...

Monday, October 01, 2007

Coach Papaw

The Books Meter

Rich Brooks is hired… Sporting News says it is the worst hire in college football history… Meter is at 0

Find out he is 61 years old and has not coached in three years… Meter is at -1

Talk to connections at NIKE (they are based in Oregon) and the overwhelming majority say he is a nice guy but the only reason he kept the Oregon job so long was because nobody else wanted it… Meter is at -2

I check Brooksy overall record at Oregon and even when you throw out his first eight years he has losing record… Meter is at -3

Find out he was the interim head coach and defensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons when they went to the Super Bowl… Add two back so the meter is at -1

Remember my old boss loved Rich Brooks… Meter is at -2

Brooks says he looks forward to coaching in the “Southeast Conference”… Meter is at
-3

2004 Brooks looses his opening game to a Louisville team he should have easily beaten… Meter is at -4

2004 Brooks runs an offense that takes a team that should go to a bowl game and finishes 5 – 7… Meter is at -5

2004 Brooks has a disaster year in year two, loses to a MAC team and Vandy but his offensive coordinator resigns before the last game and UK almost beats Tennessee… Meter is at -7

2005 – I leave a game at half time for the first time in my life after Kentucky is down 49 to 7 to Florida… Meter is at -8

2005 – UK has a solid recruiting class (top 35)… Meter is at -7

2006 – Brooks looses the opening game to U of L… Badly!!! Meter is at -8

2006 – Team bounces back from the U of L loss but then looses 45 – 0 at LSU… Meter is at -9

2006 – UK upsets Georgia… Meter is at -7

2006 – UK becomes bowl eligible (by the skin of their teeth)… Meter is at -6


2006 – UK gets a bid to the Music City Bowl and upsets Clemson… Meter is at -4

2007 – Realize that the hiring of Randy Sanders is the reason that Andre Woodson had his turnaround/breakout year… Meter is at -3

2007 - Finally realize the impact of probation on the program… Meter is at -1

2007 – Mike Archer is gone… Meter is at 0

2007 – Appreciate the level of integrity and the resolve the Brooksy has showed during his embattled tenure… Meter is at +1

2007 – UK beats #9 Louisville in a game they should win… The meter is at +2

2007 – UK upsets Arkansas on the road scoring 21 unanswered and playing some great second half defense… UK is now ranked 14th and 15th… Meter is at +3

2007 – UK is 5 and 0 and ranked number eight in the country… Meter is at +5

I appreciate what Rich Brooks has done for the UK program and the level of integrity he has brought the University during his tenure… Was I wrong about my criticism of Brooksy??? More than somewhat!!!

What happened in year 1 to me was worse the some of the items from years 2 and 3 (probation killed this team in years 2 and 3)… I still think Brooksy came in very arrogant and had he stood beside former Offensive Coordinator Ron Hudson his stay at Kentucky would have been a short one…

At this point I will not drink the kool-aid until I see the entire body of work this year and next… As for what he has done from the LSU game last year through game four of this year I would rate him an A minus… Also don’t down play the significance of adding Randy Sanders to this staff… Without him I do not think this team is where they are today and Andre Woodson is not a Heismen Candidate… Can they hang on to Sanders???

Rich can score some major points in the next few weeks… Take care of business against Florida Atlantic (they did) and beat South Carolina on the road to go 6 and 0… Beat FAU and loose to USC they are 5 and 1… Pull a monumental upset of Florida or LSU, Wow… Will UK loose three of the next four to go 5 and 3 on the year???

All I know is the line from the character known as The Wolf in Pulp Fiction… If you don’t remember I have referenced it before and you should go back and watch the movie…

The players love Brooksy and I think the old man has spun the program around in the right direction… All I have ever asked for is a competitive football team and right now I think that UK has one… The next three games will be special ones…

UK Vs U of L

This was a game that I felt all year long that Kentucky should win and to be honest they should have won by more… Kentucky has a talented team with some of the best returning skill players in the country, depth and a defense that was much improved through the end of last year and the first two games of 2007…

Run the ball!!! In this game I think that Kentucky and U of L for that matter should have spent much more time running the football… Dixon should have gotten five to six more carries and between Smith and the fullbacks I think UK should have gotten five or six carries between them… After UK held U of L out of the end zone on fourth and goal this should have been Tony Dixon time… If Kentucky just runs the ball instead of three consecutive pass plays on the second set of downs on that drive then the game was over...

Joker still needs some work but he is getting there for sure… What the hell was the fourth and less then a yard option call in the first half??? How does a veteran coaching staff not go for two points after the last touchdown that with kicking the extra point only put you up six??? What is David Jones doing on the kick off team or on defense in the Arkansas game when he cannot even run (he is supposed to be the fastest guy on the team but is hampered by injuries)??? These kinds of mistakes and play calls will not beat Florida or LSU…

The key to the U of L game was obviously the two early turnovers by U of L, the early play of the UK defense in the first quarter and the second half, the poor play of the U of L defense during the game and UK’s ability to run the ball… UK made great adjustments at half time on both sides of the ball and was able to all but shut down the vaunted U of L offense… Good coaching staffs and good teams make these types of adjustments during games, especially at half time… Hats off to rookie defensive coordinator Steve Brown…

The fourth quarter to me was worth the price of admission… The UK defense stepped up and was helped on a late fourth quarter U of L drive by an illegal formation penalty… The UK defense only gave up one offensive touchdown in the second half against a great U of L offense… The crowd was awesome and that is why I attend the games to experience those moments… Like Sheetsy says, “When something big happens we will be there…”

It was a shootout game and this is how I see this game playing out over the next several years… I believe that this series will be a competitive one moving forward and I do not see either team dominating this series…

UK and Arkansas

Kentucky went into the game with a history of playing Arkansas well, ranked for the first time in many years, winner of seven of their last eight and a defense that had proven it could make adjustments and play well… For UK to have a shot at a really special season this game was one of the keys…

Arkansas was coming off a tough loss to Alabama and an off season full of controversy both on and off the field… The Hogs were picked to win based on their running game and the pundits figured they would control the ball and keep the UK offense off of the field…

The game was full of some huge ups and downs… UK’s opening possession resulted in a defensive touchdown for Arkansas, Lyons and Dixon fumbled at critical moments in the game, UK needing to finish the game with it’s fourth string tailback due to injuries to the first three and perhaps the biggest play of the game came right at the end of the half when Arkansas fumbled and Trevor Lindley for UK scoops it up and scores a defensive touchdown…

The biggest up and down was that we were at my wife’s 20th High School Reunion Saturday night… We arrived alive at Casino Aztar with our tailgating buddies Mark and Leslie Sheets (thank god Mark and I are married to women who love football like we do and we made sure they knew that Saturday night) for our own cocktail hour before cocktail hour so we could watch the game… By 7:40 PM we had missed cocktail hour and we knew we had only twenty minutes to eat… UK was up 21 to 20 so we ran out fixed plates, woofed it down and came back in and UK was down 29 to 21 and we were all just sick about it… Once we got settled back in at the bar UK went on its run… Now you know why all of that crazy shit happened during the game…

Steve Johnson, Burton and Locke were all huge in this game and the offensive line, which was the big wildcard going into the season, has played really well through the first four games… Jason Leger was once again named offensive linemen of the week in the SEC after week four… The two fullbacks, John Conner and Maurice Ginter were also big in this game…

The defense has of course been huge and they created three more turnovers Saturday… It is amazing how much “position depth” helps players get better… UK has depth at all positions on defense which means the starters now have people pushing them for playing time which creates better play…


U of L Over-rated???

Was U of L overrated??? The early season rankings are based more on what a team did last year Vs what they have done so far this year (see Michigan)… I believe that U of L had the best team they will ever have period last year (do you think that Bobby P knew this also???) and with the losses they had on defense, plus a coaching change made them beatable in this game and a couple of other games they have later in the year (West Virginia, South Florida, Rutgers and Cincy but not Syracuse)… U of L can still have a great season but their schedule now appears to be a little tougher then most thought and their defense needs allot of work…

U of L validated being overrated with an embarrassing loss to Syracuse… What is more embarrassing is the fan base turning on this coach after four games… UK fans took a beating from U of L fans for wanting to get rid of Tubby Smith after nine years and now they have turned on their new coach after four games… U of L made a nice comeback against Syracuse and had a chance in the end to pull the game out with an empty stadium (embarrassing)… Time for a reality check U of L Fans!!! Run the table the rest of the way out and you are still in a BCS game… It could happen… I do not see U of L losing to all of these teams, USF, WVA, Rutgers, Cincy and Pitt as some people are now predicting…

To be a Top Ten team year in and year out you have to have a top ten to twenty recruiting class every year and Louisville like UK will NEVER have the level of consistency in recruiting that will put them consistently in the top ten… Both teams should be able to recruit to a point that they are competitive each year and every three to four years be really competitive on a national level…

Kentucky and FAU

Woodson had a great day going 26 for 33 for 301 yards and 5 TD’s and his decision making before and after the snap was exceptional… Steve Johnson made one of the best catches I have ever seen live (it was right in front of me) for a touchdown on a ball that Woodson threw to a spot that only that Stevie could catch… The running game was very solid and the offensive line play was great again… The fullbacks also continue to play well…

The defense gave up two early long drives but played better as the game went on… Micah Johnson played a great game and starting to really show his potential and the UK Linebackers continue to impress… Woodyard is one of the best defenders in the SEC and Braxton Kelly is solid… How good is the defense??? The defensive line is paying well and the secondary is solid… We will find out how good they are the next three games…

Kentucky has to clean up their special teams play to have a special season… The kick off team seems to not stay in their lanes on coverage and a hurt Alfonso Smith, who had been a man on the kick off team, seems to be having an impact... The kicking game is also very suspect… Stay tuned Cats Fans…

The week of Upsets

Florida, Oklahoma, WVA, Texas, and Rutgers, Oregon (although they lost to a top ten team) and Clemson all lost this weekend and that is seven of the top fifteen… Wisconsin got a scare but that team just wins…

Shags Top Five
LSU
Cal
USC
Ohio State
Wisconsin

Random Thoughts

- ShagOnBaseball season is over… The Webelos were runaway winners of the league… I finished second which is my highest finish ever in Fantasy Baseball…

- The Mets collapsed!!! Since my Redbirds could not win this year that was the next best thing… F the Mets!!!

- To the two guys I sat beside at the Police contest who said, “UK has no chance against U of L”, the guy at Kroger who said to me, “Kentucky and Football do not belong in the same sentence” (I was wearing a shirt that said UK Football), The multiple people (and I do mean multiple people) who have driven by my house and shouted expletives at me and my wife when we have something on that says UK and to the guy working at Starbucks that told my wife, “U of L will stomp UK and UK will never be a football school like U of L” (she was wearing her UK Jersey on Friday before the game and probably knows a hell of allot more about football then he does), get over yourselves…

- Woodson is consistently discredited by the local media on his interception streak Former U of L QB Dave Ragone ripped him the other day about this streak saying he only throws short passes... Hey Dave that was a nice deep ball at the end of the U of L game… Woodson now has the SEC record and national record for most passing attempts without an interception (325)… I do not care how he is doing this but that he is getting it done… The criticism of him two years ago was he turns the ball over to much and now that he does not turn the ball over he is being criticized for it… The streak ended on Saturday when he threw a really bad ball… He has thrown only two interceptions in 500 plus attempts…

- After the first four weeks of picking against the spread I was at 70% which put me in first place in both Fans Of Kentucky (1300 plus entered) and Fans from Kentucky (3000 plus entered)… I was in 60th place overall on Yahoo… This was of course until the massacre this weekend… I went 7 of 22 and there were five games that I wanted to pick different but I did not (to conservative)… Dropped 2300 places on Yahoo but I am still in the top 50 on Yahoo in my two other pick sets…

- The LSU fake punt play last weekend against South Carolina was very well executed and was as good as the Boise State play last year in the Fiesta Bowl… If you did not see the play they set it up perfect by running a dive to the fullback in order to get the field goal kicker in the middle of the field on third and nine… The holder took the snap, banged the ball on the ground and then tossed it over his shoulder to the kicker who went in untouched…

- I voted to destroy the Barry Bonds record Home Run Ball… It is going to be shipped to the Hall of Fame with a big asterisk placed on it by the guy who bought the ball at auction…

- My brother says I have to lift the Brooksy tag as a sign of respect to the coach and call him Coach Brooks… The tag was actually lifted two weeks ago… We now call him “Coach Papaw”…

- My buddy CT who I tailgate with was at the Arkansas game tailgating with “The Deuce”… CT has been to every game so far this year and will be at South Carolina on Thursday night to root the Cats on…

- I am hearing that Henderson County Grad Will Fiedler is going to switch to tight end from Quarterback…

- A U of L fan told me on Tuesday of last week that he thought UK and U of L were both mediocre… Sorry… Don’t see either team as mediocre… UK is not mediocre (mediocre teams do not win road games at Arkansas) and U of L is just underachieving… A mediocre team does not win ten of it’s last eleven…

- Woodson has to say healthy… I do not want to see him run the ball on the speed option EVER again…

ShagOnMusic

I saw a swing band last Saturday night… My boy Sheetsy says you always know a band is going to be good when they have a horn section and he was right… When I listen to White Stripes I hear a heavy Jimmy Page influence with very bluesy type riffs (this is the next band I want to see live but they just cancelled this year’s tour)… My wife and I purchased a piano and are going to start taking lessons… I can see myself playing allot of Neil Young...