Brooks getting last laugh in rivalry

Mocked in early years, UK coach goes for 3rd win in row

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistSeptember 8, 2009 

  • Next game

    Louisville at Kentucky

    When: Noon Sept. 19 TV: ESPNU

Fast-break points leading up to The Governor's Cup:

21. Rich Brooks then: It was Dec. 18, 2004. In Freedom Hall for the Kentucky-Louisville basketball game. Near courtside, some leather-lunged U of L backers were looking for a cutting way to taunt UK.

"Long live Rich Brooks! Long live Rich Brooks!" they shouted.

20. Rich Brooks now: Recently, a columnist in a large Louisville newspaper was listing ways that embattled U of L head man Steve Kragthorpe could win over a restive fan base. One suggestion was to communicate more straightforwardly with the fans (via the media) — as Rich Brooks does.

When it comes to his standing in the UK-U of L rivalry, the worm has dramatically turned for Brooks.

19. Steve Kragthorpe: The sloppy effort in the season opener against horrid Indiana State (loser of 52 of its last 53 games) was exactly the kind of start Kragthorpe did not need.

18. Brian Brohm and Andre Woodson: If you had wagered me at the time of the 2007 Kentucky-Louisville thriller that neither of that night's marquee quarterbacks would be on active pro rosters to start the 2009 NFL season, you could have won my car.

Yet after both got cut on Saturday, Brohm is on the Green Bay practice squad, Woodson the Washington practice unit.

17. Louisville products on active NFL rosters: There are 17 (by my count) former Cardinals who will open the season on the active roster of NFL teams.

16. Last man standing: Of all the lavishly hyped quarterbacks our state has produced in the past 10 to 15 years — think Couch, Lorenzen, Brohm, Woodson — only Chris Redman is now on an active NFL roster. The ex-Male High and Louisville standout is Matt Ryan's backup with the Falcons.

15. Home-field "advantage": In the 15 meetings during the modern Kentucky-Louisville football rivalry, the home team has won only six times.

14. Adding yellow to U of L red and black: It's impossible to look good when you are flagged — as U of L was in its opener — for 14 penalties for 128 yards.

13. Trevard Lindley: Tony Barnhart, the venerable Mr. College Football for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, has the UK star No. 5 on his list of "the five SEC football players I'd pay to see."

12. Scott Long: The big-play Louisville receiver — whose absence because of injuries hurt U of L so severely a season ago — had four catches for 68 yards against Indiana State.

11. Randall Cobb: What are the odds that UK's multi-dimensional sophomore could score a touchdown four different ways — running; receiving; throwing; punt returning — in the same game?

10. Victor Anderson: If U of L is to have a shot Sept. 19 in Commonwealth Stadium, it likely depends on a monster game from the former St. Xavier running back who ran for 1,047 yards last season as a freshman.

Which brings us to ...

9. Running the football: The winner of the Kentucky-Louisville football game the past nine years has been the team with the most rushing yardage.

8. Disadvantage of being "favored": In the modern UK-U of L series, favorites (source: The Glantz-Culver line that ran in the Herald-Leader the morning of the game) are only 8-7 straight up.

7. Kentucky products on active NFL rosters: There are seven (by my count) former Cats who will open the season on the active rosters of NFL teams. All are either rookies or second-year players.

6. Garry Williams: Give a special shout out to Williams, the former Kentucky offensive tackle, who was the only non-drafted rookie free agent to make the Carolina Panthers' active roster.

5. Other ex-Cats in The League: Wide receivers Keenan Burton (St. Louis) and Steve Johnson (Buffalo); tight end Jacob Tamme (Indianapolis); rookie defensive linemen Jeremy Jarmon (Washington) and Myron Pryor (New England); and linebacker Wesley Woodyard (Denver) are the other former Wildcats on active NFL rosters.

4. UK's main reason to worry in 2009: There were a meager four tackles by Kentucky starting defensive linemen (two assists each to Corey Peters and DeQuin Evans) against Miami. As the competition gets tougher, more active UK defensive line play is a must.

3. Steve Kragthorpe on Justin Burke: "I don't think he was nervous," Kragthorpe said Monday of the former Lexington Catholic QB who started his first game at U of L by completing one of his first eight passes.

"He was seeing the game extremely well. I just think he was really amped up, excited about being out there and getting to play. I thought he settled down and really made some good throws in the third quarter."

Burke went 16-for-23 the rest of the game.

2. Joker Phillips on Mike Hartline: "We told everyone he was better — and nobody believed us," the Kentucky head coach of offense said Saturday of the oft-maligned UK quarterback after Hartline looked sharp in the season opener. "Now, you've seen what we were seeing (in practice)."

1. Going for "The Double": Since the UK-U of L football rivalry resumed in 1994, Kentucky has never beaten Louisville in both football and men's basketball in the same school year. U of L has done "the double" only once, 2003-04.

This year, UK figures to be solid favorites in both Commonwealth and Rupp.

Is this the year the Cats get the brooms out on the Cards?

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