UK-Akron notes: Special teams a work in progress

Improvement sought on special teams

ccosby@herald-leader.comSeptember 18, 2010 

Coach Joker Phillips and his Kentucky football staff have done some tinkering with the special teams in hopes of a better showing Saturday night against Akron.

Phillips said earlier this week that sophomore walk-on Craig McIntosh probably would replace Ryan Tydlacka as the place-kicker on field goals and extra points, which would allow Tydlacka to concentrate on punting. Tydlacka missed two short field goals in UK's first two games.

McIntosh, a Lexington Christian graduate, served as the kickoff specialist in 2009 but has not kicked a field goal or extra point in a game.

"He's a warrior that doesn't get rattled," Phillips said. "He responds to your coaching. We opened the competition and he was the most consistent guy this week."

Freshman Joe Mansour will serve as the kickoff specialist and might be brought in if the Cats need to try a long field goal.

"It's good because now we've got everybody focusing on one phase," Phillips said.

Phillips said that while Mansour was signed with the hope he could win the placekicking job as a true freshman, the staff has to be patient and make sure he's ready.

"He does have a strong leg," Phillips said. "He will be a great kicker someday."

Phillips said the coverage units will get a boost from the return of redshirt freshman safety Dakotah Tyler, who missed the first two games with a sprained ankle.

McDermott the motivator

One player who has been keeping an eye on Luke McDermott's rapid rise from walk-on to starting defensive tackle is Spencer Holloway, a 6-foot-3, 250-pound freshman defensive end from Trinity, the same school that produced McDermott.

McDermott didn't have any scholarship offers after graduating from Trinity in 2007. Holloway committed to Western Michigan, but the school did not sign him.

Holloway decided to try his luck at UK and has been encouraged by what he's seen.

"It's a big motivation and helps a lot to have someone to talk to and see what it takes to get there," Holloway said. "As long as I do what I'm supposed to do on scout team, I think I'll get my chance."

Neloms latest Wildcat to honor McCaskill

Kentucky sophomore cornerback Martavius Neloms, who usually wears jersey No. 15, has decided to honor injured wide receiver Gene McCaskill by wearing McCaskill's No. 13 in Saturday's game against Akron.

McCaskill tore an anterior cruciate ligament Aug. 14, has undergone reconstructive surgery on the knee and will be redshirted this season.

This is the third consecutive game that McCaskill is being honored. Wide receiver Chris Matthews wore No. 13 at Louisville, and linebacker Danny Trevathan wore No. 13 against Western Kentucky.

Cat Walk

Fans wishing to participate in the "Cat Walk," cheering the Wildcats when they enter the stadium Saturday, should be at Gate 1 of Commonwealth Stadium at 4:45 p.m.

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