John Clay: Lack of practice showed in Cats' O-line performance

Hype is fine, but teamwork's better

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistSeptember 7, 2011 

John Clay

Random notes:

■ The week before Kentucky met Western Kentucky, I wrote that it was a good thing the Cats had a couple of weeks to get ready for Louisville, given the lack of practice time UK's ailing offensive line was afforded during fall camp.

Then a week later, we all (myself included) ripped the offensive line for its poor performance against Western Kentucky.

Yes, I thought the predicted strength of the UK offense might struggle a bit in the early going, but never did I believe they would struggle that much against a Sun Belt Conference team.

But then maybe we should have learned our lesson on teamwork during those Kentucky Pros-Dominican Republic National Team exhibition games last month.

No doubt the Kentucky Pros had a monopoly on talent. But the Dominicans had been practicing a couple of weeks. They had begun to develop teamwork. And the less talented team beat the more talented individuals on back-to-back nights.

■ The only problem of the UK O-line now is when will it finally be all together? UK Coach Joker Phillips said Tuesday that center Matt Smith is expected to miss Saturday's game against Central Michigan, as well.

There was one question about the pre-season hype given the line, which was ranked by some as the best in the SEC.

Was that based on the fact that four starters were returning? Or was that based on talent? In the end, talent usually (to use a UK-football phrase) rises to the top.

■ Nearly lost in the weekend shuffle was Eastern Kentucky's 10-7 loss at Kansas State on Saturday. K-State scored with 1:39 left to get the win.

■ Yes, the Donald Young who has reached the quarterfinals in the men's draw of the U.S. Open tennis tournament is the same Donald Young who played as a 15-year-old back in 2004, losing 6-1, 2-6, 6-1 in the first round to a 28-year-old.

■ Kentucky basketball target Mitch McGary was at the Big House for the Michigan-Western Michigan game. In fact, there is a Detroit News picture of McGary cheering in the stands. The 6-foot-11 center from Indiana is scheduled to be at UK for Big Blue Madness.

■ Maryland's uniforms were so hideous Monday night they had all of college football talking about them. Which was the objective in the first place. When was the last time anyone talked about Maryland football? Besides Scott Van Pelt.

■ I'll take Maryland's new threads over Derek Dooley's orange pants.

■ Did you see Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly repeatedly going off on his players during the Irish's 23-20 loss to South Florida last Saturday? Now that's an effective recruiting tool.

■ The Bengals losing veteran offensive guard Bobbie Williams to a four-game PED suspension may be worse than Carson Palmer not returning for the season.

■ Speaking of Palmer, there have been supposed Carson sightings in Cincinnati. He's not coming back to the Bengals. And neither are the playoffs anytime soon.

■ Considering that Utah State outgained Auburn 448-364 on Saturday, I think the Tigers miss departed defensive tackle Nick Fairley more than they miss Cam Newton.

■ Ole Miss will start Zack Stoudt at quarterback this Saturday. You might remember Stoudt as being a backup quarterback at Louisville.

I can hear the U of L fans now: Our backups are SEC starters.

■ Did you see where Florida had its streak of 137 consecutive sellouts snapped on Saturday?

■ LSU Coach Les Miles after his team beat Oregon: "I don't feel like we've hung the moon in any way."

You have to love Les Miles.

■ Cincinnati has a freshman named Ralph David Abernathy IV. He returned the opening kickoff 60 yards against Austin Peay on Saturday in UC's 72-10 win.

He is the grandson of Ralph David Abernathy, who was a close aide to Martin Luther King.

Reach John Clay at (859) 231-3226 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3226, or jclay@herald-leader.com. Read his blog at Kentucky.com.

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