Kentucky, Louisville eye 'intense' opener cautiously

jsmith3@herald-leader.comJuly 26, 2012 

  • Upcoming UK events

    Friday: Kickoff Luncheon (in the Bluegrass Ballroom at Lexington Center), Noon

    Saturday: Women's football clinic at Commonwealth Stadium, 8 a.m.

    Aug. 3: Media Day, first practice

    Aug. 4: Fan Day at Commonwealth Stadium, 5 p.m.

    Sept. 2: Season opener at Louisville, 3:30 p.m.

  • 2012 Kentucky schedule

    (Home games in capital letters)

    Sept. 2 At Louisville 3:30

    Sept. 8 KENT ST. 7:30

    Sept. 15 W. KENTUCKY 7

    Sept. 22 At Florida TBA

    Sept. 29 SO. CAROLINA TBA

    Oct. 6 MISSISSIPPI ST. TBA

    Oct. 13 At Arkansas TBA

    Oct. 20 GEORGIA TBA

    Oct. 27 At Missouri TBA

    Nov. 3 VANDERBILT TBA

    Nov. 17 SAMFORD TBA

    Nov. 24 At Tennessee TBA

    2012 Louisville schedule

    (Home games in capital letters)

    Sept. 2 KENTUCKY 3:30

    Sept. 8 MISSOURI ST. 3:30

    Sept. 15 NO. CAROLINA 3:30

    Sept. 22 At Fla. International 7

    Sept. 29 At Southern Miss. 8

    Oct. 13 At Pittsburgh TBA

    Oct. 20 SOUTH FLORIDA TBA

    Oct. 26 CINCINNATI 8

    Oct. 27 TEMPLE TBA

    Nov. 3 At Syracuse TBA

    Nov. 10 CONNECTICUT TBA

    Nov. 24 At Rutgers 7:30

SIMPSONVILLE — The annual Governor's Cup Luncheon is rarely the place for trash talking or bulletin board material.

Blue sits next to red.

Cardinals backers slap the backs of Cats fanatics.

They dine together and listen to the head coaches preview the upcoming season.

But at this event last year, Kentucky Coach Joker Phillips stirred the pot a bit.

After a managing expectations speech from Louisville Coach Charlie Strong, event emcee Billy Reed lamented the fact that no coach ever boasts about how great his team is going to be.

Phillips couldn't help himself and went for the obvious laugh.

"We're going to be pretty damn good this year," he said to a roar of laughter at this time last year. "We're going to kick some people."

The UK coach told a crowd at the Cardinal Club on Thursday that his joke ended up getting him in a bit of hot water.

"I got a lot of emails telling me how cocky I was," he said. "All I was doing was repeating (Reed)."

The Kentucky coach wasn't about to repeat the same mistake Thursday.

He stuck with generalities.

"It's going to be an intense game," he said of the rivalry game to be played as both teams' season opener on Sept. 2. "No doubt about that; they understand that. We understand that. It'll be an intense game."

It will be intense for both teams for different reasons.

After a 5-7 season and no bowl, Phillips is on many of the national "hot seat" watch lists.

But when asked what he worries about before this season starts, Phillips was quick to say: "I don't worry.

"I don't have time to worry. My time needs to be put on making sure we put a productive product on the field."

The UK coach also acknowledged that this game historically is a boon for the team that wins. Up until last season, the Cats had won four in a row.

"The team that has won this game usually leaves with momentum," he said. "It's an important game for both teams that are involved. When it's important, it makes it an intense rivalry."

Strong said his team's 24-17 win in Lexington was a boost for the Cardinals, who are rated in the top 25 of several pre-season guides this season.

"Any game you want to go win, but it was one of those where they'd won four straight, and to go win in Lexington was big," he said.

The Louisville coach noted that the Cardinals and Cats mirror each other in many ways, including their youth. Louisville has only nine seniors; UK has 17 seniors, but not all play regularly.

"You're looking at two teams that are very young football teams, so it's going to be the preparation and just getting ready and seeing who can develop their leadership early," Strong said.

Youth also means there has been trash talk (especially through social media) on both sides.

Both coaches said they discourage that sort of behavior.

"All the talking ... seems like some guy who doesn't even play does all the talking," Strong said. "You have to just shut up. ... We don't need to put anything out there; just worry about your program, worry about your football team."

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukfootball.bloginky.com.

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