Isaac might have say in Cats-Cards outcome

jsmith3@herald-leader.comAugust 29, 2012 

  • 1998

    Kentucky 68, Louisville 34

    Papa John's Cardinal Stadium

    Nearly 250 people (including 10 taken to hospitals) were treated for heat-related ailments as temperatures soared into the 90s for Papa John's opening. Those who could stand the heat at the "pizza oven" saw Tim Couch throw for a school-record 489 yards and a SEC record seven TDs that day.

    2000

    Louisville 40, Kentucky 34 (OT)

    Papa John's Cardinal Stadium

    A 72-minute delay for severe weather, coupled with an overtime, meant that a game that began at 7 p.m. ended six minutes before midnight. The teams left the field for their locker rooms with UK holding a 19-14 lead in the third quarter. It didn't last.

    2003

    Louisville 40, Kentucky 24

    Commonwealth Stadium

    A sudden, violent thunderstorm pushed everyone (except the student section, of course) into the concourses for safety. The kickoff was pushed back 83 minutes and Coach Rich Brooks' debut was wet and miserable.

Not a single guy on either roster is named "Isaac," but expect him to be a big player Sunday.

By then, only remnants of the hurricane pounding the Gulf Coast will have made their way to our state, but they could give the annual rivalry game between Kentucky and Louisville a little extra electricity.

"I can pretty much tell you with some degree of certainty that there will be storms in the area on Sunday afternoon," WKYT chief meteorologist Chris Bailey said Wednesday afternoon.

"If it's going to be right on top of Papa John's at 3:30, obviously we're going to have to see how the radar looks at that given time, but it's a safe bet to say there will be big storms around the Louisville metro area and most of Kentucky on Sunday afternoon."

If Bailey's prediction holds true (and the Weather.com meteorologists back him up) then it could be a wet, wild game at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

It has been the site of two of the stranger weather events in this series' history. In 1998, nearly 250 people were treated because of 90-plus degree temperatures. In 2000, the game was interrupted for 72 minutes because of storms in the area.

Isaac could make a name for himself on that list this weekend.

"Any storm that goes up this weekend — and there will be quite a few of them — will have torrential downpours, a lot of lightning and we can't even rule out a strong or severe storm or two this weekend," Bailey added.

And if the storms don't get you, the humidity might. Bailey said it will be like watching football at the beach, sans the sand and lovely views.

"This is a tropical system coming out of the Gulf of Mexico, so that's the air it's going to bring with it," he said.

"Even if we get the game in without a thunderstorm disrupting it, the humidity is going to be off the charts. That may end up posing a problem for some of the players during the game."

Kentucky coaches and players seemed fine with whatever weather awaits in Louisville.

When told that there was a 70 percent chance of rain for the game, maybe even torrential downpours, Kentucky Coach Joker Phillips cut off the question.

"Good. Good," he said. "That's great. We've got to do what we do."

To prepare this week, Kentucky plans to practice Friday with wet balls and wet gloves.

"We'll spray them down a little bit and practice," Phillips said.

His players seemed ready for the weather challenge.

"It's football, coldest weather or hottest weather, we're ready to play," senior lineman Larry Warford said. "It's as simple as that."

Defensive coordinator Rick Minter made it simpler than that, noting with a smile that come rain or shine he was planning to be there.

"I don't think it matters," he said dryly. "We wear helmets."

Both teams will be battling the same elements. Conventional wisdom says the underdog, in this instance Kentucky, benefits from a rain-slicked game. Phillips said it doesn't matter either way.

"We don't care how the weather is, whether it's sunny or it's cold," he said. "I just don't care what the weather's like.

"We just are ready to play. We just want to play."

More than anything, the UK coach said he's ready to put last season's 24-17 loss behind his team and move on to sunnier skies and thoughts.

"We have a pretty bad taste in our mouth from last year and we can't wait to get back on the football field," he said.

Wildcat for the Wildcats?

Phillips confirmed after Wednesday's practice that UK will have a Wildcat package of some kind in place for the start of the season. But the coach was hushed about what player that scheme might involve.

"You'll have to wait and see that," he told reporters. "I've told you we'll have one, but I don't need to tell you who it will be. We've got some different personnel coming in and out of the game and I want some of it to be a guessing game for everybody."

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

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