John Clay's notes: Curse of Spurrier? UK might think so

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistOctober 2, 2012 

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier looked at fans trying to provoke him during the Gamecocks' win Saturday night at Kentucky. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff

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  • Tennessee at Kentucky

    When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30

    TV: ESPNU

    Records: Kentucky 2-9 (0-7 SEC); Tennessee 4-7 (1-6)

Random notes:

A loyal reader reminded me that in four of the last five years, Kentucky has lost a key offensive player for the season who was injured in the South Carolina game.

In 2008, Kentucky wide receiver Dicky Lyons Jr. had his career ended when the senior tore the posterior cruciate ligament and a medial collateral ligament in the Cats' 24-17 loss to the Gamecocks at Commonwealth Stadium.

Lyons had made 33 catches to that point that season. At the time of his injury, he was UK's fifth all-time leading receiver.

In 2009, quarterback Mike Hartline suffered torn cartilage and a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee after coming down awkwardly in UK's 28-26 loss to South Carolina in Columbia. Up to that point, the Ohio native was having probably his best game as a Wildcat.

True freshman Morgan Newton took over as quarterback, leading UK to an eventual bowl game. Hartline tried to return late in the year but ended up having season-ending surgery two games before the end of the regular season.

In 2011, freshman running back Josh Clemons suffered a torn meniscus in his knee during Kentucky's 54-3 loss at South Carolina and was lost for the season.

Clemons suffered swelling in the knee during training camp this fall, underwent another surgery and is being redshirted.

Now, in 2012, on just UK's second offensive play in what turned out to be a 38-17 loss to visiting South Carolina, starting quarterback Maxwell Smith suffered what we now know was a damaged ligament in his left ankle when being sacked by 316-pound South Carolina defensive tackle Byron Jerideau.

Smith underwent surgery Tuesday — he jokingly tweeted afterward that he was ready to play golf — and is likely out for the year.

Is this some sort of Steve Spurrier curse?

■ I have no problem with taking the redshirt off true freshman quarterback Patrick Towles. The Cats are 1-4, with six SEC games remaining. Might as well see what you've got.

■ Once Andrew and Aaron Harrison announce Thursday where they are taking their considerable basketball talents, hopefully the floodgates will open as far as top recruits making commitments.

Here a month before the early signing period, only eight of Rivals' top 20 prospects for the Class of 2013 have settled on a school.

■ This is Separation Saturday when it comes to SEC football. I like Georgia to win at South Carolina. And I like Florida to beat visiting LSU in Gainesville.

■ Did you see where Kentucky opened as a 14-point favorite over Mississippi State? Turned out it was a Las Vegas typo. Maybe you can blame it on Autocorrect. In reality, UK is a 10½ -point underdog.

■ The Reds have won the NL Central and the Bengals are 3-1. What has gotten into Cincinnati?

■ I'm sure Dusty Baker knows what he's doing, but I'd sure be tempted to start Homer Bailey early in the NL Division Series so he can pitch on the road. Bailey's numbers are much better away from home.

■ This is the 10th time since 1971 that Kentucky has started a football season 1-4. The best the Cats have done in any of those previous seasons is finish 4-7.

■ Congrats to former UK offensive coordinator Tony Franklin and former UK grad assistant Sonny Dykes, who is the head coach at Louisiana Tech. Franklin is Dykes' offensive coordinator.

Two weeks ago, Louisiana Tech won 52-24 at Illinois. Last Saturday, Louisiana Tech won 44-38 at Virginia. Louisiana Tech is fifth in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 52 points per game.

■ And that brings up our old friend Hal Mumme, who had to be smiling Saturday as West Virginia was beating Baylor 70-63 in a shootout at Morgantown.

West Virginia Coach Dana Holgorsen played for Mumme at Iowa Wesleyan. Baylor Coach Art Briles was an assistant under Mumme protege Mike Leach at Texas Tech.

Meanwhile, Mumme was in Goodwell, Okla., coaching NCAA Division II McMurry University to a 42-33 win over Oklahoma Panhandle State.

John Clay: (859) 231-3226. Email: jclay@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @johnclayiv. Blog: johnclay.bloginky.com

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