Kentucky football notes: Cats starting to get healthy

jsmith3@herald-leader.comOctober 22, 2012 

Kentucky Wildcats's Patrick Towles (14) carried the ball in the first quarter of the Mississippi State at Kentucky football game at Commonwealth Stadium, in Lexington, Ky., on Oct. 6, 2012. Photo by Pablo Alcala | Staff

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The list Santa Claus has to check each December is shorter than Kentucky's injury list over the past few weeks.

But it appears as though UK's list might be significantly shorter by the time the Cats head to Missouri this weekend.

At his weekly press luncheon Monday, Coach Joker Phillips upgraded some key players to "day to day."

That group includes quarterback Patrick Towles, safeties Martavius Neloms and Mikie Benton, cornerback Cartier Rice and offensive lineman Zach West.

Towles and Benton, recovering from high ankle sprains, probably will practice Tuesday, with the others trying to go on Wednesday.

If Towles is able to practice, he will play in the Missouri game, Phillips said.

"It will be the same situation as we did in the Mississippi State game (alternating Towles and fellow true freshman Jalen Whitlow at quarterback), but again he hasn't taken a snap yet," the coach said. "We'll take a look and see tomorrow."

Phillips cautioned against high expectations for Towles. "We don't know anything. ... we'll see on the practice field."

Neloms (hamstring) is fourth on the team in tackles with 40, including one for a loss, and he's one of UK's most veteran defenders.

"It's always good to have veterans, kids that have been around the program a long time," defensive coordinator Rick Minter said last week.

West (shoulder) and Rice (hip) re-aggravated injuries from earlier this season.

Missouri QB doubtful

While Kentucky's injury list seems to be getting smaller, Missouri (3-4, 0-4 Southeastern Conference) is dealing with a major injury of its own in quarterback James Franklin, who was listed as doubtful on the team's depth chart Monday.

The junior, who has thrown for 805 yards and four touchdowns in five games this season, sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee on Oct. 6.

At his weekly news conference, Tigers Coach Gary Pinkel said Franklin has been throwing and taking snaps in practice, but not running. He said they do not anticipate him playing Saturday.

Redshirt freshman Corbin Berkstresser is listed as the starter at quarterback. He completed 12 of 29 passes for 126 yards with two interceptions against Alabama. Missouri was idle last week.

'Man, this beard's awesome'

Taylor Wyndham's beard could have its own Pantene commercial.

The shiny, luxurious locks on his face got supermodel attention when the senior defender met with the media Monday.

Wyndham fielded more than 10 questions about his facial hair, which he's been growing since the start of fall camp on Aug. 2.

When asked what his UK teammates think about the beard, Wyndham smiled broadly (which was hard to see under all that hair).

"They love it," he said. "A lot of them are like, 'Man, this beard's awesome.' They're all about it. I wish girls would feel the same way; girls hate this thing."

It's easy to understand why girls might have issues with something he says constantly has "all kinds of stuff" in it.

"It's pretty bad because I can't eat anything with sauces," he said of the beard, which he plans to shave off on Dec. 1.

College girls don't seem to be the only ones taking issue with Wyndham's facial tresses. Asked what his mother thought, Wyndham said, "Oh, she hates it. When I saw her on the Cat Walk the other day, her eyes got huge and she was like, 'Ugh.' I started laughing."

Coach Joker Phillips jokingly refers to Wyndham as "Wilson" because he thinks the senior looks like Tom Hanks in the movie Castaway. (Wilson was the name Hanks' character gave to his volleyball companion.)

The beard hasn't slowed Wyndham down on the field. He has 24 tackles and is second on the team in tackles for loss with six. Wyndham also has two sacks, two quarterback hurries, a pass breakup and a recovered fumble.

Lights out?

Even with all the facial hair fun at Monday's news conference, one moment of levity trumped all of them.

A UK employee accidentally hit the light switch as Phillips was wrapping up interviews. The lights came back on quickly, but sparked this quip from the UK coach: "I thought I was gone; an assassination."

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

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