Mark Story: Why UK fans should be fretting over WKU

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistAugust 12, 2013 

Quick hitters from the Emma Talley victory parade:

21. Advantage, WKU? There are three players who will play in the Kentucky-Western Kentucky season opener Aug. 31 in Nashville whose prior performance in college football qualifies them as "stars." Not one of the three plays for UK.

20. Antonio Andrews. The WKU running back last season joined Barry Sanders as the only college football players in FBS history to accumulate more than 3,000 all-purpose yards in one season. Kentucky's 2009 Mr. Football ran for 125 yards and three touchdowns — and threw the game-winning two-point conversion pass — in WKU's 32-31 upset of UK last season.

19. Jonathan Dowling. The 6-foot-3 safety, who transferred to Western from Florida, had seven pass break ups and six interceptions last season. In Commonwealth Stadium, he picked off three Maxwell Smith passes.

18. Andrew Jackson. The hefty WKU linebacker (6-1, 265 pounds) had 122 tackles last season, a whopping 17.5 for loss. He had eight stops against UK, including one behind the line.

17. Bobby Petrino. The new Western head coach is 4-0 against Kentucky in season openers.

16. Jalen Whitlow. Every ex-UK quarterback I've recently spoken to — or have heard speak via the media — thinks the sophomore from Prattville, Ala., is going to win Kentucky's three-headed battle for the starting quarterback job.

15. John Schlarman. The 1990s-era Kentucky guard and new UK offensive line coach says that coaching where he played college football was his goal from the start. "You hope for that opportunity to come back here and coach," he said, "but it's really a long shot that ever happens. ... So this is really exciting to me."

14. Cardinals from Lexington. The two highest-profile ex-Lexington high school football standouts now playing for Louisville are Bryan Station product Roy Philon and ex-Lexington Catholic quarterback Kyle Bolin.

13. Evaluating Philon. U of L defensive coordinator Vance Bedford wants more of a pass rush from Philon, a senior expected to start at defensive tackle. "We play a 4-3 defense here," Bedford said, "(so) a lot of times (Philon) is 1-on-1. We need a guy who can win that battle, a guy who can push the pocket."

12. Evaluating Bolin. U of L offensive coordinator Shawn Watson expects true freshman Bolin to battle for the third-string QB job behind Heisman candidate Teddy Bridgewater and redshirt freshman Will Gardner. "(Bolin's) got a nice skill set, very good passer, great feet," Watson said. "He's in China a little bit right now because the terminology, obviously, is a little bit different."

11. Welcome to Louisville? Philon, a near 300-pounder, says he's already told Bolin he better watch out for a big hit from him during fall practice. "I've got to rough him up a little bit, get him used to what (college football) is like," Philon said, smiling.

10. Where's Teddy? At Louisville football media day, U of L radio play-by-play man Paul Rogers asked star QB Teddy Bridgewater how he spends his free time since, Rogers said, no one in Louisville ever sees the Miami product out in restaurants or clubs.

9. Bridgewater the homebody. "I sit in the house and play (the video game) NCAA football all day," Bridgewater said. "A lot of people look at it as me just playing a video game. I take it as me taking extra reps — virtual reps."

8. The Paul Finebaum Show. The SEC football-centric radio talk show, hosted by the former Alabama newspaper columnist, began airing Monday (2 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET) on ESPN Radio stations.

7. Coming to Lexington? Chris Cross, the program director at Lexington's ESPN affiliate, WLXG, said Monday that the station had a 48-hour window to decide whether to carry the Finebaum program. If it decides to do so, it will likely be on a tape-delayed basis at night, Cross said.

6. New NASCAR TV deal. In 2015, FOX (the first 16 races) and NBC (the final 20) will be the only two national TV rights holders for the Sprint Cup Series. Currently, Fox, TNT and ESPN split televising the Cup races. In the three years in which Kentucky Speedway has had a Sprint Cup event, it has been part of the TNT package.

5. New deal's impact in Sparta. If the current Cup schedule stays the same for 2015 (no certainty), "we would be the first race for NBC," Kentucky Speedway General Manager Mark Simendinger said. "That would be a cool thing for our track, I think."

4. No sponsor for Sept. Nationwide race. As of Friday, Simendinger said the Sept. 21 NASCAR Nationwide race at Kentucky Speedway does not have a title sponsor, though talks are ongoing.

3. Cup race sponsorship. Quaker State has been the title sponsor of the first three Cup races at Kentucky Speedway. Simendinger said that contract is now up for renewal.

2. 'Unforgettable' golf. It was a productive weekend for former Kentucky forward Deron Feldhaus. According to The Ledger Independent in Maysville, Feldhaus won the three-round Mason County Open golf tournament by six shots.

1. A Feldhaus dynasty. It is the fifth time in the 19-year history of the Mason County Open that the 6-foot-7 Feldhaus has claimed the championship.

Best news is, unlike Deron's Final Four trip, Christian Laettner can't take those titles away.

Mark Story: (859) 231-3230.Email: mstory@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @markcstory. Blog: markstory.bloginky.com.

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