UK-WKU notes: Hilltoppers' Andrews will keep Cats 'on our toes'

jsmith3@herald-leader.comAugust 30, 2013 

Antonio Andrews did serious damage to Kentucky's psyche long before he threw the pass back to his quarterback in the end zone to seal Western Kentucky's overtime win over the Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium.

The Hilltoppers running back gashed UK for three touchdowns and 123 yards in Western's 32-31 victory last season.

Andrews, who had 10 games of 100 or more yards last season, probably will be the Toppers' top guy again on Saturday.

"He's a fantastic player, Antonio Andrews, and just a great player," UK Coach Mark Stoops said. "So he's somebody that we've got to keep an eye on."

Kentucky's defenders seem convinced that their new defensive alignment, moving from three down linemen to four, will go a long way toward shutting down Andrews' options.

"The defense we're in allows us to be more aggressive and have more bodies in the field to clog up the middle," defensive tackle Mister Cobble said.

Having the defense on the same page, something many players said was a struggle last season, will help, too. UK was 10th out of 14 teams in the Southeastern Conference at stopping the run, allowing 161.7 yards a game and giving up 25 touchdowns.

"Everybody understands the scheme and knows what to do. Up front, changing the scheme has helped, not having to think, 'Where do I have to be? Where do I go?'" defensive tackle Donte Rumph said. "We can just play. That helps out a lot."

But as UK learned last season, Andrews is dangerous in more ways than one. He finished the season with 767 yards on kickoff returns and 234 yards on punt returns, too.

He ended up with 1,728 yards rushing as a junior last season, but he also led the Toppers in all-purpose yards with 3,161, the most in school history and the second-highest total ever behind 1988 Hesiman Trophy winner Barry Sanders.

They are the only two players in NCAA history to amass 3,000 all-purpose yards in a season.

Stoops has no doubt WKU Coach Bobby Petrino will find even more ways to use his top offensive weapon.

"I'm sure he'll be looking to catch the ball even more in this style of offense than he has, but he's a good receiver," Stoops said. "He's a very good runner and punt returner, kick returner, does everything. So he's a very good player. We'll have to be on our toes to stop him, that's for sure."

No bulletin-board material?

Although he was happy to provide Kentucky with plenty of bulletin-board material before the game, quotes from WKU linebacker Andrew Jackson about how the Hilltoppers are going to "handle" UK won't be a part of the Cats' locker room décor.

The WKU tackles leader for the past two seasons noted that the Cats have a new offensive coordinator who will try to trick opponents with four wide receiver sets, but Jackson told the local media in Bowling Green that the Hilltoppers have a plan for that: "We're just going to hit them in the mouth and get it over with."

Stoops said his plan is to give his team tools it needs to win, not present it with inflammatory pre-game quotes.

"We don't need anybody's comments to motivate us," he said.

"If we want to be motivated from past history and all that then we should be ... I wasn't happy. I wasn't even here last year. I wasn't pleased what went on. That's not going to win us or lose us a game. Our preparation is going to win a game or lose a game."

Dress for success

If Kentucky wants to show opponents it means business it needs to look like it's on a business trip, which means pre-game attire under Stoops will be business casual.

"We're wearing a sport coat and khaki pants and a button-down shirt," Stoops explained this week. "Tie's optional, but it's a nice, clean-looking shirt, button down and all that. So we should look good."

UK's senior running back Raymond Sanders likes the idea.

"We get to be clean-cut, looking all nice, looking good," he said. "It's different. In high school we had to dress up before games and it helped us come in with a business mind-set."

Javess Blue, a junior-college transfer, had to update his wardrobe a bit and is trying to get used to the change of dress.

"It's kind of like the NFL, so it's getting us ready at the same time, so it's something that I'll get used to," the wide receiver said. "I'm down with it."

Extra points

The Nashville version of the Cat Walk is scheduled for 3:45 p.m. CDT between LP Field Gates No. 1 and No. 2 at the Northeast Bus Inset. The line is supposed to stretch the length of the stadium along South Second Street.

Parking lots will open for tailgating at noon and gates to enter the game will open at 4 p.m.

■ The UK Alumni Association is hosting a pre-game tailgate event at 3:30 p.m. CDT outside the south end zone. Admission is $10 for students, $15 for association members and $20 for nonmembers. Cheerleaders and the marching ban are scheduled to be there. Reservations can be made at www.ukalumni.net/lpfield, or by calling (859) 257-8906.

■ Per NFL guidelines, there are strict rules governing the types of bags that can be brought into the stadium, including allowing only small clutch bags (the size of a hand) along with a clear-bag option. Allowed are one-gallon clear plastic freezer bags and bags that are clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and do not exceed 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches.

Fans are allowed to carry items like keys, makeup, combs, phones, wallets and credit cards in their pockets.

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

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