Kentucky-Florida notes: Fake field goal TD a dream for UK special-teamers

jsmith3@herald-leader.comSeptember 29, 2013 

  • Tennessee at Kentucky

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

    TV: ESPNU

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

Jared Leet had never been in a post-game interview room.

He's Kentucky's holder.

And post-game interviews are not usually reserved for the team's holder.

"I came in here and wanted to take pictures," Leet said sheepishly. "It's kind of a dream for me."

Yes, the 24-7 loss to No. 20 Florida on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium was a bit of a nightmare, but for Kentucky's special teams players, scoring a touchdown was pretty special.

"A specialist's dream," he said of place-kicker Joe Mansour's 25-yard run on a fake field goal in which Leet tossed the ball over his head and the senior kicker took it down the right sideline for the first-quarter score. "I know last year when I took over the holder's position, I was always begging the coaches, 'Can we please run a fake field goal?'"

Leet knew a secret that few know: Joe Mansour is one of the fastest players on the team. He showed it on Saturday with that play, which UK had been practicing for some time.

"It was something we worked all week," Coach Mark Stoops said. "We've been greasing it up."

Mansour, whose last touchdown was in eighth grade when he was a tight end, sounded like a NASCAR driver as he reeled off the names of all the guys who got him there.

"I got a perfect snap from Kelly Mason and a perfect toss from Jared Leet and I ran for the touchdown," he explained.

"It felt unreal. Definitely I heard the crowd and everyone piling on me/stepping on my toes — I didn't really appreciate that — but it was great."

Mansour had to collect himself to hit the extra point directly after.

"It was a little nerve-wracking, the extra point after that, I definitely had a little adrenaline rush," he said.

Mansour's teammates weren't surprised to see him find the end zone on that 25-yard run.

"Oh no, we knew how fast he was," wideout Ryan Timmons said. "He had to run as fast as he could at first to prove to Coach Stoops he could score and things like that. He's one of the athletic kickers, so we're glad to have him on the team."

Disappearing Kemp?

There seemed to be some post-game confusion about Jojo Kemp and the running back's lack of carries.

After Kemp led the Cats in rushing each of the past two games, both Stoops and offensive coordinator Neal Brown said they wanted to get more carries for the true freshman, who was averaging more than 9 yards a carry.

Kemp was even moved to No. 1 on the depth chart with senior Raymond Sanders this past week.

He had an early 11-yard carry, but then virtually disappeared until the first series in the third quarter, in which he had one carry. In all, Kemp had three carries (two fewer than he had in the previous game) for 19 yards.

When asked if Kemp was injured, Stoops said he wasn't sure what happened.

"I'm not sure, to be honest with you," the head coach said. "In the rotation there, we've got guys coming and going so much, really didn't pay attention to that until I get to the film."

Offensive coordinator Neal Brown also didn't seem to know, saying running backs coach Chad Scott handles substitution patterns.

"I didn't even look at what the carries were," Brown said. "He had that one, I think the ball got loose. I don't know if it was a ball-security issue. I don't even know. I haven't talked to either of those."

When asked about his carries, Kemp said he also didn't know.

"My coach said that I wasn't in the play call," the freshman explained. "So I was just on the sidelines. Whenever it was my time or my turn to get in there, I'd go rock and roll."

He admitted to "a little bit" of frustration watching from the UK sideline most of the game.

"I still have faith in my coaches," Kemp said. "So whenever I get a chance I'm going to make the best (of it)."

'Just gave him a big hug'

Since there are no assistant coach introductions, one had to look hard to find former Kentucky coach and wide receiver Joker Phillips in his new spot on the Florida sideline.

Phillips, who is not permitted by the Gators to talk to the media, was greeted before the game by several UK staffers at midfield.

After the game, some former players, Kentucky Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart and even new head coach Mark Stoops spoke to Phillips, who was fired in 2012.

"There were a bunch of us who went up to him," senior running back Raymond Sanders said. "I just gave him a big hug. He told me he was proud of me. I told him good luck and to keep pushing. It was great to see him and to thank him for all he's done for me."

Stoops said he was glad to see his players meeting with their former coach after the game.

"Joker has done a lot for this program, worked very hard for this program for a long time," Stoops said. "I think most people have a lot of respect for what Joker has done, the person, the player, the coach he's been for this university.

"We're disappointed in a loss. But I went over and said hi to him, as well, congratulations. He's done a lot for this program."

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

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