Ten quick hitters from the 24th annual Governor’s Cup luncheon:
1. Before the 2014 Kentucky-Louisville football game, U of L Coach Bobby Petrino and Daniel Berezowitz, the director of football recruiting operations for Mark Stoops at UK, had a shoving match on the field at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
Though not as overheated as the Kentucky-Louisville men’s basketball series, the UK-U of L football rivalry has seemed “chippier” in recent years.
On Tuesday at the Frankfort Country Club, Stoops and Petrino were in perfect sync.
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Both agreed that time spent on June 6 promoting a football game that will be played Nov. 25 would have been better used talking about this weekend’s NCAA baseball tournament super regional between Cats and Cards. Starting Friday at noon, Kentucky and host Louisville will meet in a best two-out-of-three showdown that will determine whether UK or U of L plays in the 2017 College World Series.
“It seems odd to be up here promoting football when we should be talking about that baseball game,” Stoops said.
Added Petrino: “Maybe we change (the timing of the Governor’s Cup luncheon), especially when we have this great baseball series coming up on Friday.”
2. Kentucky quarterback Drew Barker, who underwent corrective back surgery after missing the final nine games last year, has been cleared for normal summer football activities, Stoops reported.
3. The Kentucky coach said the dull performance by UK starting QB Stephen Johnson in the spring game had not changed the way the Cats’ coaching staff viewed its quarterback pecking order. Johnson, who led the Cats to seven wins in 11 games last year after Barker was sidelined, was 8-for-18 passing with an interception in the Blue-White Game.
“One game or one practice is never going to change the situation,” Stoops said.
4. Johnson, who was listed at a spindly 183 pounds on a 6-foot-3 frame last season, has spoken often of his need to add muscle. Stoops said the senior QB has done so. “When he puts his mind to something, he usually gets it done,” Stoops said.
5. Senior defensive lineman Alvonte Bell has been dismissed from the Kentucky team because of a violation of unspecified team rules, Stoops announced.
A 6-5, 260-pound product of Miramar, Fla., Bell played in 12 of UK’s 13 games last season, starting four. For the season, he had 27 tackles, one tackle for loss and broke up two passes. He was especially effective in UK’s 41-38 upset of Louisville, with six tackles. Bell missed UK’s spring practice after requiring surgery for a knee injury he suffered in Kentucky’s TaxSlayer Bowl loss to Georgia Tech.
6. Nose guard Matt Elam met with Stoops in mid-April. The UK coach said the meeting was to discuss what Elam, a lavishly hyped recruit in 2014, can do to end his college career on a high in 2017. “Matt is a good worker, does good things in everything that is expected of him when he is with us,” Stoops said. “There are sacrifices you have to make when you are away from the (UK football) complex and you are away from your coaches. That will be up to Matt.”
7. Derek Abney, former Kentucky wide receiver and kick-returning ace, was among ex-UK and U of L stars being honored at the Governor’s Cup luncheon. Abney, 36, lives in Charleston, S.C., and got his first tour this week of Kentucky’s posh new Joe Craft football training facility.
“The attention to detail was just amazing,” Abney said. “They have a ‘mud room’ (where) you come in, you put your cleats and gloves up so they won’t mildew when you put them in your locker. They thought of everything.”
8. During his Heisman Trophy-winning season last year, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson played at around 196 pounds. Petrino said the junior QB is now up to 206 pounds. “We want him to start out (the season) around 210, then settle in somewhere between 205 and 208,” Petrino said. “That will really help him throughout the grind of the year.”
9. Former Trinity star Rodjay Burns is at Louisville after transferring from Ohio State, Petrino said. A 6-foot, 190-pound defensive back, Burns played in seven games last season for OSU and returned an interception 75 yards for a touchdown against Bowling Green. He will redshirt in 2017, then have three years of eligibility remaining.
10. Petrino said he has not put U of L’s 41-38 loss to 28-point underdog UK last season behind him.
“I’m not over it yet,” he said. “When we start game week (for the season opener) with Purdue, I’ve got to put it behind me.”
Louisville at Kentucky
Saturday, Nov. 25 (time and TV to be announced)