Q&A | Tim Masthay has worked hard to get stronger and it's paid off
Junior kicker/punter Tim Masthay is coming off perhaps the finest game of his Kentucky career in Sunday's 27-2 win over Louisville. He boomed four of his seven kickoffs for touchbacks, and his 78-yard kick after Louisville had recorded a safety could have been the play of the game.
Q: Take me back to the big kick following the safety. What was going through your mind?
A: It was interesting because once the ref confirmed it was a safety, I started looking around for (kicker) Ryan (Tydlacka) because I figured we'd be punting it, and I didn't know who would actually be punting. Then Coach (Steve) Ortmayer said, 'Grab your tee.' I just tried to kick it as hard and high as I could, and I really got my leg into it.
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Q: You've made a name for yourself with your kickoffs. What's the secret?
A: Two summers ago I really remember pushing myself to get stronger and get power into my kicks. The strength coaches have been great, and the coaches make sure you don't get too many reps in practice so your legs are fresh. A big part of it is just getting older and more comfortable.
Q: How have you changed over the years mentally?
A: I have more fun than I used to have, especially on the kickoffs. I feel more confident. I remember when I was younger, it was more like, "Don't screw up."
Q: Kickers take the blame so often, is it nice to actually be recognized for contributing to a win?
A: It's always a good feeling to know that you helped your team, but kickers and quarterbacks know that's part of the deal. It's just part of the job.
Q: You were a pretty good high school receiver. Given the problems the team is having at that position, have you done any campaigning?
A: I think my day has passed. It's been too long. Back in the day I used to run some routes, but I'm pretty solidified in my role now."
Murphy to get starting nod after Williams' injury
UK redshirt freshman Billy Joe Murphy will likely step into the starting lineup for the first time in his Wildcat career at left tackle to replace Garry Williams, who will miss 2-3 weeks after surgery to repair an MCL tear in his knee.
The 6-foot-6, 292-pound Murphy, a Monroe County graduate, was one of the most improved players in fall camp, UK Coach Rich Brooks said.
"He's worked his tail off and deserves the position," UK offensive coordinator Joker Phillips said.
Junior James Alexander, who has two career starts, has been bothered all fall by a high ankle sprain but could also see action at left tackle. Sophomore Brad Durham, who had been working at right guard before moving to right tackle, could also fill in there.
Williams' injury ends a streak of 26 consecutive starts.
"I'm not sure if I've ever been without Garry as my left tackle since I became offensive coordinator," Phillips said. "He's definitely been durable."
The Wildcat offensive line will get a different look this week from Norfolk State, which runs a 3-4 defense.
"That creates a lot of problems for us from an experience standpoint," Brooks said.
Gonzo for 'Fonso
A caller to Brooks' radio show this week asked why junior Alfonso Smith didn't get more carries against Louisville. Smith is currently third on the depth chart behind Tony Dixon and Derrick Locke and carried two times for 10 yards against the Cards, which was the best yards-per-carry average by far of the UK backs. Smith has carried 82 times for 409 yards for his career, also a five yards-per-carry average.
Brooks seemed somewhat irritated when asked about his running back rotation at his weekly news conference and appeared to make reference to the caller.
"I have gotten a lot of advice on that already," Brooks said. "The amazing thing is, I've been in this business a long time and I think I know what I'm doing, but I always get unsolicited advice. I appreciate that because sometimes I need to rethink some things. But we're going to play the backs that give us the best opportunity to win."
Gustav sends players' families to Lexington
Last weekend's Hurricane Gustav forced the families of Louisiana natives Dicky Lyons Jr. and Jacob Dufrene to head to Lexington last weekend.
Gustav was a strong Category 2 (one mph below Category 3) but didn't have the overall damaging effects of Hurricane Katrina. Lyons, whose family lives a few miles west of New Orleans, said that power will be out in the area for about two weeks.
Dufrene is from Cut Off, La., a tiny town in the southern part of the state. The roof blew off the Dufrene family business, so his father Paul remained home while the rest of the family headed for Kentucky.
Preparing for hurricanes has become a way of life for the two Louisiana natives.
"This time there was a little more preparation than there was for Katrina," Lyons said. "Nobody was taking any chances. Everybody was like, 'We're grabbing our stuff and getting out.' It wasn't as bad as Katrina, but it's still a hassle."
Military Appreciation Day
Today is Military Appreciation Day at Commonwealth Stadium. A flag that is the size of a football field will be displayed during pre-game ceremonies. More than 6,000 tickets were provided to Fort Knox, Kentucky National Guard, UK ROTC and the Lexington Veterans Administration Hospital.
Norfolk State boasts one player from Kentucky in redshirt freshman linebacker Corwin Hammond of Louisville. He attended St. Xavier High School, the same high school as Wildcats Jon Thomas, Justin Jeffries and Matt Smith.
The "Cat Walk" will take place at 3:45 p.m. at Gate 1. More information can be found on the "Cat Walk" and other activities on UK's new "Gameday" site on UKathletics.com.
Tonight's game will be televised live within the state of Kentucky on a pay-per-view basis and shown on a delayed basis on the Big Blue Sports Network. The game will be televised live outside of Kentucky as part of ESPN GamePlan. Those interested in ordering the game should contact their local cable/satellite provider.