University of Kentucky Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said Thursday that Kentucky season ticket sales are "off about 6 percent" from 2010.
Barnhart attributes most of the drop to overall economic conditions.
"It's a little slower than we have been. But we're fine," he said Thursday morning before a news conference at Commonwealth Stadium. "I think everybody is off a little bit, to be honest with you, across the country. You've got some top-10 programs across the country that are off 8 to 10 percent. The economy is hurting. It's been difficult."
Barnhart says UK has noticed that some former season ticket holders are this year opting to buy individual game tickets instead.
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"People are making choices in terms of their discretionary dollars and sometimes that may mean they can only go to two or three games rather than the whole season," he said. "And we welcome them if they can come to two or three. Terrific."
Barnhart said it is incumbent on the UK football program to put an entertaining product on the field in order to sustain demand for tickets. Kentucky scored only 10 points in losing the BBVA Compass Bowl to end last season and had only 190 total yards in its season-opening 14-3 victory over Western Kentucky University last week.
"We've got to do our part," Barnhart said. "We've got to give (the fans) something to get excited about and we've got to find those moments that create excitement for our program. There is an old adage in our business, 'defense wins championships, offense sells tickets.' Clearly, we have to get all those individual components going."
Even with a home schedule that includes Louisville, Florida and Tennessee, Barnhart says Kentucky does not yet have any individual game sellouts among its seven home football contests.
Linemen likely out
Joker Phillips said Thursday after Kentucky's practice that starting center Matt Smith and right tackle Billy Joe Murphy did not practice because of injuries and "probably will have a hard time playing" Saturday against Central Michigan in Kentucky's home opener.
Smith did not play against Western Kentucky last week because of an undisclosed injury. Murphy strained an MCL against WKU.
Defensive lineman Collins Ukwu, who suffered a chest injury against Western, did practice Thursday and should be good to go Saturday, Phillips said.
More true frosh to play?
Kentucky played eight true freshmen against Western: running back Josh Clemons, fullback D.J. Warren, wide receiver Demarco Robinson, defensive end Alvin "Bud" Dupree, defensive tackle Christian Coleman, and defensive backs Ashley Lowery, Daylen Hall and Eric Dixon.
Phillips says "there will be a couple of more (true freshmen) that did not play last week that should play this week. One of the running backs, and it sounds like one of the offensive linemen will get an opportunity to play also."
Besides Clemons, the true freshman running back on the UK roster is Marcus Caffey, a 5-foot-11, 189-pounder from Atlanta. The true freshman offensive lineman on the two-deep depth chart is tackle Darrian Miller, the Bryan Station product.
New Hurst bumper sticker
Hope Hurst Lanham has unveiled the traditional Hurst Office Suppliers bumper sticker for the 2011 Kentucky football season. The sticker proclaims: Rise and Shine, It's Wildcat Football Time.
Lanham's father, Dick Hurst, put out bumper stickers to commemorate the start of each UK football and men's basketball season for more than three decades. He died at age 76 on July 31.
Lanham hopes to keep the UK sticker tradition going to honor her dad. In a Herald-Leader column on Aug. 19, Lanham asked readers for suggestions for this year's sticker.
The winning entry came in response from Jeffrey Zuiderveen.