John Clay

Vontaze Burfict could be spark Bengals need, plus more random notes

Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict adjusts his helmet during a 2014 NFL football mandatory minicamp in Cincinnati. Burfict returns from a three-game suspension when the Bengals play host to Miami on Thursday night.
Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict adjusts his helmet during a 2014 NFL football mandatory minicamp in Cincinnati. Burfict returns from a three-game suspension when the Bengals play host to Miami on Thursday night. Associated Press

Random notes:

▪ Through three games, two of them losses, the Cincinnati Bengals have appeared flat this season. The return of Vontaze Burfict should take care of that.

Suspended the first three games for “repeated violations of safety-related rules” during last season, Burfict is eligible to play Thursday night when the Bengals play host to the Dolphins. It will be interesting to see how much of an immediate impact he can make.

▪ Gary Parrish of CBS Sports has updated his college basketball Top 25 (and one) list. Duke is No. 1, followed by Kentucky and Kansas. Parrish ranks Louisville 16th.

▪ As much as I love Lamar Jackson, I think Clemson rises to the occasion this weekend and beats visiting Louisville on Saturday.

▪ Jackson has thrown for 13 touchdowns and rushed for 12 through four games. Outside of Louisville, Michigan is the only team in the nation that has scored more than 25 touchdowns this season.

▪ Florida made a wise choice in Scott Stricklin, the former Kentucky associate athletics director who left Mississippi State to succeed Jeremy Foley as the Gators’ AD. Stricklin has big shoes to fill, but he’s up to the job.

Jalen Hurts, UK’s defense and more from Mark Stoops’ press conference

▪ After four games, Pro Football Focus rates Alabama’s Reuben Foster as the No. 1 linebacker in the country and Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts as the fourth-best true freshman in the country. The analytics site ranks Bama offensive tackle Jonah Williams as the sixth-best freshman.

▪ It’s the way of the modern college football world. Freshman running back Benny Snell emerges at Kentucky. Junior running back Mikel Horton decides to go elsewhere in search of playing time.

▪ As much success as Les Miles had during his 12-year tenure at LSU, you still had the feeling the Tigers underachieved. Since the administration obviously wanted to fire Miles at the end of last season, it should have fired him at the end of last season.

▪ My money is on Tom Herman being the next coach at LSU. Houston is nice, but there are a lot of players in the state of Louisiana.

▪ Fun fact: Herman and current LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda were college roommates at California Lutheran.

▪ Wrote my Wednesday column on Nick Saban. Could have added this: LSU fired Les Miles because he couldn’t keep up with Saban. Auburn fired Gene Chizik because he couldn’t keep up with Saban. Current Auburn coach Gus Malzahn is on the hot seat because he can’t keep up with Saban.

668Alabama’s total yards last time it played Kentucky

▪ In 2013, the last time Alabama played Kentucky, the Crimson Tide rolled up 668 yards of total offense, the most against a UK defense since Peyton Manning and Tennessee gained 695 yards in 1997. Alabama beat UK 48-7 in 2013.

▪ Before the season, CBS analyst Gary Danielson said Texas A&M was his darkhorse SEC pick. Danielson is looking pretty smart right about now.

▪ ESPN is reportedly considering splitting up “Mike & Mike.” Mike Greenberg may get his own show. Can one Mike survive without the other?

▪ Aaron Suttles of tidesports.com reports that against the Alabama defense, 55.2 percent of opponents’ possessions have resulted in three-and-outs. By my count, against Kentucky’s defense, 18.9 percent of opponents’ possessions have ended in three-and-outs.

▪ Tweet from AL.com’s Joseph Goodman, “Watching film of Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson, a juco transfer, and wondering why Auburn recruited John Franklin III and not this kid.

▪ When it comes to uniforms, I consider myself a traditionalist, i.e. old fogy. That said, I didn’t mind Kentucky football’s “anthracite” uniforms last Saturday.

▪ Kentucky trailed South Carolina 7-3 at halftime last Saturday and won 17-10. The last time UK had three points at the half and still won? That would be the Matt Roark Game of 2011 when UK led Tennessee 3-0 at the half and won 10-7.

▪ NBA training camps have opened. Just thought you’d want to know.

Kentucky at Alabama

When: Saturday

Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Kickoff: 7 p.m.

TV: ESPN with Dave Pasch, Greg McElroy and Tom Luginbill

Radio: UK Network with Tom Leach, Jeff Piecoro and Dick Gabriel

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