John Clay

It could be another soaking-wet Saturday. At least UK knows about playing in the rain.

You may have noticed that it rained during last Saturday’s Kentucky-Georgia football game in Athens.

Actually, it rained a lot.

It didn’t stop raining.

Guess what? According to Chris Bailey, chief meteorologist at WKYT-TV, rain is in the forecast for this Saturday’s UK-Missouri game at Kroger Field. Heavy rain, actually.

“There’s a lot of rain on the way for the weekend,” Bailey tweeted Wednesday. “Heavy rain and thunderstorms arrive late Friday and continue through early Sunday. A general 1”-3” of rain will be possible. #kywx.”

Oh, goodie.

But while everyone talks about how the rain affects the quarterback throwing the ball, the receivers catching the ball, and running backs running the ball, very few talk about the guy who snaps the ball.

“It’s kind of fun playing in the rain, honestly,” said UK center Drake Jackson on Tuesday.

As long as you don’t mess up.

“No, thank God we didn’t have any bad snaps,” said Jackson of UK’s 21-0 loss to the 10th-ranked Dawgs at Sanford Stadium.

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UK center Drake Jackson said he enjoys playing in the rain. He might get his wish for the second week in a row against Missouri on Saturday. Brian Simms bsimms@herald-leader.com

There’s an old saying in football: If you want to know what’s really going on, ask the guys in the trenches. “Talk to the offensive linemen,” said the late, great Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman, who covered the NFL for Sports Illustrated. “They’re the smartest guys.”

So how did Kentucky run 51 offensive plays in last Saturday’s slop without a bad snap?

“We do the wet ball drill,” Jackson said of the traditional practice drill in which players work with a wet football. “Part of that, I change up my towel after every drive. I switch gloves at halftime and try to keep them dry. Even when it’s wet, I still snap with gloves. That’s something that I do.

“So it just takes practice and, honestly, just doing what you always do. Just snap the ball.”

But last Saturday, Jackson was snapping to a quarterback in Lynn Bowden who is not all that used to taking a snap.

“Well think about it,” Jackson said. “He’s a wide receiver so he has to catch them. You ever think about that?”

Excellent point.

“I was like, ‘Well he’s a wide receiver. He should be able to catch every snap.’”

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Lynn Bowden took a call from the coaches during last Saturday’s rain-soaked loss at Georgia. More heavy rain is in the forecast for this week’s game against Missouri in Lexington. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

Bowden did fumble once at Georgia, but it wasn’t on a snap. It was on a run play in which he was trying to pick up yardage and the ball came out of his hand. Amazingly, on a miserable night, it was the game’s only turnover.

Instead, the most frustrating play of the night for the UK offensive line involved a holding call on guard Logan Stenberg — “I need an explanation,” said head coach Mark Stoops on Monday — that all but killed the Cats’ first drive of the second half in a scoreless game.

“The refs ‘Hawkeye’ Stenberg, that’s no doubt,” Jackson said. “If you watch offensive line play, it’s rare you see someone dominate the way Logan does, the way he’s able to just throw people around with sheer strength. His athleticism is impressive. That’s why he gets watched like that. Was it a holding call? That’s debatable.”

Still, despite the loss, despite the fact UK managed just 177 yards of total offense, Jackson said the players are taking a positive attitude into Saturday’s meeting with Mizzou.

“Georgia is one of the best teams in the country and we went out there and we played with them,” said the junior from Versailles. “I said this earlier in the year when we lost to Florida, we don’t have moral victories, but to respond the way we did so many times in that game, the way the defense stepped up in big moments was big. And when you watch the film on offense, we really played physical and that’s something that we’re proud of.”

They want to do the same against Missouri, only with a better result.

“I think it rained two years ago when we played them here,” said Jackson of UK’s 40-34 win over the Tigers. “That was a fun one.”

Wet or dry, the hope is Saturday will be, too.

Saturday

Missouri at Kentucky

When: 7:30 p.m.

TV: SEC Network

Records: Kentucky 3-4 (1-4 SEC), Missouri 5-2 (2-1 SEC)

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John Clay is a sports columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader. A native of Central Kentucky, he covered UK football from 1987 until being named sports columnist in 2000. He has covered 20 Final Fours and 37 consecutive Kentucky Derbys.
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