John Clay

John Clay's notes: Loss of QB Will Gardner an untimely blow for Louisville

Sophomore Will Gardner hurt his knee Sept. 20 at Florida International, missed two games and then came back. U of L was 5-2 in his starts.
Sophomore Will Gardner hurt his knee Sept. 20 at Florida International, missed two games and then came back. U of L was 5-2 in his starts. Associated Press

Random notes:

■ Tough news for Louisville and Bobby Petrino.

Just as the Cardinals get wide receiver DeVante Parker back and rolling (25 catches for 490 yards over the last three games), they lose starting quarterback Will Gardner to a knee injury suffered in U of L's 38-19 win at Boston College last Saturday.

Gardner is done for the year, but Petrino does have talented true freshman Reggie Bonnafon, who has already started three games this season.

■ My pick: Alabama will beat Mississippi State in Tuscaloosa on Saturday. Being 89th nationally in total defense will catch up with the Bulldogs.

■ If you look around, the SEC has several defenses in the back part of the nation's total defense rankings.

Tennessee is 52nd in total defense. Auburn is 58th. Kentucky is 61st. Vanderbilt is 73rd. MSU is 89th. Texas A&M is 91st and South Carolina is 108th.

■ Three opponents have rushed for at least 300 yards in a game against the Kentucky defense. LSU rushed for 303. Mississippi State rushed for 326. Georgia rushed for 305.

The last time that happened to a UK defense was 1994, when four opponents topped the 300-yard rushing mark against the Cats.

■ There have been nine games this season in which an SEC defense has allowed at least 300 rushing yards. Kentucky and South Carolina have combined for five of the nine.

■ That '94 Kentucky team opened with a win over Louisville, then lost 10 straight. That's the longest losing streak to end a UK football season in modern history.

The 1982 team, Jerry Claiborne's first as Kentucky coach, tied Kansas to go 0-2-1, then lost its last eight. Kentucky's 2000 team, coached by Hal Mumme, began the season 2-1, then lost its last eight.

■ At this point, Kentucky football has not beaten a team with a winning record this year. Tennessee-Martin is 5-6. Ohio is 5-5. South Carolina is 4-5. Vanderbilt is 3-7. Louisiana-Monroe is 3-6. That's a combined 20-29.

■ The toughest decision for the College Football Playoff Selection Committee may be Ohio State.

The Buckeyes are 8-1 after that huge 49-37 win at Michigan State last week, but the lone loss came at home to a bad Virginia Tech team early in the season.

How much do you weigh that loss, with a true freshman at quarterback for OSU, against the Buckeyes' strong finish?

■ I realize it happened almost a week ago, but I still can't think of a game in which an NFL quarterback, a longtime starting NFL quarterback, played as poorly as the Bengals' Andy Dalton did against the Browns last Thursday.

■ The Steelers can claim that Justin Bieber's visit to the team's worship service last Saturday night did not have anything to do with Pittsburgh's upset loss to the Jets on Sunday, but the football gods may think otherwise.

■ Sure to be a hot name during postseason coaching searches is former Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain, who has Colorado State 5-1 in the Mountain West and 9-1 overall. McElwain was wide receivers coach at Louisville under John L. Smith from 2000-02.

■ Minnesota's Jerry Kill should get some consideration for national coach of the year. His Gophers are 7-2 overall and 4-1 in the Big Ten after Saturday's 51-14 win over Ohio. Minnesota plays Ohio State in Minneapolis on Saturday.

■ Kudos to UK women's soccer coach Jon Lipsitz on a school-record fourth NCAA Tournament berth and a school-first No. 3 national seed.

■ Blame those big TV checks for the ridiculous Sunday conflict in which the Kentucky-Florida volleyball match, featuring the top two teams in the SEC in Memorial Coliseum, is scheduled to start at the same time (noon) as the Kentucky-Buffalo men's basketball game in Rupp Arena.

The SEC Network is televising the volleyball match. ESPNU is televising the basketball game.

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