John Clay

SEC quarterback battles, plus dating news, plus more random notes

Cooper Bateman is in a battle to be the starting quarterback for defending national champion Alabama. The Crimson Tide opens the season Sept. 3 against USC in Arlington, Texas.
Cooper Bateman is in a battle to be the starting quarterback for defending national champion Alabama. The Crimson Tide opens the season Sept. 3 against USC in Arlington, Texas. AL.com/Associated Press

Random notes:

▪ Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi State and South Carolina have yet to formally announce a starting quarterback for 2016. And the openers are two weeks away.

▪ Meanwhile, new Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight, a transfer from Oklahoma, is reportedly dating Sadie Robertson of the Duck Dynasty family. Just thought you’d want to know.

▪ Joey Votto update: After hitting .413 in July, the Reds’ first baseman was hitting .429 in August heading into Tuesday night’s game against Miami.

▪ Add another name to the fall camp injury list: LSU running back Leonard Fournette, a prime Heisman Trophy candidate, has his foot in a boot after suffering an ankle sprain.

▪ On the flip side, Georgia star running back Nick Chubb, who tore his ACL last season, is back practicing without restrictions. Chubb and the Bulldogs visit Commonwealth Stadium on Nov. 5.

▪ Most everyone is picking Tennessee to win the SEC East this year. Think the pressure might be getting to the Vols? After holding an open practice each of his first three seasons, head coach Butch Jones said Tuesday practices will remain closed leading up to UT’s Sept. 1 against Appalachian State.

▪ Simone Biles had to be disappointed, but the way the gymnast reacted to a subpar performance that led to a bronze medal on the balance beam was pure gold medal. Biles appeared genuinely happy for teammate and friend Laurie Hernandez, who took the silver.

▪ AP picked Western Kentucky to win seven games this year. Think that’s low.

▪ The Reds finally bit the bullet and sent Cody Reed back to Louisville on Monday after the rookie allowed six runs in one inning at Milwaukee on Sunday, bringing his ERA to 7.36 with an 0-7 record. Reed is just 23. The hope is the experience didn’t permanently damage his confidence at the MLB level.

▪ UK offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said Tuesday he was disappointed that his team didn’t convert more third-and-one situations during last Saturday’s scrimmage. Kentucky converted just seven of 11 third-and-one situations last season. After converting their first four, the Cats were stopped three straight times before converting three of their last four.

▪ So when Cole Mosier won UK’s starting left tackle job in the spring, many thought the former walk-on would lose it in the fall. Hasn’t happened yet.

▪ Speaking of offensive tackles, listening to the coaches, sounds like highly touted freshman offensive tackle Landon Young will see playing time this year.

▪ If you look up “rock” in the dictionary you might see a picture of UK’s senior center Jon Toth.

▪ Yes, the Bengals lost their exhibition opener 17-16 to Minnesota last Friday. They also had a 22-play drive in the first half.

▪ Congrats to SI.com, which junked its confusing, hard-to-load website in favor of a cleaner, easier-to-navigate version. ESPN.com, the ball is now in your court.

▪ Biaggio Ali Walsh, the grandson of Muhammad Ali, has committed to play football at California.

▪ Speaking of Cal-Berkeley, Ashley Judd will start work on a Ph.D. there this fall. Maybe she’ll find time to sneak over to Las Vegas for UK-North Carolina on Dec. 17.

▪ I expect Charlie Strong and Texas to make a big leap forward this year.

▪ Good luck to ESPN college football analyst Rod Gilmore, who announced Monday he is battling multiple myeloma. Gilmore has done many Kentucky games over the years and says he plans to be in the booth Sept. 1 when South Carolina plays Vanderbilt in Nashville.

▪ RIP, the great Peter Finney, longtime sports columnist for the New Orleans Times Picayune, who died last week at 88. When Kentucky beat Tennessee 101-40 in the 1993 SEC Tournament at Rupp — yes, in those days the tournament was played at school sites — I happened to be walking with Finney back to the press room.

“The crowd just wanted more,” Finney said. “That was like feeding the Christians to the lions.”

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