Archive for August, 2011

RyanTydlacka2

This article was written by Tyler Bloyd, a contributor with KentuckySports.co.

OK, so I know a lot of you will say punters/kickers really don’t count towards the actual team, let alone one of the best players on the team, but when these guys can seal the deal with a 35-40 yard field goal to win a bowl game, I would say that all kickers are true parts to the program. Now with that being said, we move on to the #4 player on the countdown of Top Ten Kentucky players according to NCAA Football 2012, the kicker with a overall rating of 85, #9 Ryan Tydlacka. Ryan is a product out of Louisville Trinity high school where he was named to the First Team All State by the Associated Press his Junior and Senior year, where he kicked his Rocks team to two state championships. He averaged 40.3 yards per punt for his 3 year starting career.

Heading into college with the Wildcats, he red-shirted his first season and then appeared in 10 games the following season where he served as the team’s pooch kicker, as well as the backup kicker. He was able to keep 16 of 22 punts inside the 20, and tallying up a 51-yard field goal against South Carolina. His Junior season in Lexington, sophomore year on the roster brought Tydlacka the starting roll where he was later named to a 4th Team All-SEC selection by Phil Steele’s College Football after averaging 40.0 yards per punt and only seeing 11 of 64 punts returned. His longest punt of the year against South Carolina when he nailed a 59-yarder.

RyanTydlacka

Last season, his official Junior year for UK, Tydlacka averaged 43.8 yards per punt, almost four extra yards from hsi previous year. He was named the Co-SEC Special Teams Player of the Week against South

Carolina(he hates the Gamecocks!) after landing 3 punts inside the 20-yard line and later in the year launched a career best 73-yarder against Ole Miss, which led to him receiving the College Football Performance Awards National Punter of the Week.

His senior season is about to “kick” off and his sporing couldn’t have been better. Named to the All-Spring Team by Rivals.com and is expected to have a good season with a year under the belt.

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Shenard_Holtonshenard_holton_in_pads_and_a_helmet

This article was written by Kelly Patrick, a contributor with KentuckySports.co.

Continuing with the countdown of the top 10 Louisville Cardinals football players according to EA Sports NCAA 2012 I will now discuss… Shenard Holton.

Shenard Holton is a Junior Safety who wears jersey #36, he stands 6-1 and weighs 190 lbs. Shenard is from Bowling Green, KY and attended Warren East HS, where he was the first Raider to sign a National Letter of Intent since 1997. He was rated by rivals.com as the tenth best prospect in the state of Kentucky.

Shenard appears to have a pretty cool Mohawk and started 11 out of 13 games and recorded 74 total tackles which was second on the team only to the Cards other starting safety Hakeem Smith (who is also a Junior). The biggest game of the season for Shenard was probably when he recorded 8 tackles against UK despite the Cards losing the game. Between Holton and Smith the Cards have a very solid pair of Safetys and will be counted on to make up for the lack of experience at the cornerback position.

Ware Should Not Be Counted On

Posted: August 25, 2011 by robjoneslyes in Louisville Basketball, Posted by Rob Jones

Kevin Ware still not eligible

In what seems to be an annual late-summer ritual for the Louisville basketball team, another top-notch recruit is having eligibility issues. This year, the recruit is G Kevin Ware from Georgia who has seen his fair-share of status already this off-season.

The newest blogger in town, coach Rick Pitino, posted today that Ware  “still has not been cleared to play.”. As he was breaking down each player individually, Pitino went on to say senior Chris Smith is “working on his passing skills as he may need to play some back up point.”. Using deductive reasoning, that says to me that Pitino is preparing a contingency plan in case Ware does not show up on campus.

If history is an indication of anything, odds are against Ware ever donning the red and black. Just last season, Huntington Prep swingman Justin Coleman was in Ware’s similar situation and never showed up. Previously, guys like Donte’ Smith and Amir Johnson who went on the play in the NBA, saw a similar fate.  It almost seems like it wouldn’t be an off-season recruiting period without some academic controversy surrounding an incoming recruit.

After de-committing from 2 different schools in less than a year, Ware picked the Cards a few weeks after competing in the Derby Festival Classic at the Yum! Question marks surrounded Ware, who was at the center of the Caldwell/Bender/Central Florida fiasco that was reported by Pat Forde and Pete Thamel. Ware is a great player who would give Louisville quality minutes off the bench early. Yet, it seems like problems just follow him around whether he had any hand in them or not. Just another reason why the odds don’t look to be pointing in the youngster’s favor.

However, Ware is not the missing ingredient in a potential national championship run for Pitino’s Cards. At least he doesn’t seem to be. Pitino was looking for Ware to play a little back-up point, a position he has never played before, so the learning curve would be greater than that of the other incoming freshman. Also, Pitino had an outstanding class before the late addition of Ware. He was icing on an already delicious cake…or maybe even just some sprinkles. Louisville will have a Final 4 caliber team with or without Ware’s services.

Nothing official has come out as to whether or not Ware will become eligible. However, the writing is on the wall and (to me) his chances have become slim. We can all hope he becomes eligible to both further himself and the potential of this year’s Cardinal squad…I just wouldn’t get my hopes up. Time and time again, Louisville fans have been burnt in eerily similar situations. I don’t think they will be burned again.

Follow Rob on Twitter – @RobJones502

Tough Decision for Strong

Posted: August 19, 2011 by robjoneslyes in Louisville Football, Posted by Rob Jones

Clint Hurtt named in Yahoo! probe on Miami

Louisville coach Charlie Strong came into the program 18 months ago as a breath of fresh air for a team that had endured 3 years of smog under Steve Kragthorpe.`Attitudes changed, wins came, and the Cards returned to a bowl game. Top recruits decided Louisville was the place for them and groundwork was laid for a successful program. Louisville fans are infatuated with Strong. He can do no wrong.

Then came the Yahoo! Sports report on the Miami football program last week which implicated assistant coach and star recruiter Clint Hurtt in a larger-than-life cheating scandal while he was recruiting coordinator for the Hurricanes. Although no charges have been levied against Hurtt in his time with the Cards, Coach Strong is faced with his toughest decision thus far in his time as head coach: whether or not to retain Hurtt on his staff.

Hurtt’s misgivings at the U were small in the grand scheme of things when it comes to the massive pile of dirt going down in Miami, but improper nonetheless. He took a few recruits to the mansion of booster Nelvin Shapiro (the center of the scandal) and accepted 2 interest-free loans of $2500 from the man set to spend 20 years in prison for a $930 million ponzi scheme. Both accusations are illegal by NCAA standards and backed up by multiple eyewitness accounts and paper trails. I think it is safe to say that Hurtt won’t spend a lot of time attempting to vindicate himself of the allegations in the Yahoo! story.

Coach Strong has been known not to give up on someone for past transgressions. Just last month, starting cornerback Daruis Ashley was charged with his second DUI, an offense that most would greet with a shown door. However, instead of abandoning Ashley in a time of need, Strong suspended him for a year and the /Louisville native will rejoin the team with good behavior next season. If no new information surfaces in the Hurtt matter, I don’t see Strong simply cutting ties with a model employee over something that didn’t even happen while representing the red and black.

Having said that, all T’s need to be crossed and I’s dotted when deciding whether to retain Hurtt as a coach. For all the pipelines he has opened and studs he’s signed, it’s not worth drawing the ire of the almighty NCAA. Ideally, Hurtt will be up front with both Tom Jurich and NCAA investigators who have asked to speak with him, so he can put that part of his life behind him and continue to build the Cardinal program with Strong.

Recruiting, along with an increase in performance on the field, has been what has driven so much excitement to the football program thus far under Strong. Hurtt has been a main cog in process as recruiting coordinator being responsible for big-time recruits like QB Teddy Bridgewater and WRs Michaelee Harris and Eli Rogers defecting Miami for the Bluegrass state. Speculation is rampant that Hurtt may be using the same tactics from his Miami day at Louisville. Although it is just speculation, even the thought of that can not sit well with Strong and Jurich. The last thing a program on the rise needs is a fresh recruiting scandal to end the honeymoon.

All that speculation is just that…speculation. Under Strong, Louisville has signed top-notch kids from all over the south (not just Miami area) that they weren’t in on before and have no ties to Hurtt. A lot of this vague speculation comes from fans of teams who will be perennial doormats or radio hosts/bloggers who have no idea what they’re talking about and are dying for attention to be shifted away from their program’s shadiness. This report involved 72+ current or former Miami players and a multitude of other recruits and coaches. Hurtt was not the epicenter of this scandal even though some would lead you to believe he was. Also, the name “Louisville” was not mentioned in the report, despite the focus locally.

Knowing Tom Jurich over the years, I’m sure he and Coach Strong are working with both Hurtt and NCAA investigators to gather details and make a decision on  Hurtt’s future. For all we know, a decision has already been made. What we do know is the Charlie strong and his AD will have to think long and hard before they decide on the future of a coach who was named national recruiter of the year in his inaugural season withe the Cards. A rushed choice based on accounts by a convicted felon in an internet report will not happen.

Were Hurtt’s transgressions isolated to his time at Miami? Is the black-eye laid on him by Yahoo! too much for Strong/Jurich to overlook? These are questions that need to be answered soon, so both sides can move on and focus on the season at hand.

In my opinion, if this is the end of the allegations, Hurtt has done far more for the university in his 18 months than has been taken away because of this report. Charlie Strong has always been forgiving of players. His coaches should be no different. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hurtt received a slap on the wrist from Jurich/Strong in the form of cutbacks on contact for a year just ton save face with the public/NCAA.

However, if this is just the tip of the iceberg with Hurtt and the NCAA, a change needs to be made. It would be a shame to see him go, but it would have to happen.

I’m sure we haven’t heard the end of this saga. Stay tuned for updates.

 

BillyJoeMurphy

This article was written by Tyler Bloyd, a contributor with KentuckySports.co.

BillyJoeMurphy2With the days winding down until the Wildcats kick-off of the 2011 football season, we look in to who might be the team’s top players or leaders, so we will continue with our countdown of the Top Ten Kentucky players according to NCAA Football 2012. And yes, we are doing a Louisville Top Ten as well, you can check out the Cardinal Blog where Kelly Patrick is doing the Cards.

We stay in-state when talking about the #6 players on the list. Coming out of Monroe County high school down in Tompkinsville, KY, #52 Billy Joe Murphy. He was rated very high as a senior, top-ten players in the state according to Rivals.com and Scout.com, where he started both sides of the ball for three year’s at offensive and defensive tackle. Playing on both ends, he was second on the team in total tackles with 81 and helped his offensive line to a school record of total offense, as well as averaging close to 250 rushing yards per game. Leading his team to the KY state playoffs his junior and senior year, he was named to the All-South Region by PrepStar while off the field Billy played baseball, member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Beta, FFA to go along with his 4.0 GPA.

Heading in to college, it was a dream to play for the Wildcats as he gew up a Cat fan, he redshirted his true freshman season, where he was named the Scout Team’s offensive player of the week when UK took on Vanderbilt in 2007. His 2nd year in Lexington, first official year on the roster, he appeard in 7 games, three of those were starts, 2 at left tackle and one at right, helping his offensive line to a SEC best and 4th nationally for fewest sacks allowed.

2009 rang in his sophomore season, where he mainly saw action for the special teams unit, not doing to much on the stat line, but appearing in all 13 games for Kentucky and first year coach Joker Phillips. Last season, Murphy’s junior year, he started in 6 games, three different positions(left & right tackle, left guard) that helped a young and talented offensive line to 4th ranking in total offense for the SEC.

His senior year with the Wildcats has him tagged as the official starter at the right tackle position, where coaches were pleased with his pre-season performances/workouts. He will get to tally to his 33 game total and hopefulyl help UK to another bowl game and succesful season. 23 Days! Go Cats!

daniel_brown_getting_ready_to_level_hartline

This article was written by Kelly Patrick, a contributor with KentuckySports.co.

daniel_brown_by_himself

It’s nice to see Tyler Bloyd has picked up where I started and began a countdown of the top ten players on UKs football program. Although the excitement isn’t there for football in the state as it is for basketball I like to think that knowing and following football for both schools is what separates the “fair-weather” fans from the true Red and Blue faithful.

Continuing with my countdown of the top ten highest rated Cardinal Football players I will talk a little about Daniel Brown:

Daniel Brown is a 6-1 225 lb Junior linebacker out of Atlanta, GA and Douglas high school. He wears #24 and started all 13 games for the Cards last season while recording 55 tackles. During high school Brown played mostly in the defensive secondary and also ran the 400 meter and was a member of the 4 x 100 relay team.

One of the players who the current coaching staff seems to have really elevated the play of is Daniel Brown. After red-shirting the 2008 season Brown played in eight games as a freshman before thriving as a starter during Charlie Strong’s first year with the team. Brown started all 13 games and along with Preston Brown and Dexter Heyman will lead the 2011 linebackers’ corps which as a unit is projected to be one of strengths for the defense this upcoming season.

A Look Ahead: 2011 Louisville Cardinals (Part Two)

Posted: August 17, 2011 by Raashaan Myers in Freak Stuff

We first took the time to take a look at the offensive side of the ball at some of the movers and shakers heading into upcoming football season for University of Louisville. While Coach Strong is all about rough and tumble smash-mouth offensive football his passion is the defensive side of the ball.

For part two of our look at the 2011 Football Cards we will examine the prospective starters on the defensive side of the ball. This unit will be the leaders of this team and a key reason this edition of Louisville football can be successful again this year. (The coaching staff will also be utilizing a lot of 3-3-5 defensive scheme this year but the projected starters are listed as Base 4-3 due to this was the only look that was given during open practices.)

Defensive Line

Defensive Line(Photos courtesy of: Insidetheville.com)

Projected Starters:

Defensive End:                    #91 William Savoy              6’1” 248 lbs.                           Senior

Defensive Tackle:               #6 Greg Scruggs                  6’4” 273 lbs.                           Senior

Defensive Tackle:              #92 Brandon Dunn             6’3” 307 lbs.                       Sophomore

Defensive End:                 #47 B.J. Butler                      6’2”  276 lbs.                       Sophomore

I could have listed another four or five guys in these starting spots and felt very comfortable in that decision but this is the lineup that will start for this year’s Cardinal defensive front. There is such depth and talent up front that one of the most talented young players of the group freshman Lorenzo Mauldin has moved to tight end to help shore up that position. Greg Scruggs named Mr. Reliable by Coach Strong at the Kickoff Luncheon is the guy that will be the anchor of the entire defense and he will be an all Big-East caliber lineman this season. Blessed with the versatility to play both inside and on the defensive perimeter as well as pass coverage Scruggs will be the guy that the rest of the guys look to for leadership. Quite possibly the most surprising player on the defense last year was Brandon Dunn as he came in and started for a veteran laden team and played exceptionally well anchoring the middle of the line. Dunn looks to have gotten much bigger
and stronger this year and will have to be improved to keep his talented teammates at bay. At the ends we will start with Savoy and Butler who both are pass rush specialists that have improved both their technique and strength to help run around and through the competition. For guys who will make noise off the bench there are a ton of guys both returning and new to the program that will have the opportunity to see quality snaps for the Cardinals this coming season. On the interior #99 Jamaine Brooks (6’4” 329 lbs. r-Fr.) has probably gotten more out of redshirting as anyone in the program as he has lost well over 50 pounds and has been dominant early in camp. Also on the interior look for a trim and fit looking #95 Randy Salmon (6’3” 271 lbs. Jr.) and #93 Roy Philon (6’3” 290 So.) to provide depth on the inside as well. On the edge there is a ton of speed and skill coming off the bench as well led by #47 Malcolm Mitchell (6’2” 236 lbs. So.) and #17 Marcus Smith (6’4” 251 lbs. So.). Mitchell has rotated with Savoy and Butler playing with the starters and will get a ton of snaps this year and Smith who made the move from linebacker is also looking like a pass rush terror since his move in the spring. A pair of stud freshman #90 Bryant Dubose (6’4” 257 lbs.) and #48 Deiontrez Mount (6’5” 215 lbs.) will as get a long look for early playing time also as both are as physically gifted as any of the newcomers this year.

Linebackers

Linebackers

Projected Starters:

Weakside Linebacker:     #24 Daniel Brown       6’1” 220 lbs.                           Junior

Mike Linebacker:              #46 Dexter Heyman    6’3” 239 lbs.                           Senior

SAM Linebacker:               #2 Preston Brown      6’2” 260 lbs.                      Sophomore

While there are a ton of options on the D-line the top spots at linebacker look to be pretty solid to this point. Dexter Heyman could be the most impressive physical specimen on the team and after a couple of seasons searching for the right spot on the defense it looks like he has found a home in the middle. Possessing great all around ability Heyman is another big time playmaker in the middle of the defense. The Brown brothers will man the edges at the second level of the defense and each has a unique skill set they bring to the table. Preston is the hitter of the defense playing physically at the point of attack and looks much more comfortable his second season with the Cards. Daniel is much more balanced and is very adept in pass coverage and is a sure tackler. There is a ton of youth behind the starters and a lot of guys still trying to find themselves at the collegiate level. Three sophomores will have opportunities to get significant snaps this season in #43 Deon Rogers (6’2” 200 lbs.), #51 Mike Privott (6’0” 234 lbs.), and #37 Tyon Dixon (6’0” 208 lbs.).

Defensive Backs

Defensive Backs

Projected Starters:

Cornerback:     #35         Anthony Connor                5’11” 185 lbs.                                     Senior

Free Safety:     #36         Shenard Holton                  6’1” 187 lbs.                                       Junior

Strong Safety: #29 Hakeem Smith                            6’1” 183 lbs.                                  Sophomore

Cornerback:    #22 Jordon Paschal                           5’9” 180 lbs.                                RS-Freshman

Outside of the offensive line the most talked about group on the team is at cornerback. There is some talent at the spot but most of it is unproven so it is up to Anthony Connor who is coming off injury (ACL) to provide stability a leadership to this extremely young but talented group. Conner during the first few days of camp was solid in coverage and is a sure tackler. Holding on to the spot he earned during the spring Paschal has looked good in camp so far. He is very quick out of his breaks and has good closing speed to the ball. The group behind the starters who are looking to crack the starting lineup begins with a talented trio of freshmen Coach Strong called “as good as any group of freshman cornerbacks in the nation” in #3 Charles Gaines (5’10” 176 lbs), #15 Andrew Johnson (5’10” 178 lbs.), and #19 Terrell Floyd (5’10” 170 lbs.). Each of the three freshmen possess blazing speed, excellent ball skills, and a ton of natural instinct. Look for #41 Stephan Robinson (5’8” 175 lbs. r-Fr.) to provide depth as well since making the move to the corner after spring practice from wide receiver. While there are a ton of questions at the corner there are no such issues at the safety spots. Hakeem Smith returns as the leading playmaker in the defensive backfield and looks continue to improve and play at an All-Big East level. Shenard Holton is a guy that the coaching staff has been very impressed with so far this fall and Defensive Coordinator Vance Bedford said “Holton has been as good as anybody this fall”.   A pair of very experienced players will back up the starters in seniors #23 Terence Simien (6’3” 208 lbs.) and #33 Mike Evans (5’10” 188 lbs.).