Big Blue Links for Sunday:
Of UK’s 675 yards, a robust 434 came from players signed by Stoops and his new staff since their arrival after last season.
“That’s impressive, especially for a group of young kids,” UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown said. “We’re going to lean on them.”
Avery Williamson made his way to the middle of the Kentucky locker room and his head coach stepped aside to allow the senior leader to speak.
Williamson didn’t say a word about UK’s huge 41-7 victory over Miami (Ohio) on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium. The linebacker just smiled and handed the game ball to his coach.
“We started a new era,” Williamson said later. “I was glad to be the guy to give it to him.”
Get ready, get set, go, go, go, go.
There’s little time to breathe in Neal Brown’s version of the Air Raid offense where it is one snap after another (no huddling) and an end-around followed by a bubble screen followed by a seam route and quarterback Maxwell Smith is running out and quarterback Jalen Whitlow is running in for a designed draw and the next thing you know here comes Maxwell Smith back in and the defense is gasping and — boom — there’s an 88-yard touchdown pass and 675 yards of total offense.
No time for punctuation either.
— Matt Smith (@Matt_Smith69) September 7, 2013
To be clear, the visiting RedHawks don’t provide much resistance – they went 4-8 each of the last two seasons and lost 52-14 in their opener against Marshall – but that was just what the doctor ordered for a downtrodden program. For a day, at least, Kentucky (1-1) dominated.
Miami (0-2) punted on each of its first five possessions, managing just 44 yards, while the Wildcats scored on each of their first five possessions and piled up 359 yards by midway through the second quarter, at which point UK already led 31-7. The home team’s only gaffe was a fumbled punt return that the RedHawks pounced on for their lone touchdown.
But it was Daniel Berezowitz, Kentucky’s recruiting operations director who hatched the idea of linebacker Avery Williamson presenting the game ball to head coach Mark Stoops after the Wildcats’ 41-7 win at Commonwealth Stadium, the first of Stoops’ head coaching career.
“(Stoops) was really shocked,” said Williamson, whom Berezowitz approached in the fourth quarter. “He was shocked. He wasn’t expecting it at all, so it was definitely a good feeling. I was just acting like I was just coming up there to speak or whatever, and then I was like, ‘We’ve gotta give Coach his first win.’ Everybody was really excited about it.”
Smith started the game as promised, but it took only five plays until Whitlow saw his first action. Two plays later, the sophomore dual-threat quarterback led the Cats to their first score with a nine-yard touchdown run.
Whitlow actually ran onto the field first for UK’s second drive. After a 19-yard pass from Whitlow to freshman wide receiver Ryan Timmons, Smith returned to the game. Smith completed two passes for two first downs before Whitlow returned for 1st-and-10 from the Miami (Ohio) 22-yard line. He led the Cats to the four-yard line, but neither he nor Smith could convert on pass attempts inside the five, leading to a UK field goal.
Sophomore quarterbacks Maxwell Smith and Jalen Whitlow took turns leading the offense for UK.
While Smith received his first start of the year, it was Whitlow that punched in a nine yard touchdown run to put the Cats on top first. Whitlow said he was ready for whatever coach Brown called for the offense.
“I’m a football player,” Whitlow said. “I’m a quarterback, too, but first I’m a football player. If I have to throw a million times, I’ll throw a million times. If I have to run a million times, I’ll run a million times.”
Kentucky 2013 football schedule
- Aug. 31 vs. WKU – Lost 35-26 (0-1)
- Sept. 7 Miami (Ohio) – Won 41-7 (1-1)
- Sept. 14 Louisville
- Sept. 28 Florida
- Oct. 5 at South Carolina
- Oct. 12 Alabama
- Oct. 24 at Mississippi State
- Nov. 2 Alabama State
- Nov. 9 Missouri
- Nov. 16 at Vanderbilt
- Nov. 23 at Georgia
- Nov. 30 Tennessee