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Mark Stoops and Mitch Barnhart Voice Frustration at Calipari’s Comments

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On Thursday, an interview with John Calipari caused quite a stir.

In the interview, Cal mentioned two things: One, that Kentucky is a “basketball school”, which Mark Stoops and Co took offense to; Second, that he is willing to go over Mitch Barnhart and raise the money himself to build a new practice facility.

Most of us expected a de-escalation in today’s press conference, but that was not the case. Stoops noted that he and Calipari have yet to talk since Calipari’s original comments and had some strong words to say.

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To follow, Barnhart expressed his frustration at the situation as well, seemingly taking some shots at Calipari and said that the practice facility is not on the agenda. However, he seemed even more frustrated at other schools in the SEC taking shots at Kentucky.

Let’s take a look at some of the quotes from today’s press conference.

“I don’t care about anyone’s program or other’s that we compete against, I stay in my lane. But when you start talking about mine, and people I compete against, I’m going to defend my players… Don’t demean or distract from what we’ve done to get to this point. I don’t need to apologize for that and I won’t.”
– Mark Stoops

“No disrespect, I’m not concerned about anybody’s feelings outside of that building.”
– Mark Stoops

“Some may, but this program didn’t wake up on third base.”
– Mark Stoops

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“That’s in defense of my players, in defense of the work that we’ve done.”
– Mark Stoops on why he tweeted a response to Calipari’s quote.

“I’m done. I’ve addressed it. I will defend my players.”
– Mark Stoops on not talking to Calipari yet.

“This is my norm. I will keep the details of the family business and private conversations within the family. Comments in a new interview, created in my judgement an unproductive and unfortunate situation.”
– Mitch Barnhart

“I have talked to both coaches and they’re extremely competitive and that’s what I want them to be. I’m glad they’re competitive”
– Mitch Barnhart

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“Adults are supposed to teach the children”.
– Mitch Barnhart

“We are not a basketball school. We are not a football school… We are a school with an outstanding athletic department. We are an “all everything” school.”
– Mitch Barnhart

“The desire for more should be met with a sense of gratitude.”
– Mitch Barnhart

“The Craft Center continues to be a state of the art facility. There’s a process and we will work through that process… It’s not a project in our strategic plan.”
– Mitch Barnhart

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“They will talk at the appropriate time when Calipari gets back from the Bahamas… They are both iconic people at at our program and I will anticpate them to handle that like pros.”
– Mitch Barnhart

“We will be a grateful (athletic) department. We will not be entitled.”
– Mitch Barnhart seemingly directed at John Calipari

“I’m not real thrilled at where we are. Grown ups are going to have to figure this out and be a little better. Sometimes when you get a little bit of success, you get a little entitled. We will be a grateful (athletic) department. We will not be entitled… I will teach it that way in my end.
– Mitch Barnhart

“I hear a lot of our ‘friends’ in the conference talking about how “the Cats are fighting”. Awesome, thats really good. How many coaches have your turned over in your group? Let’s check their rosters. I will put our longevity and sucess against just about anybody’s.”
– Mitch Barnhart

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In the end, I am not sure today’s press conference was a net positive.

  • The Calipari – Stoops tension is very much still there.
  • Barnhart angered and put blame on the media for this situation by saying, “You look to create stories, and it becomes the fact.”
  • Barnhart indirectly calls Cal “entitled” and says a new practice facility is not on the agenda.
  • Takes shots at other schools in the SEC.

For what it’s worth, here’s Calipari’s response to what happened today.

Also published by Tristan Pharis on A Sea of Blue.

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Chris Rodriguez Jr. To Return Against Ole Miss

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The Kentucky football team is 2-0, coming off a historic victory over Florida in Gainesville. This is even more impressive when you consider the Wildcats’ depleted depth at the running back position.

However, on Monday some good news was announced. Chris Rodriguez Jr. will return as Kentucky travels to Oxford to play a top-25 ranked Ole Miss team on October 1st.

With the confirmation of Rodriguez’s availability, the star running back will have missed the first four games of the season due to an off-the-field issue. While the suspension all but ends the hope for Rodriguez to break the school rushing record, his return certainly helps the Wildcats as they hope to challenge Georgia for a trip to the SEC Championship.

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Averaging just 60 rushing yards through the first two games, the Wildcats have missed Rodriguez significantly through two games. Last season, Rodriguez averaged 106 yards per game himself.

Sitting at 2-0 and in the Top 10 in both the AP and Coaches polls, this could be a special season for the Kentucky Wildcats!

Also published on A Sea of Blue!

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The Morning After: Recapping Kentucky’s Historic Win Over Florida

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On Saturday, the No. 20 Kentucky Wildcats went down to Gainesville to face off against the No. 12 Florida Gators. It was just the second time in history (1952) that Kentucky and Florida were both ranked in the AP Top 25 heading into a matchup.

To start, the game was a defensive battle, but shortly after the start of the second quarter Will Levis connected with Dane Key for a beautiful 55-yard touchdown for the first of the game and put Kentucky up 7-3.

However, momentum swung mightily in the favor of Florida. The Gators converted on a 50-yard field goal; capitalized on a Kentucky interception, caused by the lack of pass protection; converted a two-point play; and blocked a punt for a safety.

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Kentucky did receive some life right before half as Jordan Wright intercepted a pass from Florida’s Anthony Richardson, putting Will Levis in a 1st and goal position. Levis was able to score with a QB draw cutting the deficit to 13-16, but the Wildcats could not convert on the PAT after a bad snap.

Coming out of the half, it was all Kentucky, notably on the defensive end. Kentucky didn’t allow Florida to score at all in the second half, as Kentucky went on to kick a field goal and score a touchdown.

In a game full of emotional swings, Kentucky left the Swamp with a 26-16 victory.

For the first time in over 40 years, Kentucky won their second in a row against the Gators, and Mark Stoops passed Paul “Bear” Bryant in all-time wins at Kentucky.

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Let’s take a closer look at the historical win.

Time to start worrying about the offensive line

It was clear to see that the offensive line did not perform well against Miami (OH). However, Mark Stoops insisted that the offensive line performed better than originally thought when looking at the film and there were some adjustments that could be made to solve the issues.

That was not the case.

Despite performing well when he had time in the pocket, Will Levis wasn’t given that luxury very often, being under pressure more than not. In addition, Kentucky rushed for just a total of TWO yards, and the offensive line allowed three sacks in the first half alone. This was worsened at times when tight ends had to be used as receiving targets instead of blockers.

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It does need to be noted that the offensive line did step up in the second half, but it needs to be consistently seen in the next two games, as Kentucky faces inferior opponents.

Seeing how the offensive line has performed thus far, it looks like the offensive could be a weakness for the remainder of the season and a group that the staff will begin to recruit immediately.

Will Levis is on a different level than Anthony Richardson

Billed as the battle of the quarterbacks, Will Levis and Anthony Richardson was the head-to-head matchup that everyone wanted to see.

In the end, it was clear that Levis was simply on a different level than Richardson. I will just leave this comparison here.

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Will Levis: 13-24, 202 passing yards, 1 pass TD, 1 rush TD, 1 interception.

Anthony Richardson: 14-35, 143 passing yards, 4 rushing yards, 2 interceptions.

This is going to be a passing team

While they struggled running ball for much of the game, Kentucky found success in the passing game early as Levis threw for a total of 202 yards. Even more impressive, Kentucky had eight different players with a reception, showing the versatility they have in the passing game.

Without Chris Rodriguez, one should expect this to continue, but Kentucky’s success in the passing game should help setup the running game develop.

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On Saturday night, Kentucky’s passing attack allowed for the rushing to find some life in the second half, with Kaviosey Smoke leading the way. It was much needed when you see that the Wildcats had just 70 rushing yards – fighting back from negative 37 yards in the first half.

Tight ends emerging as major receiving targets

The wide receivers shined bright last week, but this week it was the tight ends. Three different tight ends caught a pass – Jordan Dingle (2), Brenden Bates (2), and Keaton Upshaw (1) – for a total of 74 yards.

This was expected when Rich Scangarello – who comes from a 49ers offense that is heavily reliant on multiple tight-end personnel – was hired. With the talent at the position, it is good to see them becoming a large part of the offense.

The defense was phenomonal

Without the defense, the game would could have very well gotten out of hand in the first half. However, the defense was able to step up as they have time and time again and made some big time plays.

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As Florida jumped out to a 16-7 lead with all momentum, things looked bleak, but that was when the Wildcat defense changed the game. Here is what Brad White’s defense accomplished in the final 35 minutes.

  • Zero points allowed
  • 91 total yards
  • Seven points scored (on a Kentucky pick-six)
  • Two takeaways
  • Two fourth down stops

It all started with Jordan Wright – just cleared to play on Thursday – when he made an impressive interception that led to a touchdown to cut the Florida lead to 13-16 right before halftime.

https://twitter.com/FTBeard7/status/1568761357268586496?s=20&t=64jQ4RmSUfARWRfdXz8cZg

In the second half, Keidron Smith made the play that gave Kentucky the lead and the Wildcats never looked back.

It is not an exaggeration, without the great play of the defense, Kentucky loses to Florida.

Special teams Errors

After last week’s performance, special teams looked to be a strength. While that may still be the case for the rest of the season, it was not on Saturday night.

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In the first half alone, Kentucky had two bad snaps resulting in a safety and a missed PAT. These mistakes caused Kentucky three points and without them, the game could have gone into halftime tied 14-14.

With plenty of close games left on the schedule, Kentucky can’t afford to shoot themselves in the foot as they did at times against Florida.

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Barion Brown Rated as Fastest Player in College Football in Week 1

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Entering halftime, the Kentucky Wildcats held just a 13-10 lead after not being able to capitalize in the red zone. Coming out of the half, true freshman Barion Brown immediately provided the Wildcats with a game-changing play, returning the half’s opening kickoff for a touchdown.

As impressive as Brown’s return was in the moment – being the first kickoff return touchdown in the Stoops Era – it may be even more impressive in hindsight.

According to a tweet from Recruiting Analytics, Brown was the fastest ball carrier in the country last week with a top speed of 22.0 mph. To put that in perspective, that is the speed of a brown bear and only three players in the NFL ran at the same speed or faster during the 2021 season.

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Not too bad for the first game of a true freshman.

Also published on a Sea of Blue.

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