Kentucky Wildcats: Mark Stoops is on a roll, Matt Elam announces and Louisville Cardinals HC Charlie Strong to Texas?

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from Drew Barker's Twitter account

from Drew Barker’s Twitter account

And despite common sense, some still feel the Bama-OU game has some bearing on Elam’s commitment, and it might, but Mark Stoops isn’t stopping there.  As is the case in recruiting, kids commit to one school only to open their recruitment to another.  Such is the case with 4* offensive lineman Marcelys Jones who is presently committed to Ohio State University.  Safe to say that Mark Stoops is on a roll.

The momentum actually started to move Thursday night, when the Kentucky football coach was on the Oklahoma sideline in New Orleans cheering as brother Bob Stoops pulled his “Big Game Bob” reputation out of mothballs and the Sooners shocked Alabama 45-31.

In between, on Saturday, there is a rather large in-state recruit named Matt Elam who will announce whether he will spend his college years at Kentucky or Alabama, plus a Cleveland (Ohio) Glenville High recruit who may or may not be switching his allegiance from Urban Meyer’s scarlet and gray to Mark Stoops’ blue and white. More on that later.Right now, it’s good to be a Stoops, especially after Thursday night when Oklahoma’s offense burned Nick Saban’s flat-footed Crimson Tide, which arrived in the Big Easy expecting to win easily as a 15-point favorite.It wasn’t just that Oklahoma won, but how Oklahoma won. Stoops used an up-tempo attack that kept Alabama off balance and which benefited from the stellar play and surgical strikes of redshirt freshman quarterback Trevor Knight, who outplayed Alabama’s Heisman runner-up and Katherine Webb’s boyfriend, AJ McCarron.That’s the same offense Mark Stoops and offensive coordinator Neal Brown want to run at Kentucky. That it bore little resemblance to that offense last season had more to do with personnel and injuries and the lack of the same quarterback play that boosted the Boomer Sooners in the Superdome. The scheme is still the same.

Kentucky lost 10 football games each of the last two seasons. The Cats haven’t won back-to-back games since the first two weeks of the 2011 season. Mark Stoops has his own point spreads to overcome.Better recruiting is the only sure fix, and the promising strides made by Stoops so far could be augmented Saturday if the 372-pound Elam, out of John Hardin High School, does the expected and announces on national television during the U.S. Army All-American Game in San Antonio that he will join Stoops’ restoration efforts.Elam could have company in Marcelys Jones, a four-star offensive lineman, who has been committed to Ohio State. Jones is reportedly wavering on his pledge and could end up at UK in time for the spring semester.”It sounds like something’s happening,” Jones’ high school coach, Ted Ginn Sr., told the Herald-Leader’s Ben Roberts. “But I really don’t know.”If everything goes right this weekend, here are the happenings Mark Stoops could tell future recruits about:”Did you see Oklahoma upset Alabama on Thursday night? Well, the head coach, he’s my brother, Bob. And the defensive coordinator, he’s my brother, Mike, who I coached with at Arizona.”And did you see Matt Elam commit to Kentucky over Alabama on Saturday? He’s one of the cornerstones to our comeback plans.”And did you see Florida State beat Auburn on Monday night? I recruited a lot of those Seminoles, took that defense from 108th nationally the season before I arrived to No. 2 in the nation the year I left for Kentucky.”That’s right, Kentucky.”

Today is a huge recruiting day for Mark Stoops and the Big Blue Nation as 5* Lineman, Matt Elam is expected to announce whether he plans to play his trade at Alabama or Kentucky.  Some see the loss by Alabama to Oklahoma as a positive swing for him to join the Wildcats but really I don’t see where two straight losses for a team coming off two straight National Championships sways him one way or the other.  What I do know is that incoming Frosh QB, Drew Barker, has never wavered on Elam to Kentucky and isn’t starting now.  Be sure to check wildcatbluenation.com and @wildcatbluenatn for the announcement.

Do you expect that Matt will end up picking Kentucky?

Yeah, I think he will. I think he feels most comfortable with us. I couldn’t really be mad at him if he picked Alabama because Alabama is a great school and a great tradition. But at the end of the day, he’s going to make the best decision for him, and I think it’s Kentucky. Just from the signs I’ve seen, I think he’s going to come.

 

The basketball Kentucky Wildcats haven’t played in four score and seven years it doesn’t seem like and they won’t be playing for another four days as they open SEC play against Mississippi State University.  The SEC is perpetually labeled as down every year for what seems like forever.  Kentucky is almost always the top, or among the top programs along with Florida.  Really the list stops there so the “down” SEC isn’t an unfair comparison but if the Wildcats want to start conference play off right, they must understand that any team can be beaten regardless if the conference is “down” or not.  In order to avoid a “letdown” game against the Bulldogs, there are some things that Kentucky can do.

As the Kentucky Wildcats gear up for the rigors of SEC basketball, they’re coming off their biggest win of the season. Still, for all the bragging rights a victory over arch-rival Louisville earned them, the ‘Cats have won just two in a row since getting lit up by North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

If John Calipari’s squad wants to turn that fragile winning streak into a run at the conference title, it’s got several lessons yet to learn.

1. Forget about beating the Cardinals

The long layoff between a December 28 signature win and the January 8 opening of conference play gives Kentucky an awfully long time to feel good about itself. That victory hangover is especially deceptive because so many of the Wildcats’ previous weaknesses are still lurking to trip them up.

Winning in front of a raucous Rupp Arena crowd is hardly going to translate into success away from home for a very young team that’s had enormous difficulty maintaining its intensity for 40 minutes.

Then, too, the ‘Cats feasted on an underperforming Louisville front line that bears little resemblance to the bruisers they’ll see when Florida or Tennessee takes the court.

 

2. Keep sharing the ball

Ironically, Kentucky displayed some of its best offensive teamwork in a game in which it totaled a meager eight assists. Although the Wildcats didn’t set up many baskets with their passing against Louisville, they did keep the ball-hawking Cardinals from living off turnovers with just 11 giveaways for the day.

The primary element of that success was letting Andrew Harrison play his game, scoring when the opportunity presented itself (frequently) and passing only when he needed to. By having Aaron Harrison and James Young take on more of the ball-handling responsibilities, Kentucky made its offense less predictable and let its nominal point guard dominate while his jump shots were falling.

With high-pressure defenses from Arkansas and Florida looming on the conference schedule, the ‘Cats must make sure that their low turnover count against Louisville’s guards becomes the rule, not the exception.

3. Play like the underdog

Of Kentucky’s four ranked opponents to date, Louisville was the first that the Wildcats weren’t really expected to beat.

Not coincidentally, it was also the first such game Kentucky won.

The intensity that comes with being overlooked helps the ‘Cats far more than the unearned swagger that’s contributed to their offense imploding against Michigan State and Baylor.

In addition, playing without expectations might help solve one problem that still persisted in the Louisville win: clutch free-throw shooting, or lack thereof. The Wildcats are a disappointing team from the stripe anyway (.665), but in their four meetings with ranked foes, they’ve choked their way to percentages of .556, .522 and .533 in three of them.

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