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Locke On The UFL: “I’m Not Going To That Crap”

With undrafted rookie free agents having to wait out the NFL lockout before signing with clubs and then attempting to make a big enough impression to earn a contract… the UFL held its own draft earlier this week.

The third-year, five-team league was hoping to kick start the careers of some of the best players not drafted into the NFL.  But most of the UFAs are choosing to wait out the big boy league’s labor strife.  Part of the reason is in the UFL’s contract structure.  The UFL’s contracts require a buyout be paid to the league if an NFL team signs a player from talent pool.  And that’s kept many NFL teams from inking UFLers to date.  The agents for this year’s UFAs know it.

Len Pasquarelli of The Sports Xchange and reports that most of the UFAs are still steering clear of the UFL so far.  Ex-Kentucky tailback Derrick Locke went so far as to say, “I’m not going to that (crap).”  Only he didn’t say crap.

While it’s fine to be finicky now, if the NFL lockout drags into the regular season, several UFAs might have to stomach a year in the UFL or in Canada just to get a paycheck.

That or they better learn a trade.  Maybe they can cut that meat.

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SEC Headlines – 5/4/11 Part One

1.  Tuscaloosa is beginning to rebound from last week’s devastating tornadoes both physically and spritually.

2.  And Auburn fans are helping with the recovery effort.

3.  A good home schedule actually has season ticket sales at Ole Miss ahead of last year’s pace.  (That’s impressive coming off a 4-8 season.)

4.  New co-defensive coordinator Geoff Collins is already burning up the recruiting trail for Mississippi State.

5.  Here’s a look at Georgia’s front seven on defense.

6.  For former Kentucky tailback Derrick Locke, it might be the UFL before the NFL.

7.  The UK board of trustees has approved a plan to spend $6.25 million on new video boards and a sound system at Commonwealth Stadium.

8.  Tennessee would have probably been better off if it had gone straight from Phillip Fulmer to Derek Dooley and bypassing Lane Kiffin altogether.

9.  Wisely, the NCAA is going to allow the University of Alabama to provide some extra benefits to its athletes who were impacted by last week’s storms.

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SEC Headlines – 4/15/11 Part One

1.  Here’s a list of Florida’s top 44 playmakers heading out of spring practice.

2.  With AJ Green gone to the NFL, there’s a battle at receiver in Athens.

3.  At least 10 players — including tailback Washaun Ealey — are “likely out with injuries” for tomorrow’s G-Day game.

4.  Georgia is considering using Kwame Geathers and juco transfer John Jenkins — both nose guards — on the D-line at the same time with one moving to defensive end.

5.  It’s now or never for Kentucky receiver Aaron Boyd.

6.  Raymond Sanders — all 5-8, 195 pounds of him — is set to replace Derrick Locke at tailback.

7.  John Calipari believes it’s possible his team could lose six first-round draft picks to the NBA next year.

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Kentucky @ Tennessee: Rocky Top Preview

Content provided by A Sea Of Blue.

Kentucky quarterback Mike Hartline must come up big, and mistake-free, if the 'Cats hope to cease the streak.

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James Crisp – AP

Kentucky quarterback Mike Hartline must come up big, and mistake-free, if the ‘Cats hope to cease the streak.

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Twenty-five straight losses.  OK, I got that out of the way.

Today, though, regardless of The Streak, the Kentucky Wildcats will be playing to salvage a turnover ravaged season of disappointment.  Sitting at 6-5 (3-5 SEC) and looking for a bowl game within the boundaries of Florida (a win would probably get the ‘Cats a Gator Bowl invite), as well as seven wins (that would make five years in a row the ‘Cats have won at least seven games), UK hopes to build on its modest two-game winning streak, and end the season on a positive note after losing five of six games in the middle portion of the season. 

The home-standing Tennessee Volunteers (5-6, 2-5), likewise, are amped and motivated after winning three-straight games, reinvigorating the fan base with now realistic bowl game talk.

So, both teams are fighting for more than just pride.  Both teams need the win … which team will want it the most, though, is the real question.  Which team will value ball possession?  Which team will minimize mistakes?  And the everlasting question; can UK’s run defense come close to slowing down the UT running game?

No, I don’t have any answers for you, but today at 12:21 EST on the Big Blue Sports Network, the truth will be revealed.  For a closer look at the Volunteer personnel, some statistics of interest, as well as some thoughts from UK head coach Joker Phillips, follow me after the jump. 

Runnin’ Down the Vols

Over the last three games, new Tennessee starting quarterback Tyler Bray (6-6, 210 lb true freshman) has almost single-handedly reversed the fortunes for the Volunteers this season.  Prior to Bray becoming the starter, the boys in orange were suffering through a 2-6 season, and looking for a reason to get out of bed in the morning.  But since the youngster took over the reins of the quarterback position three games ago, he has propelled the Vols into a fighting chance at the seemingly impossible: Becoming bowl eligible. 

(One caveat that might become relevant on this day: UT quarterbacks have been sacked 35 times on the season, Bray four times in the last three games).

In a 50-14 win over Memphis, a 52-14 win over Ole Miss, and a 24-10 win over Vanderbilt, Bray has combined to complete 53 of 94 passes for 880 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions.  Granted, the three teams Tennessee have beaten during their winning streak are not exactly an accumulation of college football royalty, but the domination they have shown has been impressive.  Derek Dooley’s team is suddenly moving the ball with up and down the field with relative ease, and the Volunteer defense has stiffened significantly — The Vols have averaged 42 points per game during the three-game streak; on the season they average 27.3 points per contest: UT has given up only 12.6 points per game over the last three; on the season Tennessee gives up 25.6 points per contest

The always impressive UT receiving corp has thrived under Bray, with senior wide receivers Denarius Moore and Gerald Jones being the primary beneficiaries of the improved quarterback play.  Over the last three games, Moore (6-1, 194 lbs) has caught 12 passes for 222 yards (18.5 yards per reception) and three touchdowns, Jones (6-0, 195 lbs) has caught 15 balls for 194 yards (12.9 ypr) and one touchdown.  Freshman speedster Justin Hunter has emerged as a true deep threat under Bray, catching five passes for an astonishing 160 yards (32.0 ypr) and three touchdowns.

Kentucky’s run defense will be tested by yet another outstanding running back in the form of Tauren Poole (5-11, 213 lb junior).  On the year, Poole has rushed for 935 yards on 176 carries (5.3 yards per carry) and 10 touchdowns, and caught 17 passes for 155 yards and one TD.  Poole is a physical, down hill runner … just the type of back UK has had trouble with since Jesus was preachin’ in Omaha.  Poole, rather than Bray, is probably the player UK head coach Joker Phillips is most concerned with heading into the contest.  If Poole gets off for 150+ yards, the ‘Cats will be in for a long day.

Sophomore running back David Oku (5-10, 195 lbs) will backup Poole.  On the year, Oku has rushed 42 times for 174 yards and one touchdown, and caught seven passes for 79 yards (11.3 ypr).  He also returns kicks — 15 returns for a 19.5 average (also returning kicks for the Vols is freshman Eric Gordon — on the year, Gordon has returned 14 kicks for a 23.1 average).  In addition to Oku; in nine games this season, freshman running back Rajion Neal has shown promise, rushing 37 times for 169 yards (4.6 ypc).  He’s also caught six passes for 93 yards (15.5 ypr). 

Defensively, the Vols boast several outstanding individual performers, even though their body of work as a unit is not overly impressive — Example: The Vols “D” gives up an average of 381.2 yards per game and 25.6 points.  Like UK, the Vols give up too many ground yards (155.8 per game), which is a deadly sin in the SEC.  But, defying the numbers, UT linebacker Nick Reveiz (5-10, 224 lb senior) has put together a nice season with 86 tackles, 6.0 tackles for loss, and two interceptions.  And, defensive ends Chris Walker (6-3, 245 lb senior) and Malik Jackson (6-5, 265 lb junior) have both excelled; Walker with 39 tackles, 5.0 tackles for loss, two sacks and six QB hurries; Jackson with a team-leading 10.0 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks.

Also, Volunteer defensive backs Janzen Jackson (6-0, 187 lb sophomore) and Prentiss Waggner (6-2, 181 lb sophomore) have combined for eight interceptions (four apiece) on the season, something UK quarterback Mike Hartline would be smart to remember on this day.  Also, Jackson is third on the team in tackles with 54, to go along with one sack. 

Tennessee Statistically Speaking

UT scores 27.3 points per game: UT opp’s score 25.6 ppg.

UT rushes for 119.7 ypg: UT opp’s rush for 155.8 ypg.

UT total offense, 360.0 ypg: UT opp’s total offense. 381.2 ypg.

UT 3rd down conversion, 37%: UT opp’s 3rd down conversion, 39%.

UT Red Zone scores, 24-31 (77%): UT opp’s RZ scores, 32-41 (78%).

UT RZ touchdowns, 15-31 (48%): UT opp’s RZ touchdowns, 22-41 (54%).

UT sacks by, 21: UT opp’s sacks by, 35.

UT turnover margin: +4.

Second half scoring: UT 113, opp’s 168.

Joker’s Thoughts

Joker Phillips shares his thoughts on the game with Cat Scratches, the outstanding blog.  Here is a sampling of what Phillips had to say about today’s contest (go here for the entire interview):

One thing UK must do Saturday: Get off to a fast start – “We’ve got to play fast from the first snap.  If we play like we’ve been playing in the first half, we could be down too much and not be able to fight back.”

Another thing UK must do Saturday: Hit the young quarterback early, slow down the hot UT passing game — “We’ve got to try to disrupt their quarterback.  We’ve got to give him a lot of different looks and get in his face as often as we possibly can.”

Key Matchup: Derrick Locke versus the UT run defense — “Our running game opens up a lot with Derrick Locke.  There was a three game stretch where we weren’t able to run the ball as efficiently with Locke out.  All that did was open up our passing game and a chance for Randall Cobb to run the ball in the Wildcat, because now you’ve got Derrick Locke coming across in the speed sweep and we have the ability to hand the ball to him.  That takes another guy out of our defensive front and it allows Randall to run the ball in the Wildcat formation.”

Playing on the emotions of The Streak“Football is a game of emotions.  You have to play on them.  You have to use anything you possibly can to get emotionally involved in the game.  That’s (The Steak) one of the things we’ve got to use to get emotionally into this game.”

My Thoughts

First team to 40 wins.

Thanks for reading, and Go ‘Cats, CEASE THE STREAK!

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Video: “You’re going to see the old D-Locke, man”

Content provided by John Clay’s Sidelines.

After today’s practice, while riding a bike in the cardio room, UK’s Derrick Locke talked to his friends in the media. Locke said he was close to 90 percent for Saturday’s game. Said the bye week helped. Said he feels comfortable taking a hit with the ball in his right hand. He said he’s still trying for 1,000 yards on the season.


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BBL: Kentucky takes care of (second-half) business

Content provided by John Clay’s Sidelines.

(H-L photo/Mark Cornelison)

(H-L photo/Mark Cornelison)

Big Blue Links for Sunday:


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Strong Second Half Lifts Cats Over Vanderbilt

Randall Cobb ran for a career-high 170 yards and two touchdowns as Kentucky surged past Vanderbilt 38-20 on Saturday. Cobb had touchdown runs of 5 and 73 yards to help the Wildcats (6-5, 2-5 Southeastern Conference) become bowl eligible for the fifth straight season. He finished with 279 total yards, breaking the school record for all-purpose yards in a single season in the process. Derrick Locke ran for 145 yards and two scores in his first game in a month and quarterback Mike Hartline threw for 232 yards and a touchdown in his final home game.

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Locke Says He will Play Saturday Against Commodores

University of Kentucky senior tailback Derrick Locke, who has missed the past four games with a shoulder injury, said that he will play this weekend when Kentucky takes on Vanderbilt at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday at 12:21 p.m. ET.

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Video: Locke says he’ll be ready Saturday

Content provided by John Clay’s Sidelines.

Kentucky running back Derrick Locke said today after practice that he does expect to play on Saturday. Locke has missed UK’s last three games because of weakness in his shoulders, brought on by stingers.


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Locke says he will play Saturday

Content provided by Chip Cosby on UK football.

Kentucky senior running back Derrick Locke said after Tuesday’s practice that he will return to the lineup after a four-game absence for the home finale against Vanderbilt. Locke has been sitting out after suffering a shoulder injury against Auburn. He will be one of 15 players honored during Senior Day festivities.


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