Ira's Weekly Column
By - Ira D. Combs
Director / Syndicated Columnist
Tri State Sports Media & Promotions Service Inc.
Ultimate UK Wildcat Sports Weekend Coming Up
(Spring Blue – White Game May Reveal Why Whitlow And UK Split Ways)
Those folks across the Commonwealth who are really True Blue supporters and not just basketball bennies as Cal so often says will have a plethora of opportunities to catch several of the more low profile UK athletes perform across campus this weekend in places other than historic Rupp Arena and at some of the more quaint sports venues in WIldcat Land .
Still the more popular site will more than likely be at Commonwealth Stadium on Cooper Drive where the 2014 UK football spring Blue – White game will take place at 3:30 Saturday afternoon . If your traveling agenda is tied up for the Saturday activities you can still see the Blue – White spring football game on the CWKYT station out of Lexington live also later on the Fox Sports South network Saturday evening at 7:00 and again on the entire FSN network Sunday at 7:00 p.m. est.
The most interest of course will be to see where the quarterback situation lays as the team winds up spring workouts and heads into the summer period of 7 on 7 pass skeleton workouts and other individual player workouts not supervised by coaches but yet has become very instrumental in the development of each team in recent years at UK .
Approximately 10 days ago Mark Stoops announced in a post practice press conference that if the Wildcats were to take the field for an SEC game today his starting QB would be Jalen Whitlow , then just a few days later it was announced that UK and Whitlow had split ways because Stoops had ask Whitlow if he would consider moving to another position possibly receiver .
Now will my loyal readers start believing me when I tell you that college coaches rarely tell people the truth when it comes to the inner workings of their teams , especially the media .
Hopefully , this saturdays spring football finale will reveal why this divorce became so abrupt and surprising . Is it because the light finally came on with Patrick Towles or Is it because Drew Barker is actually maybe a little more ready for SEC and college competition than originally thought or Is it because Reese Phillips who nobody wants to even discuss has come out of the pack blowing competitors away in spring practices or Is it because Jr. QB Maxwell Smith , ( THE ONLY EXPERIENCED QB ON CAMPUS NOW ) has recuperated to the point that his injury marred tenure at UK if finally behind him and he’s ready to take the reins of UK football and guide them back to ( Rich Brooks type respectability ) .
Regardless of who the 2014 signal caller will be for UK the only reasonable explanation in my eyes for the Whitlow – UK divorce is that Stoops and OC Neal Brown feel comfortable that there are a few more offensive weapons on campus at running back and wide receiver to make plays for the offense if they have given up on Jalen Whitlow the only UK QB who had any running ability . Some of those new offensive weapons have been on campus participating in spring drills and will make their debut in front of Big Blue Nation Saturday .
Those new Wildcats to keep an eye out for are ( # 7 QB Drew Barker – # 4 RB Mikel Horton - # 5 RB Braylon Heard - # 10 WR Thaddeus Snodgrass - # 12 QB Reese Phillips - # 66 DT Jacob Hyde - # 82 WR T.V. Williams - # 96 DT Reggie Meant ) . There will be other young players you got a glimpse of last year but have reportedly been working hard in the Wildcat weight room during the off season which hopefully will make their bodies look a little more developed and ready to take on SEC competition .
Parking around Commonwealth Stadium is once again free but scarce due to the ongoing renovation of the stadium so come early to make sure you have a spot . You must have a ticket for entrance into the stadium and if you don’t already have one the ticket office at the stadium will open around 1:00 p.m. but you can go online to www.ukathletics.com or come by the Joe Craft Center ticket office or call 800 – 928 – 2287 . Several spots in the blue and red lots will be reserved for those who have a state issued handicap parking sticker but they will be also on a first come first serve basis .
Wildcat Baseball Hoping To Make Another Run At Post Season Opportunity
The UK baseball team has never made that coveted trip to Omaha , Nebraska for a college baseball World Series but it has had a couple runs fairly deep into the college baseball post season .
This year the Bat Cats as they are affectionately known by long time UK baseball fans are putting together another strong team that has more than held their own in the tough SEC . As they enter this weekends play against the Ole Miss “Rebels” they are still ranked in the top 20 by several different college baseball polls and have been ranked in the top 10 a couple of weeks earlier .
The Wildcats set at 26 – 13 overall and 9 – 9 in the SEC as they enter their mid week non conference game 4/22/2014 against Tenn. Tech at home with the first pitch slated for 6:30 . This coming weekend you can get a glimpse of the Bat Cats against Ole Miss either ( Friday – 6:30 / Saturday – 1:00 / Sunday – 1:00 ) at Cliff Hagan Stadium just across Cooper Drive from Commonwealth Stadium .
Saturdays 1:00 o’clock game with Ole Miss will be televised live on the Comcast Sports South Network , to watch Friday and Sunday’s game you will have to be in person at Cliff Hagan Stadium .
UK has been led by junior OF Austin Cousino and junior P/1st baseman slugger A. J. Reed who leads all of NCAA baseball with 16 home runs coming out of this weekends series against Texas A & M . Reed is hitting 372 with 53 RBI to go along with those 16 home runs . Cousino , the fleet footed lead off man for the Wildcats is hitting at a 333 clip with 40 runs scored and 13 stolen bases . Three other juniors Max Kuhn , Thomas Bernal , and Michael Thomas are all making solid contributions to the SEC leading Wildcat offense all hitting well over 300 .
Tickets can be purchased for all Wildcat baseball games either at the Joe Craft Center ticket office or on game day at Cliff Hagan Stadium . Prices start at only $5.00 for adults or $2.00 for youth age & senior citizens and children age 5 and under are admitted free .
Rachel Lawson’s UK Softball Team Ranked # 8 Takes On # 4 Lady Vols
Rachel Lawson’s high ranking UK womens softball team is set to show off their talents at their plush new John Cropp Stadium this coming weekend against their conference rivals from Knoxville , the # 4 ranked UT Lady Vols softball team . The (3) game series is set for ( Friday at 6:00 – Saturday at 5:00 – Sunday at 2:00 ) . UK is presently 38 – 9 overall and 12 – 6 in SEC play and ranked # 8 in the national polls for women’s softball .
The new John Cropp Stadium is another state of the art facility built specifically for UK’s needs to recruit and stay competitive in the ever tough SEC . It is only one year old having been dedicated about this time one year ago in April of 2013 . It was the home of the SEC post season softball tournament in it’s infant year last spring .
UK narrowly missed their first ever trip to the womens softball World Series in Oklahoma City , Oklahoma last year losing in the super regionals to Arizona State University in Tempe , Arizona but they expect to make an even stronger bid this spring returning several lettermen with a host of young freshman now seasoned to NCAA and SEC softball .
This weekend’s (3) game series with the hated Lady Vols will go a long way in telling Lawson and her coaching staff if her young team is ready to make that next step come post season .
Tickets can be purchased at the stadium on game day and are all priced the same as the above mentioned baseball tickets .