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Sports Notes: Second-half defensive effort gave UK's Stoops something to stew over

Head coach Mark Stoops wasn't happy with his team's second-half defense in Saturday's 59-14 rout of Tennessee Martin (Photo from UK Athletics)

Head coach Mark Stoops wasn’t happy with his team’s second-half defense in Saturday’s 59-14 rout of Tennessee Martin (Photo from UK Athletics)


Given the kind of football seasons Kentucky has put together the past two years, it’s hard to find much negative to say about the Wildcats’ 59-14 win Saturday before 50,000 fans in Commonwealth Stadium.

But being a coach, Mark Stoops found a few nits to pick. The former Florida State defensive coordinator particularly came away unimpressed by his team’s defensive play over the final half.
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After holding Tennessee-Martin to 114 total yards in the opening two quarters, which ended with Kentucky holding a 35-0 lead, the Wildcats allowed 284 total yards in the second half, including 183 through the air.

UT-Martin’s two scoring drives were long, sustained ones, consisting of 26 plays and 151 yards. Of course, by then Stoops had reserves in so his staff could get them on tape for future instruction purposes.

But still.

“Again, we were inconsistent,” the coach said during his Monday media briefing. “I think we went eight or nine possessions with zero points, 150 yards. There were things there we could improve on. There was some good, don’t get me wrong. There were some good things. But there were some things in the run game, just not striking people, being as violent as we need to be. So there’s a lot of areas to improve, and we will.

“Like I say, there was some good. Anytime you go eight, nine possessions with 150 yards and zero points, you’ll take it. But there are still some things we fundamentally need to get better at. After that I was very discouraged. We need to get some depth and we need some guys to step up and compete. To give up two touchdowns and a bunch of yards the last four possessions is something that we can’t do and we won’t do.”

Stoops also lamented the play of his two defensive stars, Za’Darius Smith and Bud Dupree.

“I saw a couple instances when they were trying to do too much, and that’s bound to happen when you have guys that want to be playmakers and they want to … make big plays,” Stoops added. “But you have to do that within the scheme. Nothing earth shattering or anything like that. Nothing we can’t get corrected. Simple little things that we’ll get fixed.”

UK senior guard Max Godby has been named the Southeastern Conference Football Community Service Team Player of the Week. The reserve offensive lineman, who is active in numerous community projects, came to Kentucky as a walk-on in 2010 and was awarded a full scholarship last year by Stoops. He also plays on special teams.

The Buffalo Bills announced over the weekend that former Centre All-American Jordan Gay survived the final cut and is on the team’s 53-man active roster for the 2014 season.

Gay went to training camp with the Carolina Panthers, but was released after seeing action in three preseason games, averaging 35.3 yards per punt and handling kickoff duties. Gay had less than a week of practice with his new team, but he still earned a spot when Buffalo cut veteran punter Brian Moorman.

The team is uncertain whether Gay will be punting or handling kick-off chores, but he is listed on the depth chart as first-team punter and holder.

Gay, who played for Andy Frye at Centre, was a three-time conference special teams player of the year and was named a Division III All-American in 2012. The Bills open the season at Soldier Field against the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

Three recent Kentucky women’s basketball graduates have signed professional contracts to play overseas.

Kastine Evans, DeNesha Stallworth and Samarie Walker will see their careers extended. Evans, a native of Salam, Conn., will play for the Leicester Riders in Leicester, England and will also work on a master’s degree in applied finance and banking at Loughborough University.

Stallworth, of Richmond, Calif., has signed to play with Universitario de Ferrol in Spain for the upcoming season and Walker is set to play for Stadium Casablanca in Zaragoza, Spain.

Lindsey Wilson football senior Andrew Wahl is the Mid-South Conference Defensive Player of the Week. The Evansville, Ind., native recorded five solo tackles in the Blue Raiders’ season-opening 44-40 win over rival Campbellsville.

Wahl recorded four sacks in the process, setting a new single-game record for sacks in Lindsey Wilson program history. The previous record was three sacks set by former Blue Raider Sam Wilson on Oct. 27, 2012. The win marked the second-consecutive year that the Blue Raiders opened the football season with a win over Campbellsville, and the first win in program history at Ron Finley Stadium in Campbellsville.

Lindsey Wilson plays Reinhardt (Ga.) in its home opener Saturday at 1:30 p.m. local time.

Campbellsville’s Jacob Russell was the conference’s offensive player of the week. The Lawrenceburg, Ky., senior quarterback broke a school single-game record with 414 passing yards. Russell matched the program record with five touchdown passes while also tying the longest play from scrimmage with a 97-yard touchdown toss.

The Tigers host Webber International on Sept. 13.

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Eastern Kentucky kicker Andrew Lloyd was named the OVC Specialist of the Week following his performance in the Colonels’ 29-10 win at Robert Morris. Lloyd converted on field goal attempts of 34, 25 and 25 yards in the season-opening victory. All seven of Lloyd’s kickoffs were downed for touchbacks.

Eastern Kentucky is back in action Saturday at Miami (Ohio). That game will be televised by ESPN3 beginning at 3:30 p.m.

Morehead State has added a pair of assistants to its women’s basketball staff. Keri O’Neal and Ema Reskoska are the newest additions to head coach Greg Todd’s team.

O’Neal played two seasons at Martin Methodist (Tenn.) after transferring from Snead State (Ala.) Community College. She was named to the All-TranSouth Conference first team as a senior in 2012-13 when she averaged 9.4 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.3 blocks per game.

Reskoska, a native of Ohrid, Macedonia, played four seasons at Radford. She came to the United States to attend Veritas Christian Academy in North Carolina, where she was named Team Most Valuable Player in 2008-09. She was also a member of the Macedonian Under-18 National Team.

Kentucky junior right-hander Kyle Cody was named the second-best prospect in the Cape Cod League in a ranking of the top-30 prospects in the talent-laden circuit, Baseball America announced.

A native of Chippewa Falls, Wis., Cody was the starting pitcher in the 2014 Cape Cod League All-Star Game for the Western Division. He finished his summer with a 2.72 ERA in nine starts – including a shutout inning in the all-star game – working 36.1 innings, allowing just 11 walks and striking out 34.

Cody had several strong starts in the summer, including a shutout six innings on July 12 vs. Cotuit, eight innings of three-run pitching in a win over Cotuit on July 5 and seven shutout innings in a win over Falmouth on June 28. Baseball America ranked Cody behind only Vanderbilt’s Walker Buehler as a prospect.

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