Bowl Season

Big East vs. SEC Birmingham, Ala.
Legion Field
Jan. 8
Glenn Logan, of, and expert of Kentucky shared his insights about this Kentucky team. Thanks a lot to him... Here's the interview:

BS: The offense has been very good, particularly the passing game. This is perhaps a product of new head coach Joker Phillips. What do you think about his influence in his first year as head coach?

 Glenn Logan: I don't think it's so much Phillips, because he was OC before becoming head coach.  The biggest changes I have seen from Brooks to Phillips has been a concentrated effort to get Cobb the ball more often.  UK has really put it in his hands all year, and Brooks tried to spread it out a bit more.  Also, UK ran more read-option plays in previous years, although that may just be a function of how efficient Hartline has been this year.  When you have a player that is making plays, you try to give him a chance to do that, and Hartline has done that all year along with Cobb and Locke.

BS: Comment on the offense particularly QB Mike Hartline and star receiver Randall Cobb. Also, do you think this will be Cobb's last game as a Wildcat?

Glenn Logan: I was never a big supporter of Hartline, I thought his arm strength was just not good enough for the SEC.  But he has proven me wrong, and I freely admit that.  Randall Cobb has been making an impact on this team since his first day of practice as a freshman, and now that the receiving corps fully trusts Mike Hartline to deliver the ball to them, the passing offense has run like a well-oiled machine.  Cobb just finds ways to make big plays, and Hartline understands that if he can get the ball in Cobb's hands, almost in any circumstance, good things will happen.

I will not hazard a guess about Cobb's future, except to say that he isn't likely to  get much bigger, stronger, or faster than he is now.

BS: The defense has struggled, especially in SEC play. Comment on the defense and what do they have to do to help Kentucky compete in the bowl game?

Glenn Logan: This Kentucky defense lacks size and skill on the lines, and lacks experience at linebacker.  The lack of an effective pass rush has put serious pressure on the defensive backfield, which is capable but can get shredded by a quality quarterback like Tennessee's Tyler Bray if the D-line can't move him around.  If you give Bray enough time to throw the ball, he will find a place to put it where only the receiver can catch it.

Frankly, what this defense needs is the talented players who missed the season due to redshirt, grayshirt or academic problems.  When it comes to the D-line, size matters, and Kentucky's defensive line is one of the smallest and least athletic in the SEC.  That's why they have given up huge yards on the ground, and big games through the air.  These guys just can't get off blocks, and there is no cure for that other than next season.

BS:If you had to pick one player to have a huge breakout performance in the bowl game, who would it be?

Glenn Logan: Probably LaRod King.  King is getting open on verticals more and more often.  Hartline missed him wide open twice against Tennessee for touchdowns.  King is becoming the next great UK receiver, and he is ready to explode anytime.

Thanks a lot Mr. Logan from . A blog for Kentucky sports....

Anson Whaley,  editor of, a blog about Pitt sports and also of , was nice enough to answer some questions about the Panthers.

BS: This was supposed be a year for a Big East championship, but the Panthers find themselves in the BBVA Compass Bowl. How a big a disappointment has this year been and will Pittsburgh be motivated?

Anson: With so many returning stars, it was a big disappointment to not win the conference. Add in the fact that they couldn't get it done with essentially a 1 1/2 game lead and in a year in which the Big East was considered weak, and that made it a huge disappointment. To be honest, I don't know how Pitt motivates itself for this game. Heck, we don't even know who will be coaching yet since Dave Wannstedt resigned (was forced out) and he hasn't officially made it known if he plans to coach the team. That said, I do expect them to play hard. I think once the game starts, it's nearly impossible to not try as hard as you can because you may get your teeth kicked in. Plus, returning players will be trying to make a good impression on the incoming coach, Mike Haywood who has already said all jobs are going to be open heading into camp next season. If Pitt does get complacent, the good news is that they'll be facing a Kentucky team without its starting quarterback and may be able to win even without its best effort.

BS: The offense was led by sophomore QB Tino Sunseri. In what ways has he succeeded and in what ways has he struggled? Also, who are the other players to watch on this offense?

Anson: Tino, for the most part, was able to avoid a lot of mistakes. He only had one game where he threw more than one interception (two) against Connecticut, which, for a first-year starter playing behind a fairly inexperienced offensive line, was pretty good. And even in that UConn game, he still completed more than 70% of his passes. Sunseri will throw the occasional interception, but doesn't appear to be a quarterback that will take his team out of games. Where he needs to improve is the deep ball and throwing the ball away a bit faster. Despite having a projected NFL first-round draft pick at wide receiver in Jon Baldwin, he never developed a good rhythm with him.
In addition to Baldwin who is a deep threat when Tino can get him the ball, Pitt really likes to run the ball and Kentucky will need to be aware of Dion Lewis and Ray Graham. Lewis, the nation's leading returning rusher this season with 1,799 yards in 2009, got off to a slow start and that opened the door a bit for Graham. But in the past few games, Lewis has gotten back on track and even though Graham is still getting carries, Lewis is emerging as the top guy once again. He ended the season with a career-high 261 yards on the road against Cincinnati, coming close to Tony Dorsett's school record.

BS: The defense played well, giving up under 20 points a game. Comment on the defense this year, including some personnel.

Anson: The defense, despite that great statistic, has been somewhat of a mixed bag this season. Pitt's front four has been able to apply a lot of pressure to opposing quarterbacks and defensive ends Jabaal Sheard and Brandon Lindsey are one of the nation's top sack duos with a combined 19. But the linebackers have been mediocre and with the loss of projected breakout player, sophomore Dan Mason, struggled at times. Move back to the secondary and it gets even worse as that unit was torched for some big passing plays and racked up too many pass interference plays. Pitt really got fat off some good defensive performances (allowing three points to Louisville and ten to Cincinnati and South Florida. But against the good teams they played (Utah, West Virginia, and Connecticut), gave up more than 25 points each time.

BS: If you could choose one player to have a breakout performance in the bowl game, who would it be?

: I'd go with Dion Lewis for a few reasons. First, as I mentioned earlier, Pitt will be looking to run the ball - it's what they do. Even though he's only had 25 carries once this season, I think he could get close to that in this one if Graham has a reduced role. He also had a lot of success in the bowl game last year, getting nearly 50 carries and rushing for more than 150 yards. If the game is close, which it should be, he'll get a lot of touches. Lewis will probably also be motivated to break the 1,000 yard barrier. He stands at about 950 right now and I think he'll be looking for a big game to put him over the top. Lastly, Lewis has a nose for the end zone - he averages more than one per game. If Pitt gets close, he'll punch it in and add to his numbers.

Thanks a lot to Anson Whaley. Check him out at and

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