By - Ira D. Combs
Director & Syndicated Columnist
Tri State Sports Media Service Inc.
I've come to the conclusion in recent days that there are a lot of people talking about football especially UK football across this state and several in the national media that have absolutely no clue about the game itself and in many cases UK football in particular but I'm betting that a large portion of these people fall into two categories .
Category # 1 - Those who have lost money gambling and / or don't even buy a ticket to attend a game .
Category # 2 - Those who have never played football at any competitive level or had any association with the game in any form or fashion .
We can give thanks for this delimma to the advances of the modern day technical age and the multitudes of social media opportunities as well as that old nemesis the nightly talk shows , God how I would love to be forced to just pick up a morning newspaper and read an Earl Cox , Billy Kindred , or D. J. Fitzmaurice column .
Anyway be that as it may it's getting close , were not in complete football mode yet because the weather is still extremely hot and the summer baseball fans across the Commonwealth still have a uniquely hot Cincinnati Reds baseball team to follow for a few more weeks and maybe months but our liberal friends over at the Lex. Herald - Leader are already back in attack mode on Kentucky athletics and as usual it's football this time .
Jennifer Smith , Queen Bee # 2 of the state media's sports journalism clan ( Mary Jo Perino of WLEX - TV will always be # 1 ) who is still wet behind the ears beginning only her second year as the beat writer covering UK football for the Herald - Leader took her first shot of the 2012 season last week with an update of that all important sports topic on how many tickets have been sold for UK football home games exactly 6 1/2 weeks before the first home game . Give Joker and his boys a break Mrs. Smith they may pick up a player or two from up in Pennsylvania over the next few weeks or heck could they possibly pull out a win up 1 - 64 over Labor Day weekend before that first home game and put a little juice back in the fans , at least let them play a home game or two and actually see how many fans show up .
What I'm wondering as I put this column together is what the true numbers are in the circulation department at the Herald - Leader and Courier - Journal for subscription's sold at the present time as compared to a few years back . We all know about the mass exits of several of our friends in the sports departments at the Herald - Leader and the Courier - Journal in recent months due to loss of revenue thru canceled subscriptions and to be honest the advancement of the technical age and social media .
But I'm sure those losses in revenue to our states two print media icons had nothing to do with their job performance like Joker Phillips and his team and staffs performance in relation to UK ticket sales .
Chip Cosby and Jody Demling were two of my favorites but they're gone as well , hopefully Mike Fields , Mark Story , and John Clay can hold on and make ends meat because if or when they leave for greener pastures the print media contingent has hit rock bottom in this state . Fields , Story , and Clay have a deep rooted background and solid knowledge of Kentucky sports .
UK Defensive Line Outlook
For many years any SEC football coach or player will tell you that you have to be able to stop the run in order to win consistently in the SEC and that starts up front with the D - Line . By all accounts it appears this may be the one position that UK has some size , talent , experience , and better than average depth for the 2012 season .
Mister Cobble at 6' 0" and Donte Rumph at 6' 3" are both veteran junior tackles who tip the scales at 315 and 330 respectively and should be the best tackle tandem for plugging up the middle on 1st and 2nd down run situations that the Cats have had since Corey Peters , Myron Pryor , and Jeremy Jarmon left for the NFL during the Rich Brooks bowl winning seasons . Sophomores Christian Coleman at 6' 3" 295 and Alvin Davis at 6' 4" 275 both opened some eyes as freshmen last year the deeper into the season they got . Both reportedly have gotten bigger and stronger over the off season and will serve as quality back ups in the rotation at DT . Also , three of the best recruits in this years incoming class are defensive lineman ( Thomas Chapman 6' 4" 295 , Patrick Graffree 6' 4" 280 , and Langston Newton 6' 4" 260 ) are all solid recruits that are just a couple ice cream seasons and biscuits away from having SEC bodies for the trenches .
Out on the edge at DE for those very important third down situations when pressure must be put on those talented SEC quarterbacks UK will have a couple veteran seniors in Collins Ukwu 6' 5" 265 and Taylor Wyndam 6' 4" 250 and both should really benefit from the last three years experience . Late in the spring defensive line coach David Turner a veteran of many SEC wars was singing the praises of two of his young pups in red shirt freshman Farrington Huguenin 6' 4" 265 and sophomore Mike Douglas 6' 4" 270 .
Wyndam could go both ways in some games at tackle and end to create even more depth and their will also be the added tweaking of defensive coordinator Rick Minters blitz package that will bring some outside linebackers off the edge in those critical 3rd down situations to create havoc for the opponent's blocking scheme's .
The 2012 defensive line overall should be solid against the run and possibly put some newfound pressure on the opponent's passing game , keep your fingers crossed on the latter because it will be crucial to how the young but inexperienced DB's perform especially early in the season until they can get their feet wet .
Next week linebackers and defensive backs .
Important Dates Coming Up For UK , SEC , and KHSAA Football
Might want to mark the dates below on your calendar for the upcoming weeks of special dates for UK , SEC , and KHSAA football :
# 1 - (Fri.) August 3rd - UK Football Media Day at Wildcat Den and out on Commonwealth Stadium Field ( 10:00 a.m. to Noon ) closed to the public .
# 2 - (Sat.) August 4th - Fan Day at Commonwealth Stadium . Gates open at 5:00 open practice begins at 6:00 with a player / coach autograph session and fireworks after the practice .
# 3 - (Fri./Sat.) August 17th & 18th - First weekend of KHSAA football for 2012 season across the Commonwealth go to www.khsaa.org for schedule of bowl games across state .
# 4 - (Thurs.) August 30th - First 2012 SEC games South Carolina at Vanderbilt 7:00 ESPN and Texas A & M at Louisiana Tech 7:30 ESPNU
(Fri.) August 31st - Tennessee vs. North Carolina State at Georgia Dome 7:30 ESPNU
# 5 - (Sun.) Sept. 2nd - UK vs. Louisville ( Battle of the Bluegrass ) and Governor's Cup at Papa Johns Stadium live on ESPN at 3:30 EST .