Begley happy he can kick

September 05, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT


Sports Editor

At this time last week, Taylor Begley didn't know if he would be kicking extra points and field goals when Kentucky played its opening game or not.

A preseason leg injury had forced him to miss a week of practice and had put him in jeopardy of losing the job he held last season for the Wildcats. However, coach Rich Brooks decided after watching Begley kick in practice last Friday that he would start him against Louisville, and Begley justified that confidence by making a 44-yard field goal and three extra points in the 40-24 loss.

"The leg is still not 100 percent, but probably no one at this level ever is," said Begley. "The knot in the leg went way down, and the pain is bearable. Our training staff did a heck of a job of rehabilitating me. I still don't know what caused the knot. I just feel blessed that I got to kick."


Begley expects to be back kicking again Saturday night when the Wildcats look for their first win against visiting Murray State University.

The former Boyle kicker is still hoping the leg will eventually be 100 percent with the treatment he's receiving.

"But if it doesn't, the first game was a good test," Begley said. "I made it through the whole game staying loose with no problems. If that was as bad as it gets, I'm lucky."

It looked like Begley might be in position to hit a game-winning kick when the Wildcats cut a 21-10 halftime deficit to 26-24 in the third quarter.

"I was certainly saying my prayers," Begley said. "It would have been in nice to be in a situation to make a big play, but it didn't work out that way."

When he did make a field goal in the first quarter, he heard a familiar voice. Former Boyle teammate Bobby Leffew was yelling at him from the Louisville defensive line.

"He was hollering at me a little bit before all my kicks," Begley said. "I thought that was kind of dirty. Actually, it was fun to hear him. It fun when you know guys on the other side. I got to shake hands with (Louisville offensive tackle) Travis (Leffew) after the game and talked to Bobby a little bit.

"You hate to lose, but it is good to see them do well. Of course, what I really wanted was for them to do well and for us to do better, but that's not the way it worked out. But I do hope they have a great season."

Begley thinks making his first field goal try, especially after his preseason injury, bodes well for his season.

"The first one is always a big one in your mind. The worst situation for me was to have that big (lightning) break and then have to come back out and kick," Begley said. "To hit that first kick was big for my mental game and it also gives the other guys confidence that you can make kicks."

Begley also continues to excel in the classroom. Begley, an electrical engineering major, has a 3.9 grade-point average.

Blitzed: Part of the reason for Kentucky's switch to a 3-4 defensive alignment was to confuse opponents by blitzing any of the four linebackers on various plays. However, it didn't work against Louisville.

"We blitzed quite a bit on the first drive, and they did a good job of protecting against it," UK defensive coordinator Mike Archer said. "Then when we settled down, we stopped blitzing. We weren't coming off blocks and when we were blitzing, they would pick us up. If you don't come off blocks, there's no need to blitz. .

"I was also a little leery of blitzing when they went to four wide receivers because of some matchup problems. They just executed better than we blitzed."

UK had four first-time starters - Justin Haydock, Jon Sumrall, Deion Holts and Raymond Fontaine - playing at linebacker.

"They played like they had not played a lot of football," Archer said. "I didn't expect them to play perfect. I have to do a better job coaching them. Our outside linebackers have to make plays and they did not. So do our inside linebackers. When they don't, it's my fault."

Changes: Brooks will make lineup changes for Saturday's game.

Left offensive tackle Matt Huff has spent this week on the second team after starting against Louisville. Left guard Jason Rollins shifted to tackle and Nate VanSickel has moved into the starting lineup at guard.

Also freshman Durrell White has practiced ahead of Holts at outside linebacker and Dustin Williams has been ahead of Sumrall at inside linebacker.

Speaking up: Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen knows losing to Louisville is not the best way to start a season.

"Louisville played great, but it was a disappointing loss for us. I told my teammates I was going to take them to a bowl and we are still definitely going to do that. I won't let this team give up," Lorenzen said.

New offensive coordinator Ron Hudson got a whole new appreciation for Lorenzen Sunday

"He would get on the phone (to the pressbox) and tell me we were going to get this done," Hudson said. "He said to put the game in his hands. After the game, he got up in front of the team, said what he felt and then told them we had to move on. That impressed me and told me just how serious he was about having a big season."

Coming back: The Cats expect to have several injured players able to play against Murray Saturday.

Wide receiver Tommy Cook did not play against Louisville after having surgery in August on a bone spur in his ankle, but will play Saturday.

Cornerback Warren Wilson has also practiced full speed this week after missing the opening game with a leg injury.

Offensive tackle Antonio Hall was injurred Tuesday after being hit in the head. He missed practice Wednesday, but returned Thursday and is expected to start his 35th straight game.

Central Kentucky News Articles