Brooks happy with Begley, Ruth

September 19, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON -- With the problems Kentucky had punting the football in its season-opening loss to Louisville, not much attention has been paid to Kentucky's placekicking.

"Overall, our kicking has been a positive, which not many people have noticed," said Kentucky coach Rich Brooks.

He hopes that continues going into Saturday's 5 p.m. game at Indiana.

"Our troublesome area has been the punt team. We knew that going into the season," Brooks said. "At least we are getting better at catching the ball and punting.

"But each week I expect to gain an advantage in the kicking game. So far, we've not done that overall, but our placekicking has been good."

Taylor Begley is 2-for-3 on field goals and 10-for-10 on extra points. He hit a 44-yard field goal against Louisville and a 27-yard kick last week against Alabama. His only miss came from 49 yards last week at Alabama.


"Begley has missed one opportunity in three games. That's pretty good," Brooks said. "Unfortunately, that one miss was a tough one last week that would have cut the deficit to one score. But it was a tough kick. He's done all we could expect."

Clint Ruth is handling kickoff duties for the third straight year. In 2000, he put three of 31 kicks into the end zone. Last year 12 of his 60 kickoffs, or 20 percent, went for touchbacks. This year he has kicked off 14 times and six have gone for touchbacks. That's a 42 percent mark.

"Ruth has kicked extremely well on kickoffs. We lead the league in kickoff coverage and that's due in a large part to Ruth," Brooks said.

Anthony Thornton has punted the last two games for a 38.4 yard average. Last week he punted six times for an average of 39.8 yards at Alabama.

"The punting still is not great, but it is better," Brooks said. "We still can do better in the kicking game, and we would like to get (Derek) Abney some more big returns, but the overall kicking game has still been pretty good."

Boone waiting: Former UK receiver Aaron Boone knew when he separated his shoulder diving for a pass that it would make it difficult for him to make the final roster with the Dallas Cowboys.

"They kept me around a little longer (after the injury), but I wasn't myself and couldn't play real well with just one arm so I was released right before the final roster was set," said Boone.

He went back home to Utah to live, train and rehabilitate his shoulder in hopes of getting another chance to play in the NFL this season.

"My agent has talked to a few teams that are still very interested in me. It is just a mater of waiting for an injury or lack of performance by the guys they already have," Boone said.

Chicago and New England are the two teams that have seemed the most interested in Boone.

If the NFL call doesn't come, Boone already has offers to play in the Arena League and NFL Europe.

"Either way it would keep me playing and I would still get paid pretty well," Boone said. "It's driving me nuts watching football from home because I want to be playing so bad. But I am still upbeat and excited about my future."

Abren out: Kentucky freshman defensive tackle Ricky Abren will miss practice indefinitely because of a medical problem.

Brooks would not disclose what the medical problem is, saying only that Abren was undergoing tests.

Abren was expected to provide needed depth in UK's defensive line this season. However, he has not played in Kentucky's first three games and Brooks said Thursday that he likely now will be redshirted.

Abney record: The first time Derek Abney touches the ball Saturday at Indiana will enable him to secure another school record.

He already has a school-record 4,528 all-purpose yards on kickoff returns, punt returns, pass receptions and rushes. He's done that on 299 plays. The minimum standard for average yards per all-purpose play is 300.

Abney is averaging 15.1 yards per play. The current record holder is Calvin Bird, who averaged 8.4 yards per all-purpose play from 1958-60.

Recruiting: South Carolina wide receiver Brooks Foster will make an official visit to UK next weekend when the Cats host Florida. He also has South Carolina, Clemson, Wake Forest and North Carolina in his top five.

He wants to also play basketball in college, an option Kentucky coach Tubby Smith told him he would have if he signed to play football with the Cats.

Guard Joe Crawford of Detroit was scheduled to make an official visit to UK this weekend, but has postponed the trip. However, Smith will make an in-home visit next week. He's considered a top 25 prospect by most recruiting analysts and also has home visits scheduled with Michigan, Miami, Cincinnati, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Oregon, Clemson and Illinois.

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