College Football Preview: UK nuggets to munch on before the season

August 16, 2004

Kentucky opens its football season Sept. 5 at Louisville as the Wildcats will be trying to show they have improved dramatically from coach Rich Brooks' first season when they finished 4-8 in 2003.

While the keys to the season have been widely debated - and will continue to be discussed the next three weeks - here are some other tidbits about the 2004 Kentucky football team that you may not know:

* Running backs coach Ron Caragher got most of his coaching philosophy from John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach at UCLA.

"I've read his book and really like his coaching style," Caragher said. "He defined success as 'peace of mind as a direct result of self-satisfaction, knowing that you made the effort to do the very best of which you are capable.' That's always been a quote that stuck with me because not every player will be all-conference, or even start, but if we can teach them to do their very best, then that would define success."


Caragher said Wooden, an English teacher early in his career, also often recited poems that applied to sports.

"Coaches always had a big impact in my life and were my role models. I worked in business after college, but I missed sports. When I got the chance to be a graduate assistant at UCLA, I took the chance and two years later I was a full-time coach," Caragher said. "I enjoy seeing new players come in and develop over their careers as they go from boys to men. You hope you can have an impact where they learn things that will help them in the real worlds as fathers, husbands and community leaders. Those are the things I got from coach Wooden."

* Kentucky will miss more than Derek Abney's return skills and pass catching ability.

"I think our return game could be comparable talent-wise to last year even with Abney gone," special teams coach Steve Ortmayer said. "What's hard to replace is that Abney lent so much credibility and respect to our own players. Not only did he strike fear into the opponents and help us that way, but our guys believed in him and they made him better. Finding someone who can do that is not real easy."

Kentucky finished third in the SEC in kickoff returns last year, averaging 22.9 yards per attempt. The Wildcats were just as potent on kickoff coverage as foes averaged just 16.8 yard per return.

* Kentucky will have two different teams on its 2005 schedule from the ones it plays this season.

Southwest Texas will visit Commonwealth Stadium on Sept. 10, 2005, while the Wildcats will play at Mississippi Oct. 22. They'll replace Ohio University and Alabama from this year's schedule.

Another change will see UK end the season playing at Vanderbilt (Nov. 12) and Georgia (Nov. 19) before hosting Tennessee (Nov. 26). This year the Cats end the season by hosting Georgia first and then Vanderbilt before going to Tennessee.

* Linebacker Dustin Williams became the first Kentucky player since 1995 to reach the 100-tackle plateau when he made 122 stops in his first year as a starter last season. His average of 10.2 tackles per game was fourth best in the SEC.

Linebackers Williams, Chad Anderson and Durrell White combined to make 290 tackles for the Wildcats in 2003.

Williams' cousin, Wayne Rivers, played for the New York Rangers in the National Hockey League.

* Kentucky has averaged 65,116 fans per home game since Commonwealth Stadium was expanded in 1999. Kentucky has ranked in the top 25 nationally in home attendance every year from 1999-2003. Commonwealth Stadium has a seating capacity of 67,606, but UK has had 10 crowds of more than 70,000 when game workers, players, media, etc, were included in the attendance total. The record is 71,022 for a game against Tennessee in 1999.

Kentucky is one of only five schools that ranked in the nation's top 25 in attendance in football, men's basketball and women's basketball during the 2003-2004 school year.

* The Wildcats finished last season 11th in the SEC in rushing offense at 125.1 yards per game and 3.5 yards per carry. The only team worse was Mississippi State.

Kentucky's defense also had trouble stopping the run as opponents averaged 186.7 rushing yards per game.

* The four teams Kentucky beat in 2003 had a combined record of 10-38. Kentucky has just one win over a team ranked in the top 15 since 1977.

* Going into the season, Kentucky had players from 20 states listed on its roster led by 45 from Kentucky. Other states represented on UK's roster are Alabama (2), California (5), Florida (7), Georgia (12), Hawaii (1), Illinois (2), Indiana (1), Louisiana (2), Mississippi (1), New Jersey (1), North Carolina (1), Ohio (16), Oklahoma (1), South Carolina (1), Tennessee (3), Texas (7), Utah (1), Virginia (3) and West Virginia (1).

* Defensive backs coach Steve Brown played and coached in the National Football League for 14 years and was named to the NFL All-Rookie Team in 1983 and was AFC Defensive Player of the Week in 1985.

Brown earned All-Pac 10 honors four years at Oregon, where he graduated with a degree in English literature.

Central Kentucky News Articles