A Q&A With KSR's Brian Eldridge

Brian Eldridge of Scout.com's KentuckySportsReport.com answered a few questions that GenesPage.com subscribers had pertaining to the University of Kentucky athletics.

GenesPage.com Subscribers: What do you see as the keys to the game for either a KY win or a State win?
KentuckySportsReport.com's Brian Eldridge: Kentucky needs to stop the run and play disciplined defense on the edge. We can't let your quarterbacks get out and scramble too much. We also need to complete some long passes to loosen the defense up a little. We also can't afford to lose the turnover battle.

For Mississippi State I'd say they need to be physical defensively. Our offensive line, fullback and receivers are very physical run blockers. They need to match that physical play and make plays. Offensively, the Bulldogs need to make plays in the passing game. Don't be one dimensional.

GenesPage.com Subscribers: What has been the key to Kentucky's defensive revival the last few games?
KentuckySportsReport.com: A lot of it has to do with the opponents we faced. Our defense is a very athletic group with big run stoppers at linebacker and an improving group on the line. The defensive backs are fast and athletic, but somewhat inexperienced without Lindley back there. We did a great job in game one. We handled Louisville except for one quarter in which the offense couldn't stay on the field. Then Alabama and Florida both throttled us for the most part. We just matched up better with South Carolina, Auburn and Monroe than we did Bama and Florida.

GenesPage.com Subscribers: What will be harder to do Saturday - KY stopping Dixon or State stopping Cobb?
KentuckySportsReport.com: I say this with all due respect to Anthony Dixon because I'd love for Kentucky to have ten of him on the roster, but I think stopping Cobb will be harder. The reason is that he can hurt the defense in so many different ways. He can run it, throw it, catch it, return it and hand it off. And what's scary is that he's pretty effective in doing all of those things.

GenesPage.com Subscribers: Who are Kentucky's key players on defense?
KentuckySportsReport.com: Corey Peters at defensive tackle, Micah Johnson at middle linebacker (he may not play Saturday), Sam Maxwell (big time play maker at SLB), Winston Guy at free safety.

GenesPage.com Subscribers: What is the Kentucky crowd's perception of playing true freshman Morgan Newton?
KentuckySportsReport.com: It's pretty split. I think everybody believes he has potential. But several people want to see Cobb at QB fulltime. Some others want to see Fidler at QB fulltime. Then you have the group who just hopes we can make it until Hartline gets back. The staff didn't expect to play Newton until next year.

GenesPage.com Subscribers: Would UK fans rather make it to a Final Four in basketball or an SEC Championship game in football?
KentuckySportsReport.com: I think it's split. Me personally, I'd love to be in the SEC Title game. If we got there, that puts us in a BCS Bowl and that's something we have yet to achieve, while the Final Four has been done several times.

GenesPage.com Subscribers: What's the can't miss hot spot in Lexington to go eat?
KentuckySportsReport.com: I don't live in Lexington now, but many people love Joe Bologna's. I believe it's an Italian spot. As far as local cuisine, I can't really say.

GenesPage.com Subscribers: How does tailgating at Kentucky compare to other SEC schools?
KentuckySportsReport.com: We have good people who grill a lot of different things. They will share with anybody who walks by. The UK fanbase is very friendly and easy to get along with.

GenesPage.com Subscribers: Why do the high expectations UK has in basketball not translate to the football field?
KentuckySportsReport.com: I think because Kentucky has been close to the bottom of the SEC for so many years it had become expected. What we've seen over the last few years is Kentucky begin to compete at a higher level and the expectations have risen. Before, we were happy just making a bowl, but now we want to see the bowls get bigger and the goal is to win the SEC at some point.

GenesPage.com Subscribers: How do your football fans measure up to your passionate basketball fans ? At SEC basketball tournaments their presence is felt.
KentuckySportsReport.com: Our fans are very passionate about the football program. Basketball is on a level all its own nationally. But our fans have been very good about supporting the team even during the bad years. Wildcat fans are known among the Bowl Officials as a great traveling group.

GenesPage.com Subscribers: Who is the best player to play at UK?
KentuckySportsReport.com: Ever? Sonny Collins, Mo Williams, Babe Parilli -- those guys come to mind. In the last ten years, Andre Woodson, Keenan Burton, Trevard Lindley, Randall Cobb, Artose Pinner, Rafael Little, Dewayne Robertson.

GenesPage.com Subscribers: What would be the biggest win for KY over the past 20 years and why?
KentuckySportsReport.com: Beating LSU in 2007 is probably the biggest win we've had in 40 years. Most of the recruits we signed last year mentioned that game as something that grabbed their attention.

GenesPage.com Subscribers: How much did Jared Lorenzen really weigh while playing at KY?
KentuckySportsReport.com: Jared probably weighed around 320.

GenesPage.com Subscribers: Does Kentucky actually grow their turf longer than other schools or do they let it grow taller when they feel they are playing teams with a speed advantage? This is a rumor I have heard in the past?
KentuckySportsReport.com: I've never heard this before. We've got pretty good speed out there ourselves. It's not often (the last few years) that a team has just come out and been significantly faster than us.

GenesPage.com Subscribers: So what are the fans opinion of the whole coach in waiting format? And of Joker Phillips?
KentuckySportsReport.com: I think it's been positive for the most part. Coach Phillips has been part of Kentucky's family for a long time as a player and a coach. He's earned the opportunity and most fans believe he is the logical and best choice to take over for Coach Brooks.

GenesPage.com Subscribers: How much longer do you foresee Coach Brooks coaching?
KentuckySportsReport.com: Two years max, but if we make a nice bowl this year (Chick-Fil-A or Outback), then I think he'll retire.

GenesPage.com Subscribers: What do you expect during the transition from Brooks to Joker?
KentuckySportsReport.com: I think we'll see some staff changes and I think there will be some other subtle changes that come about with a coaching change. Joker is all about recruiting and building relationships. Coach Brooks believes in the same principles, but Joker is one of the best recruiters in the country. He just doesn't have the help around him that is needed. I think that's going to be the biggest change. Styles of play will be mostly the same, except I think the defense will be more aggressive.

GenesPage.com Subscribers: How hard is it to recruit to KY, and how many D1 players sign each year out of the state of KY?
KentuckySportsReport.com: It's very hard. There's no big tradition here and the talent pool in the state isn't very big. There are probably 15 division 1 players out of Kentucky in a given year and maybe six are SEC quality players.

GenesPage.com Subscribers: With the decline of Louisville football the past few years, do you anticipate being able to secure better recruiting classes moving forward?
KentuckySportsReport.com: Honestly, Louisville won't affect our recruiting one way or another. We've done a good job of securing a majority of the best players in the state of Kentucky every year. There are normally a few who go elsewhere. Some to Tennessee, some to Ohio State.

GenesPage.com Subscribers: What does Kentucky need to do as a program to break through the stranglehold Tennessee, Florida, and Georgia have had on the SEC East?
KentuckySportsReport.com: Better recruiting, patience and a lot of luck. That division is a killer.

I think that's something that will have to come as the program becomes more respectable. Recruits see us on the rise and want to help build something. But building a national level program takes time and luck.

GenesPage.com Subscribers: Pitino or Calipari?
KentuckySportsReport.com: Calipari, as of now because Pitino wears red. Cal's 0-0 at UK and has brought great talent to the roster. The question is can he have as much success at UK as Pitino did. I think he can, but it won't be easy.

GenesPage.com Subscribers: Do you think John Calipari would use an ineligible player?
KentuckySportsReport.com: Not purposely. If Wall (for example) is ineligible, he won't play until he is eligible.

GenesPage.com Subscribers: What is the story behind why Bear Bryant left Kentucky for Bama?

KentuckySportsReport.com: The story that I was told, and this may be a rumor, is that both Bear and Rupp won Championships and Rupp got a car (Cadillac or something?) and Bear got a watch. Bear felt he was under appreciated at UK and decided to move on. Sucks for us huh?

GenesPage.com Subscribers: Mississippi State seems to be on the receiving end of some bad calls this season. And we are starting to wonder if the fix is in. So, my question is, do you pay officials, too?
KentuckySportsReport.com: No, we're usually on the receiving end of bad calls.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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