EXINGTON – Speaking to the media after practice Wednesday, UK coach Mark Stoops backed off, slightly, from an assertion he made 24 hours earlier that Franklin County High graduate Ryan Timmons would start in the Wildcats’ opener Aug. 31 against Western Kentucky.
“A lot of wideouts are going to play,” Stoops said Wednesday when asked again about Timmons, a freshman wide receiver. “Whether they start or not, we’ll figure it out. We’re still battling for that.”
Both offensive coordinator Neal Brown and wide receivers coach Tommy Mainord said Wednesday that Timmons is battling sophomore Daryl Collins for one of the starting spots at wide receiver.
“I don’t know,” Brown said, when asked who would start between Timmons and Collins if the season opener was today. “I really don’t. I think it’s about even.
“Both are definitely going to play. All of those guys who are in the top two or three receivers on the depth chart are going to play, and they are going to play a lot snaps.”
Ditto, Mainord added.
“It is tight,” Mainord said of the battle between Collins and Timmons. “But when you play in this offense, one guy can’t do it. It’s too much overload and too fast, and we play too many snaps in a game.
“However it works out, by the first week or if it’s week to week, has yet to be seen. But I’m excited about both of those guys. Those are two good football players we can rely on.”
Collins played in all 12 games for Kentucky last season as a freshman, starting five. He caught 17 passes for 171 yards.
Mainord said Collins came into fall camp with an edge on Timmons because Collins went through spring drills with the new coaching staff.
“Both of them have excellent hands and both are really dynamic with the ball in their hands, and right now Ryan is a little behind on the speed of our offense, whereas the spring helped Daryl,” Mainord said. “Ryan knows that, and he’s catching up day by day.”
Plus, Brown readily admits, few can run like Timmons can.
“Ryan can run, and he’s familiar with this offense, so his learning curve isn’t as steep for him as it is some of the other freshmen,” Brown said.
“The terminology is almost exactly the same,’’ Mainord said, comparing Brown’s Air Raid offense to that Timmons was used to at Franklin County. “So that’s a bonus. But he played a different position in high school than what we’re doing here, so he’s not quite as comfortable, so there’s still some work to do.
“But that’s natural for any freshman. He is right where he should be right now, and improving every day. He’s a really, really electric player, and I’m glad we have him.
“We’re going to try to get him the ball on Saturdays around here.”
UK notes: Both Stoops and Brown responded with a shrug Wednesday when asked about the announcement earlier in the day that the traditional rivalry game between Kentucky and Louisville will be played next year on Nov. 29, the last weekend of the regular season in 2014.
For UK, that will replace the traditional season-ender with Tennessee. The Wildcats and Volunteers will play Nov. 15 next season in Knoxville.
Kentucky and Louisville have rotated the game the past few years between the first and third weekends of the season. This season they play in Week 3, Sept. 14, in Lexington.
Louisville is joining the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2014, and ACC and SEC officials ‘’suggested’’ that the two schools meet on the last weekend of the regular season.
“Why not?” Stoops said, when asked about the change. “I just left a pretty good rivalry at the end of the year. The Florida-Florida State game is a pretty big deal at the end of the year.
“From my understanding, that is what’s best for both conferences (ACC, SEC), so that will be great. It will be a lot of fun.”
Stoops came to UK in the offseason after three years as the defensive coordinator at Florida State.
Brown came here after three seasons as offensive coordinator at Texas Tech, but has at least experienced the UK-U of L rivalry as a player in the late ’90s, playing for Hal Mumme.
“It’s one of those things,” Brown said when asked about the move of the Kentucky-Louisville game. “I think that’s a rivalry weekend. I think there aren’t as many games that weekend, whereas maybe early in the season maybe we get lost in the shuffle a little bit. Some people may disagree with that.
“It doesn’t matter...we’re going to play (regardless).”
at LP Field
7 p.m. – ESPNews