Injury forces Kelley into familiar role



Before this season, Braxton Kelley was on the move.

After three seasons as middle linebacker, Kelley, a senior, slid to weakside linebacker to make room for junior Micah Johnson in the middle.

Now three games into UK’s season, Kelley is moving again.

Kelley will be switching back temporarily to his familiar role as middle linebacker as Johnson recovers from an ankle sprain he suffered during the Middle Tennessee State game. Johnson is doubtful for this week’s game, said UK head coach Rich Brooks.

“It’s been pretty fun back at middle linebacker during practice,” Kelley said. “I think I’ve been doing pretty well, and it’s at a spot I like to play.”

Kelley said he has had a few problems lining up in the right position, but once the ball is snapped, everything goes back to normal, Kelley said.

“In between reps you think you might be confused,” he said. “But when you just revert back to playing ball it just works for you, and that’s what I try to do”

With Johnson expected to miss Saturday’s game, junior Michael Schwindel and freshman Danny Trevathan are the candidates to fill the weakside linebacker role.

Johnson has emerged this season defensively, leading the Cats with 17 total tackles, including 15 solo tackles. But Kelley is confident the defensive unit can come together to fill Johnson’s void.

“Micah has been playing very well and will be a huge loss,” Kelley said. “But we have people that can come in and step up.”

Senior defensive lineman Ventrell Jenkins believes that despite the loss of Johnson, there won’t be a problem with either Schwindel or Trevathan coming into the starting lineup based on what he saw in the Middle Tennessee game.

“While we will miss Micah a lot, Michael Schwindel is not a pushover,” Jenkins said. “In the Middle Tennessee game he was able to make plays, and I have full confidence in him.”

Brooks said he also doesn’t expect any drop off in play. By sliding Kelley back over to middle linebacker, he will be able to give guidance to whoever fills the weakside spot.

Brooks also said in a news conference Monday that sophomore defensive tackle Ricky Lumpkin is doubtful and freshman wide receiver/quarterback Randall Cobb is out for Saturday’s game. Senior offensive tackle Garry Williams will be returning to the Cats’ lineup after missing the last two games with a knee injury.

A battle in the kicking game

After missing four field goals against Middle Tennessee State, junior kicker Lones Seiber’s is in jeopardy of losing the starting job.

“It’s very close between (Ryan) Tydlacka and Lones based off of the competition from last week,” Brooks said.

Brooks said there is no clear front-runner for the position, but the Cats should have an idea of who will be their kicker for Saturday’s game after Thursday’s practice.

Tydlacka, a redshirt freshman from Louisville, has yet to kick a collegiate field goal, but he was an all-state as a junior and senior in high school. Tydlacka has seen time as a punter this season. He has eight punts this year for a 40.6-yard average.

Seiber, has made 32-of-54 career field goals, and he’s 5-of-10 this year.

Senior J.J. Housley is another option, however Brooks said Housley isn’t a factor from long range. Housley was the starting kicker in 2006 before Seiber returned from injury.

UK-Alabama on CBS

UK’s Oct. 4 game at Alabama has been picked up by CBS and will be played at 3:30 p.m. The game will be the second nationally televised game for UK this season. The Cats opened their season at Louisville, which was televised on ESPN.

Last year UK had two games broadcast on CBS. UK’s upset of then-No. 1 Louisiana State and its loss to Florida were broadcast back-to-back weeks on the network.