LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) - Due to an injury, a Lexington native could make the first start of his collegiate career for Louisville's football team against his hometown team, and even if he doesn't, he'll probably see plenty of action.
That's because U of L will be without one of its top defensive players in junior strong safety Russ Yeast, who was injured in Saturday's win over Syracuse and had what coach Scott Satterfield termed a "procedure" on his knee Sunday.
Satterfield said at his weekly press conference Monday afternoon that redshirt sophomore Jack Fagot from Lexington Catholic High and Arizona grad transfer Isaiah Hayes will fill in for Yeast.
Fagot has played in seven games this season, recording 14 solo tackles. The highlight of his career so far came when he intercepted a Clemson pass on the goal line in a 45-10 loss on Oct. 19.
Yeast, who originally committed to UK but flipped to U o fL, was injured late in the fourth quarter while attempting to make a tackle on the sideline when he went flying out of bounds and was hit by a teammate. Hayes has also appeared in seven games, with seven solo stops.
"He's fine now," Satterfield said of Yeast. "But he'll be out this week. He had a procedure done. It was a couple of things with his lower leg, his knee."
Satterfield didn't elaborate on the injury, but said Yeast probably won't be able to play in the Cards' bowl game next month either.
Yeast has started all 11 games this season at safety and is fifth on the team in tackles with 61. He also has two forced fumbles and an interception.
A product of Center Grove High School in Greenwood, Ind., Yeast was a high-profile recruit whose father, Craig, was a star receiver at UK in the late 1990s and spent nine seasons in the NFL. In the Class of 2017, Yeast was the No. 3-ranked recruit and was the runner-up for Indiana’s Mr. Football honor.
CATS WILL WATCH HALL
Hassan Hall is likely to be a marked man for Kentucky's special teams.
U of L’s speedy backup running back moved up a spot in the national rankings for kick returns by virtue of his 142 yards on four returns against Syracuse. He also gained 71 yards rushing in relief of Javian Hawkins, averaging 8.9 yards per carry, and scored on a 12-yard run.
Hall is now No. 3 nationally in the FBS, with 34.2 yards per return, having run back 20 kicks for 684 yards. Deion Hair-Griffin of North Texas leads the country with a 40.8 average (12/489) and Virginia's Joe Reed is second at 35.4 (21/743).
ACC HONORS CUNNINGHAM, HAWKINS
Hawkins and Micale Cunningham were honored as Atlantic Coast Conference Players of the Week for their performance in UofL's 56-34 win over Syracuse.
Cunningham was named the league's Quarterback of the Week and Hawkins was selected as the Running Back and co-Rookie of the Week after big their performance against the Orange.
A native of Montgomery, Ala., Cunningham accounted for a career high six touchdowns – five in the air and one on the ground – to give him 10 touchdowns over the last two games.
He completed 11-of-20 passes, including a 90-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Tutu Atwell – the fourth-longest pass play in school history.
Cunningham was also named one the eight quarterbacks named as one the Manning Award's "Stars of the Week."
Hawkins rushed for 233, his sixth 100-yard game of the season and his first 200-yard rushing game. It was first 200-yard rushing game by a Cardinal since Lamar Jackson had 226 against Texas A&M on Dec. 30, 2015. And it was the most rushing yards by a running back since Anthony Allen gained 275 against Middle Tennessee on Sept. 6, 2007. Hawkins' six 100-yard games are the most by a freshman in program history.
Russ Brown, a former sportswriter for The Courier-Journal and USA Today, covers University of Louisville sports and college football and basketball for Kentucky Today. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.