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llickson told The News Journal. It sucks.The guys that are free agents this year, its tough for me to not laugh at pe

LEXINGTON, Ky. Shea Theodore Golden Knights Jersey . -- Kentucky enters Saturday nights opener against Southern Mississippi with more urgency than usual.The Wildcats realize how critical every game is to them to reach the six-win threshold and become bowl eligible after consecutive 5-7 finishes. They also would like to build some momentum heading into next weeks Southeastern Conference opener at Florida.But that doesnt mean the Wildcats are looking past Southern Mississippi.Kentucky is facing a Southern Miss squad eager to follow up a 9-5 season and bowl appearance by upsetting a Power Five conference school. While losing to the Golden Eagles wont necessarily break the Wildcats season, their quest to reach the postseason for the first time since 2010 would become a little harder.Kentucky coach Mark Stoops understands the importance but maintains a positive approach.We do not put any more pressure on ourselves, Stoops said. We just need to go out there and do what weve been doing and have that great focus and attention to detail. Im excited about that myself because I know well be prepared.Southern Miss is kicking off its season under new coach Jay Hopson. He is replacing Todd Monken, who left to become offensive coordinator with the NFLs Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Hopson previously served as the Golden Eagles defensive backs coach (2001-03) and defensive coordinator (05-07) before going on to guide Alcorn State to a 32-17 record and consecutive SWAC titles the past four years.Adding more intrigue to the opener is the return of Shannon Dawson as Southern Miss offensive coordinator after holding the same job with Kentucky last season.Though Dawson was criticized for the Wildcats late-season struggles and play-calling, Stoops and players had kind words for Dawson. The familiarity between Dawson and his former team could make things interesting.Anytime you open with an SEC opponent, you have your hands full, Hopson said. Kentucky is a well-coached football team with outstanding players. We know weve got to be ready this week.---Here are some things to watch when Kentucky hosts Southern Mississippi:BARKERS MOMENT: Kentucky sophomore quarterback Drew Barker has drawn raves from teammates and coaches about his maturity and command of the offense and huddle. Hell start his first opener for the Wildcats since replacing Patrick Towles late last season but hasnt seemed fazed by the hype and expectations. Ive had some playing time, so I kind of know what to expect, Barker said. Its just building off that confidence. I just cant wait to get back out there because it seems like its been two years.MULLENS BIG ARM: Southern Miss senior quarterback Nick Mullens threw for 4,476 yards and 38 touchdowns last season and is Conference USAs preseason offensive player of the year. He not only puts the Wildcats pass rush on notice, but the secondary as well. You cant take any plays off, free safety Marcus McWilson said. If they catch you slipping, thats when they get that one (play) and we cant let that happen.DEFENSIVE DEPTH: As if Kentucky didnt have enough holes to fill on defense, tackle Regie Meant left the team early in camp for undisclosed personal reasons and safety Darius West was lost for the season with a left knee injury. Not only will the Wildcats look to younger players again to provide depth, they need everyone to stay healthy and contribute.SERIES RENEWAL: Kentucky is 2-0 against Southern Miss in a series last played 30 years ago in Lexington. The Wildcats won that game 32-0 and have outscored the Golden Eagles 103-7 overall.---Follow Gary B. Graves on Twitter: and on the APs college football page: . Erik Haula Jersey . Traditional contenders Brazil, Greece and Turkey drew the other three spots to complete the 24-team field for this summers tournament in Spain, basketball governing body FIBA announced Saturday at its meeting in Barcelona. Stefan Matteau Jersey . But Bourque, who has missed three games with a lower-body injury, wont be in the lineup when the Habs travel to Buffalo to take on the Sabres on Wednesday. . -- Stanford squashed Oregons national championship hopes again, schooling the Ducks in power football. Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson?accepted the Philadelphia Phillies $17.2 million qualifying offer on Monday.Hellickson was one of 10 players to receive qualifying offers from their teams. Monday was the deadline for players to either accept or reject the offers.New York Mets second baseman Neil Walker was the only other player to accept the qualifying offer.Eight other free agents did not accept the offers from their former teams by Mondays 5 p.m. ET deadline: outfielders Jose Bautista (Blue Jays), Yoenis Cespedes (Mets), Ian Desmond (Rangers), Dexter Fowler (Chicago Cubs) and Mark Trumbo (Orioles), designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion (Blue Jays); closer Kenley Jansen (Los Angeles Dodgers); and third baseman Justin Turner (Dodgers).Hellickson said at the end of this season that, although he had hoped to sign a multiyear contract this offseason, hed love to be back next year with the Phillies.Its not the stability I wanted, but its a lot of money for one year, Hellickson told The News Journal in a telephone interview. I believe in myself to go out there and have another good year, even a better year and put myself in position to get the stability in the next offseason.He told the newspaper that he received interest from several teams, but those clubs were reluctant to part with a first-round draft pick to sign him. Aside from teams picking in the first 10 slots of the draft, teams forfeit a first-round pick if they sign a player who has received a qualifying offer. Deryk Engelland Jersey. Teams in the top 10 forfeit their second-highest pick.Hellickson said he considered rejecting the qualifying offer, but changed his mind because of the draft pick restrictions associated with signing him.Ive been playing six years to get to this point and its just unfortunate that free agents like myself have this first-round pick attached to us, Hellickson told The News Journal. It sucks.The guys that are free agents this year, its tough for me to not laugh at people who say this is a weak free-agent market, he continued. Its tough with the uncertainty of the market right now to turn down that much money for one year, especially for a team I enjoyed playing for and a city I love playing for.Hellickson, 29, was 12-10 with a 3.71 ERA last season. He tied career highs with 32 starts and 189 innings pitched and struck out a career-best 154 batters, while walking just 45.His 12 victories were the most by a Phillies pitcher last season.The Phillies acquired Hellickson in a 2015 trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks.The Associated Press contributed to this report.Wholesale NFL Jerseys Wholesale Nike NFL Jerseys NFL Jerseys From China Cheap Nike Basketball Jerseys Wholesale Hockey Jerseys China Nike Baseball Jerseys Cheap College Jerseys China Cheap Football Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Canada Wholesale NHL Jerseys Canada Wholesale Nike MLB Jerseys Canada Cheap NBA Jerseys Authentic Canada Stitched Soccer Jerseys Canada Cheap Jerseys Canada NFL ' ' '