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Can Kentucky flourish being the hunted instead of the hunter against Middle Tennessee

Offensive line coach John Schlarman shows the frustration of UK’s play against Tennessee. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky fans better hope that coach Mark Stoops has done something to change what has been a bad trend for the Wildcats this season.

“We haven’t been very good when we’ve been the hunted. We’re a much better football team when we’re the hunter,” Stoops said.

Well, his team won’t be the hunter on Saturday for Senior Day when it hosts Middle Tennessee. Just like it was at Tennessee, Kentucky is favored. Of course, UK laid an egg at Tennessee and lost 24-7. It also didn’t play well earlier this season when it was favored against Vanderbilt and had to rally to win 14-7

“We’ve gotta understand what level you’ve gotta play with all the time. I constantly try to teach that. I constantly talk until I’m blue in the face about that,” Stoops said. “We’re intentional about leadership and trying to do things the right way. You’ve gotta be good enough to overcome things when you’re not at your best.”

Absolutely true. That’s what good times do and what Kentucky has done at times to win games this year. Win Saturday and again at Louisville and UK is 9-3 and likely headed to the Citrus Bowl. Lose this game and the bottom falls out.

“We’ve got to play with the same mentality every week. It’s who we are. That’s always been my philosophy and I’ve always said that as a defensive coordinator, as a head coach, your mentality, your identity, that’s got to be with you 24-7,” Stoops said.

“Didn’t get that done (at Tennessee), so we have to play — we have to be the best version of ourself and we weren’t that last week — and so we need to play with a toughness, a mentality and an attitude along with execution and being precise in what we do. That always goes with it and how you prepare.

“You hear me talk about it every week and it’s so true. What kind of mentality do you have going through your preparation? Are you going through the motions or are you trying to get better? That’s where we cannot be inconsistent with, what? We’ve played 10 games this year and we haven’t been perfect in those 10, but I think all but one, we had the right mentality.”

3 comments

  1. The way this UK team plays Saturday against MTS, after the melt down in Knoxville, is up to Stoops. Middle is a capable well coached football team. All you have to do is look at their record. I could care less about being the “hunter” or the “hunted.” Just get up for the game and play solid football and show a desire too win. Play like a ranked SEC team.

    1. Comes down to which UK team plays. If good UK plays, give me the Cats by a bunch. If bad UK plays, then who knows. Middle Tennessee has some good players, just not as many as UK. But I know Tony Franklin will open the playbook wide open because he knows that is the only chance Middle has

  2. This game scares the heck out of me because of the misuse of talent and stumbling, predictable play calling of Gran. MTSU has won 4 straight and gotten better as the year has gone on, as most teams do, unless coached by Stoops/Gran, and they also have a very accurate 4 yr starting quarterback.

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