By LARRY VAUGHT
Middle Tennessee is not a Southeastern Conference team and lost 35-7 to Vanderbilt to start the season. But it also has a 21-13 win over Charlotte, the same team Tennessee beat only 14-3.
“There’s no team that we can say that’s a breather. You see it, again, you see it in college football, you see it all the time. You saw Tennessee score seven points on Charlotte the week before and come out and play lights out against us,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said.
“These are college kids, there’s going to be ups and downs. You got to be good enough to win when you don’t play your best and it’s very difficult to play at your peak for 12 straight weeks, and some of the teams that are competing for 13.
“It’s difficult; you got to be good enough to overcome them when you don’t play well. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t. Again, I think there’s three teams in this league – we got a pretty good league don’t we? 14 teams in this league that are pretty good programs, and I think three of them have a better record than us. I don’t think it’s time to scrap everything.”
Middle Tennessee’s defense has impressed Stoops because of its ability to make plays, especially when Middle Tennessee gets a lead.
“Teams are throwing the ball and certainly that was the case this past week against UTEP. They jumped out on a big lead on them. They’re throwing it and creating some big plays. Their defense has been very good at forcing turnovers,” Stoops said.
“They do a good job. They’re well coached. I wanna say they’re 7-1 in the conference. Obviously anytime you’re leading your conference you’re a good football team.”
Brent Stockstill, the son of Middle Tennessee’s head coach, heads a potent offense directed by offensive coordinator Tony Franklin, a former UK offensive coordinator.
“You can tell he’s the coach’s kid and he plays so hard and makes such critical plays and he’s one of those guys who is a real gamer and you put pressure on him, get him out of the pocket and he finds guys open. He puts it in good spots; he throws such a catchable ball,” Stoops said.
“He really plays — you’ve got to have a lot of respect for the way he plays — he plays the game the right way and really intelligent and great touch on what he does. They have a good scheme and they can move it on you.”