By LARRY VAUGHT
Halfway through the regular season Kentucky is 3-3 — which is what I thought would be the worst case scenario for coach Mark Stoops’ team when the season started.
I just didn’t think Eastern Michigan, Toledo or Arkansas could beat UK. That left Florida, South Carolina and Mississippi State. I thought UK would win at least one game, maybe two. Never did I think UK would go 0-3 in that stretch like it did.
However, I also didn’t know that quarterback Terry Wilson would go down on a horse-collar tackle in the second half of the second game against Eastern Michigan resulting in a knee injury that would end his season. Also didn’t know that backup quarterback Sawyer Smith would get so banged up he could barely pass or run at Mississippi State to force Stoops to turn to receiver Lynn Bowden at quarterback to beat Arkansas last week.
So going into this Saturday night’s game at Georgia, what kind of grade would Stoops give himself at midseason?
“You know I’m not going to do that. I’m going to leave that to you. You know I can’t do that, no,” Stoops said at his weekly press conference. “Any time you got to make sure you’re doing the things necessary and you’re growing and getting better. The minute you think you got it all figured out, you’re done in this profession.
“We’re constantly looking to get better. We’re in a learning environment. We learn and grow in every opportunity, just try to get better.”
Kentucky has to get a LOT better this week. Kentucky is a 25-point underdog at Georgia, a team that got upset in overtime by South Carolina last week.
Stoops admits this game is “very important” for a lot of reasons.
“You can’t ever get too far ahead of yourself or you get slapped around in a hurry. So you just kind of keep things in perspective, handle the day-to-day, prepare for each week,” Stoops said.
“Georgia is just what they are, a top five team. I know they took a tough loss last week. Again, you hear me say it all the time. Tell me one team that is going to play their best 12 weeks in a row. Doesn’t happen. Some of the elite teams overcome it, Georgia normally does. When they don’t play their best, they can still win with the talent they have. Didn’t happen for them last week.
“No doubt in my mind how they’ll respond. Their team has a lot of pride. They’ve won a lot of games. They’re going to come back stronger than ever this week. We have to make sure we match that, continue to improve, play our very best. We need to play our best football game of the year.”