Murray coach realistic about UK game

September 03, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - At least Murray State coach Joe Pannunzio is realistic about what it would take for his team to compete with Kentucky here Saturday.

"If (UK quarterback Jared) Lorenzen gets hot, he can slice us up right away," said Pannunzio. "They would have to be on their C, D or F game for us to have a chance. If Lorenzen is hot, we have little chance to win. We'll just go hope he's not on.

"We have good players. Every year big upsets happen, but things would really have to fall in place for us for that to happen."

Division I-AA Murray opened the season last week with a 34-0 win over Valparaiso that impressed Kentucky coach Rich Brooks because the Racers' defense gave up just 45 total yards.


"They looked pretty damn good to me," Brooks said. "They held Valparaiso to 45 yards and we would have trouble doing that against air."

The Wildcats had trouble doing a lot of things Sunday in a 40-24 loss to Louisville in Brooks' Kentucky debut. However, the players insisted they would not have trouble regrouping to play Murray.

"Louisville was a big game and we came out on the losing end of the stick," Kentucky offensive tackle Sylvester Miller said. "We still have more games to play and we have to learn from our mistakes.

"With the way our team is, we all have to take an active leadership role. We've got to move past the loss and win some games. We can't look at Murray as a I-AA team. We have to go into this game as if we were playing Louisville or Tennessee. We can't afford to downplay Murray and take a chance on getting another loss."

Murray has players with Division I experience

Murray has players with Division I experience. Receiver Deandre Green transferred from Auburn last year and caught a team-high 69 passes for 1,002 yards and six scores.

Senior cornerback Michael Hanley transferred from Indiana this year and had an interception and fumble recovery last week. Junior cornerback Laroni Gallishaw transferred from Louisville, where he started 18 games and made an interception against UK in 2001.

Murray tight end Jimmy St. Louis was recruited by UK before going to Auburn and then transferring to Murray.

Quarterback Stewart Childress has thrown for 7,092 yards and started every game since arriving from Caldwell County. He led his team to the 1998 Class A state championship by beating Danville in the title game.

"This is a big game for our kids," Pannunzio said. "For our transfers, it's a big thing. For kids that didn't get recruited by a SEC school, it's a big deal. Kentucky is the school all the kids look to in our state. I'm sure Kentucky is going to come out with a chip on its shoulders after last week, but this is still a dream come true for us to play Kentucky."

Forget Louisville, focus on Murray

Brooks wants his team to concentrate its focus on Murray and quit worrying about the loss to Louisville.

"We need to focus on beating Murray and getting better so we can beat anybody," Brooks said. "If you don't get better each week, you are not going to beat many people."

That's why Brooks said he won't hold out receiver Derek Abney, who re-aggravated a hamstring injury in the first half against Louisville. He had three catches for 51 yards against the Cardinals.

"We do not feel it is a significant injury. We are not going to have him running any 40-yard dashes (in practice) to see if he tears it in half, but I'm not going to hold him out of a game that we need to win, either," Brooks said.

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