UK Notebook: Brooks says loss worse on tape

September 29, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - Reviewing tape of his team's 24-21 loss Saturday to Florida didn't do anything to soothe the pain Kentucky coach Rich Brooks felt.

"I don't think it's easy to swallow at all," said Brooks Sunday. "The more you look at it on tape, the worse it is. There were opportunities to make plays long before Jared's interception that would have put us in total control of the game."

Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen tried to throw a pass as he was being sacked that was picked off and returned 35 yards to the UK one-yard line that set up the winning score late in the fourth period. However, Brooks again noted Sunday that the Cats dropped two potential interceptions, had a holding penalty 15 yards away from the ball negate a Derek Abney punt return for a touchdown, and missed two long field goals.

"There are a lot of things we could have done that would have impacted the game and we did not take care of," Brooks said. "When we started to slide, we had a couple of opportunities to kick field goals and did not convert. Then we got our worst punt and worst punt coverage at the end of the game."


Brooks' players obviously took the loss hard. It looked like UK would end its 16-year losing skid to the Gators when it built a 21-3 lead in the third quarter before 25th-ranked Florida rallied with three touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

"There's nothing much you can say about a game like that," Brooks said. "We feel we should have won and didn't. They (the players) are devastated. They had a chance to do something no Kentucky team has done in a long time.

"The thing that will be important now is how we handle this tough loss. Whether we have a "woe-is-me' attitude or battle back will be huge. I like the way we came out (against Florida). It was the first time we've got a first down on our first possession, much less scored like we did. We played with a lot of emotion and energy. We did a lot of good things, but the bottom line is we still lost."

Brooks said he stressed to his team again Sunday that the interception Lorenzen threw was not the reason the Wildcats lost. The Kentucky quarterback blamed himself for costing UK the win even though he was 18-for-27 passing for 179 after the game.

"Would he have liked to have that pass back? Sure. We all would," Brooks said. "We've got to make sure he keeps making progress about where to throw and to understand that there are some situations where you throw and some you don't. But he made a lot of plays. That one play did not lose the game. All I can do is explain that to him because there are a lot of things we could have done better."

Schedule: Since Kentucky does not play again until Oct. 9 at South Carolina, Brooks has altered this week's practice schedule. The Cats had a meeting and short practice Sunday, but will take today off. They will practice Tuesday and Wednesday before hosting Georgia Military Academy in a junior varsity game Thursday. The team will be off Friday before starting game preparations for South Carolina on Saturday and Sunday.

"The JV game will let some backup offensive linemen and others that don't get to play much an opportunity to do things in a real game," Brooks said.

Hurting: Brooks said several players will be held out of practices early this week.

Defensive end Vincent Burns will have an MRI on his knee today. "We don't think it is serious," Brooks said.

Kicker Clint Ruth has a sore groin and running back Arliss Beach, who scored three times Saturday, has a sore shoulder. "He's had a tender shoulder since the Indiana game, but it's worse now," Brooks said.

Receiver Glenn Holt has what Brooks called a "nagging" hamstring, and guard Jason Rollins' shoulder injury, which kept him out of the Florida game, will prevent him from practicing this week.

"Jared is pretty beat up. His hip, wrist and shoulder are sore, but none are likely to keep him out," Brooks said.

Recruiting: Not having a game Saturday will let Brooks put more of his coaches out recruiting this weekend.

"Our coaches were out in the state Friday," Brooks said. "This week we'll have some coaches go out of state Thursday and Friday. The open date is an advantage because we get a little more time to get around to some high schools, get some more information and tapes, and evaluate better."

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