Brooks, players upset

October 13, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

After his team rallied in the fourth quarter but still lost 27-21 to South Carolina, Rich Brooks minced no words after the game.

He blasted the officials for not calling what he felt then was a late hit that knocked Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen out of the game with a concussion. He blasted his own team for too many mistakes and penalties.

"It sickens me," said Brooks. "It's no fun. Playing close and having moral victories doesn't mean anything to anybody in that locker room."

Brooks' players had a lengthy discussion among themselves after the game and several players apparently voiced their displeasure at the team's preparation not only for South Carolina, but for other games this season. Several players, including Lorenzen, defensive end Vincent Burns and linebacker Chad Anderson, made it clear that it was the players' fault Kentucky was 2-4 and absolved Brooks and his staff for the team's play.


"I just think everybody was upset and frustrated after the game," Brooks said Sunday. "We played very poorly for three quarters and then reversed the trend where we had not finished a game well and outplayed them in the fourth quarter. But we started so poorly that we couldn't get the win.

"I don't think anybody on our team, including myself, is happy about being 2-4. I don't blame fans if they are frustrated. We're frustrated, too."

Kentucky has lost to Louisville, Alabama, Florida and South Carolina. In every game, the Cats were in position either to take the late lead in the game or maintain a lead. Each time they failed.

"First, you look at the people we are playing and what they are doing. Florida went into LSU and won Saturday and proved they are a lot better than some people thought," Brooks said. "Louisville only has won loss and that's in overtime. South Carolina is a heck of a team.

"We have a chance to beat anybody we play. We're not a bad team. We are close to winning, but close doesn't count."

Brooks told the Cats after the loss to forget about concentrating on a bowl bid, which was one of the team's major preseason goals after not being allowed to go to a bowl last year despite its 7-5 record because of NCAA sanctions. Instead of a bowl bid, he wants his team thinking about beating Ohio University Saturday.

"I don't want us concentrating on the overall picture, but just on going on the next game, doing our job, playing hard and seeing if we can't get this turned around one game at a time," Brooks said. "For us to be looking for a bowl bid at this juncture is not very realistic with a 2-4 record and not having played a full 60-minute game yet."

Burns challenged teammates after Thursday's loss at South Carolina to do more film work to study opponents on their own. He said he regularly picks up film of UK's next opponent each Sunday, but seldom sees more than a few other players doing the same thing.

While Brooks would not criticize players for their pregame preparation, he made it clear the NCAA 20-hour limit on the time coaches can spend with players each week does place more responsibility on players to do some work on their own.

"Obviously, you are not going to win in this league by just wishing for it," Brooks said. "You have to work, prepare and sometimes do more than the NCAA allows in the 20-hour period with the coaches."

The coach said he'll know more about Lorenzen's status for this week's game either today or Tuesday. Lorenzen was 10-for-18 passing for 129 yards and one score before being knocked out. Backup Shane Boyd was 7-for-14 passing for 81 yards and rushed nine times for 73 yards in the fourth quarter when he led UK to two scores. However, he could not put together a game-winning drive on UK's last possession.

"Shane played well, but he also did some things not so well in the game that he has to address," Brooks said. "Certainly he made some big plays and played hard. He gave us a lift we needed, and we've been trying to get him more involved like that all year.

"But the bottom line again is that we did not win and as long as that happens, no one here is going to be happy. Or at least they better not be."|10/7/03***

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