Brooks not giving up on season

October 14, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON -- The injuries to his team are mounting, he's had to suspend a starting linebacker and the criticism of his team's offense continues to grow.

Yet Kentucky coach Rich Brooks insists he's not even considering looking ahead to next year despite his team's 2-4 record going into Saturday night's game here against Ohio.

"I am not ready to throw in the towel on this season," said Brooks Monday. "We have six games left. Based on how we've played, we're capable of winning them all. We've also proven we're capable of losing them all .

"This team still has a future this year. I am not going to get someone ready for next year as long as we have six games left."


Kentucky will be without Deion Holts against Ohio. Brooks announced Monday that he had been suspended for a "violation of team rules" for Saturday's game. He has 28 tackles, including 5.5 for loss.

"It's extremely disappointing to have something like this happen," Brooks said. "Obviously, it's tough on him, but it is a lot more difficult on his teammates. When you start counting on somebody, you need to know you really can count on them."

Brooks hopes starting quarterback Jared Lorenzen will be able to play Saturday. He suffered a concussion in last Thursday's loss to South Carolina. He was held out of contact drills Monday, but did run. Brooks said he might be able to return to limited practice today providing he had no headaches overnight.

"I am fairly confident he'll be able to practice at some point this week, but if we don't get him pretty involved by Wednesday, it will be unlikely that he'll start the game," the Kentucky coach said. "He would obviously play, but Shane (Boyd) would start."

Linebacker Durrell White (ankle sprain), safety Claude Sagaille (groin) and tight end Win Gaffron (back) did not practice Monday. Brooks thinks Sagaille will be able to play Saturday and is also optimistic that White will be close to full speed. He's not as sure about Gaffron.

Outside linebacker Raymond Fontaine was questionable for last week's game because of a foot injury. However, when White went down, he had to play and did not do any additional harm to the foot.

"With Durrell improving and Fontaine able to play, we have more options than I thought we might at linebacker," Brooks said.

Brooks warned that his team needs to be prepared for a difficult game against Ohio (2-4). The Bobcats have lost to Iowa State, Minnesota, Western Michigan and Northern Illinois. Ohio led Northern Illinois, which has wins at Maryland and Alabama this season, before losing 30-23 in overtime.

He emphasized that his team should be focused solely on Ohio and not what it would take to become bowl eligible.

"I can't speak for them (UK's players). They can talk for themselves. But if we are mentioning bowls, we are full of something I shouldn't talk about," Brooks said. "We are so far from being bowl eligible that no one should even talk about that."

Brooks' players insist they still have faith that they can salvage a respectable season.

"I don't think there are any doubts at all on this team," UK running back Alexis Bwenge said. "We have played well at times. We just have to be more consistent, but we don't doubt that we can do it."

That won't change if Boyd does have to replace Lorenzen Saturday. Boyd won the job midway through the 2001 season before Lorenzen regained the job and has held it since then. However, Boyd was 7-for-14 passing for 81 yards and one touchdown and also rushed for 73 yards and one score.

"It's not a different package whether Jared or Shane plays," Kentucky tackle Sylvester Miller said. "Shane is the better runner and gets out of the pocket quicker, but we don't change what we do if he's the quarterback. We've got to protect and run block no matter who is back there."


n Brooks offered no excuses for Kentucky having to take a timeout after a change of possession at South Carolina because it did not get its offense on the field quick enough.

"It was bad coaching. It was awful, stinky, lousy coaching and there's no excuse for it," Brooks said.

n Kickoff for Kentucky's game with Mississippi State Oct. 25 has been changed from 7 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. The game will be televised by Jefferson-Pilot Sports.

"With that being the last Saturday of Keeneland's fall season, our preference would have been to play the game at night," UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart said. "However, as a member of the Southeastern Conference, we are contractually obligated to accomodate our television partners."

The change also impacted the Blue-White basketball scrimmage for coach Tubby Smith's team. Instead of starting at 2 p.m. Oct. 25, it will now begin at 6 p.m. in Memorial Coliseum.

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