Brooks doesn't want to hear 'B' word yet

October 27, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - Rich Brooks wants no part of the "B" word even though his team has won two straight games to even its record and overcame a 17-point deficit to get the second straight win Saturday.

"I don't think so," said Brooks Sunday when asked if he wanted to hear Kentucky players discussing their bowl chances this week. "We've got Arkansas now. That's got to be our main focus. This is a real pivotal game for us. It's huge, particularly since we go on the road for the next two.

"If we can come out of this three-game home sweep with another win, it would be a huge step to getting us in bowl position. But from what I've seen of Arkansas, I would be a little leery of thinking about anything except them."

Kentucky is 4-4 after overcoming a 17-0 deficit Saturday to beat Mississippi State 42-17. If the Cats win this Saturday, they would need to either win at Vanderbilt or Georgia or beat Tennessee at home to get the sixth win to become bowl eligible.


The Wildcats scored 35 points in the second half against Mississippi State when they abandoned their offensive sets using one or two tight ends and put in four, or even five, wide receivers. Kentucky finished the game with season highs in points, passing yards (256) and total yards (410).

"That's been part of our offense all along," Brooks said Sunday. "We just used it a little more the second half. Different games, you have different game plans, different formations. Because we were having so little success running out of our two tight end formation, we decided to spread it out. But it was not like we threw it 50 times. We ran the same stuff."

Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill confirmed that.

"They really didn't do anything differently," Sherrill said. "They ran the same plays they did in the first half. We just didn't make any plays on either side of the ball."

However, State defensive end Jason Clark noticed the same type of philosophy change that many fans in Commonwealth Stadium did when UK quarterback Jared Lorenzen dropped into the shotgun with multiple receivers on both sides most plays.

"They tried to pass the ball more and get their playmakers involved," Clark said. "It seemed like they were trying to establish the running game in the first half and we shut that down, so in the second half they went to the passing game."

Brooks suggested the switch to UK offensive coordinator Ron Hudson. However, he said Sunday that he always discusses possible changes and strategy not only with Hudson, but also with defensive coordinator Mike Archer at halftime of each game.

He also refused to say that the Cats would use the same spread formation against Arkansas after gaining 270 yards in the second half against Mississippi State.

"Spreading the field depends on how you match up and how the other team is aligned," Brooks said. "They played a lot of zone, had a young secondary and did not use much press coverage (at the line of scrimmage). There were things open that might not be open against Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee or Vanderbilt."

Brooks said Sunday that all his starting offensive linemen should be able to play against Arkansas. All were nursing injuries going into the Mississippi State game and still are.

"Our offensive line is beat up," Brooks said. "They will probably be limited in their reps early in the week (in practice), but it looks like they can all play."

Brooks and Archer might have "beat up" UK's defense at halftime against Mississippi State. However, the Cats regrouped to hold their seventh straight opponent under 30 points, something that no UK team has done since 1985. Kentucky held 12 straight opponents under 30 points in 1988-89 (the last six games of 1988 and first six of 1989).

"We just talked about turning up our level of play. We had more breakdowns in gap coverage and assignments than we've been having," Brooks said. "We just seemed a step slow."

The coach hopes the feeling the players got from the comeback win will carry over to a better start against Arkansas.

"It's a lot better to come off a game where you had fun than when where you are grousing about not making a play, missing a block or dropping a pass," Brooks said. "I know it was an early 17-hole, but I am not so sure we would have responded quite as well a month ago."

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