UK's Hudson: No easy fix for Cats

September 10, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - If defensive end Vincent "Sweet Pea" Burns had a chance to coach Kentucky, he knows what he thinks it would take for the Wildcats to improve on Sunday's dismal performance against Louisville.

"We've got to get more aggressive. We've got to get a mean streak," said Burns. "If you don't play mean and physical, you don't win. Against Louisville, we weren't nearly mean enough."

Instead, Louisville had its way during a 28-0 victory that has forced the Wildcats to rethink their belief that they could overcome scholarship restrictions from the last three years to improve on last season's 4-8 mark.

"This is not going to be easy to fix," Kentucky offensive coordinator Ron Hudson said. "We struggled up front against Louisville. We just have to stay with what we were doing. We were in position to make some big plays, but didn't. However, changing what we are doing is not the answer because then we would just have the same players trying to do different things."


Kentucky coach Rich Brooks has spent this week looking at several possible lineup changes before the Wildcats return to action Sept. 18 against visiting Indiana.

Freshman Micah Jones, who made his collegiate debut against Louisville at guard, has been elevated to a starting tackle in place of Hayden Lane. Aaron Miller, another true freshman who did not play against Louisville, has received significant playing time with the first unit in practice.

In the backfield, true freshmen Tony Dixon and Rafael Little have worked more with the first team. Dixon got two carries against Louisville before a fumble finished his day. Little did not play because he got a late start due to off-season knee surgery, but Brooks has indicated he'll play against Indiana.

"We are just looking at a lot of different combinations," Brooks said.

One player who has not received any more work than normal is backup quarterback Andre Woodson. He did not play against Louisville even though the Wildcats did not cross midfield until the second half and had 117 of their 238 total yards in the final five minutes.

"The worst thing we could do would be to play him before he is ready," Brooks said. "We are going to continue to try to get Andre ready and he will play. But he wasn't ready to play against Louisville."

The Wildcats insist they'll all play better against Indiana and not let the loss to Louisville ruin their season like a similar defeat did in 2003.

"We can recover from this," running back Arliss Beach, who had just 24 yards on 10 carries, said. "We know now we have to be more physical, but we can do that. They were good, but when one team plays harder and more aggressive, it's going to look a lot better. We know what we did wrong."

Linebacker Jon Sumrall, a junior, got his second straight start against Louisville. He got his chance because starter Dustin Williams hurt a hamstring early in practice and then Dennis Johnson was slowed by an ankle injury the week before the Louisville game.

He was thankful for the chance to play and guaranteed this year's team would handle the loss better than the Cats did last year.

"Coach Brooks talked to us after the game about finding out what we are made of now," Sumrall said. "He told us about losing his first two games one year at Oregon and then still going to the Rose Bowl. One loss should not ruin our season. One loss doesn't mean we still can't have a great season.

"We let one game get away. We've just got to make sure we don't waste any more chances. This team will regroup. I know it will. Maybe in the past guys weren't willing to step up and make sure things got better. But we have people who won't let this season slip away."

Starting times: The Southeastern Conference has released starting times for televised conference basketball games for the 2004-2005 season. All 16 Kentucky games will be televised live. Dates, starting times and TV affiliation for those games are as follows:

Jan. 5, South Carolina at Kentucky, 8 p.m, Jefferson-Pilot; Jan. 12, Vanderbilt at Kentucky, 7 p.m., Fox Sports Net; Jan. 15, Kentucky at Georgia, Jefferson-Pilot, 1 p.m.; Jan. 19, Kentucky at Mississippi, 8 p.m., Jefferson-Pilot; Jan. 22, LSU at Kentucky, 1:30 p.m, CBS; Jan. 25, Kentucky at Tennessee, 9 p.m., ESPN; and Jan. 29, Kentucky at Arkansas, 3:30 p.m., CBS.

Feb. 5, Kentucky at Vanderbilt, 3 p.m., Jefferson-Pilot; Feb. 8, Florida at Kentucky, 9 p.m., ESPN; Feb. 12, Georgia at Kentucky, 8 p.m., Jefferson-Pilot; Feb. 15, Kentucky at South Carolina, 9 p.m., ESPN; Feb. 19, Mississippi State at Kentucky, 9 p.m., ESPN; Feb. 23, Auburn at Kentucky, 8 p.m., Jefferson Pilot; and Feb. 26, Kentucky at Alabama, 1:30 p.m., CBS.

March 2, Tennessee at Kentucky, 8 p.m., Jefferson-Pilot; March 6, Kentucky at Florida, noon, CBS.

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