Wildcats facing 'reality check'

November 08, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - Getting outscored 28-0 by No. 8 Georgia in the fourth quarter leaves Kentucky facing what coach Rich Brooks calls a "reality check" this week against Vanderbilt.

Georgia overcame a slow start to beat Kentucky 62-17 Saturday to extend UK's losing streak to seven.

Brooks indicated Sunday that he was not upset over what some perceived as running up the score by Georgia and said he did shake hands with Georgia coach Mark Richt after the game.

"I am upset with the way the game ended because we allowed them to score a lot of points. We broke down and that is our responsibility," said Brooks.

So what will it take for Brooks to motivate his team this week? Kentucky's offense and defense are both in disarray and just as many questions continue to exist about Brooks' future along with that of his coaching staff.


Vanderbilt, which went into the season hoping to earn a bowl berth, is just 2-7. However, the Commodores did beat UK 28-17 last year, and Vanderbilt fans celebrated ending a Southeastern Conference losing streak by tearing down the goal posts.

"We are playing a team that has one more win than we do," Brooks said. "They are not as beat up as we are and they do have a full compliment of scholarships. But it's our last home game. It is our seniors' last game at home. We need to go out and put together our best effort for 60 minutes and get a W (win).

Brooks admitted he always worries about how hard a team will play in the midst of adversity.

"We work hard to get guys to play hard, and for the most part they have all year," Brooks said. "The way the (Georgia) game ended leaves us with a reality check in that regard. Now we will find out what we are made of and see if we can rebound from the embarrassment of that game."

Folding in the fourth quarter

Brooks said he's not only disappointed with Kentucky's record, but also with the way the Cats have folded in the fourth quarters of recent games.

"We have struggled to close games. Mississippi State scored points late. Auburn ran away. Now, obviously, the Georgia game was 28-0 in the fourth quarter. It's just not the way to finish games," Brooks said.

Brooks said losing 38-17 instead of 62-17 would have made a "big difference" to his team.

"I don't know how significant a difference it would have been, but it makes a big difference," he said.

A late ankle injury to quarterback Andre Woodson could make a big difference Saturday. Woodson replaced starter Shane Boyd on UK's final first-half possession and led the Cats to a field goal. He completed 17 of 26 passes for 206 yards and led UK to all 17 points before twisting his ankle.

"It's up in the air about whether he will start or not," Brooks said. "I don't know when he can practice. The trainer says maybe on Wednesday. We will have to determine if he's able to play and then decide what he's able to do."

Woodson, a redshirt freshman, seemed more comfortable in UK's two-minute offense where he called plays at the line of scrimmage and then mainly stayed in the pocket to pass.

"I think Andre just has a little better understanding of the offense," Brooks said. "He did throw the ball away once when he was still in the pocket (and got penalized). But what he did was eliminate the negative plays he had been making. One thing he did very well was have good vision of the field and come off his primary receiver.

"I've seen this in Andre from day one. He throws a good ball. He can see the field pretty good. Obviously, this gives me a lot more hope for the future."

Hurting: Brooks was not overly optimistic about the return of other players injured Saturday. He said receiver-returner John Logan (shoulder) and tight end Jeremiah Drobney (knee) won't play against Vanderbilt this week and listed cornerback Earven Flowers (back), cornerback Warren Wilson (knee and bruised sternum), defensive lineman Ellery Moore (ankle) and special teams player Andrew Hopewell (hip) as questionable.

"We will know more about them in a day or two," Brooks said of the players he listed as questionable.

He indicated that freshman running back Tony Dixon (ankle) might be able to play this week after missing two games. However, he said defensive end Vincent Burns (ankle) likely will not return until the final game at Tennessee Nov. 27.

"In one sense, it is kind of the luck of the draw," Brooks said when asked about UK's rash of late-season injuries. "The other thing is that sometimes when you are playing as physical of teams as we play in this league and when maybe we are not quite as physical in all positions, that can create players getting beat up a little bit. We are not as big, strong and fast as Georgia is. It's pretty obvious when you watch the game film. Some of the injuries are just a result of that."

Brooks said the injuries will lead to more playing time for other players against Vanderbilt.

"We don't have too many guys left to play that haven't played," Brooks said. "You will see more of some guys, but obviously we are pretty thinned out right now."

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