Before fielding questions from the media each day after practice, Coach Stoops’ monologue contains on average about 8 uses of the word ‘good’, usually working as follows, “It was a good Tuesday, we got some good work in, the guys looked good out there and showed a lot of good intensity.” Today the world was flipped upside down when the word good was replaced with ‘average’ [audible GASP!]. His comments today went a little something like this:
“Actually it was more of an average practice to be honest with you, just OK, nothing flashy. We need to pick it up a little bit, lock in a little bit more with our intensity, and have a better day tomorrow. (We’re) Looking forward to pick it up as the week goes along. “
You’d think that during a rivalry week it would be the exact opposite, with players maybe exerting too much effort this week; “the game’s not won during the week” as DJ Eliot called it. It surprised Coach Stoops, but sometimes “they get a few wrinkles (packages) on their brain and take a step back a little bit.” This week’s added ‘wrinkles’ aren’t exponentially greater than the prior two weeks; the confusion lies in compounding what they have learned in the previous two weeks with this week’s added information. It wasn’t a terrible practice, but the intensity will have to be picked up quickly if the Cats want to pull off a shocker Saturday.
The tallest task Saturday will be slowing down Louisville’s high-powered passing offense. Putting pressure on a QB that hasn’t had too many guys in his face this year will be essential, but most of it comes down to the performance of the secondary. Stopping Louisville’s talented wide receivers simply comes down to the young secondary embracing the challenge, “there’s no hiding out there. They put you on an island sometimes with some very good wide receivers, and you gotta step up and play,” Stoops said today. Schematically not too much will change. For Avery Williamson, it comes down to mental toughness:
“Really just being disciplined and when things do go wrong, you got to keep your head up. We’re not going to beat them in the first quarter, it’s going to be a long game. We have to keep grinding and keep our heads up when things aren’t going right, and when things do go right we can’t get too high in the clouds.”
Notes on Notes and a Video
– Cody Quinn was regarded by Derrick Ansley during camp as the best of the group. After missing a couple weeks of practice and the first two games, DJ Eliot is glad that he is back on the field and expects him to be ready when his number is called, “He has practiced well and seems to be right back on track.”
– The UK-UL Rivalry can hit close to home for in-state players. Whether growing up around the rivalry or playing against their friends from childhood, the added intensity of the game makes it that much more special. JUCO CB Nate Willis isn’t from anywhere close to Kentucky- Yuma, Arizona- but he still has close ties to some players from the opposing team, “I talked to Robert Clark (this week). Me and him grew up together so we talk all of the time.” Willis is new, but it might be a nice advantage knowing how his old friend plays.