The Bye Week has chiggity changed things up in the normal routine, but the one thing that remained the same was Mark Stoops’ Radio Show. Without his regularly scheduled news conference, there were a few tidbits of news to share tonight after having some time to wrap his head around Saturday’s wild win.
— “Unfortunately, I think our players thought the bye week started a week earlier this time.” I don’t think there’s a more accurate description of Saturday night’s game. It’s impossible to lose in a Bye Week, but the Cats proved it was VERY possible to lose to EKU.
— Stoops defended Towles to all of the Barker fanatics. I used the term “fanatic” because that’s what you all are at this point. Sure Pat played poorly in the first half, but he didn’t in the second half. Stoops couldn’t find a possession in that game, nor could he in any of the four prior games, where an opportunity presented itself to give the backup a shot.
“Patrick is our starting quarterback. Someday when Drew is the starting quarterback, he’s going to want that same support from me.” I’m sure the haters will continue to hate, but remember, Barker is the backup for a reason.
— Stoops didn’t lose the game, or his sense of humor. One caller began his call like many do, “How ya doing?” Stoops responded, “Better than I could be doing.” He isn’t lying.
— If we need to pick an identity for this team, it has to be resiliency. The most difficult part about being a Kentucky football fan in 2015, is that you have no idea which team is going to show to play. They’ve had a few halves of explosive offense through the air, but sometimes their running game looked too good to keep it away from them. Other times the defense carried them and made critical stops. Last week the offensive line got manhandled after manhandling a Top 25 Missouri team that had the 4th-best defense in America entering the game.
The only thing you can bet on – every game will be close. As Matt and many others have pointed out, UK could easily be 0-5 or 5-0. Stoops said Saturday was the most pressure the team has felt, but they did not buckle under the extreme pressure. They showed resiliency by making big plays. When things got tough in the past, bad habits started to show. You can see signs of improvement now that the good habits are surfacing in tight situations.
— Kentucky will begin their practice week by treating this Saturday as though it were a Monday of game week.
— I’m going to use Freddie Maggard’s words for this one, “D.J. Eliot may be good at coordinating an SEC defense, but don’t let him borrow your car.” Before leaving on a recruiting trip last week, Eliot wrecked their car before leaving the parking lot. I cannot WAIT to bring this up to him on Wednesday.
The Good News: 11 days in between games means that any and all players have time to become healthy enough to play.
The Bad News: there are lots of them, and they are some of the most important players on the roster.
Regie Meant was playing well until his injury, but it’s allowed C.J. Johnson to play inspired football. Jordan Swindle should be able to return, even though I believe he made a brief appearance when things got scary in the second half. Garrett “Juice” Johnson will have to take some time to heal his wounds after taking a couple of brutal blows across the middle of the field. Stoops confirmed what I heard after the game – Austin MacGinnis hurt his groin in practice on Thursday, pulling his groin when his toe took too big of a chunk out of the dirt in practice. MacGinnis’ injury might be the most significant. The Cats aren’t blowing out anyone, and they need every point they can get.