Kentucky Sports Radio was in the Zoom audience as a handful of Wildcats spoke to reporters about Saturday’s upcoming game against Vanderbilt, Kentucky’s first game in two weeks. Even though it feels like the gruesome, 10-SEC-game grind is weighing down the program, safety Yusuf Corker emphatically said that’s far from the case.
“The mood right now is very excited. We’re ready off this bye week, itching to play, itching to hit somebody and itching to make plays,” he said. “The message for our final four games is to be the best defense that we can be and execute on all cylinders, just do the little things.”
The emotional toll throughout the pandemic has weighed even heavier on J.J. Weaver. The redshirt freshman outside linebacker from Louisville lost his father to gun violence just before the start of the season. Sometimes football losses can be taxing on the mental health of a young player. For Weaver, the game has provided him the ideal emotional outlet.
“I’ve been going through a lot lately with my father passing and everything so I just keep football on my mind. Coming in here to football, it feels like a space where I can clear my mind. These are my brothers. They make me happy. They make me more focused.”
The offensive line has lost its leader from the meeting room. John Schlarman has not been physically with the team over the last few weeks, but he’s remained in contact with the players and is always with them in spirit.
“We’re staying on the grindstone to get these wins and make Coach Schlarman proud,” said Darian Kinnard. “As an O-line we do our best to continue going day-by-day, always knowing he’s with us still. We’re out there, always having that mentality that Schlarman mentality of having energy, basically having him in the room with us.”
Senior running back A.J. Rose has been through plenty of ups and downs as a Kentucky Wildcat. Persevering through lows is a reward worth fighting for.
“We just trying to get things back on track, trying to get that win, just trying to keep the focus on this football season and just getting better. We know things are going to happen throughout the season with coaches and players. We expected that. We’re just trying to stay focused on Vanderbilt this week.”