The Kentucky Wildcats do not have time to lick their wounds following last Thursday’s heartbreaking loss to the Auburn Tigers.
A tough Mississippi State Bulldogs team awaits the Cats this Saturday in Starkville, but Kentucky Head Coach Mark Stoops is looking forward to his team’s trip down south.
"Looking forward to this week’s game, it will be a great challenge going to Mississippi State. They are a very good football team that is used to winning a bunch of games and led by an incredible quarterback, who has great leadership skills", said Stoops yesterday during his weekly press conference.
MSU quarterback Dak Prescott has quietly put together an impressive season and has yet to throw an interception.
"Yeah, it shows you a quarterback that has an awful lot of poise, an awful lot of leadership and a lot of experience. He knows what he is doing", said Stoops when asked about Prescott’s hot start.
The Bulldogs are not a one man show though, a fact that Coach Stoops was quick to point. Dan Mullen’s team is big and physical, especially at wide receiver.
"They're really big at wide receiver, too," Stoops said. "They're talented and experienced and bigger guys. So we have to rise to the occasion and we have to challenge these guys and make competitive plays. I think that's part of the difference in last week's game. I think they made some competitive plays on us. We certainly had a lot of success throwing the ball and had some opportunities, but they contested some plays in some critical moments, and we've got to continue to do that."
Much of the Bulldogs success the last few seasons is due to good player development and depth thanks to Mullen’s practice of redshirting many of his players, said Stoops.
"That is a good recipe he has going on because he is redshirting a bunch of guys and developing guys to bring them along",
Going into Saturday’s game the Wildcats defensive line will have a big hole in it because of nose tackle Melvin Lewis’s season ending leg injury.
Stoops provided an on update on Lewis’s condition Monday.
"Melvin will get operated on tomorrow and he will be out for the season."
The recovery time for the surgery is six weeks, according to Stoops, so there is a chance that Lewis could play if the Cats make a bowl game.
Regardless of injury Stoops is sure that Lewis will still have an impact on the team.
"His presence will be missed on the field and off but the good thing is his presence will still be there off the field. Once he recovers from this surgery he’ll be out there and he’ll inspire guys", he said.
Stoops also singled out too lesser-used players ho could earn more playing time with Lewis out.
"Adrian Middleton will work in there, and Tymere Dubose will work in there a little bit, as well."
Also on the injury front, Stoops said that freshmen linebacker Jordan Jones will return to the team after missing some time with an ankle injury and kicker Austin MacGuinnis is finally healthy enough to resume his place kicking duties.