Looking for some inspiration this week after a pair of tough losses for Kentucky, I was able to link up with former Wildcat Avery Williamson - now a starting linebacker for the Tennessee Titans - to get his take on the current state of Kentucky Football.
Below is the short Q&A:
John Cox (JC): Let's start with what's been in the news this week, your 9/11 cleats; where did you get those and what inspired you to have them made?
Avery Williamson (AW): It was just an idea I had to do something to honor all those that we lost that day. I actually had the idea this summer when I was in Lexington and I had them done at True Blue Customs. I've had nothing but positive feedback from them, so it's been really good.
JC: Speaking of Lexington, what's your favorite place to eat when you're in town?
AW: I'd probably have to say Malone's. The filet with the Oscar style has got to be my favorite.
JC: What would you say was your most memorable moment as a Wildcat?
AW: Beating Tennessee. Hands down. It was something I'll never forget.
JC: Coach Stoops took over at Kentucky in your senior year. Do you feel that he helped further prepare you for the next level? If so, how?
AW: I definitely felt like he helped me develop into a better player, especially mentally. And I really liked his defense. I felt like his system really worked well for me and I felt like it definitely had an effect on me getting drafted.
JC: Have you been watching the Kentucky games so far this season? What can they do to turn it around and what advice could you give to them?
AW: I've been watching; they just have to stay positive. It's definitely tough, especially taking that loss to Florida. You have to stay positive and put it in their mind that there are still 10 more games to play and the season's far from over. They just can't give up.
They have to listen to the coaches, take care of themselves off the field, study the film, identify what you did wrong, correct your mistakes, and go from there. But you have to stay positive and remember that not everything is gone. They have the talent to win games. It's not that they're a bad team, they just have to mature and identify what they did wrong and make it right.
JC: Moving on to the Titans, who is your funniest teammate now and why?
AW: I'd probably have to say Daimion Stafford; he's one of our safeties. He's probably the funniest guy on the team. He's just all the time got a joke, like he'll bust out with one in the team meetings. He's never scared to say a joke anywhere. Might be in the middle of a prayer, and he'll crack a joke; that's just the type of guy he is.
JC: Did the fact that you and Wesley Woodyard both played for Kentucky make you all instant friends when you got drafted by the Titans? And how has he influenced your career?
AW: It did. As soon as I got drafted, he texted my phone and told me, "get ready to go to work." So it's been pretty awesome to have that support system since day one. He's been like my big brother, so that's really awesome to have. He's definitely been a been influence on my career.
JC: What about the guy who linked us up, our boy Maxwell Smith? Is there anything you can tell me about him that I don't already know from when you all played together?
AW: I can't think of anything off the top of my head, but I've just always known him as a hard worker. He's a first one in, last one to leave kind of guy. He's definitely a good friend to me since my freshman year at Kentucky. I always had his back, and he's always had mine; just a really good guy.
JC: Looking ahead to Saturday, do the ‘Cats bounce back against New Mexico State?
AW: They...better. (Laughs) No, I feel like they will, they definitely will. They just can't overlook them. I feel like, at this point, they have to take everybody seriously. So I'm definitely looking for them to bounce back and get their confidence level back up.
JC: I hope you're right. And for the Titans, I know you guys took a tough loss to the Vikings last week, and now you all are also looking to bounce back, this Sunday against the Lions. What has been your main area of focus this week as you get ready for Detroit?
AW: Really, just focusing on getting ready to make plays in space, because they try to spread you out as a defense. They'll try to run the ball a little bit, but they're definitely a pass-happy team. So we just have to make sure we get some pressure on (Matt) Stafford and make plays on the ball in our passing lanes. So that's really the biggest deal, and hopefully, we can come away with a victory.
Listen to the full interview with Avery Williamson, as well as predictions and analysis from John Cox & former UK quarterback Maxwell Smith: