Saturday’s night contest between Kentucky and Florida is a huge opportunity for Coach Stoops to ascend to the power structure of the SEC and he knows it. In his address to the media today, he broke down some his team’s mindset in practice this week along with some of their focal points heading into the contest. Let’s get into the notes.
- Jordan Jones will not play against Florida on Saturday. A huge loss, no doubt, but Eli Brown played very will in his place during last weekend’s victory. One thing to watch for will be how well Brown plays in the pass coverage. Florida is going to try to get the ball to their playmakers in the middle of the field and Brown is more of a run-stopper from the linebacker spot.
- In a game where the difference could very easily be a big play or turnover, missing Jones for another game is a bummer for the Cats. His knack to make big stops on third down and generate turnovers is a huge asset for the Kentucky defense. See below: down three points with the enemy in scoring position, he had the awareness to knock the ball loose from a staggering runner before bringing him down. He’s a smart football player who will be missed this weekend.
- Stoops has told his team to be confident but not cocky. His focus his been on preparation and addressing details on the football field, not hyping up the sellout crowd to appeal to them emotionally. They all know how big of a deal this game is. The extra media attention has not been getting to the players’ heads, he said.
- Still, Coach Stoops and the staff don't miss a beat in giving the team little bits of subconscious motivation throughout the week. Last year’s loss to Florida has been playing in the locker room courtesy of Eddie Gran.
- The coaches have spent a lot of attention on stoping Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney in practice this week. It’s been a point of emphasis for the Cats because of Toney’s ability to make big-plays as a freshman. He’s a player that they might use in a variety of ways similar to the Cats with freshman Lynn Bowden.
- Matt Elam was also on the receiving end of some praise after a great start to his senior season. Stoops lauded his improved consistency and approach, but reiterated that he needs to play well Saturday for Kentucky to control the line of scrimmage. After getting shut out on the ground by Michigan, Florida rushed for 168 yards against Tennessee. Kentucky’s defense has not yet allowed more than 62 rushing yards in a game.
- He reiterated that run defense will be the key in propelling Kentucky to the top of the conference. He cited a statistic that read 80% of SEC victories went to the team with the most rushing yards (and by default, fewer rushing yards allowed). The Cats will try to force Florida to convert long third downs by shutting down the running lanes.
- When it comes to uniform combinations, the coaches have input but let the players have a say too. On the chrome helmets: “I don’t put a whole heck of a lot of thought into it, to be honest with you. A night game, we thought the chrome would look nice.”