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UK continues Alabama preparation with energetic Tuesday practice

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Head coach Mark Stoops



Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot




The last time Mark Stoops spoke to reporters after practice, he was not happy. His team had just turned in one of its worst days of work and he didn't hesitate to acknowledge that fact. UK, however, rebounded from that subpar Wednesday in nearly pulling off an upset win at South Carolina.

Two practices into game-week preparation for Alabama, the Wildcats have sustained that momentum. Stoops is glad, because he doesn't want to find out if UK can bounce back from another bad practice.

"I was pleased with our work today. Guys had a good practice, both sides of the ball," Stoops said. "Good energy. Overall good practice. It was good. We're gonna need to have another one tomorrow and Thursday, obviously, to prepare for this team."

Outside of last Wednesday, Stoops has been consistently pleased with his team's approach in his first season. The Cats have continued to show up as they've faced an unrelentingly tough schedule. Now that they're about to play host to the nation's No. 1 team, Stoops sees a little extra fire.

"They do (seem excited to face Alabama)," Stoops said. "It's no secret. I've told you guys over and over again that I thought overall this team really has a good attitude and comes every day and they're fun to coach. I felt that on Monday and I felt that again today."

UK will gladly take any edge it can find against the two-time defending national champion Crimson Tide.

"They execute so well," Stoops said. "They can be as multiple as they want to be on both sides of the ball and they can just line up and use great technique and play good football...old-fashioned football."

Stoops is hoping to have as close to a full complement of players as possible on Saturday, but the Cats are coping with a few injuries. Freshman defensive end Jason Hatcher practiced on Tuesday with a large cast to protect two broken bones in his right hand, while Bud Dupree - the player Hatcher stepped in for at South Carolina - remains day-to-day as he nurses a strained pectoral muscle.

UK's defensive line has been a strength all season and the coaches are shuffling personnel as needed to ensure it remains that way.

"We're gonna work on it and see how things go this week and we'll see where we go," Stoops said. "We're mixing it up. We got to see how Jason is as well in all of our different packages and who we put in there. We'll see."

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