Wildcats Face Tough Battle at No. 5 Florida
The Kentucky football team, fresh off winning its Southeastern Conference opener for the first time in 19 seasons, embarks on its first league road trip of the season Saturday when it takes on No. 5 Florida in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field in a 7:45 ESPN contest.
The Wildcats, winners of their last two games, are coming off a 31-14 victory over Ole Miss last Saturday in Commonwealth Stadium. Quarterback Andre? Woodson completed 22-of-34 passes for 293 yards with three touchdown passes against the Rebels. Wide receiver Dicky Lyons caught four passes for 83 yards with two TD grabs.
This marks the 57th meeting between the Gators and Wildcats in school history with Florida holding a 39-17 edge in the all-time series. Kentucky is looking for its first win over the Gators since the 1986 season and its first win at Florida Field since 1979.
Head Coach Rich Brooks
?It?s nice to have someone in our program win SEC Player of the Week (Andre? Woodson). Matt McCutchan won offensive lineman of the week a couple of years ago, and we?ve had some special teams players win. This is the first time we have had an offensive player win player of the week (while Brooks has been at Kentucky). Even though Myron Pryor only played 18 snaps, he probably had as big a factor in the outcome of the game as anyone. He could have won defensive player of the week or defensive lineman of the week and won neither. How often do defensive lineman get an interception, a sack, a fumble caused, and a fumble recovered??
Injury report for Florida game?
?John Connor is out this week with turf toe. Hopefully, he will be ready next week. We did an MRI on Rafael Little?s knee. He has some swelling in it and some jointline pain. The MRI was negative, which is good news. I would still list him as questionable for this week. We?ll see between that and the turf toe on the same leg if he will be available. The knee is a problem. We need to get the swelling done and see how that comes along over the next couple of days. Matt McCutchan is also questionable. He has a high-ankle sprain. He does not have any swelling which is good news, but you never know how high ankle sprains will respond. We?ll have to see what his mobility is later this week. Jacob Tamme did not aggravate his hamstring, so he should be ready for expanded duty this week. Myron Pryor should also be able to go at full speed this week.?
?They are a very good football team. Their offensive and defensive fronts are very impressive and are some of the best I have seen while I have been here. Tennessee ran for over 300 yards against California, and Florida held them to minus-five yards rushing. The Florida offensive line is very physical. They block the run very well. They come to the second level and earhole linebackers. They are a very good-looking offensive football team with a lot of weapons. [Tim] Tebow is playing some. He?s a very strong, physical runner. Chris Leak is a big-time quarterback. He throws the ball extremely well. We?ve got our work cut out for us. It?s a great opportunity for us to go on the road against one of the top teams in the nation. Hopefully we can have another first in a long time for Kentucky and get a road win against a quality team. It will be very difficult, and we will have to play a near-perfect game. We need to continue to get better as a football team. We?re coming off of a good win at home, but we have to get better every week.?
On Kentucky?s win over Ole Miss?
?The thing that we did best was playing with heart and effort. It wasn?t always as good as I would have wanted fundamentally, but the heart and effort was very, very good. We still have areas of fundamental improvement that we can make that will make us a much better football team as we go through the season. I?m hopeful that our players will grasp what we are trying to get them to understand about getting better fundamentally.?
On the team?s attitude this season?
?The players have talked about having a better attitude this season. It?s easy to say, but it?s a lot harder to do it and implement it. What we are seeing is the implementation of a more dedicated football team mentally, physically and emotionally than over the past several years.?
On if Florida is a better team this year than last year?
?They are a much better football team now than they were last year. They have a much better grasp offensively and they are more physical offensively. They have a year in the system, so they obviously understand it better. Their special teams are light years better than they were a year ago. It?s hard to find a weakness in their defense right now.?
On the offense against Ole Miss?
?I would like for us to be running the ball better. I am extremely pleased with the passing game production. Our pass blocking is better than it was a year ago. Andre? [Woodson] is obviously making much better decisions, not only throwing the football but getting rid of it and trying to avoid some sacks. It?s nice to see him get the honor of being the SEC Offensive Player of the Week. The emergence of Dicky Lyons as a big-play receiver at this point in the season is huge for our offense. To see him reemerge and have the success, I?m really happy for him and happy for us as a football team.?
Michael Aitcheson, OG
On the win against Ole Miss?
?It feels good to start the week with a win. It?s better watching the film and being coached after a win. There is always room for improvement. Coach Brooks stresses the importance of getting better each week even after a win.?
On coming off an SEC win and going to play at Florida?
?It is good to be going into the Swamp with an SEC win under our belts. Our confidence level is high. We are focused on going to a bowl game and we look at each week as an opportunity to improve and win games. Every game is equally important. Florida will be a tough place to play with the intensity of the fans in the stadium so it won?t be easy but it can be done.?
On Andre? Woodson as quarterback?
?Everyone?s mindset is to protect Andre? or anyone that is playing back there. Andre? is a special individual who has matured over the summer by putting in the extra time to watch film and train, which makes him a great leader on the field.?
Wesley Woodyard, LB
On Florida?s QB, Chris Leak?
?We will need to put pressure on him from the first play of the game. We can?t let Leak settle into his style of play. We need to pressure him. He is a good QB and without pressure he will sit in the pocket and run the game.?
On stopping the run?
?We have been giving up big plays and long runs. We need to prevent this from happening so we can have a successful winning game. If we do our jobs I am confident that we can stop the run.?
On the linebackers?
?The middle linebacker spot is a battle every week which allows for tough competition at practice. My role is to be hyped up in practice and games because the other guys tend to feed off of me. When I make a big play, it makes those guys want to make big plays. Guys are really starting to step up each day in practice and games. ?
On gaining respect?
?We have been earning respect every step of the way but we still have a long way to go in the season. We have accomplished a lot but can still accomplish more.?
On the challenge of winning at Florida?
?The last time we won at Florida was 1979. We need to be focused and match their intensity and prove the strength of our program. Their fans will fill the place but we will have our own section of blue and white to feed off of.?
Joe Schuler, LB
On being named team captain for the Florida game...
?It?s such a huge honor. My parents get to be at the game this weekend, because they live in Florida. It?s very special and I am very happy to be given that kind of honor.?
On the attitude of the team after winning two games in a row...
?We?re definitely excited, but at the same time we?re trying to stay focused on our mission. It?s all about believing in ourselves and having that right attitude and the right mindset.?
On playing a top-five team...
?We want to show the nation what we can do. It?s important for us to come out playing hard and to have fun. We want to show people what Kentucky football is about.?
Dicky Lyons Jr., WR
On potential team accomplishments...
?That is something Coach Brooks has been talking a lot about lately, we?re making history. We beat Ole Miss and are 1-0 in the SEC for the first time in several years. We haven?t beat Florida at home since 1979, and we really want to keep making history.?