Monday Press Conference Coverage
Oct. 5, 2009
Wildcats Visit No. 25 Gamecocks for First SEC Road Trip
Kentucky plays its first conference road game against the No. 25 South Carolina, marking the third consecutive week the Wildcats will battle a top-25 team. Last week UK fell 38-20 to No. 3 Alabama while USC topped South Carolina State 38-14 in Columbia. The Cats are looking to break a nine-game Gamecock win streak in the series, with six of those games decided by seven points or less.
Last time out against Alabama, UK tailback Derrick Locke became the 31st player in Kentucky history to reach 1,000 rushing yards in his career after gaining a season-high 75 yards on 20 carries. Locke now boasts 1,068 career rushing yards and ranks 27th on UK’s all-time rushing list.
Placekicker Lones Seiber achieved two milestones against the Tide, kicking a pair of career-long 49-yard field goals to set the new all-time scoring record at UK of 254 points.
On defense, linebacker Danny Trevathan doubled his previous career high for tackles in a game, taking down 10 Alabama ballcarriers. Micah Johnson also posted 10 stops from his linebacker slot to up his total to 215 career tackles.
Head Coach Rich Brooks
"Injury report ... Trevard Lindley appears to be very doubtful (to play againstSouth Carolina). He has started 43 straight games and has been a consistent performerfor us for a long time, and if he is unable to play, we will definitely misshim -- particularly in a game where people like to throw the ball. It appearsto be a high ankle sprain, it's not responding and we all know how those thingstend to go. Justin Jeffries probably will not practice Tuesday with the Achillesthat continues to flare up on him. The injury of choice this year seems to bethumb and wrist. Alfonso Smith kept the swelling down enough to put a cast onhis thumb. We also have a cast on Ross Bogue and his thumb, and Stuart Hineson his thumb, to join Jake Lanefski who is already playing with a cast, as wellas Danny Trevathan who is playing with a cast on. The good news is that no oneis out for the year. In this group, we still have a lot of guys that have bumpsand bruises and will practice as much as they can on Tuesday.
"In looking at South Carolina, we definitely have another challenge. We go from the number one and number two defenses (in the SEC); we flip-flopped them since we gained a few yards on Alabama. Now they are number two behind Florida. The number three defense happens to be South Carolina, and they are a very active team. We will face the best pass rushers I think that we have seen all year. They flat get after the quarterback, and do a good job at the defensive end position rotating a cast of thousands in there. (Eric) Norwood plays strongside linebacker, weakside linebacker, defensive end, everywhere. And you better know where he is because he's a big playmaker. Offensively, they are running the football much better than I can remember South Carolina running it, and they are throwing the ball well on play-action as well as dropping back. They are an offense to be reckoned with, and they have also done a good job in the kicking game. This is a big challenge, and this is a game that is critically important if we want to move up in the SEC East standings. It is just as important to South Carolina as it is to us. They are 1-1, and we are 0-2. This will go a long way for the final rankings in the SEC East, so it is a big, big game. Questions?"
How much will Alfonso Smith's thumb injury limit him?
"Well, it's never good to have a cast on the hand of a ballcarrier or a receiver.Whether he will have to play with a cast or a splint, it's still problematic.It's his dominant hand ... It will limit his ability to be a ball carrier anda receiver."
Please talk about the cornerbacks with the injuries, and some of the kids that have to step in.
"Well, it's difficult as we finish the game without our first and second corners.Paul Warford was out. He will try to practice Tuesday. I'm not optimistic withthe quad (strain). Sometimes those things linger, and sometimes those thingsget better. We will just have to see how that comes along. In his absence andTrevard (Lindley's) absence obviously, we are looking at Randall Burden, (Martavius)Neloms, (Anthony) Mosley, and Cartier Rice. Not a lot of starting experience,and not a lot of game-time experience within that group, with Randall Burdenbeing the most experienced one."
Q: On South Carolina's advantage in the series and the importance of eliminating mistakes ...
"It always is, and South Carolina has had their way with us, and they have hadstruggles with other teams that we have beaten. It's not something I can putmy exact finger on, but the one thing I do know is that you cannot make mistakes.Last year we made a crucial mistake and allowed a field goal to be blocked, whichwas like parting the Red Sea. And there goes a 10-point swing in the game, andit ended up a seven-point game. Those are the things you can't do if you wantto win a lot of SEC games. Obviously what you can't do is turn the ball overfour times, and not take it away at all. One of the things that I'm a littledisappointed about defensively is that I think we are doing some good things,but we are not getting the takeaways that we have gotten in past years. I amconcerned about mistakes because our margin of error is not as great as the topechelon teams, the Alabamas and the Floridas in our league. We cannot affordto make those kinds of mistakes. We have to play smarter football. Stupid personalfoul penalties, occasionally you are going to get one that is an aggression foul,but the stupid ones, the late hits, those kinds of things have to be cleanedup. "
In practice, how can you coach to get your guys to prevent mistakes? "
"Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes people lay the ball on the ground for you, and you are great at taking it away. But the one thing that Alabama has done in a great manner, although we got a few last year, they really protect the football. It was disappointing that we couldn't get a few of them out that could have changed a lot of things in that game."
After looking at the video, how do you feel about the way your offense moved the ball against Alabama?
"If you don't turn the ball over, we are approaching a 400-yard game againsta great defense. When we didn't make the stupid mistakes, I thought we movedit pretty good. But we cannot make those mistakes, and if you do make them, thenyou have to make up for them and get something done on defense, which we didn'tdo. One of the mistakes led to seven points directly, the defense did not evenget on the field. The other three turnovers were a touchdown, a field goal, andone stop. The sudden change part is very difficult against good football teamsin the SEC. You can't afford to give them that many opportunities. Our offense,I thought, showed some balance as we have discussed. Hartline was not at hisbest, and our protection was a little suspect at times. Other than that, I thoughtwe did some very good things on offense."
What did you do well in terms of improvement that enabled you to move the ball?
"I think that's probably one of the best jobs we have done running the footballon a good defense since I have been here. The unfortunate thing is, we turnedit over and didn't have as many chances as I would liked to have had doing it."
Q: On what it will take to put pressure on the quarterback ...
"We need to get production out of our front four, and we have to mix up our frontsand some pressures, and give (Stephen) Garcia something to worry about. We can'tlet him sit back there and throw the ball on us. They do a great job; one ofthe byproducts of their improved running game is their play-action passing game.And they catch your linebackers in a bind sometimes if they don't get the correctrun/pass read. So they affect your `under' coverage with the run fake, but wehave to get some pressure on him, there's no question about that. "
Coach, what makes (USC linebacker Eric) Norwood so good?
"He's just a football player. Like I said, they line him up everywhere. He isan instinctive guy, a hybrid linebacker, a defensive end, and he has a motorthat doesn't quit. He is a snap-to-whistle guy, very instinctive, and he playswith a lot of energy. "
If Lindley can't go, he is one of the guys that has been good at forcing the kind of turnovers that change the game. Can you count on one or two guys to step up, or does it have to be a collective thing?
"I think it is a collective thing. I know we don't have another corner with theball skills of Trevard Lindley, and the reaction speed of Trevard Lindley. I'mnot saying anything bad because I think our other guys are good, they are justinexperienced. They still do not have the awareness and the ball skills thatTrevard has. We need to create some fumbles; we have not caused very many fumblesthis year. That's another thing we need to create."
What do you do to try to limit their pass rush as much as possible; do you try to move the quarterback out in front of the pocket more?
"One thing that would help alleviate some of the pass rush is to run the footballwell, so they can't just line up and tee off, and avoid third and long. Thatis when you are going to see all kinds of stuff from them. They give you allkinds of different looks."
After South Carolina upset Ole Miss, the sideline reporter asked if that was his biggest win in the SEC, and if they had turned the corner; (Steve) Spurrier said `We beat Kentucky when they were ranked'. Did you hear that?
"I didn't hear it. I heard it repeated. We were on a pretty good roll at thattime when they knocked us off down there (2007). That was a very disappointingloss for us that year, because that was the same year we upset LSU and we beatArkansas on the road. That was a game that could have pushed us over the humpin the SEC East rankings a little higher, and it ended up being a tough lossfor us. And one that we lost when we played very well, but we gave them the gamewith our own mistakes. Two fumbles returned for touchdowns. Or laterals, returnedfor touchdowns."
How do you feel you all did this past week, and especially on the plays where you went to the line, and didn't check out?
"We did okay. We ran the ball against a good defense, we did okay."
You said you were as encouraged as you have been since you have been here about the future of the quarterback (position), is that still the same?
"Absolutely. Just because we aren't throwing the young guys to the wolves doesnot mean that they are not really good players - because they are. We just needto make sure that they are getting every opportunity to be successful when theygo in there, and if it happens that they have to go in maybe before that time,then so be it. But at this point it doesn't make a lot of sense to do that."
#91, Corey Peters, DT
On his feeling today versus last Monday...
"It's about the same; it's still a tough loss. We're just looking to get better. I say we performed better but that's not saying much. We're going to have to work a lot harder to get better the next couple of weeks."
On the physical play in the trenches...
"I think everybody on the defensive line manned up and did the best of their ability. I don't think anybody got dominated or anything like that so that's a positive to take from it."
On overcoming mistakes ...
"We have to take the mentality of it's our job to stop them, regardless of the situation. Turnovers have killed us in some aspects, but as a defense it's our job to stop them."
On bouncing back from the loss to Alabama ...
"Due to the last couple of weeks I think everybody will be more focused on it this week in practice and trying to improve. I think we'll come out and do a good job versus South Carolina."
#33, Calvin Harrison, SS
On motivation due to not being able beat South Carolina in recent years ...
"Mistakes and turnovers have really been hurting us in the past games. We just have to limit those and get them corrected."
On if offense is lacking any confidence ...
"I think everybody has confidence is everything we're doing. We just need to keep working hard and execute."
On how he feels about the possibility of going without the two starting corners this week ...
"We still have Randall Burden, who has been playing really well, and Martavius [Neloms] showed a lot of promise last week after getting thrown in there versus Alabama. They both have a lot of confidence in themselves to go out and cover anybody. We just need to work hard and we'll be fine."