Kentucky Travels to Knoxville for Regular-Season Finale

Nov. 24, 2008

Complete Pregame Notes Get Acrobat Reader | Press Conference Quotes

After a bye week, Kentucky visits Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium Saturday, looking to snap a 23- straight losing streak to the Vols. Three of the last four games have been decided by six points or less, including UT’s 52-50 four-overtime victory last season in Lexington. This will be the regular-season finale for the Wildcats, who have clinched a third-consecutive bowl appearance.

The Wildcats also are looking to notch a seventh regular-season victory for the third consecutive season. UK fell at home to Vanderbilt, 31-24, two weeks ago despite outgaining the Commodores by 120 yards and outscoring them by 10 in the second half.

On offense, UK true freshman Randall Cobb threw for a career-high 144 yards while rushing for 72 yards and a touchdown. Junior wide receiver E.J. Adams was Cobb’s favorite target setting career highs with four receptions totaling 61 yards. Defensively, junior linebacker Micah Johnson led the team in tackles for the third-straight game and seventh time this season with 12 stops of the Commodores. Junior defensive end Jeremy Jarmon posted a season-high six tackles against VU, including two for a loss of 11 yards while also forcing a fumble in the game.

Quick Notes

  • Twenty-one Wildcats are playing their final regular-season game.
  • UK has won 11 of the last 18 games that have been decided by 10 points or less dating back to 2006, including three victories this season.
  • UK has earned at least six wins in three consecutive seasons for the first time since 1954-55-56.
  • UK is bowl-eligible for the third consecutive year. The only time in school history that the Wildcats went to three consecutive bowls was following the 1949-50-51 seasons.
  • Kentucky has a 19-11 record in its last 30 games, dating back to mid-season 2006.
  • The Wildcats rank in the top 25 nationally in nine statistical categories. They are No. 3 in tackles for a loss allowed (3.7 per game), No. 5 in kickoff returns (25.8 yards per return), T-7th in sacks allowed (1.00 per game), T-16th in first downs allowed (176 total), T-15th in fumbles recovered (13 total) and T-21st in turnovers gained (25 total).
  • Three of the five teams that have defeated Kentucky -- Alabama, Florida and Georgia -- are all ranked in the top 15 and have a combined record of 30-3, with two of the losses coming against each other.
  • Trevard Lindley, who holds the school record for career pass breakups (34), is second in the SEC and is tied for eighth in the nation in total passes defended. He has charted 11 pass breakups and four interceptions He is a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back.
  • Tim Masthay leads the SEC and ranks third nationally in punting with a 45.5 ypp.
  • By appearing in the Tennessee game, Tim Masthay will break the school record for most games played in a career. Masthay, Jacob Tamme and Roger Williams all have played in 48 games.
  • Leading rusher Derrick Locke and leading pass receiver Dicky Lyons are out for the season because of knee injuries. Three more defensive regulars, FS Marcus McClinton, DE Jeremy Jarmon and DT Ricky Lumpkin, are not exptected to play at Tennessee because of injuries incurred vs. VU. \

Head Coach Rich Brooks

Opening Statement …
“Injury report: Ricky Lumpkin and Jeremy Jarmon are both extremely doubtful, I wouldn't rule them out at this point, but if they are able to participate it will be at a very limited basis. As I said last week, Marcus McClinton is out. Danny Trevathan has a shoulder problem, he will be able to play with it but he will practice tomorrow with no contact. Everyone else appears to be healthy and ready to go.”

“Obviously, this game will be a tough test as witnessed last Saturday in Nashville, as Tennessee played a very physical game on both sides of the ball against Vanderbilt. I think they made up their mind that they were going to line up and whip Vanderbilt and they did a good job of that by running the football. I think they attempted nine passes for 21 yards, and were still able to win the football game. That is a hard thing to do in this league when you don't throw it more efficiently than that. I would expect that they would come out and try to do something similar except a more enhanced passing game against us. Defensively, they made Nickson, who had a career game against us, look very average. He (Nickson) wasn't a factor in running the ball and they certainly pressured and sacked him. I think coming into the game Tennessee was last in the league in sacks and they sacked the quarterback six times and moved way up the chart on the SEC ladder. Tennessee played with emotion and played physical football. Their defense is one of the best in the nation, let alone the SEC. It will be a real challenge for us to go into Knoxville in Phillip Fulmer's last game and pull out a win.”

On if his team healed during the off week …
“Based on yesterday's practice our legs looked fresher then they have with our running backs and some of the others as well. We are still nursing some injuries that will impact us especially on the defensive side of the ball, not only the starting positions but the rotation of those starters. Unless Jarmon and Lumpkin have a miraculous recovery in the next few days we are going to be limited on what we can do in the defensive line.”

On if Randall Cobb will be too pumped up for this game …
“If he is a little too pumped up then I want him to push it off on some of our other players that could use that in the offensive and defensive front. To me that is where the game will be decided. I think Randall has handled things well except for a case of nerves in his first start, and he may have some nerves going into Neyland Stadium. He has handled things remarkably well as a true freshman to be put into the situation he has this year and this will be just another step in the maturation process.”

On Tennessee's current winning streak against Kentucky …
“I told the players that they will hear about the streak. Streaks are there and usually they all end at some point. It would be a nice thing for this senior class to end that streak, considering we failed to win more regular season games than the previous two teams did. They (Kentucky's senior class) are at least assured at this point to go to a bowl game, and a win would impact where that game might be.”

On if he talks to his team about the bowl situation …
“I talked about it several weeks ago, when I said if we would have won out or won two of the last three games then all of a sudden our bowl scenario would have been a lot different than it is now. At this point in time, there are so many different scenarios that not only do we have to win, but we need help to have some things transpire. We know we are going to a bowl game, we just need to try to win our last game and deal with other issues when things are finally announced.”

On what all the accomplishments the last few years mean to him …
“I am disappointed that we haven't accomplished more and won more games this year given the transition we are currently in with our team. We are in a position to go to a third-straight bowl game, which I think is significant, but it also is significant on how close we are to making a bigger dent in the SEC than we are right now. The good news is that we have made progress to a point where a .500 season is not accepted here and you don't get excited about it. To me, that is a sign of progress.”

On preparing for Tennessee and their quarterback situation …
“They have two quarterbacks and two athletes, Jones and Berry, who take snaps. We obviously don't know who will start for them, but what we do know is that those big guys up front that are 300-plus pounds are creating big holes for talented quarterbacks and running backs. They also have some talented receivers as well which is a concern. It is a little bit of a quandary as to, do we prepare for what we saw them do against Vanderbilt or do we prepare for the offense they have been running the previous 10 games? It does give you a pause on defense because you have to cover all those things and recently our defense has struggled with assignments that we had covered well earlier in the season.”

On Phillip Fulmer …
“I think he has accomplished a winning percentage in this conference that is right up there with the top coaches that have ever coached in this league. There have been some great coaches and he would have to be put into that category. He has a National Championship and a bunch of SEC East Championships. Being able to survive 17 years in one place in this day and age is a major accomplishment. He has been an outstanding guy for the coaching profession and it is an unfortunate thing that the ending came as it did for him.”

On the importance for Kentucky to get off to a good start …
“I think it is critical that we get on the board earlier then we have in recent games. Our slow starts have put us in a catch-up position which I don't think you want to be in against Tennessee. The other thing is, if we get off to a slow start and if they get a lead it plays into their hands because of their physical nature and running backs. That game got away from Vanderbilt early and Tennessee was able to hang on and play no-mistake football and win.”

Kentucky Players

#17 E.J. Adams, CB

On the long losing streak to Tennessee …
“I figure these 23 years of losing to Tennessee is in the past. We almost beat them last year and the year before that so we're going to keep on trying to win. Fans and everyone are telling us that we haven't beaten them in so long and that serves as a motivation; it gets us fired up.”

#4, Micah Johnson, LB

On if the team is concentrating on the 23-game losing streak to Tennessee…
“We're not really thinking about (the losing streak). We can't control what has happened in the past. We can only control what is going to happen this Saturday. If we do everything right, we can end that streak and get a win.”

On what aspect is the most painful when thinking about last year's 52-50 loss to Tennessee…
“How close we came and going into all the overtimes (still bothers me). That win (against Tennessee) would have made all the difference in our season last year. It's a really important game for us this year and we need to end on a positive note.”

On what he expects to be the biggest challenge in the Tennessee game…
“The physicality standpoint (will be the biggest challenge). Tennessee came out and threw the ball three times against Vanderbilt in the second half. They are a physical team with a lot of talent. They are a talented team and can come out and compete with anyone. It's going to be a physical game with not a lot of thinking, but a lot of attacking.”

On what to expect from Tennessee…
“We saw what they did against Vanderbilt. They will be playing at home, so it will be emotional for them. We have to come out hot. We can't come out flat.”

#91, Corey Peters, DT

On the Tennessee game being another important game…
“(This game) is a big factor in deciding where (Kentucky) ends up in December or January. We still want to go to the best available bowl game. That's still our goal.”

On his thoughts about the Tennessee's offensive line after watching the Tennessee-Vanderbilt game…
“The Tennessee offensive line is very physical. They lined up and ran the ball (against Vanderbilt). They were pretty dominant in that aspect of the game. Their offensive line is very big and physical. They are well-coached. They always have a good offensive line.”

On if the team is focusing on the 23-game losing streak against Tennessee …
“I don't think the streak really wears on us. I think it's just important to get the win against Tennessee. It's our last SEC game. It's a good opportunity to improve our standings. You never know what could happen. I think the streak gets over-blown. I don't think that we really focus on it that much.”

On having a bye week before the last game of the season…
“It just gives the chance to refocus, re-energize, and get away from football for two to three days. I think it is going to help in the long run. Every year we wear down towards the end of the season, and this is the first year that we've really had the opportunity to have a bye week before the last game of the season.”

#29 Alfonso Smith, TB

On playing Tennessee …
“It motivates you to go into the game and try to get a win. It's just like any other game. We're going to go in there and just try to do what we always try to do, which is win a game. Obviously if we win, it will really help us out in the bowl selection. It's going to be a great game because it's Tennessee. It's great to play in that stadium.”

On how Tennessee will perform with it being Coach Fulmer's last game …
“It's a little bit of concern because those guys are going to play hard. It's going to be very emotional for them and we have to match that. I watched the game when they played Vanderbilt on Saturday, and they played really well. Our team has to practice really hard for this game, and we have to go down there prepared for their hardest punch. ”