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Cats Comment on Selection to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl




Dec. 7, 2008

Bowl Central

Director of Athletics Mitch Barnhart

On how the decision to accept a bid to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl was made …
“Cooperatively, we always try to work with the league. Everybody goes in and talks about it. For us, it has to do with what our players want to experience. There are some competitive pieces to all of that for both us and our league. Hopefully, at the end of the day it provides a good experience for every team in our league to participate in a bowl. Our athletes are looking forward to an experience different from our last two years. Coach (Brooks) felt like it gave us a chance to go somewhere else and not be complacent in our routine. There's merit to both of those. The Liberty Bowl makes no secret that they have been chasing us hard for three years. We have never been in the Liberty Bowl before. “

On his thoughts of the 2008 football season …
“Jeremy Jarmon said he knew all of the greatest restaurants and if we get him down there ( Memphis ), he'd show them all to us. We're excited about it. It's our third bowl game in three years. For these kids and what they've gone through injury-wise, we've had to battle through, with the youth on this team, we've done a remarkable job. We've had some close wins and close losses as well. We had four losses inside of 24 (total) points. It's been a tough year physically for us. We've lost four of our most talented skill-position players on offense during the course of the year, including Randall (Cobb) in the last game of the year. If you lose that kind of firepower on your offense, after losing 97 percent of your offense from the previous year, you have to fight. They've done a good job of doing that and will hopefully have more bodies back to get everybody going in the same direction for the game and have a chance to play a good football team.”


 

 

On his thoughts on the bowl game opponent East Carolina …
“They're a good football team. They started the year as hot as anybody and got some injuries like we did. They found a way to win their league. They beat a very good Tulsa football team (in the Conference USA championship game). They have a very good football team with a lot of offensive firepower.”

Tony Dixon, tailback, offensive captain

On not going to the Music City Bowl for the third year in a row …
“I felt the vibe that the guys didn't want to do the same thing three times in a row. I felt like it was more acceptable by our players to go to the Liberty Bowl. We're just glad to be in a bowl game.”

On playing East Carolina …
“They beat three or four pretty good teams. They beat Virginia Tech and West Virginia . They have a great defense and a pretty good running game so it's going to be a good game.”

On seeing the team grow into a competitive program …
“My first two years here, we won five total games. I came here to help change the program and I feel like I was successful in doing that.”

Braxton Kelley, linebacker, defensive captain

On how the players felt about going to a different bowl game …
“I think some of the players wanted a different experience. We've been to the Music City Bowl twice. I'm not saying that it gets old because going to a bowl game is a privilege in itself but going to a different bowl site is something we all wanted to do this year. We're going to go out there and do this best we can.”

On returning to the defense they were at the beginning of the season …
“I think we can get back to how we played at the beginning of the season. We had a lot of injuries and we really suffered the consequences. If we can just continue to work hard and get everyone fresh, we will have a better chance to compete at a high level when we're not injured. We are one of the top defenses in the nation when everyone is healthy. Hopefully, we can get back to where we were.”

On building the football program at Kentucky …
“When I first came here, Kentucky hadn't won in a while. What we have accomplished has meant a lot to me. For us to bring the program up and get more fans out to Commonwealth Stadium, it means a lot. I feel like the fans out there now are really pulling for us to win. In order for us to do well in the Liberty Bowl, we need our fans to support us like they've been doing the past couple of years.”

Jeremy Jarmon, defensive end

On going to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl …
“The team is excited and we're happy the coaches and administration could work out a situation where we were able to go to another city. All the guys are glad to go to Memphis because there is a lot to do and offer. Everyone knew it was important that we get to another city, because it's easy to lose interest.”

On going to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis , his hometown …
“It feels great to go to Memphis . I'm looking forward to going home to see my family and spend time there. I haven't been home since the first weekend of May, so I'm very excited to see them. Selfishly, I wanted to go back home, and I'm glad it's going to work out for everyone.”

On recovering from injury …
“I feel great right now, and it was rough to sit out during the game against Tennessee . I've had two weeks of hard rehab, I started to practice yesterday and I feel really good right now.”

On Kentucky 's defense …
“A lot of the defense is resting and taking care of things that have bothered them through the season. I fully expect the defense to get to full speed. I haven't talked to Marcus McClinton in a few days, and I'm not sure if he is full strength yet.”

On Kentucky 's AutoZone Liberty Bowl opponent, East Carolina …
“East Carolina is a well-balanced team and their defense has found ways to win. They are a good matchup for us, and they are a good team with a good offensive line.”

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