Kentucky is just a day away from opening their home slate against SEC West foe Ole Miss at Kroger Field. The Cats are looking for their first win of the season after losing 29-13 at Auburn last Saturday, and with a rugged 10-game SEC schedule, every day matters in preparation for each matchup.
UK Head Coach Mark Stoops channeled that importance in his last press conference before the game, saying the team has had a good week of practice and just needs to finish off with a victory.
“Guys have worked hard,” he said. “Just like most teams, we’ve got a lot to clean up, a lot to work on, and we’ve been dialed in this week, we’ve had a good week of practice. And we need to go out and play better this week.”
Knowing that the Cats are 0-1 so far with such difficult games ahead on the schedule, this matchup could be very important in gaining some momentum as they gear towards tougher stretches. With that said, Stoops told the media on Thursday that the urgency is always there from the team, they just have to execute.
“No, it’s impossible to feel anymore (pressure) than we always do,” he said. “We always have a great urgency to win games.”
Ole Miss has been known for their powerful, speedy offense, which put up 35 points in a loss against Florida last weekend. Stoops had the scout offense try to impersonate the Rebel offense to get the defense ready, and then their own first team offense. But ultimately, the head coach said it’s very difficult to be fully ready for the tempo that Ole Miss plays at.
“It’s hard to simulate Ole Miss’ plays at the speed they go at,” he said.
As for what UK’s offense will look like on Saturday, the quarterback room got even deeper this week as the NCAA and SEC cleared Auburn transfer Joey Gatewood to be eligible this season. Stoops was asked where Gatewood would fall on the depth chart and simply said “We will see.”
“Beau (Allen) has gotten the majority of the backup reps the last two weeks, Joey (Gatewood) has still practiced and obviously has been running plays all camp and can step in,” he said. “But we’ll see.”
Even though Gatewood is now eligible, Stoops reiterated that senior quarterback Terry Wilson is still the starter and will be ready to go against Ole Miss.
“I’m excited about Terry, I know he’ll continue to improve,” he said.
The Rebels are a very unorthdoxed squad that will give just about anybody concern with such a speedy offense under head coach Lane Kiffin. If the Cats can control the clock and play to their game, that would go a long way in ensuring victory.