Cats Get Back to Work Ahead of Mississippi State Challenge

Cats Get Back to Work Ahead of Mississippi State Challenge

by Tim Letcher

Since Saturday night’s 24-14 loss to South Carolina, there have been two main questions surrounding the Kentucky football program. First, what’s the status of starting quarterback Will Levis? And second, what can the Cats do to bounce back from consecutive losses.

At his Monday press conference, UK head coach Mark Stoops addressed both issues openly and honestly.

Regarding Levis, the UK head coach did not offer much new information. When asked if the status of the starting quarterback is still day-to-day, Stoops answered in the affirmative.

“It is,” Stoops said.

That doesn’t rule the UK starter in or out for Saturday’s game, meaning the biggest question of the week may not be answered until Saturday.

As for dealing with back-to-back losses, Stoops offered a familiar refrain. It’s one that UK fans have heard from him for a number of years and one that has produced unprecedented results at Kentucky.

“After a difficult loss like that, there’s only one thing that fixes that and that’s getting back to work,” Stoops said. “Moving on to your next opponent. There’s nobody going to feel sorry for you. You get back to work, get back on the horse and get back at it this week.”

Stoops did briefly touch on Saturday’s loss and how he felt about it. And he made it clear that he was not making excuses for how his team played.

“Disappointed with the way we played this past Saturday,” Stoops said. “Obviously, when you lose one of the top players in college football, it doesn’t help your football team. It’s still no excuse for the way we played around him.”

The schedule does not get easier this week as the red-hot Mississippi State Bulldogs come to Lexington having won three in a row, including a 40-17 thumping of nationally-ranked Arkansas on Saturday.

Stoops knows that the Bulldogs have a top-notch offense.

“Mississippi State, very good team,” Stoops said. “Any time you’re playing (MSU head coach) Mike Leach, they can move the football. Their quarterback, Will Rodgers, is playing at a very, very high level. In total command of that offense.”

Rodgers leads the country with 2,110 passing yards and the Bulldogs are 25th in the country, averaging 37.5 points per game.

While Stoops was disappointed with the outcome on Saturday, he was very happy with the home crowd again. Stoops offered his thanks, an apology and a promise to the fans.

“When you don’t deliver for the fan base, it bothers you as the head coach because you appreciate them so much,” Stoops said. “I thought, coming into the game on Saturday, the tailgate, the people, the environment, the stands has been remarkable. Greatly appreciate that. Need it again this week to get back on track. I’m sorry we didn’t deliver but I promise that our team is working hard. We need to have that same environment we’ve had all year. We really appreciate that.”

Stoops and his team are already back at work, trying to fix what ailed them on Saturday night. That’s the answer to one of the two questions. The other, regarding Levis, remains to be seen.

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