Wildcats running back Derrick Locke will return to limited practice this week and coach Joker Phillips is hopeful that the Cats’ leading rusher will be able to play on Saturday against #21 ranked Mississippi State in Starkville, MS.
Locke, who has missed the last two games with a right shoulder injury, will take part in non-contract drills. The coaching staff will evaluate Locke and make a decision closer to game time, though coach Phillips is obviously looking forward to his return.
“We’ve just struggled the last couple of weeks to run the ball, period,” Phillips said. “(Locke) gives us the ability to throw the screens, to throw some of the flares — and we did last week, but I think he gets a little more than the backs that we had in there.”
Without Locke, the Cats managed just 70 yards rushing against Georgia. Even though Kentucky beat South Carolina in a heart-stopper the week before, it took a career passing effort from QB Mike Hartline to overcome just 52 yards on the ground, again without Locke.
“We won a game (against South Carolina) without him, but we’re looking forward to getting him back. He’s one of the few guys in this league that can go 80 yards.”
Although his productivity with the ball on the ground is most anticipated, Locke is also another weapon coming out of the backfield as a receiver. Against Ole Miss on October 2, Locke caught eight passes for 108 yards, “Locke is very important to this club,” Phillips said.
Locker could play an even bigger role catching the ball as wide receiver Matt Roark will serve a one-game suspension on Saturday for an unspecified violation of team rules.