Since Kentucky is set to take on Mississippi State in a rare Thursday night game, the Wildcats’ practice schedule has shifted forward this week. Mark Stoops & Co. spent both Saturday and Sunday preparing for the Bulldogs instead of their typical Monday and Tuesday routine.
The Cats are coming off an open date following a tough four-game stretch against teams ranked among the top 20 in the nation. That gave them a chance to take a look at some future opponents on Saturday, and judging by the upsets that went down across the SEC, the UK schedule may not be getting any easier.
Future UK opponents Tennessee and Vanderbilt knocked off South Carolina and Georgia, respectively, on a day when a couple of other ranked SEC teams (No. 6 LSU and No. 7 Texas A&M) also went down.
“All those teams that got those upsets are on our schedule, and we still got to play them,” UK defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said after practice on Sunday evening. “We just approach it one week at a time and know that there are no shortcuts in this league. I think every team in this league knows that."
Kentucky (1-5, 0-3 SEC) has emerged from the week off refreshed and optimisitc that maybe it can get in on the upset fun.
"I wish we could have played yesterday," UK defensive end Bud Dupree said. "We probably would have upset somebody real big."
Dupree was sidelined with a pectoral injury against No. 1 Alabama, but he has since recovered and is ready to make an impact, something his fellow defensive end Za’Darius Smith says will be crucial to the team’s success.
“Whole lot different just seeing (Dupree) come off the bye week, me come off the bye, and the whole D-line come off the bye. It just feels great,” Smith said.
After playing arguably the toughest four-game stretch in college football this season, the Cats used a much needed bye week to get healthy. Senior linebacker Avery Williamson ditched his bulky cast on Sunday and he is now wearing just a protective wrap on his injured hand.
"I feel like we are significantly healthier,” Eliot said. “The off week was good for us for that reason."
Note: Stoops did not speak to the media on Sunday and no injury update was given for the quarterback position. Only defensive coaches and players were made available to the media.