After a short break, UK has work to do before their bowl game


Louisville Cardinals running back Reggie Bonnafon (7) scores a touchdown during the Governor’s Cup game against Kentucky at Kroger Field on Saturday, November 25, 2017 in Lexington, Kentucky. Louisville won 44-17. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Chris Leach

After the first five games for UK football, the Cats stood at 4-1 and only allowed an opponent to rush more than 100 yards once.

Since then, the Cats have gone 3-4 and allowed opponents to rush more than 200 yards five times. The long football season has definitely taken a toll on UK, who will head into a month-long break of games before its bowl game.

“The players definitely need to get away from here for a minute and decompress, it is a long year,” head coach Mark Stoops said after losing to Louisville. “This is the first time we’ve gone through that since mid-July, and the way we grinded them up.”

The team will get about a week off before they find out their bowl destination and opponent, and until then, the Cats plan take some down time to heal up before the final game.

Many players looked tired or out of it in the rout against Louisville. Stephen Johnson, in particular, struggled to generate much offense, as the senior quarterback completed eight passes on 19 attempts for 110 yards. 

“Going into the game, he was okay,” Stoops said. “He was definitely, I’m sure, bruised and banged up a bit.” 

Story: Stephen Johnson struggles against Louisville

The only player who looked good on offense was Benny Snell, who became the first UK running back since 2002 to eclipse the 200 rushing yard mark.

Snell also broke the record for most rushing yards by any player who participated in a Governor’s Cup game since 1994.

However, that production didn’t come without some damage, as Snell has carried the ball at least 20 times in five of the last seven games. Snell is looking forward to the break himself, but he won’t totally unplug from football.

“We definitely going to rest up, but I’m going to make sure that all them guys is in the film room, make sure they’re learning on the next opponent and getting better off their errors that they made this game,” Snell said. “We going to move forward and try to win.”

Watch: Benny Snell post game interview

As for the defense, the unit has struggled to stop the run, as they’ve given up 727 yards and 86 points in the last two games. Defensive coordinator Matt House also agrees that his unit is ready for a small break.

“I think that’ll be good for the kids, to get their legs back,” House said.

However, once that week break is over, and the Cats finalize their bowl game plans, they’ll have some serious work to do to fix the mistakes they’ve made during the finishing stretch of the season.

The Cats are not the same team that started 5-1, and they will need to be that team if they hope to win the bowl game.

“I’m disappointed I let some people down and we didn’t play the way we had hoped,” Stoops said. “But I promise you, we’ll get right back at it, and the players need a little bit of time to get away and decompress and heal up, and get away from football for a week or however many days, and then get back at it.”