Cats look to control injuries and tempo in last game before bye week


Drake Jackson, center, hustles off of the field during the first open practice at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Ky. on Saturday, March 26, 2016. Photo by Josh Mott | Staff.

As the UK football team heads toward the last game before their bye week, they’re struggling with some key injuries and personnel rotations that will make the upcoming game somewhat difficult for the team.

In his post-practice press conference Thursday, head coach Mark Stoops said that there wasn’t a timeline yet for the return of Jordan Jones, who last saw game action in Week 2 against EKU. Jones has been sidelined with an undisclosed shoulder injury, and since he’s missed extended time, the Cats have had some occasional struggles on defense.

Wide receiver Charles Walker is another player that is questionable to return on Saturday against Missouri, as Stoops said that he doesn’t know if Walker would be ready to go then.

Even six weeks in, the Cats are still changing and moving around some of their rotations heading into the last game before their bye, especially with the emergence of freshman center Drake Jackson. Jackson saw his first game action last week against Eastern Michigan, and is expected to continue having a role moving forward.

“The game reps were really good for [Jackson] to get,” Stoops said Thursday. “There’s nothing like that first time, getting there in a game with live action. It was a close game, and he got good quality snaps.”

Jackson was brought into the offensive line rotation after a few weeks of struggle at the center position with high snaps and the occasional penalty. According to Stoops and offensive line coach John Schlarman, Jackson played very well.

Stoops also said that the pace of Missouri will be tough to keep up with, and that during practice this week, the Cats haven’t been able to simulate it exactly. With their tempo, Stoops said the players had to be coached on formation and communication before the snap on defense, so that all assignments were clear without the help of Stoops.

The Cats will host Missouri at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7 at Kroger Field.