Mark Stoops looks to build momentum following bye week


Jordan Jones #34 of the Kentucky Wildcats is injured during the game against EKU on Saturday, September 9, 2017, in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky defeated EKU 27 to 16. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Jacob Heheman

After Kentucky scratched to a 40-34 win over Missouri, the Cats received a well-earned bye week before they travel to Starkville to play Mississippi State this Saturday. 

With Florida losing for the second straight week, this time against Texas A&M, Kentucky finds itself alone in second place in the SEC East behind Georgia. After losing seven straight to Mississippi State from 2009 to 2015, the Cats look to win two in a row against the Bulldogs after beating them in Lexington last year 40-38 thanks to Austin MacGinnis’ right foot.

Coming off the bye week, Kentucky was able to have some of its injured players recover and prepare for practice and the game this week. Kentucky’s head coach Mark Stoops said the bye week was critical for his team to regroup.

“There was a couple starters that probably wouldn’t have played last week,” Stoops said. “That’s good, but overall we were worn down and beat up a little bit.”

Linebacker Jordan Jones was listed on UK’s depth chart this week after missing the previous four games due to a shoulder injury. Stoops said Jones should be on track to practice and play this week. 

Filling in for Jones, Stoops said Eli Brown did enough to earn a larger role on the team.

“He realizes when he’s got to play that many snaps, he’s got to get more physical and put on some weight and lift some more weights and all those things,” Stoops said. “This past year he’s really trying to take it to another level and he’s playing better.” 

Along with the players, the coaches were also able to rest up last week and recharge for the second half of the season. 

“Looking at the things you did good, the things you did bad, what areas you can improve and then obviously game plan for Mississippi State,” Stoops said. “But just, I think, the mental stress for a few days was definitely good for the whole staff.” 

Through the first six games of the season, Kentucky has played two of them on the road, and they won both. The Cats’ trip to Starkville will be its first road trip since the South Carolina game on Sept. 16. 

“You have to embrace the challenge, whether it’s at home or on the road,” Stoops said. “It’s good, sometimes, to load up and get on the road.”