Bye week comes at the right time for UK football

UK quarterback Maxwell Smith throws the ball during the first half of the UK football vs. Miami of Ohio game in Lexington, Ky., at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday Sept. 8, 2013. Photo by Emily Wuetcher

By Matt Overing

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After falling to No. 7 University of Louisville Saturday, UK football enters the weekend with a timely bye week.

Louisville was the first ranked opponent the Cats faced this season, and they will play three more ranked opponents in their next three games after the bye. UK’s next game is not until Sept. 28 against No. 19 University of Florida.

Head coach Mark Stoops said the bye week comes at a good time for the team.

“I think we’re a little banged up,” Stoops said after the 27-13 loss to Louisville. “I think most teams in the country are.”

After facing Florida, UK will travel to Columbia, S.C., to play No. 12 University of South Carolina. On Oct. 12, UK will play No. 1 University of Alabama at Commonwealth Stadium.

Stoops said he’s hoping his team will heal up for those games.

“It would be nice to be at full strength during that stretch,” Stoops said.

Senior linebacker Avery Williamson is among the injured for UK. Williamson was sporting an ice-wrapped left wrist after the Louisville game.

“Try to let it heal up (this week),” Williamson said. “Some guys are banged up, including (me). We need some rest and recovery.”

Williamson currently leads the Southeastern Conference with 35 tackles.

Sophomore quarterback Maxwell Smith injured his shoulder on Saturday and missed most of the second half. He was asked after the game if he thought the bye week came at a nice time.

“Yeah definitely,” Smith said. “For everybody, not just myself.”

Recovering from injuries is only part of the benefit of a bye week. Some players, like freshman Jason Hatcher, are seeing more playing time and repetitions in practice. Stoops said that Hatcher will continue to grow.

“Jason is going to continue to play,” Stoops said. “He went through some growing pains a little bit. He did some very good things, but he did some things that he’ll get better at.”

Hatcher recorded three tackles against Louisville, his most in a single game.

Sophomore cornerback Cody Quinn said he’ll improve in the next week as well, noting that he was a bit rusty against Louisville. It was his first start of the year after suffering an injury before the season began.

“I need to work on some things,” Quinn said. “You can see improvements week by week. We just have to keep improving.”

Improvements can’t come soon enough for the Cats, as their next opponents, the Florida Gators, have defeated UK 26 consecutive times.