Win has Cats confident again



A whirlwind of emotions rushed throughout the UK locker room following Saturday’s Homecoming game. Happiness, encouragement, confidence, relief — all unfamiliar feelings in the home locker room of Commonwealth Stadium. The Cats had won, finally, for the first time since Sept. 10 against Central Michigan.

“We’re moving forward now, I feel like,” sophomore linebacker Avery Williamson said. “We got in a bad slump. I didn’t know what direction this team was heading in, and this win just puts a step forward and gives us a little life. It just gets us more ready for Mississippi State.”

Now reacquainted with the joy of victory, the Cats will try and get their swagger back before continuing a difficult SEC schedule with a home showdown against the Mississippi State Bulldogs looming Saturday.

UK will look to ride the momentum it gained from the Jacksonville State victory as it prepares for the Bulldogs this weekend. UK had season highs on Saturday in points, total yards and rushing yards against the Gamecocks behind big performances from junior running back CoShik Williams and junior wide receiver La’Rod King. The defense allowed just 14 points and won the turnover battle with JSU, a goal of Rick Minter’s defense in 2011.

“It definitely helps give our guys confidence in the running game because we know the thing that we have to do,” UK head football coach Joker Phillips said. “And I think you saw last week, what our defense can do when they are fresh, when they don’t have to play as many plays and keeping those guys off the field is done by running the football efficiently and moving the chains and then being able to have some big plays in the pass game.”

Again, the message from Phillips and his football team is confidence. After a rough first six games, the Cats are 1-0 in what Phillips refers to as “second season,” and looking to continue the run.

Now at 3-4 on the season with five games remaining, UK must finish with a 3-2 record or better to reach its sixth straight bowl game. With just one ranked team remaining on the schedule (Georgia on Nov. 19),the Cats must prove they have the ability to compete with middle-tier teams in the conference, including Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Tennessee, all of whom await on the remainder of UK’s schedule.

Junior safety Martavius Neloms, whose sack and fumble return for a touchdown gave the Cats the lead Saturday, said that UK making a bowl game is still a goal for the team this season.

“It means a lot because we are a very close team,” Neloms said. “None of us want to let the seniors down or go out on a losing note, so we’re just going to try and prepare hard and do everything we can to keep the streak alive and go out on a winning note.”

Despite the excitement surrounding the win, UK has already turned the page and begun focusing on achieving that goal and earning another win this week.

“I feel a lot better coming off of the win,” sophomore defensive tackle Donte Rumph said, “but we got to stay humble and focus on this week on Mississippi State.”