Cats feeling sense of urgency

After dropping two Southeastern Conference road games, UK is entering a three-game stretch in the friendly confines of Commonwealth Stadium.

First up for the Cats (3-2, 0-2 SEC) is No. 10 Auburn (5-0, 2-0 SEC). Facing a top-10 team is usually daunting, even with home-field advantage, but after losing to Ole Miss in part because of self-inflicted mistakes, the Cats know the importance of digging themselves out of an early hole in the conference standings.

“We’re three-and-two and we’ve got three home games coming up,” junior defensive tackle Mark Crawford said. “Everybody’s still on board, there are no problems in the locker room. We’re just going to try and do something with the rest of the season so we can go to a better bowl game.”

Although the confidence level among the Cats is high, there’s a new feeling building inside the locker room.

“There’s definitely a sense of urgency … more so than a sense of panic,” Crawford said.

Springing an upset against the heavily favored Tigers isn’t a foreign concept to a majority of the UK roster.

Last year, the Cats played a penalty-free game en route to defeating Auburn 21-14 at Jordan-Hare Stadium, their first win over Auburn since 1966.

“It’ll be a tough game for us, but we know how to beat this team,” UK head coach Joker Phillips said. “We’ve done it, and I think that makes us feel a little bit more confident.”

On Saturday, both teams will start different quarterbacks from last year’s game. UK’s then-freshman quarterback Morgan Newton started in place of the then-injured Mike Hartline, before being replaced by Will Fidler later in the game.

Hartline’s counterpart is junior Cameron Newton, a transfer from Florida who has filled in nicely for the Tigers’ now-graduated Chris Todd.

Newton is one of three quarterbacks—Michigan’s Heisman frontrunner Denard Robinson and Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick are the others—to rank among the top 15 in rushing in the nation are also among the top 20 in passing efficiency.

“He’s the guy you’ve got to stop in their offense. You stop him, you’ve got a chance,” Phillips said.

The Cats were successful in stopping a dual-threat quarterback last game, limiting Ole Miss’ Jeremiah Masoli to 90 yards through the air and 43 on the ground.

If the Cats can knock off Newton and the rest of the Tigers, they will become the first team from the SEC East to defeat an SEC West opponent this year.

More importantly, UK players know this home stand—South Carolina (Oct. 16) and Georgia (Oct. 23) are the latter two games—could also be their last stand for the special season they’ve hoped for.

“Obviously the past years I’ve been here, we’ve protected our house, and if we can go undefeated at home, we will have a successful season,” junior cornerback Anthony Mosley said.

Depth chart notes

Phillips said freshman running back Raymond Sanders has supplanted sophomore Donald Russell as the No. 2, not because of poor play by Russell, but because of the excellent performances by Sanders. Phillips added that Sanders’ running style fits better with UK’s offensive schemes.

Crawford, who was suspended for UK’s second game, will replace junior Luke McDermott as the starting defensive tackle alongside senior Ricky Lumpkin. Much like Sanders, Phillips said it was a case of Crawford, who had one sack against Ole Miss, playing his way into the lineup rather than another guy playing his way out.


Freshman linebacker Qua Huzzie (thumb ligament)-Questionable

Junior safety Taiedo Smith (groin)-Doubtful

Junior safety Josh Gibbs (unspecified) –day-to-day

Senior defensive end DeQuin Evans(unspecified)-day-to-day

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