Will Levis knows importance of Louisville rivalry to UK


Kentucky quarterback Will Levis (7) tosses the ball on the sideline during the Kentucky vs. New Mexico State football game on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 56-16. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Barkley Truax

If Kentucky fans wanted a guy who’s committed to the bit, don’t go any further than UK quarterback Will Levis, who changed his name on Twitter to Wi˥ ˥ ˥evis, to insinuate the proverbial L’s down gesture that Big Blue Nation has made a staple of their rivalry with Louisville.

“I just thought it’s pretty funny, pretty clever,” Levis said about the upside down L. “I think some people might take it a little bit too seriously, but it was just fun and games and just a good way to kind of spur some talk about the rivalry this week.”

Coming from Penn State, Levis has never played against Louisville in his career, something Wildcats that have joined he program over the last two seasons have yet to experience the rivalry that is so personal for many Kentucky fans.

Going back to 2018, Kentucky has blown Louisville out on the two occasions they met 56-10 and 45-13, respectively. It isn’t far-fetched to say that none of the Wildcats on the current roster really know the extent of what winning the Louisville game means to the UK fan base.

“We want to prepare for this game as if it’s any other game, really,” Levis said. “We don’t want it to change our preparation process, but if me or anyone can get a little extra motivation that definitely helps. I think just coach Stoops has really been the one who’s drove [what the rivalry means] toward us. Guys in practice are really energetic and are moving around fast and bringing the energy, more vocal leadership, which was good to see.”

When Levis played at Penn State, they didn’t have a designated rival. He alluded to Ohio State, but noted their true rival is Michigan. He also mentioned Pitt, but the two programs don’t face each other any more, so he doesn’t have any legitimate experience playing in a legitimate rivalry game. 

Right as Kentucky gears up for their game against Louisville, it seems Levis has hit his stride on the practice field. Offensive coordinator Liam Coen said Tuesday afternoon to the quarterback had by far the best practice since joining the program over the summer.

“I think that my comfort as a quarterback has improved tremendously compared to week one to now and I just think that the game plan—I really like the game plan we have this week and I was just really dialed in and accurate and made good decisions today in practice,” Levis said. 

Levis said that’s the standard he wants to establish for himself throughout the rest of the week and the season season as a whole is “to hold myself and the rest of the teammates or teammates to that standard,” Levis said.

It’s not just the rivalry on the line for UK—it’s a chance for Kentucky to win nine or more games for the fifth time since 1949 and second time in four years. It’s the difference between a New Years Six Bowl game and some random tertiary bowl.

There’s a lot riding on Kentucky’s season, and Levis understands that and believes he and his teammates are ready for the challenge.