LEXINGTON, Ky. — The Wildcats are off this weekend, but the team is still full tilt during practice this week. Offensive coaches and players were available to talk to the media after Tuesday’s practice.
Here’s what you need to know from the latest round of interviews:
What we learned
- It’s a good thing for Kentucky that it’s off Saturday because coach Mark Stoops said the Wildcats are a little banged up, starting with QB Stephen Johnson. While neither Stoops nor Johnson said the wrist pain is a big deal, it was surprising to hear Johnson say it’s been bothering him since the Florida game. He’s getting treatment and should be good to go against Mississippi State in a week and a half.
- Johnson passed for just 49 yards Saturday against Vanderbilt and quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw has been working with him this week to overcome the things he struggled with against Vanderbilt, such as reading coverages and his footwork. Asked if Johnson is being too hard on himself: “Well, sometimes. And sometimes I’m too hard on him,” Hinshaw said. “But that’s a quarterback. The good ones are really hard on themselves, and he gets frustrated. And as a quarterback that’s still new to the SEC game, you have to — the past is the past. We can’t do anything about it. And again, if we’re gonna work to the future, we got to work today and let’s get today fixed to make a better future.”
- Back to the injuries: Stoops said sophomore LB Kobie Walker and junior LB De’Niro Laster are both out. Sophomore linebackers Denzil Ware and Josh Allen are also both “banged up,” Stoops said. That’s a lot of concerns at one position and something to watch during practice next week.
- One positive note for Kentucky on the injury front was having junior WR Dorian Baker back Saturday. Baker didn’t record a a catch, but said after practice Tuesday that he was able to trust his hamstring and that he expects big things out of the receiving corps. Offensive coordinator Eddie Gran was pleased with Baker’s performance, but said he showed some expected rust: “A little bit, but I’ll tell you what he did,” Gran said. “He competed and he got after it and he was physical. I really saw some good things out there today, too. He looks like he’s back full speed. And he ended up getting 30-plus reps, which was good for his first time back. So, that was great.”
What we need to know
As much as the injuries were talked about, the severity of some of them is still in question. It sounds like Johnson is going to be fine, but the primary concerns are at linebacker. In addition to Walker and Laster, Stoops brought up Allen and Ware, two players who have been leading Kentucky’s defensive resurgence.
Quote of the day
“Getting back to 3-3 was definitely our goal and just progress from here. Beat Mississippi State, beat Mizzou, beat all the rest of the teams we play. That’s just our focus now.” — QB Stephen Johnson