LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky finished a Thursday walkthrough at the indoor facility on a rainy day in Lexington, and coach Mark Stoops spoke to the media afterward.
Kentucky faces Mississippi State at 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium.
What we learned
- Stoops announced two season-ending injuries. Sophomore LB Kobie Walker and junior LB De’Niro Laster won’t return for the Wildcats this year.
- Walker suffered a shoulder injury and Laster suffered a left knee injury. Both players will require surgery.
- Walker played in three games this season and Laster played in five. It’s a hit to Kentucky’s depth at linebacker and Stoops said it was nice to have the bye week to get others ready to fill in: “We had to work with those guys,” Stoops said. “Jordan Bonner got a lot of reps, KG (Kengera Daniel). We needed the time. That worked out good for us, building some depth in that area.”
- Even in Laster and Walker’s absence, the Wildcats have gotten better and better at linebacker. Sophomore Jordan Jones leads the team in tackles and outside sophomore backers Denzil Ware and Josh Allen have been key components of Kentucky’s defense: “Those guys, the more experienced they get the better they’re playing,” Stoops said. “You can say that about the whole unit really. The more we’re playing, the more reps we get, the more we’re coming together.”
- Although the Wildcats are coming off a bye week, Stoops doesn’t expect to see any rust: “I hope not,” he said. “We’ve definitely practiced. We didn’t — we haven’t been just sitting around. Guys have worked really hard, but with that, I think not having a game last weekend in itself puts you a little better, physically.”
- Junior QB Stephen Johnson said Tuesday that we was able to regroup over the weekend and that his wrist is almost 100 percent. Stoops said he likes where his quarterback is at: “He had a really good week,” Stoops said. “He’s excited and ready to go. I think the time was good for us as a team, but in particular offensively and throwing the football and getting our timing down was good.”
Watch: Mark Stoops interview
Other news you need to know
- Five key things to watch Saturday in the Kentucky-Mississippi State matchup.
- Mark Stoops is back in his comfort zone as a defensive play caller.
- A group of sophomores has been leading the Wildcats’ defensive resurgence.
- Mark Stoops’ radio show had another fan calling for a different coach.
- If Stephen Johnson were to go down, Stoops has the blessing to pull Gunnar Hoak’s redshirt.
- It’s looking less and less likely that Drew Barker will return this season.