LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky is in the middle of preparing for Mississippi State and defensive players and coaches were available to talk after Wednesday evening’s practice.
Kickoff against the Bulldogs is set for 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium and the game will be broadcast on SEC Network. Here’s what you need to know from the latest round of interviews.
What we learned
- Mississippi State QB Nick Fitzgerald averages 13 rushing attempts per game, the most of any quarterback in the SEC. He leads the Bulldogs with 431 rushing yards but the Wildcats are confident after holding other dual-threat quarterbacks in check — Alabama’s Jalen Hurts and South Carolina’s Brandon McIlwain. It was typical coach speak from defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot but he likes where his defense is: “I think we’re just getting better overall on defense I think this year,” Eliot said. “We had a good two weeks of practice, had a lot of reps, were able to work on a lot of fundamentals.”
- Sophomore LB Denzil Ware said he doesn’t have a preference on facing pocket passers vs. running quarterbacks: “It just depends what type of situation it is,” Ware said. “I feel the same about playing every quarterback. I don’t worry because they have the ball in their hands at all times. They control the offense. It just really don’t matter.”
- Ware was banged up going into the bye week but it sounds like the week off treated him and the rest of the Wildcats well. “We got to rest and got to recover,” Ware said. “We got to heal some of the nagging injuries that we have.”
- Nose guard Matt Elam missed the Vanderbilt game and Eliot updated his situation for Saturday: “I think we’ll get a lot out of him,” Eliot said. “He’s practicing. I think he’s had some good practices. I think he’ll be ready to go on Saturday.”
- Beating Mississippi State is creeping into must-win territory for the Wildcats to keep bowl aspirations in sight. “We’re trying to do something here that hasn’t been done in a long time,” Ware said. “We’re trying to go to a bowl game. We’re trying to win also when we make it there. That’s how important this game is.”
Watch: D.J. Eliot 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.