Battered, bruised Cats remain focused

The most challenging four-game stretch in Kentucky football history came to an end Saturday with a 48-7 beating at the hands of No. 1 Alabama.

The most challenging four-game stretch in Kentucky football history culminated Saturday with a 48-7 beating at the hands of No. 1 Alabama that left the Wildcats physically and mentally drained.

Kentucky faced the last of four consecutive opponents ranked in the Top 20 with the defending national champions following No. 7 Louisville, No. 19 Florida and No. 13 South Carolina.

After a surprising first quarter that ended scoreless, it was all downhill for the Cats from there as the Crimson Tide rolled to victory.

UK starting quarterback Jalen Whitlow suffered a severe ankle sprain in the first quarter and it left the coaching staff scrambling to change the game plan offensively.

"It did hurt us. We did have some designed runs, and Jalen got most of the snaps throughout the week," Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops said after the game. "So, like I said, that's a tough situation for Max (Smith) to go into against that defense."

But Whitlow is not the only player currently sidelined with injury woes for a team that began the season with a thin depth chart. This UK team is banged up, as expected, after arguably the toughest stretch any team has faced in college football this season.

Defensive end Bud Dupree did not dress for Saturday's game. Neither did reserve defensive backs Jaleel Hytche and Dakotah Tyler. Their absence certainly contributed to the Tide posting video game-type statistics, including 668 yards of total offense.

For the first time in school history, Alabama had a 300-yard passer in quarterback AJ MacCarron, and two 100-yard rushers in running backs T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake, all in the same game. The last time the Cats saw numbers like this posted against them, a guy named Peyton Manning was on the other side of the line for Tennessee.

Kentucky is now 1-5 overall and 0-3 in SEC play at the halfway point in the season. Following a brutal series of games against some of the best teams college football has to offer, the Cats will have a week off at a critical point in the season.

"We need this bye week. We're beat up," UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown said. "We have drastic improvements that need to be made, and we will treat this like a new season from here on out."

All-SEC linebacker Avery Williamson, who posted a game-high 13 tackles, says the team is keeping a positive attitude and continues to have big goals for the remainder of the season.

"The first half of the season is over with," he said. "Now we are in the second half, and I feel like these games are winnable. We can still get bowl eligible."

With six games left in the season, the Cats will need to scratch their way to five more wins in order to reach that lofty goal during Mark Stoops' inaugural season as the UK boss.

The next opportunity for an elusive W comes Thursday, Oct. 23, at Mississippi State.

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