'Cats finding positive from close loss to USC

In the wake of a heartbreaking 12-7 loss to South Carolina on Saturday, Kentucky coach Rich Brooks thought he saw some qualities he had been waiting to see from his team.

He saw energy and passion from a team that has frustrated him the past two seasons because its lack of emotion. That alone was enough to give Brooks something to be encouraged about in the midst of a 1-5 season (0-3 SEC).

"I'm excited that we did invest ourselves emotionally," Brooks said. "That's the only way you can climb out of a hole, is if you invest yourself into getting better. This team did that."

Even some of the team leaders sense something different about Kentucky's attitude and approach against South Carolina.

"Everybody believed," senior guard Matt Huff told the Lexington Herald-Leader. "We got motivated. We had every person pulling in the same direction. There was a sense of energy out there, that we could do this. We picked it up on the line. The running backs picked it up. It all came together. We just can't wait until the third quarter to do it."

The Wildcats, who have lost nine of their past 10 games, will need that investment of energy and passion and a whole lot more when they play at No. 3 Auburn on Saturday. The Wildcats might also have to do it without starting quarterback Shane Boyd, who suffered a left (non-throwing) shoulder injury against South Carolina. That means redshirt freshman Andre Woodson might make his first start on the road against the SEC's only undefeated team.

"This is the best team we have played, and it's not even close," Brooks said. "They don't have a weakness."

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Except for a 94-yard scoring drive last week against South Carolina the Wildcats didn't get much done, with only 251 yards and four turnovers. Kentucky has now been held below 300 yards six times in its past eight games.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The defense kept Kentucky in the South Carolina game by forcing five turnovers and allowing only 12 points, but the Wildcats are still allowing 27.5 points (10th in the SEC) and 397 yards per game (last in the SEC). It doesn't help that opponents are rushing for 217 yards per game against Kentucky (also last in the SEC).

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'll turn an old phrase again; it often appears darkest before dawn. I see young players stepping up and playing, mixing in with some of the more veteran players. I see effort, and I see an attitude that they don't want to accept the way things have been going. To me, that's progress." -- Kentucky coach Rich Brooks.

THIS WEEK'S GAME: Kentucky at Auburn, Oct. 23 -- The Wildcats can't move the ball and score with any consistency, so how are they supposed to keep up with third-ranked Auburn? They'll need a lot of help from the Tigers just to stay in the game, and the Tigers haven't offered much help this season.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: QBs Shane Boyd and/or Andre Woodson -- If Boyd is sidelined or limited by his left shoulder injury, Woodson will be thrust into the lead role with a struggling offense. If he can take care of the ball and just make a few plays, he'll do better than Boyd.

DE Sweet Pea Burns -- A knee injury has slowed his progress this season. He's not playing at the same level he played at in 2003 when he led the SEC with 18 tackles for losses, but he seemed to wake up last week with seven solo tackles, an assist, a forced fumble and a pass breakup.

ROSTER REPORT: Kentucky fans have been eager to see redshirt freshman QB Andre Woodson to get a chance to play, but the timing of his first possible start isn't the best. If QB Shane Boyd can't play or even if he's limited because of an injury to his non-throwing shoulder, Woodson might have to make his first start against a third-ranked Auburn team that also ranks in the top 10 nationally in total defense, scoring defense and pass defense. "It's probably not the best of choices going against one of the best defenses in the nation," Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said. "But if Shane is unable to practice and (is) at less than 100 percent, this may be the week that it happens." ... Boyd isn't the only injury concern for Kentucky. OL Micah Jones (ankle) is doubtful for Auburn, while RB Arliss Beach (concussion), LB Jon Sumrall (concussion) and WRs Maurice Marchman (calf) and Glenn Holt (ankle, thigh) are all expected to miss some practice time but are still expected to play on Saturday.

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