FOOTBALL: Brooks, Cats trying to look ahead

Kentucky coach Rich Brooks doesn't know how the rumor started, where it started or where it's headed, but he does know one thing: it's not true.

During his post-game press conference last Saturday, Brooks refuted a media report that he would resign at the end of this season. On Monday in a team meeting, he told his players the same thing.

"The only thing that I can control is that I'm not quitting, and I'm not walking away from here," Brooks said. "I'm here for the long haul, and in my opinion, I'm going to turn this thing around."

Both and reported last week that Brooks would quit following his second season at Kentucky, and even reported that Louisville defensive coordinator Mike Cassity would become the next Kentucky coach.

While those are interesting mid-season rumors for a program that is a 5-14 record in two seasons under Brooks, it's also a distraction as the Wildcats attempt to prepare for Saturday's game at Mississippi State.

"We're going to recruit, work hard, coach, and we're going to go to war this and next week and hopefully next year," Brooks said. "That's the only thing I can control. I'm not walking away from anything. I'm not giving up on anything, and I hope (the players) don't, either."

Apparently, whatever Brooks told his players was enough to convince the Wildcats he has no intention of leaving by his own choice anytime soon.

Kentucky linebacker Jon Sumrall told the Lexington Herald-Leader that the meeting was "productive," and "answered a lot of questions."

"It was short and to the point," Sumrall said. "He said he plans on being here, and the only way he'll leave is if the administration forced him out. He said that he's not going to quit on us, and he doesn't want us to quit on him, and that made us all feel good."

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: It probably doesn't matter which quarterback plays this week, simply because the problems with Kentucky's offense start up front. Between the lack of running room and the lack of protection, as well as the lack of experience now that the coaches have decided to go with some younger players, the Wildcats rank last in the SEC with 14.9 points per game and 20 turnovers.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The expected defensive improvement that showed hints of arriving early in the season has collapsed under the weight of a struggling offense in recent games. Kentucky has fallen to last in the SEC in scoring and rushing defense, allowing 29.6 points and 216.6 rushing yards per game.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Rich Brooks is my boss. If he feels inclined to let me go, so be it. I have no problem with that. If I'm judged on the fact that we're not running up 400 yards with the talent level we have and the problems we came in with. ... Nobody wants to hear excuses. They want to hear about wins, that's all they care about. And we're trying the best we possibly can, that's all I can tell you." -- Kentucky offensive coordinator Ron Hudson.

THIS WEEK'S GAME: Kentucky at Mississippi State, Oct. 30 -- What once looked like a possible victory for the Wildcats now looks less likely in the wake of Mississippi State's victory over Florida and Kentucky's continued struggles. If they can't line up and match Mississippi State's physical play on both sides, the Wildcats will be in trouble again.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: QBs Shane Boyd and Andre Woodson -- Regardless of who plays quarterback this week, he needs to do a better job of handling pressure and making plays, by feet or arm or both.

FS Abdullah Muhammad -- One of the few dependable players on a struggling defense, Muhammad leads the Wildcats with two interceptions and ranks third on the team with 32 tackles.

ROSTER REPORT: While two starters -- DE Sweet Pea Burns and RB Tony Dixon -- are considered questionable for Saturday's game at Mississippi State because of severely sprained ankles, starting quarterback Shane Boyd's status won't be known until later in the week. Body missed the Auburn game with a shoulder injury, so redshirt freshman Andre Woodson made his first start and took a beating in a 42-10 loss.

"I think we have an idea of what we've got with Andre, but it is hard to get a total evaluation," Brooks said. "Obviously we've got some personnel issues, and against a team as talented as Auburn, those show up a lot bigger than in recent games. But he did do some very good things. He didn't get rattled; he handled himself reasonably well in a difficult situation. He didn't short circuit."

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