Instead of building on the momentum that comes with scoring two fourth-quarter touchdowns in a 14-13 home victory over Vanderbilt, the Wildcats (2-8, 1-6 SEC) will spend the week trying to maintain their newfound confidence as they prepare for a Nov. 27 game at No. 15 Tennessee.
"There's a lot of things these guys can build on, and at least for the next two weeks, things are not as negative as they have been," Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said. "I was pleased to see so many players step up, and it's real important to get something positive at the end of the season."
The open date will also allow several players to return for Kentucky's final game of the season and give the Wildcats extra time to practice and plan for the Vols.
"I think on a normal deal I would prefer not to have an open week this late in the season, but given our health, it's probably the best thing that can happen to us," Brooks said. "We'll get some players back who wouldn't be able to play this week."
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Kentucky did come through with two fourth-quarter touchdowns when it really mattered, but this is still the same offense that ranks 115th nationally out of 117 Division I-A teams in both scoring and total offense, with 14.2 points and 270 total yards per game. The Wildcats also rank last in the SEC in another key category, with 24 turnovers.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The expected progress the defense was supposed to make this season never materialized, due partly to injuries to key veterans and the suspension of FS Mike Williams, but the Wildcats did manage to hold Vanderbilt scoreless in the fourth quarter last week.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I've said all I'm going to say about that. ... We'll find out what happens when we find out what happens. I'm assuming I'm here, but I'm tired of talking about it. I've already talked about it and expressed my feelings about it on numerous occasions." -- Kentucky coach Rich Brooks on speculation about his job security.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAME: The Wildcats get an open date at a rather awkward time considering they only have one game left on the schedule, Nov. 27 at Tennessee, but considering their injury problems, an open date could do them some good.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: QBs Andre Woodson and Shane Boyd -- Woodson has emerged as the better quarterback over the past month but played a limited role last week against Vanderbilt because of a sprained ankle. It was Boyd who stood up and threw two fourth-quarter touchdowns in the 14-13 win over Vandy.
DB Muhammad Abdullah -- With senior FS Mike Williams suspended for the rest of the season, Abdullah has had to carry a heavier load. He carried it well against Vanderbilt with 10 tackles, eight solos, two tackles for losses, two sacks and a forced fumble. He ranks second on the team with 53 tackles and leads the team with three INTs and two fumble recoveries.
ROSTER REPORT: While the open date could slow down some of Kentucky's new momentum, it should also allow several players to return for the Tennessee game, including KR Dicky Lyons Jr. (shoulder), RB Tony Dixon (ankle) and, RB-PR Andrew Hopewell (thigh), DE Ellery Moore (ankle), DE Sweet Pea Burns (ankle) and CB Earven Flowers (hip). ... Even the open date will not likely be enough time for freshman linebacker Wesley Woodyard to return from a badly sprained ankle. Woodyard has been one of the bright spots in the second half of the season after moving from safety.