VAUGHT: Brooks reflects on UK -UL game, O-line

After complaining that officials should have taken the time to review quarterback Andre Woodson's fumble at the two-yard line in the fourth quarter Sunday, Rich Brooks admitted Monday that it was an obvious fumble once he got to see the replay himself.

"I was wrong. It was a fumble. They (the replay officials) probably did look at it and determine there was no sense reviewing it any further. The ball did appear to be clearly out before he hit the ground," Brooks said.

However, the Kentucky coach was not feeling any better about his team's 31-24 loss to Louisville Monday. "I'm getting tired of coming close and not finishing the deal," Brooks said. "We started out looking like a team, then struggled, stumbled and fumbled and did not look very good at the half. We responded, competed and played hard and made the plays that gave ourselves a chance to win.

"But you can't beat many teams turning the ball over three times and not getting any takeaways. That's the biggest reason we did not win. Those three turnovers were a swing of 21 points, 14 they got and seven we didn't get."

Brooks, who said he still felt "punchy" almost 24 hours after the game ended, indicated Kentucky will look at improving its offensive line play. Right tackle Hayden Lane was benched in the second half in favor of Ernie Pelayo. Brooks said this week true freshmen James Alexander and Sefo Blaylock will likely get their first game action.

"Hayden Lane has played some good games for us. We are not giving up on him," Brooks said. "Ernie Pelayo went in and did some good things, but you could see it had been a couple of years since he had any action. We need better production, particularly from the right tackle." Brooks said junior college transfer Fatu Turituri also got "run over" a few times at left tackle. But he also noted that Woodson was to blame for a couple of the sacks Louisville had. "We had a quick pass and he did not get the ball out. One protection he should have changed. But we've got to do a better job protecting him as well," Brooks said.

Defensive tackle could also be a problem area this Saturday against Idaho State. The Cats played against Louisville without Ricky Abren and Jason Leger. Leger planned to run with trainers Monday and Brooks says there is an "outside chance he can play" Saturday. However, Lamar Mills won't after injuring his knee Sunday and Myron Pryor is also expected to be out.

"We still don't know the extent of Mills's injury," Brooks said. "We don't think it is serious at this point, but we just don't know for sure. Pryor has had trouble with dehydration and cramps. He's out for the time being until we get the results of quite a battery of tests he will go through to find out why he's cramping."

True freshmen defensive tackle Ventrell Jenkins didn't play against Louisville, but will play this week. Brooks also said Cedric Koger and Richard Gray will be available behind starter Trey Mielsch, the only one of UK's top four defensive tackles who has not been injured.

Receiver Glenn Holt is in a neck brace and will not play against Idaho State. Brooks said he's sore and can't move his neck right or left. More X-rays will be taken. "We don't think it is serious, but he's definitely out this week and depending on the X-rays, it could be longer."

While much of the credit for UK's comeback was given to the offense, Brooks saved some of his best praise Sunday for cornerback Bo Smith. Remember he missed last year after being injured in a summer fight when he was hit from behind with a baseball bat. Sunday he had a game-high 15 tackles, including 12 solo stops, and helped limit Louisville to 179 yards passing.

"He played a great football game," Brooks said. "He tackled, he covered. He played his heart out."

But is it good or bad for a cornerback to get so many tackles?

"I would like more of them not to get to him, particularly in the running game, but it is good when he's flying around and getting to the ball. Not only did he tackle, but he put hits on people and was a very physical corner. We need that."


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