Cats look to end season with a W

It has been twenty-one years since the Cats have defeated the Tennessee Vols on the football field. The Vols are 4-5 and coming off a loss to Vandy, a team Kentucky defeated a week ago. What would a win over UT mean? Rich Brooks told the media, "Regardless of whether Tennessee is on top or not, they are still Tennessee. Our seniors can do something that has not been done in 21 years. They can walk away with a lot of pride if they can pull this off."

While a win over struggling Tennessee would be a major boost to Rich Brooks' program at Kentucky, the coach says a win would be more important to him for another reason

"It's more important for the players on this team. It has been since 1984 since Kentucky has beaten Tennessee," Brooks said today. "Regardless of whether Tennessee is on top or not, they are still Tennessee. Our seniors can do something that has not been done in 21 years. They can walk away with a lot of pride if they can pull this off. It would also give us a huge impetus to go into the offseason and next spring."

It will be Senior Day at Kentucky Saturday and the Vols have never been more vulnerable. They are 4-6 after Saturday's 28-24 loss in Knoxville to Vanderbilt, a team Kentucky beat in Nashville. Vanderbilt had not defeated Tennessee in 22 years. So why can't this be Kentucky's turn?

"Look at the guys they have. They have some outstanding players," Brooks said of Tennessee. "I am sure they don't want the dominance to end over Kentucky, either. They don't want to be the class that lost to Vanderbilt and then lost to Kentucky."

But Brooks would like for the Vols to leave that legacy so his seniors can reap a small reward for what they have endured the last four or five years. Six seniors are junior college players Brooks and his staff brought to Kentucky. The rest were here when he arrived and have survived losing seasons, NCAA probation, a coaching change and talk of another coaching change this year.

"The seniors have been though a lot. I admire they have persevered and many of them have already graduated. More will graduate this semester and a bunch will in the spring. It has been a journey with a lot of bumps and ups and downs and the fact they are still competing and trying to get the job done speaks volumes for what they will do in the future," Brooks said.

Brooks says he won't alter his coaching philosophy for this last game. While he might lean to giving an untested player a chance to prove his mettle in this game, he's more inclined to stick with veterans. However, he was not pleased with the mistakes some of his veterans made at Georgia.

"We made more mistakes than we have been making. We gave up things on defensive that were just from missed assignments and not reading keys," he said. "Georgia's defense is pretty good, but I don't think they are physically that much better than Auburn. Our offensive line just did not play very well."

Brooks knows emotion should not be a problem for his team Saturday. Not only will Big Blue fans be sensing a possible win over Kentucky, but Senior Day festivities always produce an emotional time before the game.

"Football is played on emotion," Brooks said. "It can't be one-shot emotion. To me, it needs to build all week. The focus and mental concentration are critically important this week."


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