"I think we really do understand. We are all really looking at a lot of extra film," said linebacker Johnny Williams. "The team is getting together outside of practice to look at film and study. We just have to make sure we go out and execute and play defense like we know we are capable."
So this is a truly a must-win game for the 3-4 Wildcats?
"I feel like that. That is how we should prepare for each game. There's not been a big change in the approach to the game, but you can sense this game is different and we have to win. We had a real good, up tempo practice Sunday. Not many guys got yelled at for messing up. You could just sense even then what was at stake this week. You know it is do or die right now. We have a five-game season now and we want to win them all," Williams said.
Kentucky came into this season expecting to be far better defensively than it has been. The Cats are last in the SEC in rushing defense, passing defense, total defense and scoring defense. That's a four-bagger no team wants. But what is most troubling is that UK has not been able to stop the run considering the high expectations the defensive line and linebackers had coming into the year. Did the defense overestimate its own talent level going into the season?
"I think we just went by what we saw on film and at practice. We didn't overestimate our ability. We know we should be better than we are. It can still happen like we want. We have not given up on the season. We are still working hard to do all the right things," Williams said.
This week's game could also help determine whether coach Rich Brooks and his staff are back next year. Win this game and UK could easily finish at least 6-6. Lose this game and it will be a long, long November during the Brooks watch. "I feel like we are going to embrace the pressure. We just want to prove ourselves. Statistics don't show we are better, but we all feel we are better. But we also know we are running out of time to prove it," Williams said.