Taylor's Thoughts: Clemson a good test for UK

Ten years from now, Kentucky football coach Rich Brooks would rather be talking about winning the Music City Bowl, rather than just being one of the two participants.

Brooks said staying on task in the weeks leading up to the team's first postseason appearance in seven years will be "critical."

"We just can't relax now and say that we've made it to the postseason and we've reach the goal," Brooks said earlier this week. "We want to win this thing. "It makes the bowl reunions much better when you're Music City Bowl champions than you are at 7-6, rather than 8-5."

Brooks added that the game will be a good measuring stick for his team playing against Clemson, a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Tigers finished with an 8-4 record and handed ACC champion Wake Forest its only conference loss of the season.

"They're a quality opponent," Brooks said. "They have great speed," he said. "This will be a real challenge for us and we're looking forward to that challenge. They are very comparative to good teams in the SEC from an athletic standpoint and a talent standpoint."

In addition, Brooks said he would rather face someone like Clemson, as opposed to a lesser successful squad.

"I would much rather go into a bowl game playing someone that's real good, than someone who has a worse record than we do. This is an opportunity to step up to that next level and see if we can compete like we did in our last two big games against the SEC bullies in Tennessee and Georgia.

"This is a similar-type game."

Kentucky receiver Keenan Burton said Clemson reminded him of some of the upper-echelon teams in the SEC.

"They remind me of like a Florida or an LSU-type team," he said. "It's a matter now of juts breaking down film, watching them, seeing how their defense plays and (see) what we can do to attack them."

Brooks said preparation for a bowl game won't be any different than the ones he played in while coach at Oregon.

"I think it's very similar," he said. "The difficult thing to judge is that you never know with a long layoff exactly where you're going to fall on game day. "Some groups handle that process better than others."

In order to succeed in the postseason, Brooks said his team would have to play with the same determination and desire it displayed during the second half of the season. "We need to get back into a mentality that we played the last five games with, and that's being a physical football team."

Kentucky linebacker Wesley Woodyard said getting a bowl victory would serve a purpose in the future. "We've got to come out, get the victory and build on that success," he said. "That will help the recruiting base."

Brooks added that he has already noticed a difference on the recruiting trail.

"I think we're being received with a little different energy on the recruiting trail than we have in the past several years," the Kentucky coach said. "This staff is a very dedicated, hard-working group of men who have done a very good job of recruiting under not ideal circumstances.

"Now, the circumstances are going to get better, and they are better."

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