VAUGHT: Brooks embracing expectations

Kentucky's football players have enjoyed the last few months on campus -- and that's been fine with coach Rich Brooks. "I hope it is more fun than it has been because it has not been a lot of fun before," Brooks said.

"Players understand what they are capable of doing by how we finished last season and they know if we take care of business we have a chance to do some things that have not happened around here.

"With the nucleus we have returning, it leads to hope we can accomplish more. By and large the players we have are quality people, and they understand more than just what they are doing on the football field .The understand the ramifications of improving Kentucky football. They have a pretty good perspective of what they did last year and what we could possibly do this year."

Say amen, Big Blue faithful. Brooks isn't running from higher expectations, he's embracing them. Of course, he knows the Cats now should know they can win -- something that wasn't true a year ago.

"You just have to believe when you get into tough situations that you can win this game. They came from behind three straight weeks in the fourth quarter last year. They have been there and done that. They have beaten a team in the SEC (Georgia) that Kentucky had not beat in 10 years. They won a bowl game against quality opponent. That had not happened in 22 years," Brooks said. "The expectation level is obviously raised, as it should be. That is a very good problem to have. I think, at least this time, the expectation is raised in an intelligent manner. It is not raised because someone thinks should beat all those teams. It is because we have done it. We have a lot of very talented players returning. We will have more players getting consideration for preseason honors than we have had."

Brooks knows the doubters have not gone away. Not everyone thinks Kentucky can even get back to a bowl game next season.

"I fully expect teams will take us more seriously than they have in past years and there will be an increased focus on getting ready to play Kentucky. We have to do everything better this year. The people we play are going to take us more seriously. We need to raise our level of play and our own bar even higher."

Not only does it make sense, but it also sounds logical and is just another reason why I already think Kentucky will be playing in a bowl game again when the 2007 season ends.

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