Prepping for Gators easier after win

Despite mistakes, Cats Happy to be undefeated

jsmith3@herald-leader.comSeptember 20, 2009 

Kentucky would feel a lot better if it had dominated Louisville.

A big win would have been a giant shot of confidence for the Cats with top-ranked Florida coming to town next weekend.

Instead, the Cats got the promise of lots of time in the film room after their 31-27 win over Louisville on Saturday.

There were the three turnovers in the third quarter.

There were the long pass plays of 66 and 32 yards that the defense surrendered.

There is plenty to fix, but not much time to fix it.

"Everyone knows what Florida's got, and we can't make the same mistakes that we made today," defensive tackle Ricky Lumpkin said. "If we do, it's going to be a long day at Commonwealth Stadium."

The defending national champion is coming in with a top ranking, and it returns much of the personnel that throttled UK 63-5 last season.

"Florida spanked us last year, and it was really, really embarrassing," said sophomore Winston Guy, who had 71/2 tackles against Louisville. "We're not going to allow that to happen this year."

A close win is still a win even though mistakes were made. Preparation and adjustments will be less difficult for the coaching staff because of the victory.

"The good thing is, we're 2-0," said Joker Phillips, UK head coach for offense. "That gives us some hope psychologically."

If the Cats had lost a close one, getting the players up for Florida might have been more of a challenge.

"It would be more difficult if we lost," defensive coordinator Steve Brown said. "The fact that we won gives the kids a boost to work harder."

UK doesn't really need an excuse to work harder this week. The players know what's coming their way.

Defensive tackle Corey Peters said the team refuses to be intimidated by the Gators and their Mr. Everything quarterback, Tim Tebow.

"You always look forward to playing the No. 1 team in the nation," said Peters, who had a key pass breakup against Louisville. "Everyone on that offense is an All-SEC candidate. They're that good. But they put their pants on one leg at a time just like we do."

And with the game at Commonwealth Stadium, Peters said there isn't an intimidation factor.

"Any given day, anything can happen," he said. "We're at home, and we expect to win every home game."

UK's players say they know they will have to correct some miscues, but being undefeated helps.

"We are 2-0 so we've got a little confidence and swagger behind us," senior running back Alfonso Smith said. "We're going to have to bring it into that game."

Being able to fight through some adversity and come from behind three times against Louisville can do nothing but help UK, the players said.

"This team has gained confidence," said Micah Johnson, who had a game-high eight tackles. "We feel like we can compete and have a chance to win. We will be confident. Next weekend, we can't just come in here and lay down. We don't plan to."

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