UK-Vandy notes: Last year's loss a 'low point' for UK defense

jsmith3@herald-leader.comNovember 2, 2012 

Vanderbilt Commodores running back Zac Stacy (2) plows through heavy Kentucky defense to score during the fourth quarter Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011 in Nashville, Tenn. Photo by Amy Wallot

AMY WALLOT — Amy Wallot

  • Tennessee at Kentucky

    When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30

    TV: ESPNU

    Records: Kentucky 2-9 (0-7 SEC); Tennessee 4-7 (1-6)

Nine Kentucky defenders tried and failed to bring down Vanderbilt running back Zac Stacy on his way to the end zone last season.

Nine. Yes, nine.

"I remember him running with the whole team, dragging us through the end zone," UK linebacker Bud Dupree said. "I remember that. I remember a lot of things, a lot of bad things from that loss."

And if there are any Cats defenders who don't recall that 18-yard monster run by Stacy, UK defensive line coach David Turner made sure they each had a visual reminder this week by sending the video to their phones.

Turns out Dupree didn't need any videos to remind him.

That run has been playing over and over again in his head since last season when the Commodores ran all over Kentucky, 38-8, in Nashville.

He replayed it verbally for the media on Monday: "(Stacy) ran to the left, so when he ran up the middle, I was thinking they were going to tackle him because Danny (Trevathan) hit him first. Danny usually hits him and he's gonna fall.

"So Danny hit him and (Ronnie) Sneed hit him and he kept moving. Then the D-line jumped on him, so I just ran on top of the pile and he still kept moving. I don't really know what happened."

Stacy, who became the Commodores' career rushing leader this season (2,685 yards), has 683 yards so far this year for a Vanderbilt running game that ranks seventh in the Southeastern Conference (166 yards a game).

"That play definitely was the low point," Dupree said of Stacy's play. "They were saying they were going to bully us the rest of the game after that play."

Defensive coordinator Rick Minter tried to downplay the importance of that run a season ago, but it was clear he remembered it this week.

"Well, we try to keep our eyes forward, rather than our eyes back," he said. "We've tried to work on tackling and keeping our legs going and play to the whistle and try to avoid those kind of situations. That's a credit to the runner in that case."

Coach Joker Phillips hopes his players have more motivation to beat Vandy than just that one play a year ago. "I'd have a chip on my shoulder about what happened last week instead of what happened last year," he said.

Renewed focus

When a team has freshman quarterbacks running in and out, struggling at times to move the ball, the last thing it needs is costly penalties. But UK had its share (five for 40 yards and at key times) against Missouri.

Several times UK was in short third-down situations, but a penalty would change everything.

"When you get in those situations, it makes it much tougher to convert," offensive coordinator Randy Sanders said. "It limits our options and opens up the defense's playbook, whereas if we've got third-and-four or third-and-three, it opens up our playbook and limits their options a little bit."

Both senior center Matt Smith and UK Coach Joker Phillips said the team needs to be more focused.

"We just need to remind those guys to focus on what they've got and not think about too many things," Smith said.

Injury report

Kentucky's defensive line most likely will be without junior defensive tackle Donte Rumph on Saturday. After not practicing this week, he is listed as doubtful after spraining his right knee at Missouri.

There could be some shifting among defensive linemen, but Rumph's listed backup is Alvin Davis, a 6-foot-4, 264-pound sophomore.

"I'm looking forward to watching him," Phillips said of Davis, who has five tackles this season, including one for a loss and a quarterback sack. "He's a guy that knows what to do, always gives you good effort. Not as big as you want inside, but he's a guy that's a real strong guy and gives good effort."

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241Twitter: @jenheraldleaderBlog: ukfootball.bloginky.com.

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