They were flat.
Of course they were flat.
Mark Stoops said he didn't believe in letdowns, but coaching is one thing and human nature is another, more powerful thing, especially when you're talking about kids — especially with kids who spent an entire week accepting pats on the back for that game-changing win last Saturday over the South Carolina Spurriers.
So every Kentucky Wildcat started Saturday's game against visiting and prohibitive underdog Louisiana-Monroe flat as a pancake.
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That is, every Kentucky Wildcat but one.
A pretty important one.
"Bud's an impact player," Stoops said.
Even better, Bud Dupree is a leader.
"I take it upon myself," said the senior Saturday after Kentucky had messed around for a quarter, then found its mojo and mashed Louisiana-Monroe 48-14. "Being a leader on the team, if it's not going well, I have to make a play."
So he made plays. He rushed the quarterback. He sacked the quarterback. He chased the ballcarrier. He tackled the ballcarrier. He even blocked a field goal.
"Got my hand up there and it hit it," said Dupree, smiling. "That was good."
There were times when Bud Dupree came so fast off the edge you were sure he was faster than the snap.
"Disruptive," said Stoops.
Not to mention inspirational.
"He gets us all going," said defensive tackle Cory Johnson.
And someone needed to get these Cats going.
"Yeah, when we came out, I don't know what it was, we normally don't, even in practice we don't come out like that," Dupree said afterward. "I guess it was because it was a couple of (early) big plays they hit us with.
"We just had to make sure it was just water up under the bridge and move on to the next one. Once we started clicking, we did pretty good."
Yes, they did. They finally did click. Down 14-3 after the first quarter, the Cats got their act together.
Josh Forrest returned an interception for a touchdown. Marcus McWilson returned an interception for a touchdown. It was the first time since 1986 that a Kentucky defense produced two pick-sixes in the same game.
And this from a defense that intercepted just three passes all last season and did not score a single defensive touchdown all last season.
That was then, as in a two-win season. This is now, as in a 5-1 start with six games to go. One more win means bowl eligibility.
"Finally," Dupree said.
Actually, a mere bowl game seems at this point like settling. After all, Georgia blanked Missouri on Saturday, meaning now every team in the SEC East has at least one conference loss. And that's what Kentucky has — one conference loss.
Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves, however. Let's focus on the here and now, on that fifth win, on how, as Kentucky had trouble getting its engine started, Dupree's motor was running from the start.
Leaders don't join the crowd, they inspire the crowd.
"Bud is an amazing player and a great leader and takes the game seriously," said defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot. "It doesn't surprise me that even though others may have been flat, he wasn't. With his leadership, I think everybody else followed."
The Saturday before, it was Dupree who snatched the ball out of the air — the ball Mike Douglas batted — and scored the winning touchdown in the Cats' 45-38 victory over South Carolina.
This Saturday, it was Dupree who finished with five tackles, 1½ sacks, the blocked field goal and a quarterback hurry despite sitting for a good part of the second half when the Cats had the game in hand.
"He's an exceptional football player. He really is," Stoops said. "He's instinctual, plays with great energy. He's been a great leader. Very versatile. I feel like he could play a lot of positions. I feel like he could play any three linebacker positions. He's very versatile."
"Right now," Dupree said. "I just want to get ready for LSU."