With its 23-13 victory over South Carolina on Saturday, Kentucky had just won its fourth straight game over the Gamecocks.
That was satisfying, sure.
But Kentucky cornerback Derrick Baity didn’t mind talk of a different — much longer — streak.
“It’s Florida,” the Tampa native said when asked about the significance of the next game. “We want to end that streak.”
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The talk of streaks probably will come up more than a few times this week as Kentucky prepares to play host to the No. 20 Gators at Kroger Field on Saturday.
The same Gators that have won 30 consecutive games over Kentucky dating back to 1987, the longest active win streak in the nation.
Still Mark Stoops isn’t sure it’s something that he’ll bring up to his Kentucky players.
“Honestly, I haven’t addressed that before,” the UK coach said Monday. “It’s never been my approach. These guys haven’t been here for 30 years. We’ll see. I’ll go with my gut on how much we’ll talk about that or if at all.”
Every year is a new year, Stoops argued.
But he knows that Kentucky’s players are well aware of the streak. It’s almost become a living, breathing thing in the commonwealth.
“I know these guys hear because the media, social media and everything that’s out there,” Stoops said. “It’s not like you can hide it. They know what’s going on. But I have great confidence in our team that that won’t affect us at all.
“If it gives somebody a little bit of motivation, I hope it gives them motivation on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. I want them getting motivation to prepare.”
Stoops himself is reminded fairly regularly about the 30 years of frustration experienced at the hands of Florida.
He’d like to be the coach to help fix that.
“I take it personally,” he said. “I do. I care. I care about our fan base, I do care about the history, even if I wasn’t here. I want to make our people happy and supportive of our team.
“Past players and all the tradition, the whole deal. It’s important.”
Stoops also urged Kentucky’s fans to do their part to end the streak by showing up at the stadium on Saturday night and rattling the visiting team.
It was something UK experienced firsthand last week at South Carolina where they had a sellout, a blackout and a rowdy crowd that made it hard to function in the first quarter.
Stoops wants to see Kroger Field get that way, too.
“I know our team is looking forward to that and being back home, being in front of them,” he said of the UK fans. “They’re a big piece of what we do and we need their support. They make a difference. Playing at South Carolina and playing in that environment, they make a difference.”
Jordan Jones probably out again
It seems unlikely that linebacker Jordan Jones will be able to play against Florida on Saturday while he continues recovering from an undisclosed shoulder injury.
Kentucky’s coaches did not include the junior weakside linebacker on the Cats’ depth chart for the week, moving up Eli Brown to the starting spot and putting Jamar “Boogie” Watson behind him. Both played well at South Carolina.
Stoops called Jones “doubtful” for the game against the Gators.
“Like I said last week, it would be a stretch,” the coach said. “If something changes I’ll let you know.”
▪ It also appears that little has changed for Florida in relation to its nine players indefinitely suspended while authorities continue to investigate a fraud case. The group, which includes star running back Jordan Scarlett and wide receiver Antonio Callaway, have yet to play this season. None of them have been able to practice or been a part of team activities, either.
The unknowns make it harder to prepare, Stoops said.
“We just prepare for what they’ve done on defense and on offense, what’s on film, what they’ve done last year and a lot of things,” the UK coach said. We’ll just prepare the best we can.”
▪ Florida Coach Jim McElwain said cornerback Duke Dawson is “highly questionable” to play at Kentucky on Saturday because of a head injury.
Dawson left Saturday’s 26-20 victory against Tennessee in the second half, briefly returned and then headed to the sideline for good. He has nine tackles and two interceptions in two games for the Gators. Without him, freshman C.J. Henderson likely would start against the Wildcats.
Dawson, though, was quick to counter McElwain’s prognosis.
The senior took to Twitter and guaranteed he would play.
Two UK players earn league honors
Two Kentucky players earned Southeastern Conference Player of the Week honors after the Cats’ win at South Carolina last week.
Cornerback Derrick Baity was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week and kicker Austin MacGinnis was named Special Teams Player of the Week by the conference.
It’s the fourth time in school history that Kentucky has had at least two players honored for the same game.
Baity was responsible for three takeaways last weekend, including making the initial stop on a pair of fourth-and-1s in the second half and an interception on South Carolina’s final possession.
MacGinnis made three field goals, helping him improve to 6-for-7 this season. The senior’s six kickoffs also helped keep South Carolina star Deebo Samuel from making any big plays like he had previously. It’s MacGinnis’ third honor from the league office.
Time set for Eastern Michigan game
UK’s game against Eastern Michigan at Kroger Field on Sept. 30 will kick off at 4 p.m. and be televised by the SEC Network, the league announced Monday.
Eastern Michigan is 2-0, having defeated Charlotte 24-7 at home and Rutgers 16-13 on the road. Eastern Michigan opens Mid-American Conference play this Saturday at home against Ohio University.
Kentucky has never faced Eastern Michigan in football.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
No. 20 Florida at Kentucky
7:30 p.m. (SEC Network)