The University of Kentucky football team has played only three games, but an open date couldn't have come at a better time.
For one, the Wildcats are dealing with a handful of injuries to key players. UK Coach Rich Brooks said on Sunday that middle linebacker Micah Johnson, quarterback Randall Cobb and defensive tackle Ricky Lumpkin are out indefinitely with high ankle sprains. Brooks said the UK medical staff should know more about the severity of the injuries on Monday, but all three players were doubtful for Kentucky's game with Western Kentucky on Sept. 27. The time frame for high ankle sprains can be anywhere from two to six weeks, depending on the severity of the sprain.
In addition to nursing injuries, Brooks also has a lot of evaluating to do on the depth chart following a 20-14 win over Middle Tennessee, which clearly outplayed the Cats.
"We'll try to get some young guys some more reps and look at our past three games and evaluate our play, what we're doing right and what we're doing wrong, and who's doing it right and who's doing it wrong," Brooks said. "If the ones doing it wrong don't start getting better at it, there will be switches made."
Brooks said that how the players' practice over the next two weeks will determine who gets into or out of the lineup.
"We're going to evaluate all the positions and emphasize that performance in practice will lead to playing time in the next game," he said. "We're not just going to turn something over to somebody without them earning it on the practice field."
The place-kicking position will be under the microscope this week after Lones Seiber missed four of his six attempts against MTSU. Brooks said he'll give looks to redshirt freshman Ryan Tydlacka and senior J.J. Housley. Housley started the 2006 season as the No. 1 place-kicker while Seiber was sidelined with an injury. Housley was 7-for-8 on PAT's but missed his only field-goal attempt.
Brooks did spare Seiber the blame on the blocked field-goal attempt late in the fourth quarter, saying a miscommunication on the sideline led to an incorrect protection call.
"It was an easy block for them," Brooks said. "That was just a very, very bad error."
The wide receiver position also figures to be in a state of flux after an uneven performance on Saturday. Several times the receivers failed to pick up the right signals and also struggled with drops and incorrect routes. Brooks said he plans to narrow the rotation from eight players to six.
Cobb, UK's backup quarterback, hurt the ankle early in the game while playing wide receiver. Johnson had nine tackles, two for loss, before going down in the second quarter.
"He was all over the field," Brooks said of Johnson. "It was his best game by far since he's been here. His reads were great; he was physical at the point of attack. He was a dominant force on the inside.
Brooks said Will Fidler will work as the No. 2 quarterback behind Mike Hartline in Cobb's absence.
Linebacker Braxton Kelley will slide over to middle linebacker to replace Johnson. Kelley was a three-year starter at middle linebacker before moving to the weak side this year to get Johnson in the lineup.
Junior Michael Schwindel and true freshman Danny Trevathan will fill in for Kelley on the weak side.