Rich Brooks made a keen observation leading off his weekly press conference with the media. It was cold, gray and rainy in Lexington all week, including Friday, when the team left for Auburn.
But when the Wildcats awoke from a 21-14 victory on Sunday, things had changed dramatically.
"The sun was out, vibrant colors on the trees," Brooks said. "It's amazing what a win will do for you."
The win drastically altered expectations for the rest of the season.
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Before the Auburn game, the Cats looked like a team that had a lot of work to do just to attain bowl eligibility for a fourth straight season.
Now, sitting at 3-3 with a three-game homestand that includes Louisiana-Monroe, Mississippi State and Eastern Kentucky followed by a road game at Vanderbilt, Kentucky is looking like a team that could get on a roll.
"We still have six more games left, and we've got to continue to win," senior linebacker Micah Johnson said. "We have an opportunity to win out, and I think we'll do everything we need to do to get the team ready and keep fighting."
Even as they were getting outscored by a combined 79-27 at the hands of Florida and Alabama, Brooks and the Kentucky players still insisted they were a good football team.
They showed some of that the following week at South Carolina and still came up on the short end, but the Auburn win went a long way in validating those beliefs.
"It raised our confidence sky high, and I think we deserved that," Johnson said. "We stressed that the three losses we had were against three of the best teams in the country. We just came back and went to work and prepared for Auburn. Coach Brooks continued to tell us that he thought this was one of the best teams he's had, and we just continued to believe."
Junior offensive lineman Brad Durham agreed.
"We know we can play with these teams, and it didn't shock me, and it shouldn't shock the fans that we have three losses," he said. "Big deal. We knew we'd come back and play our hearts out and see what we've got the rest of the season."
The Wildcats know from experience not to expect a breather this week against Louisiana-Monroe.
The Warhawks came into Commonwealth Stadium in 2006 and were a late two-point conversion away from tying the game before falling 42-40. This year's ULM team is 4-2, with both of its losses coming on the road, to No. 3 Texas (59-20) and to Arizona State (38-14).
"We all know what type of team they are," Brooks said. "As the old saying goes, this is a real football game. It is not going to be an easy thing."
Durham said the Cats aren't overlooking the Warhawks.
"We'll have the same mentality going into this game that we had for Auburn," he said. "Just because they're not an SEC team doesn't mean they can't beat us."
And despite the big win at Auburn, the Cats realize they can't afford any slipups the next few weeks.
"We know that we can be a good team, but we've got to keep proving it," senior offensive lineman Justin Jeffries said. "Everybody doesn't believe yet, so we've got to get everybody on the bandwagon. If we lose any one of these next three games, that could erase what we did at Auburn, and we don't want to do that. That's what's keeping us focused and working hard in practice."
Micah Johnson honored
Kentucky senior linebacker Micah Johnson was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week for his 14-tackle performance against Auburn. Johnson leads the Wildcats in tackles with 52 and is fifth in the SEC in tackles per game (8.7).
Locke doubtful this week
Brooks listed junior running back Derrick Locke as doubtful this week with a medial collateral ligament strain.
The strain is on the right knee, not the left knee on which Locke had surgery last season.
Brooks said senior Alfonso Smith would have an increased role this week after being limited the past two games by a sprained thumb, and junior Moncell Allen and freshman Donald Russell would also move up the depth chart if Locke can't go.
Cornerback Trevard Lindley (ankle) will be out again this week, and a couple of other defensive backs have been hit with the flu bug. Freshman Martavious Neloms became ill on Friday and didn't play at Auburn, and sophomore Taeido Smith is now also experiencing flu-like symptoms.
Newton probable starter
Brooks said he wasn't 100 percent sure of who his starting quarterback would be for the Louisiana-Monroe game, but he said it would "probably" be freshman Morgan Newton.
Randall Cobb took the first snap against Auburn before Newton came in on the second play of the game.
Newton went 5-for-13 for 39 yards, and he rushed for a touchdown before being replaced by junior Will Fidler in the third quarter.
Fidler scored the game-tying touchdown on a 2-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Brooks said both quarterbacks will probably play in the first half against ULM.
Mississippi State kickoff set
Kentucky's Oct. 31 Homecoming game against Mississippi State will kick off at 7 p.m. and be televised by Fox Sports South.