In the minutes following a tough loss at Florida, the last thing Kentucky coaches and players wanted was a whole week to think about it.
"We wish we could play next week, just come back and get a win," senior defensive end Bud Dupree said after the three-overtime defeat at the Swamp.
The bigger concern might have been Kentucky losing some of the momentum it had from coming so close to winning its first Southeastern Conference game since 2011.
But the week off might have been good to reinvigorate the players, get some of them healed up and prepare the Cats for a battle on Saturday against Vanderbilt.
"It always helps just with injuries alone — a lot of bumps and bruises — then fundamentally," Coach Mark Stoops said on Monday. "We need to get better. We used that time to improve in certain areas.
"Players had some time off, coaches were on the road recruiting. We have to get back today, get energy up. We had a good week last week."
The week off also may help Kentucky's offense get close to full strength for the first time this season, including possibly the return of wide receiver Jeff Badet, who had an eye injury in fall camp directly following another freakish leg injury at the end of spring.
Stoops said Badet along with offensive lineman Zach West, who has been battling pain in his neck, "could have a chance to play."
Two players expected to be top playmakers for the Cats this season also could be fully healed for the noon start against the Commodores on Saturday.
Both running back Braylon Heard and wide receiver Javess Blue battled through ankle injuries at Florida, and weren't as effective as hoped.
Heard, who had run for two touchdowns on two carries for 116 yards in UK's opener, had just 39 yards on 12 carries at the Swamp.
"It will be good to have Braylon back," Stoops said. "The off week was good. But he was out there all week. It was good to get him back around the ball."
And Blue, last season's top receiver, didn't catch a pass in Gainesville after being limited in practices leading up to the game.
"So last week we were able to push him, get him in shape, run a bunch of plays," Stoops said. "He held up just fine, so he should be healthy and ready to go."
■ Kentucky also might not be without the services of Alexander Montgomery for much longer. Stoops said the sophomore wide receiver could begin playing soon.
"He's getting close. He's getting close," Stoops said, noting that Montgomery is still building up some strength in his leg, especially the quadriceps muscle. "So he's very close. He wants to go."
Positive recruiting vibe?
A weekend off meant Stoops and staff were able to spend some time on the road recruiting. When asked about it, Stoops said the three-overtime loss to Florida left a good taste in recruits' mouths.
"I think there was a positive vibe out there that recruits know we're getting better, and they see it," Stoops said.
He believes Kentucky has shown it is improving on a weekly basis, which recruits want to see.
"I do think it's important for us to show progress; I've never hid from that," he said. "I don't define that all the time with wins and losses. We know how important wins are."
Over the underdog
Stoops is keenly aware that Kentucky is riding a 17-game losing streak to league opponents, with the Cats' last win over an SEC team (versus Tennessee in November, 2011) coming before he was even the head coach.
Like fans, he's hopeful that will change this season, maybe even this weekend against Vanderbilt (1-2).
"We'd sure like to get one, that's for sure," he said of a league win. "We work extremely hard each week to go out and put ourselves in a position to win."
But as for the Las Vegas odds makers making UK a double-digit favorite over Vanderbilt, which has topped Kentucky 100-14 combined over the past three seasons, Stoops isn't listening.
"Don't pay much attention to it," he said. "But certainly need to be a team that's very hungry. I think our team has played that way this year. We need to stay that way."
Even though construction has cut Commonwealth Stadium capacity to 62,093, the venue has been far from packed with an average of just 51,154 for the first two home games against Tennessee-Martin and then Ohio.
UK is trying to make sure the crowd is considerably larger for the game against the Commodores, including discounting a limited number of general admission tickets to $20 for upper levels.
Tickets are available online at www.ukfootballtix.com. Fans can click on the "student general admission" section in the top right of the seating map to purchase the tickets.
Stoops said he appreciates the fans that have come to games, especially with construction complications.
"I appreciate people that come out and support us in a tough time, a rebuild," he said. "We're trying to do our part. We greatly appreciate the great support we do get and the loyal fans that we have."
The head coach noted that having strong fan support at home against a young Vanderbilt team is important.
■ The Southeastern Conference announced a 7:30 p.m. kickoff for the Cats' Oct. 4 game versus South Carolina at Commonwealth Stadium. The game will air on SEC Network.