Cryptic tweets already are getting Kentucky’s Lynn Bowden more attention than his play on the field.
“There’s no issue,” Coach Mark Stoops said at Monday news conference when asked about the social media posts. “We’ll continue to manage our players. That’s what they play me to do. We’ll be fine. Lynn’s a good kid, works hard.”
Having players who want to play every snap isn’t anything new, and the Kentucky head coach added that he sees it as a good thing.
“We can manage things like that very easily,” Stoops added.
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What exactly was the brouhaha?
Shortly after the game in which Bowden didn’t have any catches or targets nor any carries on special teams, the four-star wide receiver tweeted: “Played me” followed by three emojis, two of laughing until crying and the last one of sleeping.
The tweet was deleted shortly after that.
Bowden also tweeted twice on Sunday about struggling since he arrived in Lexington and being “this close,” but it was unclear if either of those tweets were related directly to his limited action in the opener.
“We have a good team and they are unselfish,” Stoops continued later in the news conference to preview Eastern Kentucky, noting that it’s OK to want more playing time. “But like I always tell them: Make us play you by your preparation and what you do during the week and how you show up and practice. Don’t give us an opportunity to not play you.”
Bowden isn’t the first potential star to not see much action in the opener. Running back Benny Snell, who ended up being a Southeastern Conference Freshman All-America, didn’t have a carry in the first two games for UK.
Stoops said that was a great example.
“(Snell) wasn’t a factor at all in those first two games and that’s all anybody talked about by the end of the year,” Stoops continued. “It’s a great example and we’ll continue to preach that.”
‘I care about those kids’
It wasn’t even Eastern Kentucky game week and Dean Hood already was being asked about his potential emotions leading up to the game against his former team on Saturday.
“I’m sure I’ll get on the sideline and see those kids I recruited, see the kids I sat in their parents’ home and said, ‘Hey, I’m gonna take care of your son’ and wasn’t able to see it to graduation for a lot of those kids,” said Hood, who was head coach of the Colonels for eight seasons before he was let go in 2015.
“I’m sure it’ll hit me then and be emotional. But that’s all it will be. I care about those kids,” he continued. “It won’t be anything about anything to do with how things were handled at Eastern. I went to Charlotte and got healed from all that. That’s all water under the bridge.”
Hood likely will come in handy this week if Stoops needs to help Kentucky’s players remember just how close Hood’s EKU team came to upsetting the Cats in 2015.
Kentucky needed overtime to limp away with the 34-27 victory.
“We were very fortunate as y’all know, just to go into overtime and win the game the last time we played them,” Stoops reminded. “EKU’s going to be very fired up to come in and play.”
The UK coach said he might have Hood talk to the team about just how ready the Colonels will be to play Kentucky again this time, too.
“He probably feels robbed because they outplayed us and outcoached us,” Stoops said of the 2015 game.
A few former Cats still dot the Colonels’ roster as well, including wide receiver Cameron Fogle, a former UK walk-on, and Jared Tucker, a defensive back from Stone Mountain, Ga.
Fogle was fourth on the team in receptions and receiving yards with 22 catches for 246 yards, including two touchdown catches.
Last season, Tucker played in eight games and made six starts before being sidelined by an injury. He had 32 tackles, one interception and four pass breakups in those eight games. He recorded one tackle in a 31-17 loss at Western Kentucky last week.
Other news, notes
Kentucky’s players suffered some cramps during the game, which Stoops said isn’t unusual or unexpected. Several players like safety Mike Edwards and cornerback Chris Westry both received intravenous fluids during the game.
On the 46-yard kickoff return for Sihiem King, Stoops said it looked like it could’ve been a touchdown if not for the running back experiencing some cramping and going inside instead of staying outside.
“Kick returners have to trust their speed at that moment and he had it,” Stoops said. “He didn’t trust it, but he was cramping up. So I’m glad it wasn’t pulled. I think if he hits it outside, it’s most definitely a touchdown.”
Other than the hydration issues, Stoops said he didn’t anticipate injuries that occurred during the game lingering into this week.
“We’re in relatively good shape,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes. I got an update this morning and there’s nothing to inform you all on at this point. We’ll see how it goes throughout the week, but I anticipate everyone should be able to play.”
▪ Another running back, A.J. Rose, had a physical setback late in the preseason, which was at least part of the reason he didn’t get a carry in the opener, Stoops confirmed.
When asked where the redshirt freshman fits in the running back rotation, Stoops said: “He’ll get going. … He was just a little bit banged up and missed a few days. With young guys sometimes, that sets you back a little bit. So he’ll get in there and get going.”