Through two games this season, Kentucky is averaging just 48,678 fans per game at Kroger Field, which is more than 12,000 below its capacity.
The Cats’ players and coaches said they’re hopeful that many more will show up for the Southeastern Conference showdown against No. 14 Mississippi State on Saturday night.
“I just hope and expect to have a great crowd,” Stoops said. “I’m sure we will. The Big Blue Nation has not disappointed us in these big opportunities. The team is excited about being here and being in this environment and working extremely hard this week to give ourselves an opportunity to win.”
Several of UK’s biggest wins in recent seasons have been on the road, including at Florida two weeks ago. Others have been at South Carolina and at Louisville.
It would be fun to get one at home, where UK hasn’t had a sellout since this time a year ago against Florida when 62,945 packed Kroger Field for a loss. UK also has announced plans to stripe the stadium blue and white by alternating colors per section.
“It’s a big opportunity against a ranked opponent at home,” Stoops said. “A lot of reasons why it’s a big game, and part of that is to win at home in a good environment like we’re going to have and I expect this week.”
Injury, depth chart updates
Kentucky was without two starting defenders on Saturday against Murray State in nose guard Quinton Bohanna (ankle) and outside linebacker Boogie Watson (calf), but Stoops said both should be ready for the game on Saturday.
▪ True freshman tight end Keaton Upshaw was hurt in practice last week and will miss the remainder of the season, Stoops announced on Monday.
▪ After no changes on the UK depth chart a week ago, there were a couple on the offensive side of the ball heading into the SEC home opener, including moving running back A.J. Rose ahead of Sihiem King and removing the “OR” between them. Kentucky also moved up Allen Dailey, who had a difficult 23-yard touchdown late in the game against Murray State. Dailey, a true freshman, is at second string now behind Dorian Baker.
▪ At his news conference on Monday, Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead announced that Jamal Peters will not play. He is ninth on the team in tackles with eight. The senior cornerback, a third-team All-SEC selection in the preseason voting, has played in 39 career games with 10 starts. He has also returned two kicks this season for 32 yards.
News and notes
Mississippi State is working with a new head coach after Dan Mullen left for Florida, and while much of what the Bulldogs do is similar, there have been some differences.
“There are some things that carry over,” Stoops said of new coach Joe Moorhead, a former Penn State offensive coordinator. Then you see his wrinkle, his nuances with the offense and what he’s doing. They’re still very, very good and still very physical.”
UK’s coach didn’t know Moorhead well, but has enjoyed getting to know the new Bulldogs boss during SEC events.
“Just really impressed with him,” Stoops said. “Really good person. You know he’s a sharp football mind, but I really enjoyed being around him. Really pleasant guy. Good guy.”
And apparently the way to Stoops’ heart is through his stomach.
“We both share an affinity for Italian restaurants so he gave me one when we were at the meetings,” the UK coach added with a laugh of Moorhead.
▪ Kentucky’s game against South Carolina on Sept. 29 will be played at 7:30 p.m. on the SEC Network, the league announced on Monday afternoon. The Cats have played at night in every SEC game so far this season.
No. 14 Mississippi State at Kentucky
7 p.m. (ESPN2)