UK Football

Wildcats are Razorback edgy

It's been an edgy week around the University of Kentucky football camp.

The Wildcats are 4-2, but judging by the climate, you'd think the sky was falling.

A 24-17 loss to South Carolina brought a rash of post-game emotions from talk-radio callers and Internet hounds, who weighed in on everything from the Mike Hartline/Randall Cobb quarterback debate, UK's struggling offense, and Brooks in general.

Brooks, who always stays in tune with media and fan reaction, isn't oblivious to what's going on around him as the Wildcats host Arkansas (3-3, 1-3) Saturday night.

"I see all the crap," Brooks said, before adding tongue-in-cheek, "I guess it's a really, really, really, really critical game."

Once the Southeastern Conference games begin, Brooks gets asked each week about the magnitude of the upcoming game. And he usually gives the same answer.

"We want to have a good year, so every game is important to us," he said. "Last week's game was important. So was the one two weeks ago, so was the fourth one, so was the first one, so is next week, and so is this one. You only get 12 chances, and we obviously want to have a good enough record to be in post-season, and we want to be a team that can challenge on our side of the league, so every game is important. One isn't any more important than the other."

While the Cats may be a little antsy, Coach Bobby Petrino and the Hogs come in on an uptick following a signature 25-22 win at Auburn last week. The Razorbacks had been outscored in its first three SEC games by a score of 139-31.

"Definitely it's easier on everybody," Petrino said. "You see a difference in the coaches. You see a difference in the coaches' wives. It makes you feel like all the hard work and effort paid off."

The Arkansas game was just another example of what has been a topsy-turvy SEC season. UK junior tailback Alfonso Smith said he was taken aback by both the Arkansas-Auburn game and Florida's 51-21 win over LSU.

"The LSU game really shocked me," he said. "Nobody expected that type of game. It's just crazy how the SEC plays out all year. Any week a team can come out and get a win against anybody. Look at Arkansas. That's why we've got to come ready to play every week."

For UK, Hartline figures to be under the microscope following his worst game of the season last week. Brooks said Hartline had one of his best practices on Thursday when the Cats worked out in rainy conditions at the Nutter Training Facility.

"He was in bad weather and it was the best he's thrown it all year," Brooks said.

Freshman Randall Cobb may see some action at quarterback Saturday, but Brooks said he's been pleased with how Hartline has handled himself, shooting down rumors that there have been leadership issues.

"I think he's doing a really good job of that," Brooks said. "I've heard some criticism of that, and that's a bunch of baloney."

Instead of getting too technical and offering a bunch of X's and O's solutions, Brooks had a simple answer to what UK has to do to get back on track.

"We've just got to get it right," Brooks said. "That's all."