UK Football

Georgia still a big deal to Cats

Georgia Coach Mark Richt noted earlier this week that the University of Kentucky defense features a pair of Georgia products in cornerback Trevard Lindley and linebacker Braxton Kelley.

"They have some Georgia flair to them," Richt said.

The Wildcats are hoping some of that "Georgia flair" can lead to a second win over the Bulldogs in three seasons when the teams kick off at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium.

Kelley and Lindley played big roles in a 24-20 UK victory the last time the Bulldogs came to Lexington.

Kelley had 10 tackles, and Lindley's interception of a Matthew Stafford pass late in the fourth quarter sealed the game for the Cats. Kentucky jumped out to a 10-0 lead at Georgia last season, but the Bulldogs scored on their first two possessions of the second half and hung on for a 24-13 win.

Kelley said a win over Georgia would mean more this time around, noting that the 2006 team that UK knocked off came in unranked and finished 9-4 on the season. Despite lopsided losses to Alabama and Florida, Georgia comes in ranked 14th.

"That would be huge for our program," Kelley said. "It would put us higher on the map, and with me being from Georgia it means a lot. Nobody expected us to win (in 2006), and that wasn't their best year. But most of the years it didn't matter. When Kentucky played Georgia, (Georgia fans) marked that a win every time. But people don't do that anymore. They actually give us a chance now."

Georgia's emotional state figures to be a storyline.

The Bulldogs were the chic pre-season national title pick, but they have fallen out of the picture after a 49-10 loss to Florida last week. Georgia also was run off the field by Alabama earlier this season.

Early-afternoon kickoffs can often be the perfect recipe for sleepwalking, but Richt is happy with the start time.

"We have to play another game here as soon as possible," Richt said. "I'm glad we have a 12:30 kickoff; the sooner the better for us. We have to get back to work and get back to playing football."

This is a series that Georgia has dominated, especially over the past 17 years. Since 1991, the Bulldogs have won 15 of the 17 contests, including nine in a row before the UK victory two years ago.

Kentucky defensive end Ventrell Jenkins said his school's win in 2006 changed the mentality around the UK program.

"I think that was the time that we no longer accepted moral victories," Jenkins said. "We'd walk around campus and a lot of people would pat us on our backs after we'd come close to beating one of the big-name schools. But you can see the attitude now that if we lose to one of those teams, guys are really down. That's a good thing."

Like Georgia, Kentucky also was trounced by Florida. But every other league game has been a barn-burner for the Wildcats (6-3, 2-3).

"I don't think we're in a position anymore where we're intimidated by anybody," Coach Rich Brooks said. "It's whether we play well enough in our own game that makes a difference, and certainly we had one game this year where we didn't come close to doing that in any phase.

"All of the other games, we've played pretty well and played with confidence. Two or three plays decided the games we won and the games we lost."

With Vanderbilt, Tennessee and a bowl game to follow, Kentucky has a chance to surpass its win total from the past two seasons in what many labeled a rebuilding year.

"I know it's not pretty, I know it's not always aesthetically pleasing, but we're finding ways to win games," Brooks said. "To me that's the mark of a program trying to establish itself as a viable team year in and year out rather than occasional blip on the radar."