Jen Smith on UK Football

Practice report: How is UK prepping for a team that averages 80 plays a game? And a battle of the freshman sensations

▪  Quick work: The scout team and Kentucky’s offense have done what they can to prepare the defense for facing a Missouri team that is coming off its second game of the season with 100-plus plays. “We must’ve defended 13 plays in 30 seconds,” defensive back Blake McClain said on Wednesday after practice. “It was fast.” It was necessary as UK prepares to take on a Tigers team that ran 104 plays against Middle Tennessee last week, tied for second most in school history. Missouri also ran 100 plays against West Virginia earlier this season. There have been plenty of ways that Kentucky can prepare to pick up the pace. “We have to have a lot of substitutions,” defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said. “We have to have a lot of guys play. We need to play with high energy every down, and we need to make sure we have high urgency, and those are the things we’re emphasizing this week in practice.”

▪  Same old? Same old? Just a few days after Austin MacGinnis kicked a 51-yard field goal as time expired to give Kentucky a comeback win over Mississippi State, not much has changed in the kicker’s life. He admitted that he “may be a little more popular” in classes this week, but wasn’t offering up much. “Same old. Same old,” he told reporters “They brought me here to kick the football, so that’s why I did.”

▪  Battle of the freshman stars: Two of the league’s top running backs will face off on Saturday at Missouri with the Tigers’ Demarea Crockett and UK’s Benny Snell. Crockett has had three 100-yard rushing games so far this season, coming off a career-best 158 yards and four touchdowns last week against Middle Tennessee. On the season, Crockett has 83 carries for 546 yards and seven scores and averages 6.6 yards per carry. “He’s tough; he’s a hard runner,” Eliot said. “He’s fast. He’s a lot like Boom (Williams). It’s a guy that we have to keep contained.” Snell has 80 carries for 469 yards and six touchdowns and is averaging 5.86 yards a carry for the Cats.

▪  Quick injury update: On the Southeastern Conference coaches’ teleconference Mark Stoops was asked if he expected running back Jojo Kemp (hand injury) and left tackle Landon Young (ankle) to be play at Missouri on Saturday. His answer? A simple “Yes.”

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