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Strong, Players Preview Kentucky

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Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Charlie Strong:


--This is a major test. "All games are big games, but let's face it, some games are bigger than others. Some carry a little more significance than others, and this is one of those games."

--Not only this a rivalry game, but it's our first road test. They have an explosive offense as everyone saw last week. They're very balanced and they play a very up-tempo style that forces you to get set quickly and in the right position.

--Their defense is very aggressive and they can create a lot of issues for us.

--We know what type of environment we're walking into. We've got to pack our defense, pack our kicking game, pack our discipline and our togetherness, and we've got to play a complete game for 60 minutes.

--They have two different quarterbacks who play two different styles. Smith is more of a thrower and Whitlow is more of an athlete, and that can create some issues for us.

--What they try to do on offense is wear you down with their tempo. They get right up to the line, which is something we have to be ready for.

--The biggest problem with our kickoff coverage last week was that our contain guys didn't do a very good job. We were trying to pin them in the corner, and their returners were able to break a couple of returns to the wide side of the field where no one was. We have to keep containment on those. A perfect kickoff would go out of the endzone, but our kicks haven't been the issue, it's been our coverage.

--We would have liked to have played a lot better than what we did against Eastern Kentucky.

--The standards have been raised here. We talked about improvement in past years, and they didn't really know what it meant. Guys understand that now, they know what it takes to get better.

--Kentucky's scheme doesn't change much when they switch quarterbacks. The only difference is they will run Whitlow when he's in there. He had two long runs against Western. It doesn't matter who's in the game for them at quarterback, we just have to make sure we're getting aligned.

--We need to be more physical and aggressive in the run game. Guys have to stay on their blocks and our backs have to run downfield. Sometimes the blocks aren't there and you have to run through tacklers. Our backs can't let the first guy through take them down.

--I figured Lorenzo Mauldin would play in the Ohio game even after that accident. He's a guy who goes hard every snap, he's going to give you everything he got. He's a fun guy to watch. Sometimes you have to just slow him down.

--Rivalries are great. I know the series was dropped at one point, but we need to play UK. It's great for the state and it's great for the fans.

--(On what DeVante Parker needs to work on) DeVante has to work on his complete game. He has to be a complete player who runs block, and he's also got to be into every snap. He needs to go hard even on plays where the ball isn't being thrown up to him.

--When teams have something to play for, it becomes a bigger game. This game is going to continue to have more and more meaning because of the battles you're seeing on the recruiting trail.

--Michael Dyer's still learning the offense for us.

--We should have all the same guys available this week that we had available last week.

--Sheldon Rankins played a few snaps last Saturday, but he's still not 100%. We just wanted to get him back into the game mode.

--Making sure all the backs get the touches they need is a concern. When a guy gets into a groove, you have to just let him stay out there and keep playing, but that hasn't happened yet. We're waiting for one of the three backs to step up and take a game over. It's hard for that to happen right now because of the way we're rotating them, but eventually we're going to have one guy who gets the bulk of the carries. But even then we're going to be playing at least two backs every game.

Brandon Dunn:

Robert Clark and Gerald Christian: