Brooks Calls UK-LSU Clash a "Reality Check"

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- If Rich Brooks had any job in America other than Kentucky football coach, he would have thoroughly enjoyed the classic battle between top-ranked Louisiana State and defending national champion Florida.

Considering his current occupation, Brooks had to watch the Tigers' 28-24 comeback victory Saturday, but he didn't like what he saw.

"It was a great game, then I had the reality check -- these are the two teams I've got to play the next two weeks," Brooks said Monday.

A week after tumbling at South Carolina, the No. 17 Wildcats (5-1, 1-1) face back-to-back home games that should determine whether they have any shot at reaching their goal of challenging for a Southeastern Conference championship.

For the second straight year, LSU (6-0, 3-0) will go a long way toward defining Kentucky's season. Last year, expectations were high in Lexington when the Wildcats headed to Baton Rouge and were pounded 49-0.

This Kentucky team, which already has victories over Louisville and Arkansas to its credit, appears better than that squad, which went on to win the Music City Bowl. But LSU also has a better team than last year, when it won the Sugar Bowl and was dominant down the stretch, Brooks said.

"We haven't seen a team yet this year that is going to give us the problems this one is going to give us," Brooks said. "I'm just hopeful we can get into the fourth quarter with an opportunity to win this game."

Kentucky defensive tackle Corey Peters said he fell asleep watching Florida and LSU play Saturday night, assuming the Gators had won. This week, the Wildcats have a chance to stop the chorus of doubters that seems to be starting up again, he said.

"It's an opportunity to regain some of the respect we lost last week," Peters said.

Lately, Kentucky has been slow out of the gate but picked it up in the second half. That was enough to win against Florida Atlantic, and even Arkansas and Louisville, but the veterans know an experienced Tigers team is tough when behind and almost impossible to beat when ahead.

"They know how to put their foot on your throat, and they won't let you do anything," Kentucky receiver Keenan Burton said.

Kentucky's offense, which has effectively balanced Andre Woodson's passing game and a four-headed rushing attack, could get a huge hit Saturday if top-rusher Rafael Little is unable to play. Brooks said Little is questionable with a nagging thigh injury, and third-stringer Alfonso Smith also might not be available.

To have a chance, the Wildcats will need to find a way to move the ball up the middle, even though Glenn Dorsey -- one of the nation's most dominant defensive linemen -- will be waiting.

"Dorsey is a man among boys," Brooks said. "Their ends will be the best pair of ends we've seen. Trying to run the ball is extremely difficult, and the pass protection is also very difficult."

So how does Kentucky have a chance in this one? The players point out it's been a season of upsets in college football, including Appalachian State over Michigan, Syracuse over Louisville and, most recently, Stanford over Southern Cal.

"I'm not thinking about LSU last year," Burton said. "I'm thinking about LSU this year. We have a chance to win."

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