UK FOOTBALL | Cats learn lesson at Mississippi State, change depth chart before Tennessee

10/26/2015 09:19 PM

LEXINGTON — Kentucky entered Starkville on Saturday with hopes of winning its second road game of the season and moving within one game of bowl eligibility, but instead, the Wildcats suffered their worst loss of the season in a 42-16 blowout defeat at Mississippi State.

  • “Just really disappointed in all areas,” UK head coach Mark Stoops said of the blowout defeat during his weekly press conference on Monday. “I think we can definitely coach a heck of a lot better, and we can play better … There are lot of things and blame, and it starts with me. We will get it corrected and move on.”

After its first six games of the season were all decided by eight points or less, the score got out of hand for the Wildcats in the second half against Mississippi State as Heisman hopeful Dak Prescott torched the UK defense for six touchdowns and over 450 yards from scrimmage.

  • “That is a very good football team with an exceptional quarterback,” Stoops said of Prescott. “How anybody is not talking about that guy in the Heisman race, you need to have your head examined … They beat us and outcoached us and played better than we did.”

In response to the lackluster defensive performance, Kentucky announced several changes to the depth chart ahead of this weekends’ home matchup against Tennessee.

Freshman Derrick Baity was promoted to co-starter at the cornerback position with senior Cody Quinn. Baity replaced Quinn during the second half at Mississippi State, joining fellow freshman Chris Westry on the field to give the Wildcats two first-year players at both corner positions.

Junior Marcus McWilson was promoted to co-starter at strong safety with fellow junior Blake McClain, and perhaps the biggest surprise of all was senior A.J. Stamps being demoted to co-starter at free safety with redshirt freshman Mike Edwards.

  • “I think all of us could do a better job, and I think A.J. would be the first to tell you that, too,” Stoops said of his defensive captain. “Sure, he could do a better job, and I do expect a lot out of him. He is a guy that has played a lot of football for us and he has been representing us as a captain. I would think he expects more out of himself as well. Certainly, there are some things, but missed tackles in the open field when you have a guy on the sideline is not good football.”
  • “You have to earn your job every week, and that is just the way it is.”

But despite the poor individual performances on the field, Stoops assured no single player cost the Wildcats the game, promising the UK coaching staff will put the team in better positions to win going forward.

  • “We all share in that,” Stoops said. “You know that. I’m going to own it. There’s things we can do better as a staff. There’s things I can do better. We have to put our players in position to win.”

Next up for Kentucky is a Halloween showdown with rival Tennessee on Saturday night. The Volunteers visit Lexington with a 3-4 record and losers of three of their last four games, including a 19-14 loss at No. 8 Alabama last week.

  • “Regardless of their record, I know how good Tennessee is,” Stoops said of the Volunteers. “A lot like last week, I think they are a physical team with good size and good length and good strength across the board … They are really balanced and just put a lot of pressure on you.”

Kentucky and Tennessee kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.


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