UK FOOTBALL | Coaches' bye week warning: "We can lose to anyone"

10/08/2015 04:39 PM

LEXINGTON — After a school record five consecutive games decided by eight points or less, the 4-1 Kentucky Wildcats are glad to have a bye this week to rest and get healthy for the rest of the season.

UK has a monster tilt against the Auburn Tigers scheduled for next Thursday — the first primetime Thursday night game in program history.

But the Kentucky coaching staff hasn’t moved on completely from last week’s near fatal scare from FCS foes Eastern Kentucky, needing a 14-point rally in the final minutes of regulation to force overtime and escape with a way-too-close 34-27 victory.

“I think it will help us; it has to help us,” head coach Mark Stoops said after practice on Wednesday night. “We’ve been in that situation [after the Florida loss], and we responded the next week and came back and played much better against Missouri. Hopefully, we’ll learn from that [EKU] game and all the close games we’ve had.”

But offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson took a more cautioning approach to the near loss against the Colonels, warning the Wildcats how important it is to play with full effort against every opponent.

“It’s unfortunate we were in that situation. It really was,” Dawson said. “Obviously, I give a lot of credit to Eastern Kentucky. Those guys had a great plan and played extremely hard. They played harder than we did. That’s the point of the lesson is — and Coach Stoops said it in the team meeting — when we play with effort and an edge, we can beat anybody in America. We can play with anybody in America. When we don’t, we can get beat by anybody in America, and that’s football today.

“Thankful to God, we’re having a learning lesson on a positive note, not a negative note, you know? We’re fortunate to get out of that game, and we understand that and we have to do a better job as coaches and a better job as players, but we’re gonna sit there and we’re going to use the coaching points that are in place, too, to move forward.

“The bottom line is: If you don’t come out there with an edge and an attitude to compete and win your one-on-one matchups, then anybody in the nation can beat you.”

Click below to watch KSTV’s discussion on what Kentucky learned from the EKU game and how it will hopefully serve as a cautionary lesson for the rest of the season:


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