LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) – Don’t tell Rich Brooks that Alabama isn’t the best team in the country.
Despite being undefeated through four games, Brooks stressed Monday that Saturday’s game at No. 2 Alabama will be a huge obstacle for the Wildcats against not just a strong Southeastern Conference opponent, but a “borderline great team.”
Brooks hailed Alabama’s domination through five games this season, including the Crimson Tide’s drubbing of Georgia last Saturday. Though Brooks admits the Wildcats will have to play a “near perfect” game to win, he doesn’t expect his team to be a pushover by any means.
“We’re not going to be cannon fodder like we were in other years,” he said.
If the Wildcats want to stay close, they’ll have to do it with defense. The Wildcats have not allowed a rushing touchdown this season and have given up just two touchdowns total so far.
Their play has gotten the attention of Alabama coach Nick Saban, who called the Wildcat defense the best in the nation.
Brooks, for his part, was still unsure about that.
“We will have to see whether our ability to really stop the run has improved against a team that takes great pride in lining up and telling you they’re going to bloody your nose and then going about bloodying your nose time after time, after time, after time,” Brooks said.
In Alabama (5-0, 2-0 SEC), the Wildcats will face a radical change in offensive schemes. Kentucky’s last two opponents – Middle Tennessee State and Western Kentucky – both used a spread offense with mixed success. Alabama uses what Brooks called an effective “football 101.”
Despite that, linebacker Johnny Williams said the Kentucky defense will be looking forward to something more basic.
“A lot of teams run the same types of plays out of those offenses, and with our defense, we got a lot of experience out there and we know how it looks,” Williams said. “When you know what’s coming, you know the tendencies a little better.”
Kentucky has relied on its defense to bail out the less experienced offense at times this year. Quarterback Mike Hartline, though, has managed to stick to mistake-free football and has kept the offense from self-destructing. The Wildcats still lack consistency in what can be an explosive running game.
“I don’t want to say (the defense) will carry the day, but I do believe that we’ll come out and play well,” defensive tackle Corey Peters said. “I think the offense is improving every week. They’ve come light years since camp. If we have to carry them, we’re prepared to do so, but hopefully that won’t be the case.”
Offensive tackle Justin Jeffries is out indefinitely with a torn MCL in his knee sustained in the Wildcats’ win over Western Kentucky. Linebacker Micah Johnson, defensive tackle Ricky Lumpkin and quarterback Randall Cobb will all practice lightly this week but are doubtful for Saturday’s game.
Strong safety Ashton Cobb has been suspended from the university after being arrested Friday for allegedly sending threatening text and voicemail messages to his ex-girlfriend.