Kentucky faces Missouri Saturday in what many expected to be a pretty even matchup and a chance for a victory in the preseason. That optimism looks a bit misplaced now. Missouri has shocked the country by taking the SEC East by storm and earning a Top Ten ranking. The Wildcats were expected to be healing up after two games in three weeks , including a cake walk against Alabama State. Instead the Cats are more banged up than they were going into this stretch. Tigers quarterback James Franklin, originally thought to be lost for the year, will probably play in Lexington this week.
To say Kentucky is banged dup is an understatement. Starting quarterback Jalen Whitlow isn’t 100% with his ankle and shoulder. Alex Montgomery was lost for the year with an ACL injury. Freshman phenom Ryan Timmons is unlikely to play with a variety of injuries suffered during the game. Power running backs Jonathan George and DyShawn Mobley both exited the ASU game with leg injuries. Pass-rusher Bud Dupree is hampered by a pectoral injury. Obviously Maxwell Smith isn’t healthy. Kevin Mitchell was pulled from the last game.
It couldn’t come at a worse time. This was supposed be the stretch run for this season. A string of games where the grind of the SEC eased up a bit and this young team could make some hay. Now it looks like another grind, trying to just do enough to get by with depleted resources. Kentucky may not surpass last season’s two wins if they can’t get healthy and pull it together during these last four games. Mark Stoops made some comments last week that back-handedly questioned his team’s toughness, they will need to respond in order to compete.
Dinged up players will have to step up, it’s too late in the year to pull redshirts from players who haven’t seen game action. Kentucky is thin on both sides of the ball, they nearly ran out of bodies at some positions against Alabama State. Guys like Daryl Collins, Christian Coleman and Jaleel Hytchye should have ample opportunity to make a bigger impact down the stretch. Some need to because they have been recruited over and others need to because they may not be back next year. One thing is for sure, this team needs all of the support that it can get.