ICYMI: Cats use bye week for service


Sep 13, 2014; Gainesville, FL, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops reacts during overtime against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Florida Gators defeated the Kentucky Wildcats 36-30. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, just 3 days removed from the Florida loss, we heard an overwhelming majority of the players say they’d rather not have a bye week and just continue as if this was a normal game week situation. Stoops agreed he would rather take that momentum they had down into the swamp and channel it into game week prep, “”If it was up to me, I think I’d love to go play,” Stoops said. “Guys are in good spirits. We have a lot left in our tank. We got a lot more we can do, a lot better things and we’re excited to go to work. I wish we were playing, but we’ll deal with it the way it is.” Stoops did say, however, said while he wishes they could play this weekend, they should go into the Vanderbilt game “near 100%” injury-wise.

Sep 13, 2014; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel (6) runs with the ball during overtime against the Kentucky Wildcats at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Florida Gators defeated the Kentucky Wildcats 36-30. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Stoops along with DJ Eliot and Neal Brown all agreed that this bye-week was the perfect opportunity to see more of the freshman that haven’t seen the field as much and to get some extra work in with the redshirt guys. They mentioned Drew Barker, Thaddeus Snodgrass and T.V. Williams specifically.

Sep 6, 2014; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats wide receiver T.V. Williams (82) before the game against the Ohio Bobcats at Commonwealth Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

So does losing the “momentum” hurt us more than rest and working with the freshman helps us? In my opinion, no. Sure the momentum from 2 wins and a great triple OT game in the Swamp would have been great going into Vandy- who has beat us the last 2 years. But, Kentucky is favored against Vanderbilt this season and I think a healthy Javess Blue and Braylon Heard will be extremely important- a possible difference maker- facing South Carolina, Georgia, LSU and even ULM. And if this week can help a freshman to go in there and be able to make an impact in conference play, which will likely require more subs just because of the physicality of the SEC, then I think the loss of “momentum” is worth it. Per the coaches the players have been in good spirits all week and are already starting some Vanderbilt prep.

The players have channeled their energy into another cause this week. You may have heard the name Kelly Melton, Kelly is an 8-year-old boy who has been battling leukemia since he was 6. You may recognize the name…Nerlens Noel took Melton to the Kentucky Derby two years ago and other UK football and basketball players frequent him at UK’s hospital when he is there for treatments. In honor of national childhood cancer awareness month, one UK football player, Max Strong, and Nerlens Noel started a website to take donations to help with Kelly’s bills- their goal is $100,000. You can donate and read more about his family’s story


. Dozens of UK athletes have rallied behind this cause. In addition, they started the whipped cream challenge (similar to the ice bucket challenge) to raise awareness- several football and basketball players and Coach Stoops accepted this challenge.