NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Kentucky football team continued preparations for the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl with a two and one-half hour practice at Vanderbilt on Thursday.
Members of the team will have the opportunity to attend a Christmas Eve service late Thursday afternoon at a Nashville church. Then the entire travel group -- players, coaches and support staff -- will gather for a team dinner Thursday night.
Because of the game date of Dec. 27, the team has to be in the midst of game preparations on Christmas Day. The team will go through its regular routine on Friday, with meetings, film sessions and practice. There will be a special treat on Friday night as many of the players will attend the National Football League game between Tennessee and San Diego.
“It’s a different feeling, obviously, because the previous three bowl games the players were able to spend a couple of days at home for Christmas and then come to the site and practice,” Coach Rich Brooks said after Thursday’s practice.
Brooks also was asked about the difficulties of taking on the Clemson defense and offense. The Tigers are the champions of the Atlantic Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“This will be a big challenge for our offensive line, no question,” Brooks said. “They do a good job against the run. They’ve very good pass rushers. They also cover well on the back end. It’s going to be a real challenge not to get a lot of players in our backfield, passing and running.
“This is a big, physical offensive line as well, much like we’ve seen in the SEC. Our (defensive) guys have to do a good job. Clemson is capable of just taking the ball and running it down our throat and they’re capable of throwing it all over the field as well. The quarterback has done a great job getting the ball to their tight ends, receivers and backs, so they spread it around and our defense is going to be challenged the whole evening.”
As usual, the prospect of containing Clemson All-America running back C.J. Spiller is daunting.
“He’s the real deal, whether he’s returning kickoffs or catching the ball coming out of the backfield,” Brooks said. “They don’t just run him on little flat routes, they run him right down the middle of the defense. They do a lot of shifting and motion trying to get mismatches, especially in pass coverage, then try to catch you in a deficiency on one side of the ball or the other and run the ball to that side with Spiller. He’s extremely dangerous so we always have to know where he is.”
Brooks also reported that freshman wide receiver La’Rod King, who missed Wednesday’s workout because of flu, returned to practice on Thursday.
Kentucky will practice on Wednesday and Thursday before taking on Clemson on Sunday, Dec. 27, at 8:30 p.m. EST (7:30 p.m. CST). The game will be played at LP Field and will be televised by ESPN.
All Wildcat Fans Invited to Tailgate With UK Alumni Association at LP Field: Join fellow Wildcat fans at the official UK Alumni Association Tailgate Party at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn., on Sunday, Dec. 27, from 4:30 – 6:30 CST. The tent will be located in the LP Field Parking Lot (South End Zone), Titans Way. UK will meet Clemson in the 12th annual Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. CST.
The pregame fun will include a BBQ pork meal with sides, tea and water (other drinks will be available for purchase) and entertainment by UK alum Josh London. The UK band and cheerleaders will make an appearance. Admission is $15 for students, $20 for members and $25 for nonmembers. The tent is enclosed and will be heated if necessary.
To register for the event, visit www.ukalumni.net/bowlgame
“Cat Walk” Set for 5:15 p.m. Central Time: Fans wishing to participate in the “Cat Walk,” cheering the Wildcats when they enter LP Field prior to the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl, should gather at 5:15 p.m. Central time. Here’s the info, as provided by “Cat Walk” guru Scott McGehee:
The buses will stop at the corner of Victory Avenue and South 2nd St. New to this year’s walk, the team will stroll down the middle of South 2nd St., which will be closed to traffic. Team will enter the stadium at the East Service Entrance.