Cats head into weekend opener with quiet confidence

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The experts from Las Vegas have tabbed Louisville as a 14-point favorite in this Sunday's annual matchup with Kentucky. But the players and coaches who will make the trip west on I-64 could care less.

Matt Smith, UK's starting center, is a Louisville native. He welcomes the opportunity to play as an underdog.

"When we hear that negative stuff from outside, we just try to keep it out of our locker room and just focus on ourselves," he said after Tuesday's practice. "We've built alot of team chemistry over the summer and all the talk that's going on outside isn't going to win the game on Sunday."

Coach Joker Phillips said his team will use the negative talk as motivation.

"That's what I'm accustomed to," Phillips said on Tuesday. "We've always been in this position, even when we thought we had some good teams here, that finished pretty good. We take it for what it's worth."

Redshirt freshman Zach West will line up next to Smith on the UK offensive line, getting the start at left guard. He says the Wildcats have something to prove, especially after last year's loss to Louisville, when the UK offensive line gave up six sacks.

"You can't hype yourself up and everyone enjoys being the underdog around here," West said. "No one sees us coming and it's something we have to prove. The talk doesn't mean anything."

"We just have to be ready to perform and no matter what anybody says, it's not going to help us win a game," Smith added. "We'll be ready on Sunday to show everybody what we've been working on."

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