Rich Brooks isn't ready to panic.
Sure, the Kentucky coach knows his team could have played better
in consecutive losses to No. 1 Florida and No. 3 Alabama. Then
again, he knows there won't be many teams this year to challenge
the Gators and Crimson Tide.
So rather than lick his wounds, Brooks is anxious for the
Wildcats (2-2, 0-2 Southeastern Conference) to move forward. He
found positives in Saturday's 38-20 loss to the Crimson Tide,
despite four turnovers and a slew of major penalties.
"If you take away the four turnovers we have a chance, a chance
to win the game," Brooks said. "It shows what we're capable of
and shows that we're on the right track."
Finding lessons from the previous two games against the Crimson
Tide and Florida - the two highest ranked teams the Wildcats have
played back to back in school history - Brooks said he has seen
progress made on all levels in his team.
Brooks gave praise to his defensive line, which he said stymied
Alabama's running game, and to the young receiving core, which
provided blocks that led to a number of major yardage gains by
Kentucky running backs Derrick Locke and Alfonso Smith.
Brooks also cited improvement in quarterback Mike Hartline, who
threw three interceptions early as the Crimson Tide leapt to a 31-6
"I thought he overcame that and made some very good throws
later in the fourth quarter," Brooks said. "Mike Hartline didn't
play as well as I'd like, but he's our best option and we'll go
forward with that. ... We need to help him more with protection and
we need to do a better job."
The offensive line showed spunk against the Crimson Tide, Brooks
said, despite allowing Hartline to repeatedly be hurried, which
forced some of his interceptions.
"Everything that happened wasn't (Hartline's) fault," said
receiver Randall Cobb. "Everybody has to realize that. When
playing quarterback you get all the glory for a win and if you lose
all the bad stuff comes with it."
Most importantly, Kentucky never allowed itself to give up,
Brooks said, a message echoed by Hartline.
"I'm not very down," Hartline said. "The only reason I'm not
very down is that we responded and kept playing and didn't think we
were out of it. We tried to play hard. We knew we had to keep going
and there was no giving up in this game."
As Kentucky prepares to face No. 25 South Carolina (4-1, 1-1) on
Saturday, Brooks said playing smarter while maintaining the high
level of intensity shown through their first four games will be the
"We've made progress from games three and four, but theres
still more to do," Brooks said.
Full Rich Brooks News Conference