WKYT | Lexington, Kentucky | Sports

Cats continue preparing for WKU

LEXINGTON, Ky. - After starting game week a couple days early on Thursday, Kentucky continued to prepare for its season opener vs. Western Kentucky University on Saturday.

UK went through the type of practice the Wildcats will typically hold on Wednesdays before games. Mark Stoops is looking to position his team for light work late next week before traveling to Nashville.

"It just gets us ahead a little bit," UK's head coach said. "The only thing it'll affect, it'll help us possibly taper a little bit earlier next week. I just wanted to get ahead of the chains this week for our first game and just be prepared and just put a little extra time."

Stoops was pleased with UK's work overall, while Neal Brown was particularly encouraged by the offense's day. The team is still getting a feel for how things will work under a new coaching staff as the season begins, but Brown sees the adjustment happening quickly.

"I thought today was much better than yesterday, and yesterday was not bad," Brown said. "But we did a Wednesday practice today and I think an in-season practice, our kids had a little better feel for it today. They knew what to expect and executed much better and knew what we expected of them."

Reporters were permitted to watch approximately 50 minutes of the Saturday practice, and they saw quarterbacks Maxwell Smith and Jalen Whitlow split time during a walkthrough. Stoops and Brown expect them to do the same next Saturday.

"I don't see the reason to (name a starter), really," Stoops said. "I think both guys are working extremely hard, and there's probably no reason for me to name a starter."

Though UK's starter at quarterback remains a mystery, Stoops shed some light on how he and his offensive coordinator will work together on game day.

"He'll call all the plays, but obviously I'll make all the decisions, whether it's four-down territory or when to take a shot and have some input and things like that," Stoops said. "But he'll call the plays. But I'll just be there to manage it, and like I said make the decisions on four down or punting and going for it and just, you know, here or there."

Brown will call plays from the sideline, relying on wide receivers coach Tommy Mainord to be his eyes in the press box. Offensive coordinators have different philosophies on game-day positioning, but Brown has good reason why he wants to be as close to the action as possible.

"I think you've got a little bit better feel when to use tempo, when to not," Brown said. "I like seeing the quarterback when they come off. If they did something well or they did something poorly, I like to be able to immediately talk to them and discuss it."

UK will take a day off from practicing on Sunday before returning to the field the following day. On Monday, Stoops said he expects his team to be "pretty close to 100 percent" on the injury front, other than the bumps and bruises to be expected at the end of a grueling fall camp.


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