By LARRY VAUGHT
Getting quarterback Stephen Johnson off to a quick start at Alabama Saturday night would be “real important” for Kentucky but coach Mark Stoops knows what won’t be easy to.
“We need to understand, with the mindset going into it, how difficult yards are going to be to come by and how you need to compete to get those yards,” Stoops said Thursday. “This is not a team where – some games you play where things come easy or you get big plays. You have to work for every yard you get against them and you have to compete at a high level to get those yards.
“So that takes everybody being on the same page. Certainly Stephen is a big part of that, but he has to have a lot of people around him playing at a high level. We need to block. We need to be able to run. We need some tough yards, and we need to be able to get open on the perimeter.”
Being able to run the ball consistently with Boom Williams and Benny Snell certainly would help Johnson and the Cats. That could mean having the patience to stick with the running game even if it is not working well early.
“You can’t get deterred because you can’t just sit back there and take negative plays. They will absolutely get after you. They score more non-offensive touchdowns than anybody,” Stoops said. “They create a lot of big plays with their defense and with their special teams. So you’ve just got to be smart with the way you mange the game.”
Alabama has scored a non-offensive TD in six consecutive games. Alabama pass-rushers Jonathan Allen, Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson have combined for 38 QB pressures through four games but Williams may not play after being arrested on a gun-related charge this week
Kentucky’s offense has not been disrupted by as man dropped balls by receivers this year. Stoops credits both new coach Lamar Thomas and maturity by players for that improvement.
“These guys have been around for a while and they’ve played and we expect them to be more consistent. Lamar’s done a very nice job and I think Eddie (Gran) has done a nice job. They’re competing at a high level, higher level.”