By LARRY VAUGHT
Getting over a dramatic 40-38 win over Mississippi State probably has not been an easy task for Kentucky players this week.
“We constantly talk to our players about paying the price during the week. Everybody wants to win on Saturday, but much of the game is won throughout the week in our preparation. I think we need to get our energy level back up,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said.
“Everybody at this point in the season is banged up and bruised, but we need to have great energy throughout the rest of the week in our preparation. We better be waking up ready to play an early start, an early kickoff on Saturday.”
Kentucky plays at Missouri at noon Saturday in hopes of winning its fourth SEC game and improving its record to 5-3 after an 0-2 start. However, UK is just 1-13 in SEC road games under Stoops.
This season, though, the Cats have won three close SEC games, something that could help Saturday.
“I think it verifies a lot of things we talk about and the belief system and staying the course and never knowing when your number’s going to be called. There’s so many guys that you could use as an example, but Jeff Badet is certainly one that comes to mind,” Stoops said.
Badet, of course, caught two touchdown passes in last week’s win that Stoops hopes helped convince players that UK can consistently win close games.
“Players need to see some fruit from all the labor they put in to get the payoff. That’s always the challenge as a coach, and you’ve heard me talk about it and you always see. You know you’re making progress. But the players need, and the fans, everybody needs to see payoff,” Stoops said.
“I talked about it after the game and I meant it: That I was proud, whether that field goal went in or not, I was really proud of the team. Again, there’s mistakes that we can’t make, but our team really is playing some pretty good football.”