By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky has had an issue with turnovers and has had at least two giveaways in every game this season. But Tennessee has fumbled 23 times — and lost nine — and thrown 11 interceptions going into Saturday’s game with visiting Kentucky.
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops knows turnovers could determine Saturday’s winner.
“It’s definitely gonna play a factor. It always does, and hopefully we’ll protect the football a little bit better,” said Stoops. “I was pleased this past game with the emphasis on trying to get some turnovers, but as you know, sometimes the ball’s on the ground, you get it or you don’t. We were fortunate to get a few breaks this past week. Unfortunately we lost some as well.”
Even though UK lost to Georgia 27-24 last week, Stoops said his team did have reasons to gain confidence for Saturday’s game.
“Our players know, even in the loss, we did some very good things. We’re just trying to get any mistakes we’ve had cleaned up and play better football. But, our guys, like I’ve said, they’ve showed no signs of slowing down. We had a good week of practice and hopefully we’ll continue to play well,” Stoops said.
Kentucky also has a road win this year at Missouri that could help UK’s confidence.
“I definitely think that helped and we know what it feels like. We’ve emphasized all week trying to get to bed earlier and getting our sleep. You’re not going to make it up in one night so hopefully they’ll get some rest tonight and they’ll be ready to go.
“I’m proud of what we’ve done. We’re right there battling some very good teams and, heck, there’s only, what, four or five teams in the SEC with four or more conference wins? It’s tough, they’re tough. Everybody beating up on each other, it’s tough. I don’t care what anybody says about this or that, up, down – every team does the right thing, they are well-coached, they are tough, hard-nosed teams that play the game the right way,” Stoops said.
“By far the best conference in America. And it’s a brutal league, even if everybody’s beating up on each other. It’s just tough. And our players are right there battling and preparing and working and putting ourselves in position to make plays. Sometimes you make them. Sometimes you don’t. I take nothing away from them. They played an exceptional game and they played very hard and they’re well-coached.”