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By KEITH TAYLOR
Derrick Locke didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t repeat Ricky LumpkinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s halftime speech that got KentuckyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s attention in a 38-20 win over Vanderbilt Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium.
Locke, making his first appearance after missing the four previous games because of a shoulder injury, said Lumpkin, was fiery and vocal.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He gave us a speech we needed to hear and we responded,Ã¢â‚¬Â Locke said of LumpkinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s halftime address that came after the coaching staff left the locker room. Ã¢â‚¬Å“It was something that we needed to hear.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Locke, one of 15 seniors honored prior to the contest, turned in his second highest rushing total of the season with 145 yards on 22 carries, complete with two touchdowns. Locke finished with 171 all-purpose yards and gained most of his yardage in the second half following LumpkinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s brief pep talk.
Locke had just 14 yards in the first half, but regained some of his form in the second half with 131 yards, including an 83-yard touchdown run with 5:38 remaining to put the finishing touches on his final home contest.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I just needed that after sitting out for a long time,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I needed it a lot.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The run tied as the seventh longest run in school history. Locke now has 719 rushing yards on the season and is closing in on the 1,000-yard mark with at least two games remaining.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I needed that to get back on track and get to 1,000 (yards),Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I want it and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m going to do whatever I need to do to get it. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve something IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve always wanted to accomplish.Ã‚Â If I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get it, I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make the plays to get it and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m going to do whatever I have to do to get it.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Locke received a scare after he went down with 14:46 remaining in the contest, but it turned out to be nothing serious. Locke said he Ã¢â‚¬Å“got the wind knocked out of himÃ¢â‚¬Â and returned to the lineup on the next series. Throughout the contest, Locke took several hits on the injured shoulder, which he said was beneficial.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I needed that just to see what it felt like,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
The senior running back admitted that he Ã¢â‚¬Å“was not normal yetÃ¢â‚¬Â and Ã¢â‚¬Å“it shows.Ã¢â‚¬Â Against the Commodores, Locke was hesitant at times because of the injury.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t look like the same Derrick,Ã¢â‚¬Â Kentucky coach Joker Phillips said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Even on the long run, I mean he steps away from those guys and he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t step away from them (the defenders) like he had been earlier in the season. They didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t tackle him. But, he steps away from those guys and they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get a chance to get a hand on him. He didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t look the same, but he looked good enough to win today.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Kentucky has an open date Saturday, which will give Locke more time to heal before the WildcatsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ regular-season finale against Tennessee on Nov. 27 in Knoxville. Locke doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t plan on holding back against the Volunteers, who have defeated the Wildcats on a regular basis since 1984.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m glad I get a week off to rehab my arm and get more strength,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d like to be at 95 percent and hold (the ball) in my right hand more, but I still have to be cautious. When we play Tennessee, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m going to try and not hold anything back. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m going to just play. We went out on a good note, but now we finish (the season) on a good note.Ã¢â‚¬Â