By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach Rich Brooks knows his team needs to play well against No. 3 Alabama Saturday in Commonwealth Stadium to erase the memories of a 31-0 start and 41-7 loss to Florida.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think it is very important that we play a competitive game against Alabama and hopefully have a chance to win the game. They are No. 3 team in the nation. They won at a neutral site over Virginia Tech, which had a win over Miami yesterday,Ã¢â‚¬Â Brooks said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are not as bad a football tem as we looked like in first 15 minutes (against Florida). We are closer to the team that played a little better in the last 45 minutes, and I think we are better than that. Every good team can have bad days. Great, great ones donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have those days. Look at Cal getting clobbered by Oregon, Miami clobbered by Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech coming off the deck and beating North Carolina. There are so many games week in, week out if you only get a glimpse of theÃ‚Â team that day you would have to say they are a bad football team.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“There is a lot more parity than some people are willing to suggest. On a given day the down-trodden can look like the down-trodden and the kingpins look like kingpins and sometimes the downtrodden can beat the kingpins.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Brooks says Alabama Ã¢â‚¬Å“is scaryÃ¢â‚¬Â based on what he saw of the Crimson TideÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s big win over Arkansas Saturday.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Defensivley you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t see much dfiferent from FloridaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s defense and Alabama. Offensively, they have a lot of good weapons and like Florida still have a big phsyical offensive line. The system is different and they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t run spread option stuff lke Florida. Alabama does not have that kind of offense, but it does not mean they are not capable because they destroyed Arkansas,Ã¢â‚¬Â Brooks said.
After being blitzed by Florida in the first quarter Saturday, Brooks admitted Sunday he asked himself why his team had started slowly in so many games the last two years.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are going to change our pregame routine a little bit and emphasize how to start faster. We have had years where we scored a whole bunch in the first quarter, didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t play as well in the second quarter, scored well in the third and not much in the fourth. In recent years, it has been the opposite,Ã¢â‚¬Â Brooks said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are probably going to practice good against good (first team against first team) more during the week so the speed (of the game) is not such a shock.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Brooks was not a lot happier Sunday than he was after SaturdayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s game when he blamed himself for his teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lack of preparation and flurry of early mistakes.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t feel better about myself. A lot of the things we did in that first quarter are my repsonsiblity as a coach to eliminate the mistakes, the sutpdie penalties,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The good news is that we bounced back after the 31-0 hole and instead of the cascade like last year (in a 63-5 loss) … the way we started it could have been 70-0.Ã‚Â We are a good enough team to compete even though Florida has superior talent in size and speed. That does not mean we should get blown out 31-0 in the first quarter and make mistakes we made.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t feel bad about the effort of my team. I feel bad about the focus of my team. I have to do a much better job, but I also told my team today that preparation is a two-way street. They have to invest in themselves to be better prepared, pay attention and do things necessary to be good players. But when you have a meltdown like we had thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s only one person to point the finge at and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s me.Ã¢â‚¬Â