LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- University of Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops says that No. 20-ranked Florida presents an uphill battle because of its downhill running.
With starting quarterback Jeff Driskel out for the season, the Gators have turned to dual-threat quarterback Tyler Murphy. He showed poise and mobility in the pocket in Florida's 31-17 win over Tennessee Saturday, completing 8 of 14 passes for 134 yards and a score, while rushing for 84 yards and another touchdown. He just adds to an attack that already is heavily ground-oriented.
"With them, they're quite physical when they want to be," Stoops said at his weekly news conference today. "So when they get under center, it's a lot of downhill running. They're not getting away from that. I know Will (Muschamp) and how tough he wants to be and how tough his team is on offense and on defense. So they're going to get under center and they're going to run the ball downhill."
Stoops used the word "physical" several times in his remarks to reporters. It's not hard to figure out that it will be a theme for the week for the Wildcats, who turned in a dogged defensive effort in a 27-13 loss to Louisville last time out.
Louisville is a more potent offensive team than Florida. If Kentucky can put together a similar defensive effort, it would figure that the Wildcats would be in the hunt. But only, Stoops said, if they can match the Gators physically.
"They want to be physical," Stoops said. "They're very good defensively; as good as maybe anybody will play this year. . . . They want to control the football, keep the time of possession and be physical in the run game, and, again, take their shots off of that."
Stoops said quarterback Maxwell Smith expects to participate in practice today, but under a "pitch count," in which his reps will be limited. As for Jalen Whitlow, Stoops said the emphasis will be on getting him off to a positive start and hoping he feeds off it.
"We need to get him off to a fast start," Stoops said. "Once he settles down he gets into the game and makes some very good throws at times and has the proper reads and all of that. So we've just got to make sure we get him settled down and get him off to a fast start."
There were two issues that Stoops didn't want to get into. He said he didn't think Joker Phillips' return to Commonwealth Stadium (as a wide receivers coach at Florida) was a significant factor.
"I wouldn't think that would be any extra motivation for us," Stoops said. "We ought to be pretty motivated as it is."
Stoops also isn't spending much time dwelling on UK's 26-game losing streak to Florida. It hasn't beaten the Gators since 1986.
"I think it's motivation, I do. I think it needs to be talked about," Stoops said. "But that can't be the focal point. We have to get better each and every day, each and every game. And that's what we're worried about and that's been our message since I've been here is just to get better."