Louisville, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky went through its normal "Thursday" routine Tuesday in preparation for its midweek battle with Mississippi State. Max Smith has been getting most of the reps at Quarterback and will get the start Thursday in Starkville. But Mark Stoops said Jalen Whitlow is almost healthy after suffering a sprained ankle in the Wildcats loss to Alabama on October 12th.
"He'll be ready to go, if we need him," Stoops said. "Again, I think Max got most of the reps last week and this week, but Jalen will be ready to go and we'll use him if we need to."
The week without a game has produced a healthier team overall headed into the meeting with the Bulldogs.
"We're feeling pretty good," Stoops said. "We're, I think, much healthier than we've been in some time mentally and physically and ready to go."
Kentucky is 0-3 in the SEC, 1-5 overall after facing a quartet of ranked teams to finish the first half of the season. Mississippi State is also winless in the league, 0-2 with losses to LSU and Auburn. The Bulldogs are 3-3 overall and Mark Stoops doesn't see his team getting a break in the schedule after the recent gauntlet.
"No, I really don't look at it any easier really. We talk about it one week at a time, and going this week, playing Mississippi State on the road is just a different challenge. Very good team, well‑coached team. Again, I think they're very physical, a team that's won plenty of football games the past two, three, four years, and to play on a Thursday night, I think they're going to be very motivated, as we are, to get our first SEC win."
Stoops will try to keep preparations as normal as possible, but that's not easy with a Thursday night game.
"It's just very different for the team," said the coach. "Leaving on a Wednesday is a little bit odd, playing a Thursday night game when the players are getting up in the morning and we have walk‑throughs and meetings and things. I don't like a lot of dead time. There will be some subtle changes in there because Saturday morning they're up usually watching football if we're playing a Saturday night game or in between meetings, and now they'll be sitting there watching soap operas, I guess (laughter).
I think we'll try to get them up and have a few more meetings and not as much dead time. I think we have a pretty good bus drive from where we're staying to the hotel, as well, so that'll take another hour, hour and 15 minutes out of the day. Hopefully that'll help a little bit."
Kickoff is 7:30 pm in Starkville on ESPN.
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