LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Converted Wide Receiver Matt Roark led Kentucky to a 10-7 victory over Tennessee two years ago. Mark Stoops was reminded of that this week with a reporter asking, given UK's struggles and injuries at Quarterback, if something like that might be in play this Saturday when the Cats host the Volunteers. Stoops reponded with a laugh. "Yeah, well, all options. All options are open to get a victory, believe me. Can you play at all?"
That season-ending win was Kentucky's only victory over the Vols since 1984 so you can excuse one for wondering if extreme measures might be in order. The Wildcats are trying to avoid a second consecutive winless SEC campaign. Tennessee has fallen almost as far. The Volunteers are 1-6 in league play under first-year coach Butch Jones.
"They are a team I think a lot like us in that they play some games extremely hard trying to do anything they can to get a win," said Stoops. "They are a team that's getting better and their program is moving forward as we all know. I think similar to us in a lot of ways, and I think I respect the way they coach them and the way they play them. Probably a lot like us, you see signs all over the place of a team that's very close. They have had some good wins and they have had some tough losses."
Kentucky will be without a pair of offensive regulars Saturday. Receiver Demarco Robinson will sit out his second straight game after a violation of team rules. The team's leading rusher, Raymond Sanders may or may not go through Senior Day festivities, but he will definitely not play, also for what's being called a team rule violation.
"It's very disappointing," said the first-year head coach. "I've sat in here and bragged on him throughout the year. That doesn't change my opinion of Raymond. I think he's a good person. I am disappointed in a few decisions that he made, but he's a good person. He was a good person for this program. You know, let's not let this define him. I am disappointed; it's not acceptable and he will not play. That's really all I wanted to say. I don't want to get too much into detail about that. But Raymond's just suspended for this game. He's not kicked off the team or anything like that. He just can't play in this game."
UK is holding regular practices today and on Thursday, but the Cats will spend extra time together as well.
"We're gonna practice and then we're gonna have a dinner together (on Thanksgiving Day)," Stoops said. "And because they're out of the dorms and out of school and all that, today after practice, each position coach will take them to their homes for dinner as well. So they'll have dinner with their position coaches on Wednesday night. Thursday after practice we'll have a team Thanksgiving dinner."
Stoops is putting plenty of importance on trying to get a win Saturday, but he doesn't feel like the team's off-season momentum will be affected either way.
"I think it's very important, I do," said Stoops. "It's important. With that being said, I don't think that there's ‑‑ we are not going to let anything affect our progress in where we are going in this off‑season."
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