CRAWFORD | Five points from Kentucky coach Mark Stoops Louisvill - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Five points from Kentucky coach Mark Stoops Louisville preview

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The University of Kentucky football team will not carry the burden of needing a victory for bowl eligibility when it faces the University of Louisville on Saturday at noon in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

But the Wildcats will carry a five-game losing streak into the game against the No. 11-ranked Cardinals and their sophomore quarterback, Heisman front-runner Lamar Jackson.

"I don't know if it's relief," Stoops said of having already locked down bowl eligibility, "but it certainly is better. I wish we were at 6, 7, 8. But definitely a better situation."

More thoughts from Stoops from his regular Monday news conference in advance of Saturday's game.

1). SCOUTING THE CARDINALS. Stoops said he watched Thursday's game against Houston and thought it looked like, "one of those nights where nothing could go right for Louisville and everything was going right for Houston."

Clearly, he said Job. No. 1 vs. the Cardinals would be dealing with Jackson, but he noted that the Cards are more than a one-man team.

"We need to play our best football against Louisville," he said. "They are a very good football team, as you know. They are very well-coached and talented across the board. There really is not a weakness on that team. . . . (Petrino) obviously is a great play caller. There's no doubt about that. What stands out when you look at all the success he's had, there is a lot of offense there and you can see how well they do in the second half of a lot of games. They score a lot of points. I think they have a good way about seeing what you are doing and what the problems are and coming back to something else. . . . He keeps you off balance and obviously it doesn't hurt having Lamar Jackson because when things break down he can kill you. He is a dynamic player."

2). LAMAR THOMAS FACES THE CARDS. Louisville's former wide receiver coach now coaches the same position for the Wildcats. He was instrumental in the Cardinals' landing Boynton Beach, Fla., recruit Jackson.

"I was rattling his cage and said, 'Find me somebody like that,'" Stoops said.

In terms of information he might provide on Louisville, Stoops said his main value was just in background. Asked if he had any ideas on slowing down Jackson, Stoops said, "I don't know if anybody has any good idea on how to slow him down. He is an absolutely phenomenal player. What I admire most about Lamar Jackson is you can see his leadership and toughness. Just watching some of their games when I could get a chance throughout the year, and of course on film you don't see as much as on TV, but you could see how strong he is and what kind of leader he is."

3). STEPHEN JOHNSON WILL RESUME PRACTICE. After missing all but a bit of practice last week, QB Stephen Johnson will participate in all of this week's preparations, and that's a lift for Kentucky. Louisville coach Bobby Petrino pointed to the play of Johnson as key getting the Wildcats' running game going.

"To see him come in (in Saturday's win over Austin Peay) and have the poise and confidence he had, I think you could see that throughout the team. . . . He is a tough guy, like I said after the game. He is a leader and we have been very pleased with him."

4). GAME PLAN FOR LOUISVILLE. Stoops made no secret -- Kentucky would like to replicate the kind of ball-control game plan that worked well for Duke in a close loss at Louisville earlier this season. He said offensive possession would be key, to limit Louisville's offensive opportunities.

"That has been our best recipe, when we have sustained drives," he said. "But as you know, against very quality teams, you have to be able to find some big plays as well. You have to be able to get it in the end zone. So there will be a balance there and it is always a team effort."

5). LOSING LEADS. Kentucky raced to a 21-0 lead last season in Lexington. The year before, they led 13-0 in Louisville. Stoops said his team might draw confidence from being able to get leads against Louisville, but that it didn't mean much.

"We know we had our opportunities but those are gone and if we get in the same position this year we have to learn to make the plays now," Stoops said. "That really is not much different when you think about it for this season. Each game there have been plays that have been made that helped turn the game and then there have been missed opportunities. But that's football. That happens every week."

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