LEXINGTON, Ky. — Special from Keith Taylor, Kentucky Today
Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead thinks Kentucky isn’t the same team without Terry Wilson but he was impressed with backup quarterback Sawyer Smith’s performance against Florida last week.
“He is a little bit different from the Terry Wilson kid,” Moorhead said earlier this week. I think (Smith) is a little more passer than a runner but is a guy who can beat you with his feet. I thought he made some good decisions and some good throws throughout that game. He was a kid that was pretty impressive and very confident.”
Moorhead said the Wildcats (2-1) didn’t produce “as many designed quarterback runs as they did with Wilson” but added, “that is just one game.” Smith threw for 267 yards and two touchdowns against the Gators last week. He rushed for another score in his first career start with the Wildcats.
Like Kentucky, the Bulldogs (2-1) are coming off their first loss to the season. Mississippi State suffered a 31-24 setback to Kansas State a week ago and Moorhead said, “If we are all going to bask in the praise of a victory, we are all going to share in the blame of a loss. We want our guys to be thumb guys and not finger guys and looking in the mirror and not out the window. The first thumb always goes back to me to make sure I am doing everything necessary to put the kids in a position to be successful and we indicated that in the team meeting (Sunday).”
Moorhead doesn’t think losses by both teams will provide added motivation when the two teams meet Saturday in Starkville in the Southeastern Conference opener for the Bulldogs.
“I don't think you'll see desperation,” he said. “I think you'll see two teams who played close games that are a little upset and a little angry about the outcome that are going to come loaded for bear and get this thing back on track.”
Kentucky led for most of the game against the Gators but faltered in the fourth quarter, resulting in a successful comeback by Florida. The Wildcats began turning the page on Monday.
“We can’t let this turn into two losses,” Carter said. “We have to respond and fix it.”
Carter’s teammate, defensive tackle Kordell Looney, agreed.
“Games like (Florida) happen,” Looney said. “Next time, we’re going to come more prepared and work harder. That’s all we can do.”
In order to win the first of two straight conference road encounters, defensive back Brandin Echols said the Wildcats have to be sharper on both sides of the ball, especially on defense.
“We have to work harder and come with a different mindset than we had last week,” he said. “We have to involve everybody. It’s going to take all of us to get this win against Mississippi State. We need to make sure we focus on getting everybody right. We have to keep moving forward and not look in the past.”
MULLEN PRAISES CATS
Florida coach Dan Mullen was impressed with Kentucky’s performance against his squad and said you will be “hard-pressed to tell me there are 25 better teams in the country than Kentucky.”
“They should be a ranked team,” Mullen said. “Mark (has) done a great job with the program. Look at the talent, the guys they have out there on the field. They’re big, they’re physical, they play hard and they’ve got playmakers.”
Mullen said his team’s win proved to be another learning experience for the Gators.
“We came on the road and got into a very tough environment, we came and got a big-time win,” I think when dealing with adversity, we found a way to win.”
Gametracker: Kentucky at Mississippi State, 4 p.m. TV/Radio: SEC Network, UK Radio Network
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at email@example.com or twitter @keithtaylor21.