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Stoops emphasizing 'focus' for Wildcats

Louisville may be a struggling team with only two wins in 11 games and sits near the bottom of FBS rankings in key statistics on both sides of the ball, but Kentucky coach Mark Stoops says he isn't doing anything special this week to keep his Wildcats (8-3) focused on the Cardinals for their Saturday matchup.

Yes, he said, you can throw the records out the window in this rivalry game.

"We're worried about ourselves and playing the best football we can and just finishing," Stoops said. "I felt like our team played with a sense of urgency this past week that we're striving for. I really like the way we got out of the gates and started fast and really played with a great sense of urgency."

The result was a 34-23 victory over Middle Tennessee State that made the Wildcats 6-1 at home for 2018.

"We're looking to do the same thing here this week," Stoops said. "It's about us and the way we play. We know what they are capable of and how Louisville can play and they've shown signs of that this year."

Recent history in the series also doesn't always favor the team with the better record.

Two years ago, Kentucky was a big underdog against a Louisville team led by eventual Heisman winner Lamar Jackson but won 41-38 on Austin MacGinnis' 41-yard field goal with 12 seconds left.

Stoops said he expects no surprises from the Cardinals, who are playing their second game under interim coach Lorenzo Wright after Bobby Petrino was fired.

"Louisville is going to do what they do on both sides of the ball," Stoops said. "They're not going to reinvent the wheel in the last week. They are gonna play the system that they play and they're going to play hard.

"You see it in every game that they've played. They play hard and they play aggressive and some big plays or some trick plays and things like that have gotten out of their comfort zone as well. We're just worried about us and our execution and playing a disciplined football game."

Stoops also is aware of what happened in Lexington a year ago when the Cardinals won handily 44-17.

"They beat us last time here," he said. "I wasn't very proud of that effort a year ago, and we're looking to just improve and we have a lot to play for. We got our eighth victory this past week and trying to play for nine.

"That's our concentration on obviously preparing for them. Control the things we can control and that's us and how we play."

With a win over the Cardinals, the Wildcats will retain a shot at a 10-win season (including a bowl) for the first time since 1977.





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