Lexington, Ky. — Kentucky is more determined to play a complete football game after feeling like one slipped away last week.
That’s a wise approach Saturday against Eastern Michigan, which is just as determined to bounce back from a disappointing loss.
Kentucky (3-1) hopes to make a statement after allowing No. 21 Florida to score 14 unanswered fourth-quarter points in a 28-27 Southeastern Conference loss that halted the Wildcats’ hopes of taking early control of the Eastern Division.
What bothered them most was twice leaving receivers uncovered on scoring drives, mental breakdowns coach Mark Stoops concedes shouldn’t have happened.
After a week of intense practices, Stoops doesn’t foresee a reoccurrence.
He expects the Wildcats to be focused in the inaugural matchup against the Eagles (2-1).
“I just want us to continue playing the way we’ve been playing, and that’s very hard and very passionate,” Stoops said. “If we play with that kind of energy and that kind of attitude and trust each other, we’ll be fine.”
The Eagles have already earned their first win over a Power-Five school — beating Rutgers 16-13 — and look to break through against their seventh SEC opponent.
Eastern coach Chris Creighton acknowledges it will be challenging on the road against a school coming off a tough loss. But then, the Eagles have their own incentive to bounce back after falling 27-20 to Ohio in double overtime in league play.
“They’re really talented,” Creighton said of the Wildcats. “(The Florida game) didn’t go the way they wanted it to, and neither did ours. But you’ve got to respond.”
Eastern’s defense is allowing just 15.7 points per game. Senior quarterback Brogan Roback has 798 yards passing this season and ranks third on the school’s career list with 6,561 yards and 40 touchdowns.
“They don’t try to be too cute on either side of the ball,” Stoops said of the Eagles. “They just play good, sound fundamental football and their players play really hard.”
Manning supports Jones
Former Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning said he’s “pulling hard” for Volunteers coach Butch Jones, who has received perhaps the toughest criticism of his five-year tenure over the last couple of weeks.
Manning said during a campus visit Jones “literally eats, sleeps and breathes” Tennessee football.
Manning added, “I get texts from him at all hours about some concept or philosophy, and he’s all in.”
Jones, a former Central Michigan coach, had criticized media coverage of his program Monday and said “sometimes the negativity is overwhelming.” Tennessee lost 26-20 at Florida and edged Massachusetts 17-13 in its last two games.
Manning is being saluted for his College Football Hall of Fame selection during a halftime ceremony as Tennessee (3-1, 0-1 SEC) hosts No. 7 Georgia (4-0, 1-0).
Memphis’ Rupert out
Memphis dismissed defensive back Shaun Rupert from its team after police said he used a handgun in May to steal two watches, an Xbox and a laptop from another student’s apartment. Rupert was arrested Thursday on charges of aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery and possession of a firearm.
Memphis officials said Rupert has been dismissed “for a violation of team rules.”
Memphis officials added the school’s office of student accountability, outreach and support would review the case for potential violations of the school’s code of conduct.
Rupert, a fifth-year senior, started his college career at Missouri before transferring to Memphis.