Kentucky started the season with back-to-back victories over Toledo and Eastern Michigan but could not sustain an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost 29-21 to Florida last weekend.
This week, the Wildcats have a new challenge on their hands as they leave the commonwealth for the first time this season to visit Mississippi State.
“We’ve been at home for three-straight weeks and we know that there’s going to be great road challenges throughout the year,” said Kentucky coach Mark Stoops. “This is our first opportunity and we have to embrace that.
“We respect the environment that we’re going into and respect this team but there’s something that’s fun about the challenge of going on the road, being united and getting on that bus and heading down to Starkville. We’ll be excited about that opportunity.”
Kentucky has been a solid road team the past two years under Stoops, with 3-2 road records in each season. However, Davis Wade Stadium has not been kind to the Wildcats.
They’re just 6-13 all-time on the road against the Bulldogs and haven’t won in Starkville since a 14-13 victory in Sylvester Croom’s final season at MSU in 2008.
Stoops is winless in his previous three trips to Starkville and has been outscored by the Bulldogs 115-45 in those contests.
“It’s always a hostile environment,” Stoops said.
Cowbells are largely responsible for creating that raucous atmosphere at Davis Wade Stadium. Stoops and his staff have done their best to try and create crowd noise for the Wildcats in practice this week.
“With us, the best simulation will be just to turn up that crowd noise as loud as we can,” Stoops said. “We have some nice equipment out there now with the new practice facility with the speakers. It will be good and loud to where the offense has to do everything on a silent count. They will be prepared for completely being blocked out from the sound.”
Stoops is also preparing his defense to face whichever quarterback Mississippi State sends out on Saturday. Graduate transfer Tommy Stevens has had to leave the last two games with a right shoulder injury and given way to true freshman Garrett Shrader in the second half.
However, Stoops doesn’t feel that Joe Moorhead’s offense changes all that much, regardless of which signal caller is on the field.
“There’s really not much difference in what they do and how they call plays or how they run the offense,” Stoops said. “There’s really not much difference at all. Both of them are very effective at running the Q (quarterback) run game that they like to do. Both of them are throwing the ball well. It’s set up off of their power run game. Not much has changed.”