Kentucky football open practice

Kentucky football open practice on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019, at the Joe Craft Football Training Facility in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

The Kentucky football team has had an extra week to rest up, reset and regroup as it heads into week seven of the college football season. Next up is the 2-3 Arkansas Razorbacks who, much like the Wildcats, have yet to win a conference game. With a matching record and a yearning for an SEC win, the matchup is bound to be equally as crucial for both squads. The media met with select players and UK offensive coordinator Eddie Gran Tuesday evening to discuss the upcoming game and how important the bye week was to the Cats. 

“It was a good practice today, lot of energy,” Gran said. “You could really tell after the bye week, you know we gave the 3’s a lot of reps last week, had some young guys that I feel like got better. There was just a lot of juice today and it was great to see.”

WATCH: Eddie Gran speaks to the media ahead of the Arkansas game

The big question of who will start as quarterback was answered by Mark Stoops in a press conference Monday afternoon, telling media that he intends on starting Sawyer Smith amid conversation that wide receiver Lynn Bowden would be Kentucky’s new QB1. Stoops says Smith has had time to heal up some injuries and will be good to go for Saturday, although it wouldn’t be at all shocking to see Bowden take some snaps. Last week, coaches mentioned Bowden has been in the quarterback room, but he’s adamant about staying ready for whatever situation is thrown at him. 

“I’m just ready to play football,” Bowden said. “Just got to come out and see. See what these people have in store for us.”

Several players mentioned using the bye week as a good time to reflect on how things have gone for the Cats so far, and Bowden mentioned a few specific things that he thinks he needs to improve on as they approach the second half of the season. 

“Playing faster. You know, on plays that I take off I just need to go harder on the back side of plays sometimes,” Bowden said. Although the open date served as a way for the team to rest their bodies and take some important time mentally, Bowden mentioned that they’re all anxious and ready to get back onto the field and put everything in the past behind them. 

Running back AJ Rose added how important it is to push away the noise and stay focused on their game. 

“It can be hard, keeping the good and the bad out,” Rose said. “But people are always going to say what they want. Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion. You know, we had a slow start but we’ve still got a long stretch left so we’re going to try our best to finish strong. Our goal is still in front of us. So we’re going to come out here and compete, try to start this second half of the season 1-0.” 

WATCH: AJ Rose speaks to the media before the Arkansas game