“We can’t let our past mistakes affect our mentality this next game,” Kentucky quarterback Will Levis said ahead of their road opener against South Carolina.
Kentucky’s eight turnovers through three games hasn’t come back to haunt Kentucky this season — yet. Four of those turnovers have came via interception from Levis. The first two, you could say, weren’t entirely his fault — the two against Chattanooga, however, can be chalked up as simply poor decision making. That won’t cut it in Columbia against South Carolina this weekend.
“It's our first away game so just bringing the energy,” Levis said about the biggest key to preparing for this weekend. “Bringing the focus every snap in the huddle, every period, and then obviously coming off how we performed this past week, it's just a reason for guys to just prepare even more.”
Mark Stoops told his team that when they go home after practice, to take 10-15 minutes to memorize the playbook, personnel and schemes they’re expected to face and visualize success on paper so that it can translate to practice — and in turn, the game.
“I think that's definitely an underused tool by a lot of athletes and it definitely does work,” Levis said about that mental aspect off the field. “And I'm excited for these guys to, hopefully, try it out and use it to their advantage because it's something that I do and I think that definitely does work.”
The noise expected for the night environment this weekend at Williams-Brice Stadium is something that has potential to contribute negatively to the turnover-prone ‘Cats — but that isn’t to say Kentucky isn’t taking that into account. Tuesday’s practice featured South Carolina’s Sandstorm hype song, a rooster crow and crowd noise piped in through the loud speaker in preparation for the hostile environment.
“We're expecting that and more,” Levis said after Tuesday’s practice. “Obviously, you’ve heard about all the tales of [South Carolina] being such a cool atmosphere and that their fans are really passionate. We're trying to use that as fuel and just use it as motivation to go into the game to bring some energy.”
Under offensive coordinator Liam Coen, Levis and the rest of his offense have gotten used to a voiced snap cadence, but will transition to a clap this Saturday to combat the noise.
“We have a few other options if we like, or if we need to go to something else,” Levis said. “But that's been working well. It's something we did a little bit at Penn State so I’m used to it, but the O-line seems to like it and everyone seems pretty comfortable with it.”
Kentucky’s at it’s best when they’re comfortably controlling the line of scrimmage and firing the ball downfield into their arms of their sure-handed receivers. Levis said the ‘Cats have continually shot themselves in the foot this season. In their particular situation, maybe it’s best to have the memory of a goldfish before they step on the field in Columbia.
“I think we all know that we can be a really good team,” Levis said. “We are a good team. As long as we take care of business and prepare and don’t let any other circumstances affect how we go out there, we [will] perform really well and get a good win.”