Kentucky conducted its first practice in Nashville on Thursday in preparation for Monday’s Music City Bowl.
Problem is, the Wildcats don’t know which FSU team will show up.
Thirty-six Seminoles won’t play in the game due to an academic cheating scandal, injuries, violations of team rules or other reasons.
Florida State was hit hardest on defense. Linebacker Dekoda Watson, cornerback Patrick Robinson, who had six interceptions, and three key defensive tackles are among the players who will be out of action.
That leaves Kentucky, which practiced Thursday at Vanderbilt, unsure of how to prepare for the depleted Seminoles.
“They’ll fill those spots, but I don’t know what they have behind those, because we’ve never seen a depth chart behind those guys,” UK coach Rich Brooks said.
Partly due to the FSU’s troubles, Kentucky is a heavy favorite in Monday’s game. Brooks, however, has warned his team about being overconfident.
“The coaches have really tried to get that across,” UK quarterback Andre’ Woodson said. “We have to understand that this game is not going to be easy at all. We have to do a wonderful job of preparing ourselves mentally and physically to play one of the best games we’ve played all season.”
Brooks is trying not to let Florida State’s short-handed roster distract his team from capping a solid two-year run.
Kentucky, which topped Clemson 28-20 in last year’s Music City Bowl, is seeking back-to-back bowl wins for the first time since 1950-51.
“It’s a little bit of a shame that this came up, but we can’t do anything about it,” Brooks said. “We have to focus on what we can do fundamentally and try to go out and try to play our best game of the year, because I think that’s what it’s going to take to win this game.
“I’ve been around of adversity in my coaching career, and teams can rally around it. It can bring guys together and give other guys a chance to have enthusiasm and go out and play. Believe me, Florida State will have a lot of athletes that will want to kick our fanny. We better come with our ‘A’ game or we’ll be in trouble.”
BOWL NOTES: Kentucky star receiver Keenan Burton did not practice Thursday due to a knee injury. His status for Monday’s game might not be decided until the end of today’s practice. Burton caught 59 passes and scored nine touchdowns this season. …Florida State is scheduled to practice in Nashville today for the first time at Goodpasture High at 12:35 p.m.