UK defensive starters, linebacker Ridge Wilson and safety Martavius Neloms, are out for the Georgia game due to injury.
LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky junior linebacker/defensive end Ridge Wilson and junior safety Martavius Neloms will not play Saturday against No. 13/14 Georgia because of injuries, UK head coach Joker Phillips announced Thursday.
Wilson, who sustained a shoulder injury in Kentucky’s win over Ole Miss two weeks ago, also missed the Vanderbilt game, marking the first game this season he didn’t play. Neloms will sit Saturday after an ankle injury late in the Vanderbilt game last week.
Neloms ranks third on the team in tackles with 71 and he also has broken up five passes this season. Wilson has 47 stops on the year, ranking fifth on the team.
Good news on the injury front is that senior safety/linebacker Winston Guy did practice on Thursday and is expected to start on Saturday, according to Phillips. The UK head coach also said that junior quarterback Morgan Newton is much improved from two weeks ago and is available to play on Saturday.
Kentucky braved the cold temperatures in Lexington to practice outside on Thursday for the first time all week. Phillips said it was good for the Wildcats to get out in the cool weather to get familiar with working in it. The cool conditions didn’t affect the Wildcats’ energy level, according to Phillips.
“The energy was there,” Phillips said. “They weren’t always sharp on all our assignments and those types of things, but the energy was there.”
Phillips and the Wildcats have recruited well in the state of Georgia over the years, especially in Phillips’ latest signing class, which he termed to be probably the best class UK has signed from the state. The UK coach gave multiple reasons for the success, but said the Wildcats’ win over Georgia in Athens in 2009 was important.
“The last time we were down there it was big to be on their turf and play the way that we played,” Phillips said. “It helped us get about six or seven guys from the state who have been big players for us. Last year was probably our best year recruiting in that state, as far as numbers and quality. But being a part of the SEC and playing down there every other year helps also.
“Numbers (the number of good players) is one of the reasons and the location and distance from Lexington is the reason why it has been so good to us. We get a chance to take them home every other year, which is one of our selling points. We play games close so their parents and friends can get back and see them play. And we are only six hours from there.”
Phillips said the Wildcats can take some confidence from the win in Athens in 2009, but the teams change every year.
“Their locker room is different and our locker room is different,” Phillips said. “We have a little bit more Georgia players on our team now than we had then. We have about 23 players from Georgia and we are taking more Georgia kids home this time. I am looking forward to seeing those guys playing in front of their parents. Last time we were down there a lot of guys from Georgia were making plays for us and we expect that same type of effort and desire to win.”
Kentucky will go through a short walk-through practice Friday, before heading to Athens on Friday afternoon.