Kentucky saved its best for last. In the penultimate fully-padded practice of the 2021 season, offensive coordinator Liam Coen saw something he had never seen from the Wildcats before.
“Our level of practice, the way we practiced today, the energy, the enthusiasm that we had today at practice was hands down the best we’ve had all year,” said Kentucky’s offensive coordinator. “You just felt the energy, the juice. There was no negative or anything like that about Louisville. You just felt the change.”
Practice like the Pros
The atmosphere at Tuesday’s Kentucky football practice brought Coen back to a feeling he’d only felt once before. Kentucky’s offensive coordinator recalled a practice from his first season as an assistant with the L.A. Rams.
“It reminded me of 2018 when I was with the Rams and we finished the regular season and we’re going to play the Cowboys in the first playoff game of the year. You just felt the level of play, the level of focus and the level of practice just totally different,” Coen said. “That’s when I realized playoff football is a lot different and so is rivalry football.”
The Rams defeated the Cowboys 30-22 and eventually advanced to the Super Bowl. It’s not to say that Kentucky has the talent of a Super Bowl team, but they have the energy of team taking it to new gear for the final game of the season.
“I just felt a different vibe from these guys today,” Coen said. “We had guys running into the end zone 60 yards down the field, blocking for running backs and wideouts. We hadn’t really had that happen too often in practice and we don’t ask them to do that. You just felt the energy amplified. I’ve gotten a sense that these guys are going to be ready to play.”
“He probably had his best practice of the season today, hands down. It’s not even close. The way threw the football, just the level of execution, detail. I would have thought I would have seen probably a little bit more but amped up guy, maybe missed some throws early today in practice, and that wasn’t the case.”
Defense Brings Energy Too
“We had high energy on the defensive side of the ball,” said the senior defensive end. “We were locked in, we were having fun, we were flying around and that’s what you love to see, especially late in the season, going against your rival in your last regular season game.”
The Governor’s Cup rivalry just means more. With one game left, the Wildcats are making sure the new guys are ready for an intense battle for the Commonwealth Saturday night at Cardinal Stadium.
“I feel like this whole team knows it’s going to be a dogfight on Saturday,” said Paschal. “It’s a rivalry game. They’re going to come out playing hard, but they’re going to get our best on Saturday. We’re going to go out there and fight. We’re going to go out there ready to compete, and ready to get back to owning the state.”