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Back in the Pocket: Levis Expected to Start against Bulldogs

Will Levis - photo by Brendon D. Miller - Bluegrass Sports Nation

LEXINGTON – October 14, 2022 – Keith Baker

Kentucky is expected to have its standout quarterback back on the field when the Wildcats host Mississippi State for Homecoming Saturday at Kroger Field.

Senior quarterback Will Levis returned to practice on Monday after sitting out the Wildcats’ 24-14 loss to South Carolina last Saturday with a foot injury. He progressed throughout the week, and Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said Levis suffered “no setbacks” in practice leading up to the contest against the Bulldogs.

“It seems like he’ll be healthy,” Stoops said. “Obviously that brings a lot of energy to our team. … We hope he’s at or near full strength.”

Kentucky (4-2, 1-2 Southeastern Conference) carries a two-game losing streak against a Mississippi State squad that is off to its best start in eight years. The Bulldogs have won three in a row, including a 40-17 win over Arkansas last Saturday. The week before, Mississippi State defeated Texas A&M 42-24 and climbed to No. 16 in this week’s Associated Press Top-25 poll, while Kentucky slipped to 22nd.

“Obviously, anytime you are playing (Mississippi State coach) Mike Leach, he can move the footbajl. They are very good at what they do,” Stoops said. “Their quarterback, Will Rogers, is playing at a very high level, extremely comfortable and in total command of that offense. They have two dynamic running backs and always have playmakers on the perimeter.”

Leach, a former Kentucky offensive coordinator from 1997-98, returns to Lexington for the second time since serving a two-year stint under former Kentucky coach Hal Mumme. He praised the progress the Wildcats have made under Stoops.

“I think he does a really good job,” Leach said. “I think he’s really a sharp guy and of course, I worked for his brother Bob and then went against Bob and Mike over the years there in the Big 12. They’re sharp.

“They’re kinda like one of the first families of defense type of deal and what makes it even tougher is anything they’re kind of having a problem with, they just get on the phone and call any two or three of their brothers and get a whole field of suggestions. And of course, Mark’s done a really good job there at Kentucky.”

Without Levis, Stoops was disappointed in his team’s performance last Saturday against the Gamecocks, but vowed the Wildcats would deliver.

“When you don’t deliver for the fan base, it kind of bothers you as a head coach because you appreciate them so much. I thought coming into the game Saturday, the tailgating, the people, the environment, the stands, it’s been remarkable and (I) greatly appreciate that,” he said. “(We) need it again here this week to get back on track and sorry we did not deliver, and I can promise you our team is working hard, and we are excited about this week and need to have that same environment we’ve had all whole year. We really appreciate that, and we are going to need it.”

Gametracker: Mississippi State at Kentucky, 7:30 p.m., Saturday. TV/Radio: SEC Network, UK Radio Network.

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