You would think the bye week Kentucky just enjoyed would restore some health to such a banged up team.
It did help players dealing with nagging ailments, but the Wildcats couldn't escape unscathed. Coach Joker Phillips announced that starting sophomore safety Ashely Lowery will miss the final two games of the season after breaking a finger in practice on Tuesday. Phillips said Lowery will need surgery requiring pins. Doctors told Phillips that playing on it this season would compromise the repairs.
"It's been that kind of year," Phillips said with a chuckle. "But it's football. You have to try to overcome the injuries."
It's been a very long year for the Wildcats, and the product on the field has really dipped, as the injuries have piled up. Saturday not only brings senior day to Commonwealth Stadium, but it's Phillips' last game there as Kentucky's head coach. The Wildcats' 1-9 record (0-7 in the SEC) has been an overwhelming black eye for the program, but it was certainly influenced by the many black eyes and bruises.
The Wildcats have resembled walkers from "The Walking Dead" in 2012, and it all really started with the loss of quarterback Maxwell Smith to a shoulder and ankle injury.
"With that injury, it's hard to overcome at Kentucky," Phillips said. "Some places can overcome it, but here at Kentucky it's one of the hardest things to do."
Kentucky had to play two true freshmen (Jalen Whitlow and Patrick Towles) at the most important position and struggled. Neither was ready for that responsibility, and things worsened when Towles missed time with his own ankle injury.
The Wildcats just haven't caught any breaks.
Kentucky also suffered a major blow well before the season. Running back Josh Clemons had a very promising start to his Wildcat career last season, but suffered a season-ending knee injury early in the season. That injury lingered through the spring and fall, and Clemons won't see the field in 2012.
"It's been tough for him. He's a competitor," Phillips said. "Hopefully, they'll have him back in the future. This game is important to him. It's important to he and his family, and hopefully he can come back and come back strong."
Clemons was one of Kentucky's top recruits last season, so losing him was a big hit for this offense. The hope is that he and Smith can come back healthy for the next coaching staff that arrives in Lexington.