Junior weakside backer will not play this week at South Carolina after suffering shoulder injury in victory over EKU. Status will be "week to week," per UK head coach Mark Stoops.
Jeff Drummond/Cats Illustrated
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Kentucky will be without a key member of its defensive unit when the Wildcats travel to South Carolina this weekend for their SEC opener.
Junior linebacker Jordan Jones, who led the Wildcats and ranked third among SEC defenders last season with 109 tackles, will not play against the Gamecocks due to a shoulder injury he sustained in last week's win over Eastern Kentucky.
"He will be week to week," UK head coach Mark Stoops said after Thursday's practice at the Joe Craft Football Training Center. "It may be a stretch to play next week (against Florida), quite honestly. He’ll play when the doctors tell him he can play… They’ve told me it’s week to week.”
Jones is currently the Cats' third-leading tackler (13) behind safety Darius West and middle linebacker Courtney Love. He also has a tackle for loss, a pass break-up, a quarterback hurry and a forced fumble.
The Youngstown, Ohio, native is the heart and soul of an improved UK defense that is allowing only 16.5 points and 58.5 rushing yards per game through the first two weeks of the season.
It's another setback for a team that has been hit hard by injuries to key players early in the season. Starting offensive tackle Cole Mosier and starting wide receiver Dorian Baker each sustained season-ending injuries in camp.
With Jones out, the Cats will call on sophomore Eli Brown to step into the starting role. The Bowling Green native has played in both games this season, recording two tackles and a pass break-up.
"Eli has played well," Stoops said. "I was really looking forward to seeing him get more reps this past Saturday, but when he made that foolish penalty, it kind of aggravated us... (But) I'm sure he'll be excited and he's going to play a bunch of snaps and he'll have to play well for us."
Jamar "Boogie" Watson, a 6-foot-3, 240-pound redshirt freshman who impressed during camp, will move up to the backup role.
"We have a lot of confidence in him,” Stoops said. "He’s a guy who can play multiple positions. We’ve been working on him learning linebacker and defensive end in some predictable pass and third-down packages… He can do many things."