Kentucky football injury update: QB Will Levis' finger 'fine,' linebackers a question mark

Brett Dawson
Louisville Courier Journal

That finger on Will Levis’ hand didn’t look good. 

But the Kentucky quarterback is “fine,” coach Mark Stoops said Monday, after dislocating a finger on his left, non-throwing hand in Saturday’s 22-19 loss at Ole Miss.

Although “fine” is relative. 

“I mean, how would your finger be if it was sideways and you put it back in?” Stoops said. “But it doesn’t need surgery, let’s put it that way. So that’s a great thing.” 

That’s about as forthcoming as Stoops was on the injury front at his weekly news conference Monday. 

3 takeaways:Will Levis, Kentucky football fumble away golden opportunity at Ole Miss

More Kentucky football:QB Will Levis says Kentucky football's late-game mistakes are 'on me' after Ole Miss loss

No. 13 Kentucky (4-1, 1-1 SEC) has bumps and bruises entering its Saturday home game against South Carolina (3-2, 0-2). Stoops didn’t elaborate much beyond that, but he didn’t rule out a return for a pair of key defensive players. 

Kentucky linebacker Jacquez Jones (10) intercepts a Mississippi pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)

Linebacker Jacquez Jones, who left the Ole Miss game with an injury in the second half and did not return, is on the depth chart for Saturday’s game against the Gamecocks. That doesn’t mean he’ll play — “He’s banged up,” Stoops said — but it’s possible. 

Jones has 31 tackles, second on the team to linebacker DeAndre Square. Jones also has a sack and an interception this season.

Stoops indicated that linebacker J.J. Weaverwho was injured on the first defensive series of UK’s game Sept. 17 against Youngstown State and has missed two games since — has not been ruled out for Saturday’s game. Stoops said there are “chances we’ll see” Weaver playing against the Gamecocks. 

Weaver has 15 tackles, 1.5 for loss, including one sack, and has forced a fumble. 

SEC freshman repeat

Sep 24, 2022; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Kentucky Wildcats wide receiver Barion Brown (2) celebrates a first down during the first quarter against the Northern Illinois Huskies at Kroger Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

For the second straight week, Kentucky wide receiver Barion Brown shared SEC Freshman of the Week honors with the same player. 

Ole Miss running back Quinshon Judkins shared the honor with Brown again, this time after the Rebels beat the Cats head-to-head. Judkins ran for 106 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries against UK. 

Offensive promise:Kentucky football's offense is falling short. Barion Brown, Chris Rodriguez provide hope

Brown caught two passes for 81 yards at Ole Miss and returned three kickoffs for 164 yards, including returns of 85 and 54 yards. 

And he could have been better, Stoops said, with improved blocking. 

“There’s areas where we need to improve on that, is the scary thing,” Stoops said. “Because we felt like there was some guys that didn’t do a good job on that, but there was enough that gave him the crease. We got to really pat the guys on the back that are doing a good job of really giving the guy a chance — because if you give him a chance he can hurt you — and there’s some guys that need to step up and improve.” 

Stoops on coaching changes

Head coach Paul Chryst of the Wisconsin Badgers reacts after a play in the fourth quarter against the Washington State Cougars at Camp Randall Stadium on Sept. 10, 2022, in Madison, Wisconsin.

Wisconsin on Sunday fired football coach Paul Chryst, the fifth FBS school so far this fall to part ways with a coach in season. 

Nebraska’s Scott Frost, Arizona State’s Herm Edwards, Georgia Tech’s Geoff Collins and Colorado’s Karl Dorrell also have been fired this season. 

Stoops is on solid footing at Kentucky. But asked Monday why he thinks the quick changes have seemed to pick up steam, he had a theory. 

Doyel:College football is big business. So big buyouts be damned if you want to keep up.

"I do know, I think the social media presence that’s real now is grating on some people,” Stoops said. "That definitely I think is real. It takes its toll. It takes its toll on decision-makers. It takes its toll on people in leadership positions. It can, let’s put it that way.” 

Stoops said the level of constant criticism and potential job pressure is hard on coaches, though he said there’s “no amount of pressure that anybody can say or write or do that we don’t feel” without the outside influence. 

For his part, Stoops said, he tries to limit his exposure to outside noise. 

“I hope y’all aren’t saying bad stuff about me, because I don’t read your stuff,” Stoops said. “But if you do, you better bring it to me so I know who I take questions from and who I don’t.”

Reach Louisville men’s basketball reporter Brett Dawson and bdawson@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter at @BDawsonWrites.