Mark Stoops has to feel a little bit like the president or the pope when he walks into the defensive backs room.
"You've got to sit up straight when he talks," Kentucky safety Mike Edwards said of his head coach. "When the head coach comes around, you know you've got to straighten up."
If the cornerbacks and safeties are laughing, maybe joking a little and Stoops walks into their position room, there's an immediate demeanor adjustment.
"Definitely changes," Blake McClain said. "Everybody gets quiet, gets serious."
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The change isn't lost on secondary coach Derrick Ansley.
"So, he comes in — usually, I'm starting, he comes in right behind me — they're laughing and giggling around, and he comes in and it's quiet," Ansley said.
With good reason.
Long before he was the head coach at Kentucky, Stoops made his name as a defensive backs coach, coaching at least 10 defensive backs who were drafted to the NFL, including seven in the first round.
Obviously, Stoops can't spend all his time with his first love, but he's spending a lot more time in the defensive backs room this season, specifically helping with the safeties.
"I'm excited to get in there and give as much as I can," Stoops said. "You have your obligations as a head coach that I'm more comfortable with at this point in time. But I am excited to get back into the room."
When special teams and safeties coach Craig Naivar left to coach at Houston, Stoops shifted some defensive positions and hired Andy Buh to oversee outside linebackers and help with general game prep, then moved Ansley from cornerbacks coach to overseeing the entire secondary.
The plan was for Stoops to help with some of the technical parts of coaching the secondary, specifically the safeties.
There are times during practices when Stoops takes off his metaphorical head coach's hat and becomes the safeties coach. He said Ansley makes it easy for him.
"I get in and maybe watch a little bit of film with them and get out there on the practice field and work certain parts that he wants to," Stoops said. "I work for (Ansley) during that period, for a few minutes here and there."
At a recent practice, Stoops was running drills and barking orders.
"Flat back," he said. "Move your feet."
The line went through twice before Stoops proclaimed: "Hold up. Do it again. Do it right this time."
Each and every safety asked could name a list of things he picked up from having Stoops so hands-on at the position.
For junior Marcus McWilson, it was his scooch technique.
"It's definitely a lot better and has definitely come a long way since freshman year to where I am right now," he said. "My backpedal, being lower, forward lean, being quick and not getting too far outside your circle. Little things that definitely help out a lot."
For McClain, it was reading receivers more effectively.
"He's a defense and DB guru, so it's just the little tidbits to put in your game and make you more successful," he said.
And you don't want to get busted being lazy.
"You want to do all your techniques right hopefully because if he sees it on film he jumps on you," McClain said.
The junior isn't complaining, though.
"I love him being over there; having someone like Stoops over there in our DB area makes me excited," he said. "Learning from the best, everybody wants to learn from the best, especially at your position. It makes me excited."
Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot, who has coached for Stoops at several stops, said the head coach has a way of making things less complicated.
"He just keeps things simple, doesn't try to get too elaborate in things, keeps things simple and players understand that," Eliot said.
It's even been a good learning experience at times for Ansley.
"Just organization ... the things that you need to try to work on particular days and not trying to work on everything every day," he said.
Kentucky is hopeful that its defensive backfield will take a big jump this season with an upgrade in talent and the development of some returning players.
Stoops is happy to be doing his part. "It's fun to get out there and get active."