Mark Stoops prefers a whistle to a microphone, and the Kentucky head coach will get his wish Friday as football season transitions from podium luncheons to practices on the field.
He's ready to stop talking and get to work preparing for the Cats' season opener on Sept. 5 against Louisiana-Lafayette.
He's confident his players are ready for the fun part to begin, too.
"They're anxious to get done with the lifting and running and get on with football," he said after a recent meet-and-greet. "Everybody is ready to move on. I'm done. I'm ready to move on, as you know, with the talking season.
"And they're done with the just lifting and running, they want to put the pads on and get out there and play football."
A few more sound bites await at Media Day on Friday morning before the team takes the field (sans pads) on Friday afternoon to launch the 2015 football season.
Stoops has much higher expectations going into year three.
"We're sharper," he said recently. "We have sharper tools. Guys, the players, have worked hard. Our coaches have worked hard. ... We should be better; we expect to be better."
There are many minute questions to be answered in fall camp. Here are a handful of the broader questions ahead as talking season quietly ends:
1. Is there an actual quarterback battle?
With a new offensive coordinator and a season that ended not as effectively as it started for quarterback Patrick Towles, coaches went into spring hoping to push the junior with a competition between Towles and redshirt freshman Drew Barker.
Towles spent much of the offseason working on accuracy, something that new offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson stressed as the most important thing to running his brand of this offense.
A few days after the second open scrimmage, all signs started pointing strongly in Towles' direction. "Really impressed with Patrick," Stoops said after watching tape of the scrimmage. "He really played very well Saturday. Made a lot of good decisions, got rid of the ball quickly. He was very accurate with the football."
A 12-game starter who threw for 2,951 yards and 15 touchdowns (10 interceptions) will be hard for an untested redshirt freshman to steal the position from, but Barker will see snaps this fall and needs to be ready. The position battle will only help him.
2. Will the offense take that next step?
When Stoops and staff arrived on campus three seasons ago, they were working with four wide receivers (only three on scholarship) that had zero touchdown catches among them. In the past two seasons, there has been steady improvement for the offense.
With a majority of the Cats' playmakers back, including receivers Garrett Johnson, Ryan Timmons, Dorian Baker and Blake Bone, as well as some highly rated newcomers (and potential reliable playmakers at tight end), UK's offense should be its brightest spot. UK has Towles back behind a veteran offensive line and a trio of effective running backs.
3. Which newcomers could have an immediate impact?
Help will be needed and sought on both sides of the ball, especially from some of the redshirt freshmen in the secondary and on the defensive line.
But some of the names likely to be announced regularly at Commonwealth Stadium this fall include defensive linemen Courtney Miggins and Alvonte Bell as well as a group of bigger, speedier defensive backs like Chris Westry.
On offense, tight end C.J. Conrad and offensive lineman George Asafo-Adjei drew loads of praise in spring ball.
4. Who will replace Bud Dupree and Za'Darius Smith?
Kentucky will be replacing three of its four starting defensive linemen in Dupree, Smith and Mike Douglas, with just senior tackle Melvin Lewis remaining.
The expectation is that the defense will make up for a loss of veterans in talent, athleticism and depth. And an alteration in scheme as UK shifts more fully from a 4-3 to a 3-4 will help balance things out.
New names to remember include Denzil Ware and Kobie Walker, but veterans that will have to take over key roles include Jabari Johnson and Jason Hatcher as well as linemen such as Regie Meant, C.J. Johnson and Farrington Huguenin.
Stoops and staff have more faith that the middle of the defense — Lewis, middle linebacker Josh Forrest and safety A.J. Stamps — will be able to keep things steady as other players learn their roles.
"We're really harping on establishing depth," defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said last week. "So we've got to get those younger players, gotta get those guys that may be in those (second-string) roles, we've got to get them reps, got to get them in position, got to get them to understand the defense so that they might be contributors in the fall."
5. Can UK get to a bowl?
The Cats were improved enough to get one win (and in some cases one play) away from a bowl game last season. Stoops seems to have even more talent and depth than he's had before and even though he'd never say it out loud, the head coach believes a bowl game is a good possibility.
He expects a better product overall.
"We've got to be a better football team," Stoops said. "The broad strokes are there. Now we've gotta refine our skills and get more detailed and make plays when games are on the line."
UK has a rare eight home games this season, which could help make the road to six wins a little less daunting.