Jen Smith on UK Football

Q&A: Stoops on a good, long week of practices as UK prepares for Florida

Mark Stoops on final prep for Florida

After Thursday's practice, Kentucky coach Mark Stoops talked about how his team has prepared this week for Saturday's game at Florida.
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After Thursday's practice, Kentucky coach Mark Stoops talked about how his team has prepared this week for Saturday's game at Florida.

MARK STOOPS

“It’s been a good week, been a long week. We’ve needed to get a lot of work done and we have. We’ve had some good practices the past couple of days and a good walkthrough today. We’ll clean it up tomorrow and get on the plane and head down there and play a good football game. So we’re excited and anxious and ready to go.”

On guys he saw step up through the week and rally: “You know, I just saw guys trying to be focused and do the best they can. Everybody can do better and I think that was the big message is dig in and don’t have any regrets and have the discipline to prepare the right way. I saw a lot of guys trying to do that.”

On if he’s expecting to have Blake McClain and Josh Allen back: “Yeah. I am.”

On if he's thought about playing a 4-3 at all: “I mean, we do play a 4-3.”

On if he is going to play it more often:I don't know. We'll see. You want me to tell 'em the game plan?” (Laughs)

On how what they've done to prepare Drew Barker for the environment at Florida:Well we've just done our normal crowd noise and just gone about our business. I don't anticipate that it'll be an issue. It's loud and you're gonna have to deal with that and we have at practice. He's been efficient, so I don't know what else you can do. Get him locked in and ready to roll.”

On if it helps that Barker has been on the road with the team in the past:“Yeah. I think it does. He's been around. He's been around for a while so he does know what to expect. And he did play at Vandy last year, if I'm not mistake. (He didn't start, though.) OK.”

On the battle at punter and what he has seen from Grant McKinnis, Bryan Kirshe this week: “Yeah, we'll see what happens. We'll see. Planning on going with Grant right now, but we'll see what happens.”

On if the defense backups on the line impressed this week: “Better. Getting better. We’ve got a long season with a lot of practices. In particular on Tuesday and Wednesday they gotta get out here and have some big physical days. That’s where we’ve gotta continue to bring guys along and develop them and we’ve done that. We had big, physical practices Tuesday and Wednesday so hopefully they’re getting better and better.”

On if the attitude overall is what he wanted to see: “Yeah, definitely. It was. It was. Guys were focused and trying to get better. That’s all we can do. I think, you know, we’ve hashed it out. We’ve already gone down that road but we need to be consistent. We’ve seen us play some good football, we just have to see it more.”

On if Denzil Ware is stepping up as a leader after calling a players-only meeting with defense: “Yeah, Denzil always – he’s tried. I want to say all year he’s tried to be a leader, he’s tried to be a leader and do the very best he can. Denzil means very well, and I think Denzil will be the first one to tell you he’s talking to himself too because he made some critical, critical errors. So I don’t think that was anything about pointing fingers. It was about, ‘Let’s get on the same page and let’s get our act together.’ Nothing major. That’s not uncommon. I think ya’ll like to write about that and try to get a story, which I understand, but the guys just want to – they just want to get everybody’s attention and get focused and improve.”

On what he saw from Kobie Walker in what appeared to be an up-and-down opener: “I saw him have some ups and downs. He hasn’t played for awhile. He’s going to be a good player, and we’ve got to continue to bring him along. That was a lot for him in the first game.”

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