There are plenty of national predictions and prognostications out there that say Kentucky will finish near the bottom of the Southeastern Conference in 2018.
But Mark Stoops didn’t seem to hold the same opinion while guest hosting a local radio show on Thursday morning.
Kentucky’s coach seemed more optimistic and at ease going into his sixth year than any of his previous ones.
“We’re so excited about this upcoming season, I can’t even tell you,” Stoops said while co-hosting the first hour of Kentucky Sports Radio on Thursday.
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“We have a bunch of guys with some talent and experience, and that’s a good blend,” he said, noting that UK has five or six players who have been put on preseason lists for the league. “It’s hard to put all of that together. It is a long process. I feel very good. We have a good mixture of seniors, some good young guys. I feel good about the future.”
With the players back in the football facility for a couple of weeks now, he feels it in the hallways.
“It’s going to be an exciting year,” Stoops said of Kentucky, which returns 16 starters from last season. “Our players are amped up about it.”
Somehow the topic of starting quarterback — which might be a question that fuels the skepticism about UK's future — didn’t come up until the final seconds of Stoops’ time on the show.
“I have a lot of confidence in (whoever) winds up” winning the job, he said of the battle, which likely is between Gunnar Hoak and transfer Terry Wilson. “I have confidence in these guys. They’re good players, good leaders. Our team believes in them. It’s going to be a fun year.”
When he hosted the second hour, offensive coordinator Eddie Gran danced around the QB question coming from co-host Ryan Lemond, telling him to “see Coach Stoops.”
Gran seemed at ease with whoever wins the position sometime between now and the season opener on Sept. 1.
“We’ll see where it all falls, but I think we’re in a really good situation with the guys we have in there and we ought to be really excited about that,” Gran said.
News and notes
There were snippets of news to come out of the Kentucky staff’s time on the two-hour radio show normally hosted by Matt Jones. Other highlights include:
- Wide receiver Lynn Bowden has made a jump this offseason and the sophomore likely will be a much larger part of the offense in the fall.
“Where we have him right now, he’s bouncing all over the place,” Gran said. “I love him because he wants to learn every position.”
The key last season was getting Bowden comfortable in the slot receiver spot that he primarily was recruited to play. Last year was his first time playing in that spot.
“He was still learning on the run,” Gran said of Bowden, who still hasn’t scored a college touchdown. “You can see the difference already this spring and so if we can continue to make those jumps and those 30 practices in the fall, when we get to the first game, you can really see things that get you excited.”
- Kentucky’s head coach was asked by a caller about his candidates for punt returner this season, replacing Charles Walker. And Stoops mentioned Bowden mainly, but also added that fellow wide out David Bouvier and maybe even safety Mike Edwards are possibilities.