Jen Smith on UK Football

Practice report: Who is Stoops most eager to see play? Preparing for tricks

▪  Special teams question marks: Southern Miss is a team known for some special teams trickery, which Coach Mark Stoops said UK has been prepping for, but it’s difficult going into a season opener to prepare for everything. “There’s many different crazy scenarios that happen, and we have to be in tune to the game and be as alert as possible and be as educated as we need to be in all situations,” Stoops said. “We try to put them in as many as we can. And special teams is one of them.” … Kentucky’s special teams has its own share of question marks, with Stoops saying there’s still no decision on what punter will punt in the opener. He’s seen both walkon Bryan Kirshe and true freshman Grant McKinniss have good days and bad. “Game time decision honestly,” he said. “We had a good feeling but we’ll see how they’re hitting Saturday.”

▪  Quarterback questions: Is there one specific position on the field that Stoops is eager to see? Is there one where he wants to see if the hard work paid off? The head coach is just like most fans in this case, he’s interested to see quarterback Drew Barker and how he plays. Much of it is about how the offense plays around its signal caller, too, he said. “I am excited to see the whole offensive unit and I'm certainly excited to see Drew take the field a year older and with all the work that he's put in. I'm excited to see him play.”

▪  A calmer camp? At least once a fall camp since the season he arrived, Stoops has stormed into a news conference critical of energy and effort. That hasn’t been the case this camp. “They’ve really handled it well,” he said of the inevitable frustrations of camp. “It does not mean we were perfect. … I always felt like the attitude, the energy and the effort has been really solid.”

▪  Montgomery coming along: Kentucky wide receiver Alexander Montgomery, who had his second knee operation this offseason, has been back with the team since the start of school on Aug. 24 and could help UK at some point this season. “Getting back out there and working on some routes and getting involved in special teams, so we’re bringing him along,” Stoops said.