CRAWFORD | For Stoops and UK, time to move forward with young talent
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- University of Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops unveiled a two-deep depth chart that features 14 true or redshirt freshmen before his first pregame news conference of the 2014 season and there was no small amount of murmuring.
There shouldn't be.
Four true freshmen at wide receiver. Four redshirt freshmen on the offensive line. Matt Elam, a 6-7, 375 of him, on the defensive front. "Boom" Williams, a 5-9 200-pound burner, listed at No. 1 kickoff returner.
Facing UT-Martin in their opener at Commonwealth Stadium is an ideal opportunity for that. Playing host to Ohio at home a week later is a chance to build on the lessons learned in their opener.
They'll come home to a pivotal game, against Vanderbilt in Lexington. Win that, and the SEC losing streak will be over, and the stage will be set for the rest of the season. Lose it, and it could be an uphill climb, with South Carolina visiting.
"Just playing at home in the opener is exciting to me," Stoops said. "I know our fans are ready to go. We need to do our part. I know we'll have great support. We need to go out there and start fast and play good football, play with great energy, play with great discipline, make it exciting for the fans. I think it's real important, I do. I think we need to start fast. We need to go out and play well."
But in the early games? Stoops said he's eager to see how some of his talented newcomers will react to the emotion and speed of the game.
"That's why you have to get out there and play. There's no substitution for experience. You got to get them out there, get them on the field, and get them playing. We tried to put them in as many game-like situations as we could. We try to prepare them the best we can with all different situations. Had a good camp. Put them through a lot of tests. We'll see how they go play."
"We've improved," Stoops said. "Our football team has worked hard. We'll see where we're at. I know we're going to play better. It will be good to see these young guys get out there and play."