CRAWFORD | Kentucky's Stoops: 'We know we can play with Florida'
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — It is the longest losing streak one team has had to another in SEC history, the University of Kentucky football team’s 28-game skid against Florida. But Wildcats' coach Mark Stoops is over it.
In his news conference Monday, Stoops said he doubts he’ll talk about it with his team.
“I really, you know, can’t speak to the 28 years,” Stoops said. “I can only speak to the years that I’ve been here. I think, like I said, we need to just worry about ourselves. We know we can play with Florida. I said it a year ago. And I just felt like we were getting better and had some opportunities. This year, again, we have great respect for Florida, obviously. They’ve been a great program for a long time. So we really just concentrate on ourselves. Let’s get better and do the work and let’s prepare to go win the game.
“That streak really doesn’t bother me. Somebody asked if I was going to touch on it or rant and rave. There’s nothing to talk about on that. If it bothers some players and gives him some form of motivation to do something extra, so be it. But I’m just worried about our team constantly doing those things.”
Some other highlights of today’s news conference (read a transcript by clicking here):
RIDING HIGH AFTER SOUTH CAROLINA WIN: The Wildcats are coming off one streak-busting game, a win at South Carolina that broke a 22-game road losing streak.
There was dancing in the locker room after the game and Stoops said he was happy to see it, and happy to see the work that his players have done pay off in a big win.
Now, Stoops says he’s on the watch for any kind of over-confidence.
“They’re young kids,” Stoops said. “They’re young guys. I love them, but a lot of them are very immature. They’re going to hear it. There’s things that bother me that you have to rein in. The focus has to be there. I do not like to, you know, get guys uptight when we’re traveling and things like that. But there’s got to be some discipline and accountability and young guys — there’s a fine line there, with everything.”
HATCHER RETURNS AFTER SUSPENSION: Former Louisville Trinity standout Jason Hatcher sat out the first two games of the season for a violation of team rules, but returns to the depth chart in the No. 2 spot behind Jabari Johnson at strong side linebacker.
Stoops said the junior has done everything asked of him during his suspension, and tried to help the team despite not being able to play.
“Jason needs to show some humility, as he has,” Stoops said. “He realizes that he made some decisions that hurt himself and the team. He’s paid the consequences. He needs to earn his way back on the team to some extent. We welcome him back. He’s been out there, he’s been very supportive. He’s been doing everything he can to help us win without being able to play. So, again, I have no problem with bringing Jason back. He’s taken his penalties like a man and he’s got to move forward and grow from them. He gives us some experience at that position and gives us some pass-rushing ability, and some depth. So it can only help us.”
WESTRY NAMED SEC FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK: After a game-clinching interception helped Kentucky to its first win at South Carolina in 16 years, 6-foot-4 cornerback Chris Westry was named SEC Freshman of the Week. The native of Orange Park, Fla., not only had his first interception, but added a sack, a quarterback hurry and a key pass breakup in the end zone.
SPECIAL EVENTS SATURDAY: UK will honor former SEC commissioner Mike Slive with a special helmet sticker in the Florida game, and the event will be billed as a Prostate Cancer Awareness Event. UK has announced that it will hold a free concert before the game, featuring the Jordan English Band and JD Shelburne. The concert will be held next to the Green Lot adjacent to Gate 1 of Commonwealth Stadium. The Jordan English Band will headline the show and play starting at 4:30 p.m. before breaking for the Cat Walk at 5:15 p.m. Following the Cat Walk, the band will play an encore. Shelburne will open the concert at 3 p.m. . . . Former Wildcat Art Still will be introduced during Saturday’s game. The UK defensive end from 1974-77 is being honored for his upcoming induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.
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