LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDRB) – And so it begins.

After weeks of practice, it’s finally game week for the Wildcats. UK is feeling mighty good about itself after fall camp but head coach Mark Stoops says he won’t get a true feel for the team until he sees them in action against Southern Miss.

“I just think as a football team, when you go into the first game, it’s definitely a little different,” said Stoops who enters his fifth year as head coach of the Wildcats.  “You feel the confidence, the preparation, and the work that’s gone into it for an entire year, but it’s just different in game one.”

For UK, expectations are also different after making it to their first bowl game since the 2010 season. Just like in previous seasons, Stoops wouldn’t put a number on wins but it’s safe to say he’s expecting to get off to a good start this weekend.

“It’s important for us to continue to show progress,” said Stoops. “However that is in wins and losses, we’ll see. But we go to compete, to practice, to win every football game. And that’s what we’re trying to do.”

The Wildcats have not forgotten about losing to Southern Miss and former UK offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson in last year's opener. Stoops says he’ll talk to the team about that,not necessarily for extra motivation but instead use it as a learning tool.

“I think if you’ve heard me talk over the years, I look back very little. But you have to learn in every opportunity.”

Game time is at 4PM ET Saturday in Hattiesburg.

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