Stoops: Cats united, committed going into season opener

Published 4:30 pm Tuesday, August 22, 2023

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Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops likes his team’s mentality as the Wildcats shift focus from fall workouts to season preparation.

“I like where they’re at,” Stoops said. “I think they’re in a good place — united and really committed. If we can stay there and stay hungry and continue to get better and not look ahead… If we stay in that mindset, we’ll be all right.”

For the first time in 14 years, the Wildcats sold 46,700 season tickets, a sellout and the most in Stoops’ tenure. Stoops said sellout “means an awful lot.”

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“I greatly appreciate the support, we always do. It affects the game,” Stoops said. “It affects recruiting, the atmosphere when this place is on full tilt. It’s a blast to play in. Our players really feed off that and we’ve always had great support and we continue to get that.”

In preparation for the season opener against Ball State on Sept. 2, Stoops has been getting his squad ready for the season-long roller-coaster ride of ups and downs.

“I think we all have to take a good look at yourself, year-to-year, I’ve never pretended to put it all on any one group,” Stoops said. “Ultimately, I have to get that out of them. I have to do a better job and I’ve just got to put my foot down and demand it out of them, and the coaches do and the players ultimately will.”

Stoops added the Wildcats have received the message he has preached during the past three weeks.

“We’ve been more consistent,” he said. “We haven’t been perfect, but I like their attitude, and I like their work ethic and I like the energy. At times, I felt like I fell short in that area (last year), and I’ve got to get it out of them.”

He added that his team still needs to work on some “pre-snap things” before the season-opener against Ball State.

“We just have try to be as perfect as we can. Turnovers and ball security has been relatively good and that needs to stay. But there’s still some pre-snap penalties and some things of that nature. We’ve just got to be cleaner and not beat ourselves.”