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UK in clean-up mode at final practice before opener

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Head coach Mark Stoops



At the beginning of his first game week as Kentucky head coach, Mark Stoops said he wasn't sure whether the final days before his team faced off against Western Kentucky University would go by quickly or slowly.

With the countdown to UK's season opener in Nashville at less than 48 hours, Stoops has his answer.

"It just seems like there's never enough time in the day to do everything you need to do, so it still goes relatively fast," Stoops said. "Maybe it will slow down now, but there's just always things to do. We need a lot of work. So we're getting it done."

UK went to work at its final practice of the week on Thursday and once again turned in a productive day.

"It's just cleaning it up, you know, confidence boost," Stoops said. "We do things in series like game-like situations and move the ball offensively and drive it into the red zone and all those different situations, same thing on defense and kicking game. Just covering your bases on a lot of things, so it's a lot of cleanup."

It's been a rare occurrence for Stoops to be unhappy with his team's effort during fall camp and now game-week practices. That's a credit to the Cats.

"These guys, they're eager to win," Stoops said. "They've prepared the right way. I was very encouraged with how focused they've been the last two days."

Following Wednesday's practice, Stoops summoned Maxwell Smith and Jalen Whitlow for a meeting to discuss UK's quarterback plan. Fans will have to wait until the first offensive series on Saturday to learn who will start, but Smith and Whitlow now know.

"They were both fantastic just like we knew they would be," Stoops said. "They've been great through this whole process. They're team guys. Sure, they're competitors, but they want to win. They're all in."

The next decision the coaches will have to make before Saturday is naming captains. Stoops announced Thursday that the staff will name rotating game captains each week, though none have yet been chosen for WKU.

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