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Stoops feeling better about team after Tuesday practice

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Head coach Mark Stoops



Defensive Coordinator D.J. Eliot




Mark Stoops took multiple signs of encouragement from his team's Tuesday practice after he had shown lingering frustration from last Thursday's loss at Mississippi State during his Monday press conference.

"I feel good today because I got it all off my chest yesterday," the UK coach said in reference to his first full-team meeting since last week's  game. "We had a good meeting, and the guys responded. They understand. They know there are a lot of things we can do better. That's the bottom line. Like I said over and over again they care and think it's important, but we need to do it for 60 minutes, every play."

Stoops and his staff emphasize consistency because there's no way of knowing when the opportunity to make a play might arise.

The first-year head coach was perhaps most frustrated by his team's missed opportunities in last Thursday's Mississippi State game. Going forward being ready to make a play at any and every point in the game will take precedence within the Kentucky football team's focus.

"You don't know what play's going to change the game," Stoops said. "It's not just the obvious play all the time. There are a lot of plays in there that could change the game. And that's the message, so take them all (as) very important and do the details on all plays. And that's where we're working to get better."

Stoops was also quick to point out that despite its Football Championship Subdivision status, Alabama State will pose plenty of challenges for a Wildcat team looking to get back to winning ways.

"I'm sure they'll be very jacked up," Stoops said of his team's next opponent. "They're going to play on TV against an SEC school, and they want to prove to everybody that they're not just one of the better teams in the SWAC; they want to be recognized as a very good team. And they (have) won six in a row, so they should be optimistic and confident.

"They're a good team, and I think they're well-coached. We're worried about continuing to get better as a program. And I say that, I don't care who we're playing. We need to put it together and execute and play with great passion, great energy and let's play a little bit smarter."

Even five days removed from last Thursday's game, the Nutter Football Training Center was still buzzing on Tuesday about Alvin "Bud" Dupree's career-best game at Mississippi State. Dupree's 13 tackles - in his first outing since missing the majority of the two previous games with injuries - were the most for a Kentucky defensive lineman since such stats began being recorded in 1992.

"Bud played fantastic, made a lot of plays in the run game, but also had great pass rush, was there when we needed him and played through pain," defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said. "He had two things that were ailing him and he just toughed it out and played every single snap and we're very proud of his efforts."

Indeed the vibe all around Tuesday's Kentucky football practice was upbeat. The positive energy permeating UK's practice couldn't have been hurt by the fact that all the coaches families were in attendance, as they are almost every Tuesday, with the staff-members' children decked out in Halloween costumes.

Two days into game week preparations for Alabama State, Stoops and his staff had plenty of reason to be encouraged that despite its record, UK is taking the necessary steps to improve.

"We got better today," Stoops said. "We had good energy today, guys were moving around. Good practice on both sides of the ball. I thought we were as physical at practice as we have been in a few weeks. It was good overall work."

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