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Stoops pleased after practice on chilly Tuesday

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Head coach Mark Stoops

Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot

Though he's a native of Youngstown, Ohio, Mark Stoops has grown accustomed to mild winters. He's made coaching stops at Houston, Miami, Arizona and Florida State since 2000.

Now at Kentucky, Stoops is once again becoming acclimated to cold November practices. On Tuesday, UK practiced in the coldest temperatures of the year.

"Pretty decent practice," Stoops said. "Little bit cool out there today, but the energy was up. Guys were moving around, bouncing around good, so overall fairly pleased with the practice."

Headed to Athens, Ga., (Saturday forecast: 62 degrees and rainy) this weekend for a game against Georgia, Stoops won't need to bundle up this weekend, but the Cats will have to prepare for a Bulldog offense that has rolled up 856 yards passing over its last two games. That starts with star senior quarterback Aaron Murray.

"They're very good and very efficient," Stoops said. "They have a lot of balance in their offense, and so when they need to throw it -- like you saw at the end of that game last week -- they can throw it as good as anybody, really. I think they have a really good group of receivers, good tight ends. They like hitting the back (Todd Gurley) and checking it down to him as well. But Murray's just a very special quarterback."

A young secondary is in for a test, particularly with junior corner Nate Willis unlikely to travel. It's a group that is without an interception this season -- UK's lone pick was by linebacker Josh Forrest -- a fact not lost on Stoops. His background is as a defensive backs coach, so he's having to balance between using the lack of interceptions as motivation and preserving confidence.

"There's a line," Stoops said. "There's definitely a line between beating them down and getting them to, you know. It'd be good to cover them and knock the ball down sometimes as well, honestly."

Over the Cats' last two games, they've dealt with Dorial Green-Beckham of Missouri and Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews, two players sure to play on Sundays. Georgia, only now recovering from a rash of injuries at skill positions, might not have that kind of top-end talent, but will still be a test.

"We'll have our hands full each and every week in this league, but we're improving and we'll be out there ready to play," Stoops said.

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