Head Coach Mark Stoops did not mince words Wednesday when he voiced being displeased with how the Kentucky football team practiced for the first time since returning from spring break. Stoops gave no excuses and challenged the Wildcats to get better. They answered the bell Friday morning with a spirited session in the Nutter Field House.
"A much more efficient practice today and I felt that the guys had a much better focus about them and competed better," Stoops said. "We executed better and threw and caught the ball well. It was much more competitive plays. It wasn't just one side having success because the other was inept at times. I just felt that today when sides won it was because they made competitive plays. If we work with that kind of mentality and that kind of effort each and every day, we will have a chance to put together a good football team. We have to be consistent and we challenged them to come back tomorrow and have a good practice."
Stoops said the staff was not happy about Wednesday's practice on either side of the ball and the offense made a concerted effort to get the ball downfield more and they achieved that Friday. Although a defensive guy, Stoops was happy to see the offense stretch the field.
"As you know, going back to Wednesday's practice we were just not very efficient on either side of the ball, so today, offensively, we made a conscious effort to get the ball down the field and they did. That is never good if you look at it from a defensive point of view, but I do find myself cheering for the offensive to make competitive plays because if we don't make plays down the field we aren't going to win football games. I just felt there were some very good individual efforts today and the ball was in the right places and we made some plays down the field. So if you are looking for something tomorrow, I hope they don't make as many plays down the field," Stoops joked.
Defensive coordinator/inside linebackers coach D.J. Eliot said Friday was a good day of work for his squad and although they didn't win every battle, he echoed Stoops' praise of the team's overall competitiveness.
"Good practice today, which is good, but we didn't win every battle," Eliot said. "I am one-sided and Coach Stoops isn't. We didn't win every battle on defense and we have to fight to do that and that is our goal, to win our one-on-one matchups. We have to improve on that. Besides that we had a very competitive practice and had our fair share of success and we are looking forward to tomorrow."
The strong practice comes a great time for Kentucky as Stoops and Co. will open up the gates to practice Saturday for fans and media. The open practice will start at 10:30 a.m. ET and is scheduled to take place at the Tim Couch Practice Fields at the Nutter Training Center. Practice may be moved inside to the Nutter Field House. Parking will be available free of charge in the C8 Lot behind the rightfield fence of Cliff Hagan Stadium; E-Lot beside Cliff Hagan Stadium; Small E-lots on Sports Center Drive; Green Lot near Commonwealth Stadium (if practice is moved to the Nutter Field House).
Saturday's practice will mark the sixth of the spring for the Wildcats, who will take the next three weeks to complete the 2015 spring schedule. The Wildcat's last practice is scheduled for April 15.