Stoops, Cats 'Jacked Up' to Start Tennessee Week


Were you expecting Mark Stoops to be deflated following a last-second loss to Georgia over the weekend?

Think again.

“I’m jacked up and ready to go,” Stoops said. “I really am. I’m not going to lie. It’s a hard locker room after that game, of course it is. It’s not an easy Sunday. That’s it, 24 hours, man, I’m juiced up and ready to go. I’m on my fourth cup of coffee.”

And in case you were wondering, Stoops’ weekly press conference takes place at noon, so his Monday was off to a busy and caffeine-fueled start. Kentucky might have fallen short against the Bulldogs, but that’s having no ill effects on this team’s motivation.

“I was extremely pleased with our team’s effort,” Stoops said. “I thought our coaches did a great job. I thought our team really played exceptionally hard and we came up fractions off. And that’s going to happen. But I was proud of them and the work they did to put us in position to win a game. Onto the next one: We’re excited and ready to go for Tennessee.”

As focused as Stoops is on the task at hand – a trip to Knoxville, Tennessee, for a noon matchup with the Volunteers on Saturday – he did revisit the “edge” he said the Wildcats didn’t have in their loss to Georgia. Explaining further, it wasn’t any kind of a lack of intensity that Stoops was referring to.

“Edge is not about just an attitude,” Stoops said. “Edge is disciplined execution in the face of adversity. We didn’t always have the execution that we needed. I never faulted their effort. I don’t know that there’s a team in the country that’s worked harder than us the last seven weeks.”

To achieve disciplined execution in the face adversity, Stoops says, takes three things. First comes purposeful preparation, which was no issue last week and has been at no point this season.

“We were relentless in our preparation,” Stoops said. “Watch film, they got recovery, they got sleep. They did what they had to do.”

The second is exceptional energy, which the Cats and a big crowd certainly gave.

“Again I cannot thank the fans enough,” Stoops said. “That’s what it takes. That’s an SEC football game at home against a quality opponent. That’s great energy and our team had great energy.”

The leaves just one thing.

“The last thing is fanatical focus and that’s all of it is part of the edge thing that I talked about,” Stoops said. “The focus, in big moments, we missed a couple of opportunities.”

UK won’t have to wait long for its next opportunities with that game against Tennessee looming. The Cats are coming off their first loss to a team not named Alabama in almost two months, when they began the season in an 0-2 hole. The way they responded to that moment suggests a positive response this time around.

“The last time we faced adversity, the tough adversity from the beginning of the year, our team has grown a tremendous amount and I’m very proud of that,” Stoops said. “This is another tough game and we’re facing some adversity. You learn from it and you move on.”