Stoops Keeping Cats' Focus as Florida Game Approaches

With Florida set to be the first Southeastern Conference opponent to take a shot at Kentucky in The New Commonwealth Stadium in just two days, Mark Stoops says the Wildcats’ preparation has been “so far so good.”

“It’s been a good week,” Stoops said. “We had a good walkthrough today and looking forward to our last run-through tomorrow, but the guys are focused and excited and we’re ready for a great challenge here this week.”

Stoops wasn’t so pleased after Kentucky’s practice on Wednesday, calling it “just OK.” The so-so day was evidence that the Cats are still a young team, and Stoops took that as an opportunity remind them anything less than full focus will not be tolerated.

How exactly do Stoops and his coaching staff get that done?

“We have our ways,” Stoops said.

On Thursday, UK responded to Stoops’ prodding.

“Today was good for the most part,” Stoops said. “We’re all just trying to do the very best we can and stay focused but also be on that attack mode and be ready to play.”

In delivering that message, Stoops didn’t resort to citing UK’s 28-game losing streak against Florida or the fact that Saturday’s game will be the second sellout in a row after the program went without one for five seasons. Instead, he went with his constant refrain.

“Every game is important to us,” Stoops said. “You know that, I know that and our players know that. You only have so many opportunities. That’s what we like to talk about. We have a great opportunity this week against a team with a lot of pride and a lot of tradition.”

But no matter how well the Cats prepare, Stoops knows there are no guarantees. That’s why he’s not asking for anything more than for his team to play to its potential.

“I just want to see us give our best shot,” Stoops said, “because I think we can play a lot better than we did the first two weeks and I’m looking forward to seeing if we can do that.”

Considering UK is 2-0 and coming off a road SEC win, big things could be in store if the Cats do.

Horton expected to play

Running back Mikel Horton was limited to two impressive carries at South Carolina by an injury, but Stoops expects him to play Saturday.

Stoops has said on multiple occasions he thought the 6-foot-1, 226-pound sophomore was poised for a big game last weekend. He sees no reason to change his tune about how Horton will fit into UK’s potent running-back rotation with Boom Williams and Jojo Kemp come Saturday.

“We feel like we have some good backs and he’s a little different, so it’ll be good to have him out there,” Stoops said.