Stoops Pleased as Fall Camp Nears End

The end of fall camp is in sight for the Kentucky football team. 

UK held the first half of its final two-a-day on Monday morning, after which Mark Stoops was once again pleased with his team.

“Thought we had a good morning practice,” Stoops said. “We'll have another one this afternoon. It was very good work. Guys had good energy, good focus, improved.”

It’s been an annual tradition through his first three seasons, Stoops coming to a post-practice press conference ready to rip his team for a lackluster effort. Last year, it memorably resulted in an impromptu evening practice mostly conducted in the dark. This season, it hasn’t yet happened.

The closest Stoops has come to voicing out-and-out displeasure was following Saturday’s scrimmage, when he expressed concern over UK’s depth. But even those feelings he walked back slightly after film review over the weekend.

“I felt like after watching the scrimmage, again, there was some really good things in there,” Stoops said. “I felt like we made a big jump defensively. As I touched on after the scrimmage, depth is an issue, but we're gonna be just fine. As you piece it all together and put everyone together and move some guys around, we're gonna be in good shape.”

UK will look to get important work done on that front over the final two practices of camp on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning. Wednesday, the Wildcats take a day off for the start of school. Thursday brings the start of preparation for Southern Miss, UK’s week-one opponent.

Stoops will begin that process much more confident than he has in past seasons.

“Our team has been able to handle more,” Stoops said. “They practice hard. They have great attention to detail. They’re focused. We’re more mature. Physically we can handle more and mentally we can handle more. You put that together with some depth and we’ve got a better team.”

Not only a better team, but one that’s doing things the right way.

“Our players have really invested a lot,” Stoops said. “They’ve worked hard. They have a good mentality. They have a good mindset. And I’ve been pleased with that. I really have. Even late at night, we constantly do meetings and walkthroughs. We’ve got speakers coming and talking to them, and they’ve been very attentive and they’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do. That’s been fun to see.”

Other happenings

One of the best battles in camp is at inside linebacker alongside Courtney Love, where Jordan Jones and Eli Brown are jockeying for position. “Jordan, he and Eli are battling for the starting middle linebacker position,” Stoops said. “Both of them have shown very good promise. Both make a few mistakes but they’re playing really good football.”
Transfer De’Niro Laster appears to have found a home. The former Minnesota Golden Gopher bounced early in camp between inside and outside linebacker, but he’s spending his time inside now. “That’s the best position for him, but De’Niro is versatile,” Stoops said. “We’re trying to find the best spot for him, and I felt like inside was best for him.”
After commenting that UK needed to build depth at defensive line and linebacker, Stoops said freshmen T.J. Carter and Kash Daniel will be prepared to play week one.
OL Ramsey Meyers, WR Jabari Greenwood and OL Bunchy Stallings sat out Monday morning’s practice – which was open to the media – but none is expected to miss more than one or two days.