By LARRY VAUGHT
Mark Stoops always starts his weekly press conference with an opening statement. He did again Monday, but pay attention to what the Kentucky coach had to say going into Saturday’s game at Georgia after a convincing win at Missouri last week.
Stoops’ pride in what his team did is obvious.
“I was most pleased with our preparation. I felt like the guys really had a tough mindset last week and was confident. But we were prepared and extremely disciplined,” Stoops said. “We did the little things, even with the early game.
“I found out later we had an early morning stretch when they came down there, and they were energetic and fired up and had music going. The guys were genuinely excited to play the football game. I actually heard earlier they were in the hallways on their floor, talking and getting each other up and getting each other ready to play. I am proud of that. Just the mindset that they are starting to listen and buy into the things that we are talking about.
“Again, that starts with everything throughout the week, not just on Saturday. I felt like our coaches did an excellent job of having them prepared and our players were ready to play and really played a very good football game. If you take a few plays away from there, it was one of the best games that we have played in a long time, I believe. I am proud of that.
“It will take the same kind of preparation this week as we prepare for Georgia. I have a lot of respect for Kirby (Smart) and the way they play. We will have our hands full and it will be a great challenge. It will be an exciting opportunity for us.
“We have not won five conference games in a long time and we will have an opportunity to do that this Saturday. So I am looking forward to the challenge and looking forward to getting back into meetings with our players today and get back on the field with them as we start our prep for Georgia.”
Exciting. Well prepared. Anxious to play. One of best games that we have played. Ready to go back to practice.
Those are not words we heard from Stoops about his team early in the season. Instead, he was talking about missed assignments, no depth, bad practices, lack of energy.
Now the whole atmosphere has changed and while that does not guarantee a win over Georgia, it sure makes the chances a lot better than they were a month ago.