By LARRY VAUGHT
Casual and loose are not words Kentucky coach Mark Stoops usually uses to describe his football team. Yet he did exactly that in Jacksonville Thursday as UK gets set to face Georgia Tech Saturday at 11 a.m. in the TaxSlayer Bowl.
“I think our preparation’s been good. Hopefully we’ll go out and play that way,” Stoops said. “I’ve been to many bowls before, never as a head coach, but to be honest with you, the people here have made it so seamless, it’s been very easy. Our operations people, our administration, the folks here have made it very easy for us. There’s been no issues.”
Stoops looked at how other coaches handled bowl preparation and schedules, including Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher.
“There’s always a fine line. It’s always like that throughout the year, it’s the same way. I really like our players to enjoy ourselves. Friday’s a lot like that. We get our run through done and I want them to enjoy Fridays a little bit, whether we’re on the road or in-season, a home game, we go to a movie,” Stoops said.
“I want that balance to be there all the time. Obviously it’s a bit more of a challenge at a place like this because there’s so many guys. We’re traveling so many and there’s a lot more for them to do for many more nights. So we’ll start getting it locked in a little bit, pull the reins in more and more tonight and tomorrow, for sure.”
Stoops emphasized that despite having fun, he feels his players have done the work necessary to play well Saturday.
“They’ve been very attentive in the meetings. Again, there’s so many guys here. We normally don’t travel all these guys, so there’s quite a few players here and when you’re dealing with that many numbers you’re trying to stay away from the outside distractions. We haven’t had those. They’ve been locked in at meetings and the practices have been very good,” the UK coach said.