By LARRY VAUGHT
Mark Stoops did not want to say “my chips are all in” for Saturday’s game with Florida. The Kentucky coach knows better than to put that much pressure on one game — even if UK has not defeated Florida since 1986.
“It’s not ever the case. It’s always a one-week season to us but on the other side of that I don’t deny that it’s a big game at home that I’d desperately like to win for the fan base included,” Stoops said.
Kentucky fans are anticipating a win. The game has sold out.
“I do feel the importance of it. I’ve always accepted that as I’ve accepted rivalries and you know all the negative streaks that you all are so good at telling me every week and all those things. It’s true, I mean I take it personally, I do,” Stoops said.
“I care about our fan base and I do care about the history even if I wasn’t here. I want to make our people happy and supportive of our team, and past players and all the tradition, the whole deal. So, it’s important. It’s part of what motivates you every day, to get up and do the best job you can.”
Stoops has coached at Miami and Florida State. He knows what it is like to have Florida as a rival.
“At one time it was ridiculous how much on the winning end I was and I’ve got to get that going again here. When I was at Miami, I don’t think I lost to any Florida school, when I was at Florida State I don’t think I lost to any Florida school, and so on,” Stoops said.
“The only thing that I always see when you play a team like that is that they are really good athletes. A lot of good players and very explosive.”
Kentucky will wear chrome helmets Saturday night — something it did twice at home last year. Sometimes players get to make that decision. But this was Stoops’ idea.
“I guess he wants to rock the chromes,” senior receiver Charles Walker said. “I think this week was more of him saying, ‘We’re bringing out these bad boys.’ Everyone likes them. I’m glad we’re wearing them.”