By LARRY VAUGHT
Despite Kentucky’s 1-6 record going into Saturday night’s game against Alabama State, five former Wildcats all can see progress being made under first-year coach Mark Stoops.
“This coaching staff has focused on improvement and maximized effort with current roster,” former UK quarterback Freddie Maggard said. “Can you imagine the result if the true freshmen and junior college transfers weren’t playing? I feel even more confident in Mr. (Mitch) Barnhart’s hire today than last winter. Sure, results haven’t been what fans and myself would like to see, but it’s been brought to light just how deficient the roster.”
Maggard’s former teammate, Andy Murray, feels the same.
“I feel even better about our program. Coach and his staff know what they are doing and have made great in-game adjustments. I think it is very evident that we have a long way to go from a talent standpoint and believe we will look totally different next season and remarkably different in year three,” Murray said. “Our team is well conditioned and fundamentally sound.”
David Hopewell started on UK’s only Southeastern Conference championship team in 1977. He says “we all hate losing” but knows progress is being made.
“I just wished we started better. The excitement of Aug 1. has long since passed but this is a marathon, not a race. It takes longer to make progress in this game just for the sheer numbers involved. I still feel good about this coaching staff.”
Former All-American receiver Derek Abney anticipated a “difficult season” for Stoops.
“I’m slightly disappointed we couldn’t sneak in a quality win thus far. I was hoping for better quarterback play since Maxwell Smith had a good season before getting hurt and Jalen Whitlow was coming around and better wide receiver play,” Abney said. “Besides the lack of turnovers, I’ve been happy with the defense, especially during second halves.
“I was hoping for more contribution from special teams. I have to keep reminding myself to be patient because I know the potential is there to have a really good program, especially since we’ll have two great recruiting classes.”
Former running back Anthony White agrees.
“I feel that the UK program has the will to win as opposed to when the season began, I assumed the team would have a different coach, but still the same nonchalant attitude about winning or losing. Now they seem to really want to win no matter the score,” White said.