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By LARRY VAUGHT
Former Kentucky players Derek Abney, Dave Hopewell, Andy Murray and Freddie Maggard offer suggestions on what changes they hope new coach Mark Stoops will bring to the UK football program.
Question: What’s the biggest change you think Stoops needs to make to get UK moving forward again?
Hopewell: “Developing a winning attitude and playing the mental game with players to get them to see a championship vision themselves will go a long way. Bringing in new players that have a championship mindset and understand they must be pushed by coaches and by each other to reach that goal and to work together on and off the field to get there. Then getting out in the state or through the media and telling his story and his vision for the program to get everyone on the same page. He will need to coach the fans up on what he is doing.”
Murray: “Toughness and winning attitude. We take losing too lightly. I think I lost more games my freshmen year than I lost in my entire career up to that point. Winning is contagious, just like losing. Until players wake up on Monday morning scared for their life at practice that day, we will not win. I think this guy knows a lot about winning and will not accept losing. Kids will either get in the water, or get out.”
Maggard: “If a change was to be made, a complete culture alteration is necessary. From game day environment to how the program is sold. From recognizing former football players during games to branding the program as a physical team that plays sound defense. As for on the field changes, I think we’d all like to see a faster start in the 1st quarter, being more physical, and simply competing. Recruiting will be the most obvious change with emphasis being on the defensive front seven. Oh by the way, and this is a personal request, please get rid of the blue helmets. I’d like to see uniforms either go ‘Oregon’ or traditional. I had to get that in there, sorry.”
Abney: “Improving recruiting and improving facilities (through his contract with Mitch). I think his expertise and experience will take care of the other things, like staffing decisions and X’s and O’s.”