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By LARRY VAUGHT
One thing Kentucky coach Mark Stoops has been “harping” on the most is getting his team to play with more intensity, something it did in its loss to Louisville.
“Sometimes it’s there. We’ve had spurts where it’s there, been there throughout the season,” said Stoops. “And that’s been the one thing that I’ve been harping on probably the most since I’ve been here: just playing with that intensity, playing on edge and playing that way every down.”
Stoops has asked for his upperclassmen to take charge and be more forceful leaders.
“I think on the defensive side of the ball, where I spend a good majority of my time during practice, I’ve seen that. With Avery (Williamson) in there, we’ve had good leadership from him, being a senior,” Stoops said. “And some other guys are trying. I think Bud (Dupree) is trying to be a little bit more vocal, and he’s playing well, and that helps. Za’Darius (Smith) is playing well.
“On the offensive side of the ball, I think I do. Our coaches do a great job of coaching energy and playing tough and playing fast and being excited to play. We got to continue to do that. Our coaches mandate that, and we got to continue to push that. Our guys need, we need to have that energy.”
A great way to prove that would be to beat Florida, something Kentucky has not done since 1986.
“It doesn’t really add any extra motivation. It really doesn’t. We’re pretty motivated as it is to try to get a win,” Stoops said.
After that, UK faces two more ranked teams — South Carolina and No. 1 Alabama.
“We don’t worry about what’s ahead of us. We just worry about who we’ve got that week. So, all we harp on with the players is our opponent for that week and getting better every day and preparing for that opponent,” Stoops said. “We do what we can to have intense practices and to make sure that the players are doing not only what they can to make themselves motivated but what they can do to help other players be motivated to play that way as well.”