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By LARRY VAUGHT
LOUISVILLE — Kentucky coach Mark Stoops was in Louisville Friday for the Jefferson County UK Alumni Club luncheon and offered various insights about his team with the start of preseason camp only one week away now.
Question: How do you feel about the players you inherited from coach Joker Phillips?
Stoops: “The players have been very good. The one thing that’s been consistent is they’ve had great attitudes. Sure, they need to be led, they need to be taught, they need to be put in a position to be successful, they need to understand the level that we want to do things, but they’ve been eager to learn and having a good attitude, so we’ve been really pleased with that.”
Question: How has recruiting gone and how much does fan support help?
Stoops: “It’s helped. I can’t tell you how much it’s helped. It has a dramatic impact on this program, and that’s one of the reason I was excited about the job. I know the support that Kentucky has. Without that support, you cannot win. The level (of support) has done nothing but help our current players and help our recruiting.”
Question: How have offseason workouts been for the players?
Stoops: “Just about 100 percent of our upperclassmen have been here during all of our workouts. As a matter of fact, I had a meeting with our strength and conditioning team and I had a good look at their eyes and said, ‘You guys need to get out of here for a couple days.’ Our team will back off a little bit this next week and get a little bit of rest before we start (preseason camp Aug. 4). But our strength and conditioning coaches, I can’t tell you how hard they’ve worked this summer training our players.”
Question: Do you pick up Aug. 4 where spring practice ended or start over with schemes/assignments?
Stoops: “We start over. We basically start back from square one. We’ll start over with our base foundation offensively, our base foundation defensively and build through camp.”
Question: What do you expect to get done in preseason camp before playing Western Kentucky Aug. 31?
Stoops: “We have a lot of work to do. We understand that. But our plan is for our players to keep on understanding what’s expected of them and consistency. We need to be much more consistent at what we’re doing. We can’t have a good practice and then a bad practice or the offense be very good one day and the defense be bad. We’ve gotta be consistent, we’ve got to be competitive, and we’re going to get that done. I’m excited. I’m excited about this team. I promise you this team is going to work around the clock to make you all proud — a bunch of guys you’re going to be proud of, on the field, off the field. We’re excited about Big Blue Nation and everything everybody’s doing.”