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By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky players got to see the angry side of coach Mark Stoops Friday.
For the first time since he was hired in December, Stoops was not happy with his team’s effort in practice and did not mince words about it.
“Very poor day, to be honest with you. Very frustrated. Had to start certain segments over again today. Just very weak mentally, physically. Just a very average day. So very disappointed,” Stoops said.
Stoops said not to think it was just coaching rhetoric at this point in preseason training camp that had him blasting his team.
“If I’m happy, I tell you. If I’m disappointed, I tell you. There’s no game, there’s no reason. I don’t have it on my calendar to be mad today. Just disappointed,” Stoops said. “I was loud. I was not happy, let’s put it that way. We got to have some more pride about what we do. We got to have some more leadership. We got to have some more toughness. And we didn’t have any of that today.”
Stoops wasn’t through, either.
“Mentally weak. Physically weak. Just a lack of focus to details and pushing yourself to do the right things. Just execution,” he said. “Execution always looks worse on the offense because they’ve got to do things even on error. So I was just disappointed all the way around because I thought we were very poor execution-wise on defense and on offense.”
Stoops hoped players were mad at him when practice ended.
“If they’re not, then we’ve got real issues, because I’ve said all along, I believe we have good kids here, and they mean well, but we have to have some toughness to us, some fight about us, or we’re going to have a long year,” Stoops said.
“We wasted it today. That’s exactly what I told them, we wasted the day. Wasted the morning.”
Did the players know how upset he was, especially with a full scrimmage slated for Saturday?
“I think they had a pretty clear picture of it today. They could see when I’m upset,” Stoops said.
Linebacker Khalid Henderson said Stoops’ message was not hard to understand.
“We just had a bad day and he let us know. We know it, he knew it. It was unacceptable and we won’t let it happen again,” Henderson said.
“I think they know we got a lot of improvement to do. And I don’t want to — it is what it is. I’m not going to sit here and beat down negatives every day. We’ve got to get better, and we know that. They’re working to get better. But today we didn’t,” Stoops said.
He admitted that Florida State sometimes had similar practices when he was defensive coordinator there.
“When you’re going through this many practices, there’s going to be some that are not as good. But we can’t afford it. We’re not good enough to waste reps and to go out here and go through the motions,” Stoops said. “And more than anything, it’s just our habits and our attitude that we need to change and we need to get better.
“And that’s got to come. Our coaches do a great job. We’ll motivate when we have to. I’ll motivate when we have to and all that. But you have to have some of that from the team. Some pride about that that comes up through the team that pushes everybody, that gets everybody on the same page, and have some pride about what we do.”