Mark Stoops is angry. He might not be outwardly, over-the-top angry but you can see it on his face and hear it in his voice. This is a man who is tired of trying to do more with less. He knew that this would be a tough job when he took it, how could he not based on the history of Kentucky football. But you just get the feeling that he didn’t know that the climb was going to be this steep. He knew there were some talent deficiencies and that the schedule was daunting, but a first time head coach maybe didn’t foresee so many growing pains for a young team.
His first offseason was a whirlwind where it seemed as if this new staff could do no wrong and it may have inflated fan expectations a bit. Then Kentucky lost to WKU and looked lost on offense and the hard questions started. Stoops has done a good job so far not throwing any of his players under the proverbial bus, but he could and you can tell he may have wanted to at times. However he has handled it internally, it seems to have worked in large part, because you see more effort and toughness on the field this year than you did in years past. But from his comments, especially recent ones, and some player interviews there is a sense that there isn’t 100% compliance on the roster. That’s what is likely driving him mad.
So starting with this weekend’s game against Alabama State, you will likely see some players get snaps who haven’t been on the field much so far this season. This staff is bringing in players who are going to do things their way, the winning way, and encourage players who won’t to move along. So now is the time for some of these guys (I won’t be naming any names, sorry) to prove that they can help this team win football games. Whether that is a question of talent in some cases or effort in others (More than most would like to admit). The 2013 and 2014 classes are excited about building Kentucky from the ground up and putting in the work to be an SEC football team. Any holdovers that aren’t a part of that line of thinking are essentially dead weight at this point. And they need to go in order for Kentucky to build their football program.
The toughness that this team has displayed for the most part this season is a great tribute to this coaching staff. If nothing else so far, that is the thing to look at and say that Kentucky is headed in the right direction, no matter how slowly they are getting there. Mark Stoops isn’t going to stand for any “same old Kentucky” talk or attitudes from anyone. Because this isn’t the same old Kentucky and once talent and depth catch up to toughness, you are going to see a good football team. It will be great to see Mark Stoops happy again.