Stoops calls practice OK, Cats need intensity

LEXINGTON, Ky. - At his weekly news conference on Monday, Kentucky football head coach Mark Stoops noted that it is always easier to be tougher on a team in practice after a win. Combine that mentality with Stoops saying the Wildcats had an average practice on Tuesday and Wednesday's practice appears poised to intense.

"Good practice today," Stoops said before clarifying, "I say good practice, but it was more of an average practice, to be honest with you. Just OK, not flashy. We need to pick it up a little bit, lock in a little bit more with our intensity and have a better day tomorrow. So looking forward to picking it up a bit more as the week goes on."

Stoops said Tuesday's practice was by no means a bad or wasted day and praised his team for good work on the practice fields Monday. As for the reasoning behind the less-than-satisfying practice Tuesday, the first-year head coach said some of that can be expected given the Wildcats added some "new wrinkles."

"Maybe just a few new wrinkles here or there sometimes gets on their brain and they take a step back a little bit, but we'll pick it up," Stoops said. "Each time you go on the field you're trying to build. You know, we've talked about that, just even going into the first game, just playing the basics and trying to build our package as we go. We've got a lot to learn still on both sides of the ball, certainly defensively, but yes, we're always trying to keep on building, keep on adding as we go."

Stoops and defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot talked after practice about the challenges that are facing Kentucky this week, including slowing down Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Although both coaches have praised Bridgewater's talents and athleticism, they have also noted the true danger of Louisville's offense is how they are well-balanced.

"They are a very multiple offense so you have to make sure that you are sound in everything that you do within your game plan because you are going to get a lot of different looks," Eliot said.

One defensive position that appears to really be under the spotlight this week is cornerback. Stoops said Monday that cornerback Cody Quinn, who led UK in pass breakups last season, was back to practice this week and could have played Saturday against Miami (Ohio) if needed. Stoops said Quinn will add depth to the Wildcats secondary and give the squad some versatility in the nickel and dime packages.

As for the cornerback group as a whole this week against a talented Louisville offense, Stoops wants his guys to compete and understand there is "no hiding."

"They put you on an island at times with some very good wide receivers and you've got to step up and play," Stoops said. "We've got to mix things up and change up coverages and all that, but there's times when there's no hiding. You've got to go out there and you've got to win."

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