LEXINGTON, Ky. - Nearly two weeks into fall camp, Mark Stoops has left the practice field to address reporters nine times. Of course there were things that needed work, but before Friday he was happy with his team all but once.
On Friday, Stoops put to rest any notions he was putting on a false front of optimism. Stoops was "disappointed" and "frustrated" by what he saw during the morning practice, and he didn't try to hide it.
"If I'm happy, I tell you," Stoops said. "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."
With UK's season opener barely two weeks away and much work still left to be done, Stoops said his players saw a side of him they had not previously seen.
"I was loud," Stoops said. "I was not happy, put it that way. Like I said, just - we've got to have some more pride about what we do. We've got to have some more leadership. We've got to have some more toughness. And we didn't have any of that today."
The next 24 hours will be perhaps the Wildcats' greatest test of fall camp in terms of toughness and leadership. Even the best teams have bad days, which means UK will truly be measured by how they respond in the afternoon half of Friday's two-a-day and in Saturday's first full scrimmage of the fall. With that in mind, Stoops expects to see an angry group.
"If they're not, then we've got real issues," Stoops said, "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."
Both Stoops and D.J. Eliot agreed that the response must begin immediately and should be spearheaded by UK's leaders on both sides of the ball.
"I think that we have a group of guys that will do that," UK's defensive coordinator said. "I'm confident that will happen."
Senior linebacker Avery Williamson says there is "no doubt" he is part of that group.
"We'll get together, me and other guys on offense and defense and we'll make sure that we have a better one this evening," Williamson said.