LEXINGTON, Ky. – With much of the Commonwealth’s eyes focused on tonight’s NCAA Tournament matchup between Kentucky and Louisville, second-year Kentucky football head coach Mark Stoops and Co. felt right at home back on the practice fields as the Wildcats held the first of 15 spring practices on Friday morning at the Nutter Field House.
Stoops, who said it was hard to compare this first spring practice to last season’s, did admit that Friday’s two-hour session felt “a lot better” because he believes his team has done what they needed to do in winter conditioning to make Kentucky better.
“Good to be back and good to get out there today and be practicing,” Stoops said. “It has felt like it has been a long winter and we needed that to get bigger and get stronger. It was good to get back out onto the field. Very excited about where we are at. We have improved as a football team, obviously the first things and common mistakes and being sloppy at times (today), but overall we have improved and look a lot better. Good to get out there and see that. I am excited about where we go the rest of the spring.”
As Stoops started talking to local reporters after practice about the increased confidence and camaraderie of his team leading into this spring session, the UK players passed by the interview room on their way in from practice with tons and energy and excitement.
“You can hear them coming into the building right now, their attitude is a lot more lively and I like the tough attitude we have around here,” Stoops laughed.
And although he admits the team is still a work in progress, he was pleased with the team’s energy, confidence and toughness Friday morning.
“I feel that the guys had a good strong attitude out there today, making plays, some good and some bad,” Stoops said. “But we got up and moved on to the next play. I have felt good about the culture and we’ve worked very hard on developing some leadership and some camaraderie.”