WKYT | Lexington, Kentucky | Sports

Cats return to practice "the right way"


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Reflecting on Kentucky's season-opening loss on Monday, Mark Stoops didn't hide from the work he and his team have ahead of them. With that in mind, however, Stoops knew the only acceptable approach was to get back to the task at hand.

As UK prepares for its home opener against Miami (Ohio) on Saturday, Stoops sees a team doing just that.

"I believe we handled it the right way," Stoops said. "Everybody was disappointed, but I see nobody sulking today. We've moved on. Once we graded that film yesterday, came out here and made the corrections, we moved on. It's about preparing to win the next game."

Stoops reported the Wildcats had a solid Tuesday practice and talked primarily about defense. UK gave up 487 yards against Western Kentucky on Saturday, a number identical to the yardage yielded by Florida State in Stoops' second game as defensive coordinator.

Over the following week, the Seminoles went through what has been characterized as a "reinvention." Of course, FSU would go on to become one of the nation's top defenses in the years that followed.

"It was a good wake-up call for our defense at that time," defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said. "And so we went back to the drawing board and made sure that we were doing every little thing right and so did our players. So they looked at that game and realized they weren't the players that they thought they were. And so as a whole unit - coaches and players - after that game we really recommitted ourselves to doing things right."

UK is tweaking some of its schemes and personnel - namely, moving TraVaughn Paschal to weak-side linebacker from defensive end - but Stoops and Eliot aren't overhauling their proven system this time around.

"You can't just all of the sudden go up there and reinvent the wheel come out magically a national-championship team," Stoops said. "You can just do the best you can to put your players in a position to play the best they can. Again, that's no big deal, because we're always doing that. We're always looking at things that we can do better to put them in a position to win."

Throughout fall camp, Stoops talked about uncovering his team's identity on both sides of the ball and capitalizing on the Wildcats' strengths. He says UK is still a "work in progress" in that regard, but Stoops believes the Cats to be closer.

"We have to see who we are again and we have to find the right game plan to go out and win," Stoops said. "I'm never going to shy away from that. I've said that from day one. No matter who we're playing, we need to find the right guys with the right scheme to put them in position to win and that's what we're always going to try to do."


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