Kentucky's Mark Stoops talked optimistically about the upcoming season and announced two suspensions at his first weekly news conference Monday. The Wildcats open the season Saturday in the New Commonwealth Stadium against Louisiana-Lafayette.
Stoops said his team needs to show improvement in all areas to have a successful season.
"You could go into statistics and all those things, but it comes down to playing good as a team." said Stoops. "We have to be good in all phases. I think offensively we’ll control the ball a little bit better, move the ball. I think defensively we need to be better. We certainly need to be better in third downs. You limit some opportunities, you limit some plays if you can get off the field. We need to improve in a lot of areas. Run defense is one of them, but I anticipate we’ll be improved.”
Kentucky will be hopeful of putting together a season that will lead to a bowl game for the first time since 2010. Most of the players have set bowl eligibility as a minimum goal.
"If they want to talk about a bowl game and all that, fine, but we’ve got one game." said Stoops. "We can’t get two, right? So we got to take care of business one week at a time and one day at a time. As I told them, if that’s what motivates you then put your money where your mouth is and when things get tough later on down the road let’s be consistent and go to work every day to get better. I think that’s where I want to see the improvement. I think this summer, I think we’ve been more consistent."
Stoops said offensive tackle Kyle Meadows and defensive tackle C.J. Johnson will not play this weekend because of a violation of team rules.
“They will both miss this game." said Stoops. "They’re suspended for this game.”
Outside linebacker Jason Hatcher was already suspended for the first two games of the season.
Stoops agreed there's added excitement with the opening of the New Commonwealth Stadium
“Yeah. I think the stadium, it certainly adds to it. We’re very excited. I think if you just look back to really the time I arrived and you look at the three years of building this program, of building this stadium, the anticipation for this day, it is an exciting time to open this stadium. We get one opportunity for a first impression.”