Cats capping solid week of South Carolina prep

With the first road trip of the season upcoming – and against a Southeastern Conference opponent to boot – there have been few lapses in focus this week in practice for Kentucky.

Speaking for the final time before UK heads to South Carolina, Mark Stoops said the Wildcats have been solid.

“I’ve been pleased with the guys’ efforts all week,” Stoops said on Thursday. “We’ve been pretty consistent. Today was a mental day, but everybody seems locked in and ready to go play. So we’re excited about the opportunity to go play a very good team in a hostile environment.”

This will be Stoops’ second time coaching in Williams-Brice Stadium, giving him a familiarity he’s never had as a head coach on the road.

“I like that, that I’ve already been there and experienced it,” Stoops said. “Like I said earlier in the week, I was really impressed with the first time there. I didn’t know what to expect and it was quite an environment. Great place to play, great venue. So we look forward to going back.”

UK has some holdovers from the team that fell short of a comeback against the Gamecocks in 2013, but plenty of newcomers too.

“Throw ’em into the fire,” Stoops said. “That’s all you can do. We prepare them as best we can, but all we talk about is habits. If you create winning habits — under pressure, your habits are gonna come right to the surface. So that’s all we can do is talk about it and doing the right thing and focusing on your job.”

One of those newcomers, linebacker Jordan Jones, sustained a sprained knee in UK’s season-opening win over UL Lafayette. However, Stoops said Jones has been 100 percent all week. The same isn’t true for Ryan Flannigan. The senior linebacker is doubtful with the same shoulder injury that limited him during fall camp and forced him to miss the opener.

If he does indeed miss Saturday’s game, it’s a good thing his teammates have taken advantage of a week of work.

“I think the guys have been up for the challenge,” Stoops said. “They’ve had a good preparation and we’ll see how it goes between now and when we get on the plane.”

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