Stoops, Cats Using Open Date to Get Healthy, Get Better

Stoops, Cats Using Open Date to Get Healthy, Get Better

by Tim Letcher

Kentucky does not play football this weekend but that doesn’t mean that there’s not plenty for the Cats to get done this week.

After dropping consecutive games at Georgia and against Missouri, UK is 5-2 on the season with nationally-ranked Tennessee on the schedule next Saturday. Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops and his team were on the practice field on Wednesday and the head coach liked what he saw from his team.

“Good to get back out here today,” Stoops said. “We did a lot of good-on-good today. Just needed to get better as a football team. Guys put in a lot of effort. Had a good, physical practice. I feel like we got better today.”

Stoops and his staff spent time working on particular situations on Wednesday, something that the Cats have struggled with at times this season.

“We worked on a lot of that today,” Stoops said. “That’s something we have to look at. Like penalties. We have to execute and keep our composure. Situations, same thing. You could play 95 percent of the game well but any situation could lose you the game. We’re working some situational football this week as well. Trying to improve.”

In addition to practice, Stoops and his team are hoping to get a few other items handled during the open date week.

“Hopefully, number one, we’ll get healthy,” Stoops said. “There’s a number of guys, a long list of players that are injured. That’s the biggest thing. For us, we really have to work on ourselves. We just have to become better in certain areas.”

The other portion of the open date week is to do some self examination and to try to get a jump on some future preparations.

“We always look at the things we’re doing well, how do we continue to do that, how do we build off that, what are teams going to counter that,” Stoops said. “Then areas where we’re falling short, why? Is it us, is it coaching, is it personnel, whatever it is you’ve got to look at the areas where you’re falling short and get those corrected. Also, develop young players and get ahead on future opponents.”

One of the things that Stoops mentioned was the punt game, which struggled especially against Missouri last Saturday. The UK head coach knows that punting had an impact in the Cats’ loss to the Tigers. When asked what the team could do about that, the UK coach put it simply.

“Punt the ball further. That will help,” Stoops said. “There’s a lot of things we’re doing well in the coverage game. The special teams have been really good in certain areas but it really has hurt us.”

The open date is allowing the Cats to continue to improve, to adjust and to get healthy.

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