Not even 24 hours after the SEC announces the dates for each conference team’s schedule this coming season, UK football began preseason practice on Monday afternoon.
Just right before practice, UK Head Coach Mark Stoops met with the media to discuss the schedule, upcoming practices, and everything else going into football this fall.
UK will be met with a difficult 10-game conference-only schedule this season along with the unusual circumstances surrounding the pandemic, but Stoops is confident that the team’s experience is something that can really help them battle through.
“We have a lot of guys back at full strength. We have quite a bit of experience and guys that work hard,” the UK coach said. “These group of guys that are older have certainly set the tone, and hopefully that’ll continue to trickle down to the rest of our team. It does help that we have a veteran group, and that they’re anxious to play.”
Stoops said that this team will be his deepest since beginning his coaching career at Kentucky, and the extra days off built into the schedule should help them recover through a tough schedule.
Senior quarterback Terry Wilson suffered a torn meniscus in the second game of the 2019 season, keeping him out the whole year. Since, Wilson has returned to practice and is medically cleared. Stoops pointed to the extra time before the beginning of the season as an opportunity to fully assess the senior’s recovery before starting competition.
“With our schedule the way it is now, we have quite a bit of time, he said. “We’ll see how he feels, but he is cleared to go today.”
The player at the quarterback position who could possibly challenge Terry Wilson for the starting spot is Auburn transfer Joey Gatewood. The transfer is yet to be granted eligibility, but Stoops feels the NCAA will make a decision soon.
“I have not heard yet on that,” he said. “We have turned in everything necessary, (and) we expect an answer here relatively soon.”
In terms of the team’s mindset going into this season, UK Head Coach Mark Stoops is uncertain, as we all are, about how the environment will feel.
“I think these are different times, I don’t think there is any denying that,” he said. “It’s hard for me to answer that question until I get into this camp and see how it goes, but there is some things that are different. I know to date that our players have done everything that we have asked them to do.”
Stoops also conveyed that communication between the players and coaches has been transparent so far, and that his men are ready to take the field.
“Our team has been very consistent,” he said. “I’m sure there has been some frustration..in my conversations with them, they’ve been very matter of fact. They’re basically like ‘coach, were ready to play.'”
The head football coach gave an update on UK linebacker Chris Oats, saying he is doing better and in a rehab facility, but did not want to expand on the situation out of respect for Oats and his family.