Get ready, folks. We are within a week of beginning the SEC football schedule.
For the Cats, they are preparing to travel to Auburn, AL, to face the Tigers this Saturday in both team’s season opener. UK Head Coach Mark Stoops met with the media on Monday afternoon to discuss the upcoming game, and said the biggest key to the matchup is to be ready to play from the beginning kickoff.
“Starting fast is key,” he said. “You gotta come out swinging, you gotta come out fast.”
Stoops is also confident that Auburn will be ready to play, as they have a quarterback in sophomore Bo Nix that has a lot of talent and a coaching staff led by national title winner Gus Malzahn along with former Arkansas coach Chad Morris and long-time defensive coordinator Kevin Steele. Stoops said the staff will be watching plenty of film from former teams that Chad Morris coached for, as well as tape of formations Malzahn and Steele like to play with. Overall, he knows UK will again have to get their playbook straightened out before heading to face the Tigers.
“They have a great coaching staff,” he said. “We’ll have to be on point.”
In part of playing a 10-game conference-only schedule in the SEC, the offensive line is crucial to a team’s chances of competing. For Stoops and UK, their most dominant position group arguably going into this season is in fact the o-line, and Stoops is ready to battle with those experienced “big-uglies” on his side.
“I think its very good for these guys to have some experience, and to get different looks,” he said. “Talent never hurts as well, and we definitely have some talented guys, but we’re gonna see that each and every week this year.”
The position group with the most questions coming into this season is at wide receiver due to the Cats almost exclusively running the ball each of the past two seasons. Stoops is confident in his wideouts, but also knows they will have to work for every yard they get in a 10-game SEC schedule.
“I’m excited about them, to see what they can do,” he said. “When you play a Kevin Steele defense, you have to create that space, you have to get open and that’s something that we’re gonna see each and every week.
Stoops later continued:
“Some of that football you see in other leagues, you are not gonna see Saturday. There’s gonna be nobody open. We have to create space, we have to get guys open.”
Kentucky will be missing junior linebacker Chris Oats, who is out indefinitely with an undisclosed medical issue. Stoops said the team will be honoring him by having a player each week wear his number (22) to honor him, starting with fellow junior linebacker DeAndre Square on Saturday.
“…From there we will alternate Chris’s (Oats) number to recognize him and honor him, and just to show him he’s still with us and we’re thinking about him,” he said.
The UK depth chart for their season opener against Auburn was released today, and mostly included players in the order that was previously expected. Auburn transfer Joey Gatewood is not on the depth chart, as he has yet to be declared eligible by the NCAA. Stay tuned for more news on the Cats here on cameronmillsradio.com.