By LARRY VAUGHT
Losing to Florida 31 straight times is not a topic that Kentucky coach Mark Stoops can ignore even if he’s only been around for a few of those losses.
The Cats get a chance to end the nation’s longest consecutive losing streak to one team Saturday night in Gainesville and Stoops says he will “never dance around” the streak and what ending it would mean to UK.
“It is important to us for that reason, but we can’t focus on it for that reason. We need to focus on it because it’s this year. It’s an SEC team, it’s in the East, and we want to win some football games and they are next on the schedule,” Stoops said Monday.
“That’s truthfully what it is about. These guys cannot worry about 30-some years and all that. They really can’t. Winning is important to our team each and every week and that’s the approach we’ll have.”
Kentucky would have ended the streak last year but twice failed to cover a receiver at the line of scrimmage in the red zone that gave Florida two easy touchdowns in a comeback win.
“Well you really don’t go back to last year because it’s a new staff (at Florida). Obviously we’ll watch the film. We’ll go back to last year for Mississippi State. We will watch quite a bit of that,” Stoops said.
Former Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen is in his first year as Florida’s head coach. His team is a 15-point favorite for Saturday night’s game.
“Our players read and they understand what’s going on. I could tell them to stay off social media and reading articles, but that’s not going to be the case. Again, our concentration needs to be on what we have to do this year,” Stoops said.
“Once again when I’m back up here in several weeks and you’re asking me about the South Carolina (game) I’m going to say that means absolutely nothing to me, last year. So why on the reverse should it really matter? It’s about what we do this year, how we play, how we prepare, are we making plays at the right times and those things.”
Stoops says he has “no idea” if there is a different vibe at Florida this year due to Mullen’s arrival.
“I don’t pay attention to what’s being said down there outside of this week with injuries and things. I watched the film and it looked like a very good football team and it doesn’t surprise me. Dan is a very good coach,” Stoops said.