By LARRY VAUGHT
Graduation losses, players leaving early for the NFL, quarterback transfers and injuries this year have not led to Kentucky football fans lowering expectations this season. Kentucky is 3-4 going into Saturday night’s game at home with Missouri and many UK fans are still holding out hope for an 8-4 regular season.
Obviously coach Mark Stoops believes his team can win the final five games — and he doesn’t mind the fan expectations.
“It’s better than everybody expecting us to lose. The situation is what it is. I come in here every Monday and I’m going to say it, it is what it is. You prepare your team, you develop your team, you get them ready to play the game, that’s what drives us. That’s what motivates coaches,” Stoops said.
Stoops said UK coaches got home about 2:30 a.m. after the loss at Georgia last week but were back at work early Sunday morning preparing for Saturday night’s game with Missouri. He says by Monday afternoon, the previous week’s game is history to him.
“The way the rules are, we can’t meet with them on Sunday. But for us, we’ve moved on and that’s what motivates us, that’s what’s fun about it and exciting about it is getting ready for the next challenge. And you better be ready because this league gives no mercy,” Stoops said.
Stoops won’t deny that beating Missouri is important, but he often says how important every game is.
“We’re back home, excited to be back home. We need a great crowd, hopefully we’ll have a decent day. Our luck last Saturday it was absolutely beautiful in Lexington. Go to Georgia and it’s 40 and raining and wind blowing sideways. So hopefully we’ll get a good day, get a great crowd,” Stoops said Monday.
Well, apparently it is a no-go on the “good day” based on weather forecasts calling for extensive rain this weekend in most of Kentucky, including Lexington.
“It is important to get this victory. It’s the next game. And the bye week (coming up on Nov. 1) is what it is. I’ll tell you after game if we go play really well and I wish we were ready to go play the next week,” Stoops said. “It’s just hard to tell.”