Today is Mark Stoops’ 51st birthday, and with less than two months until kickoff vs. Central Michigan, I thought I’d celebrate by putting together a birthday wish list for the upcoming season. Here are 10 things Stoops needs this year (and if he gets them all, I get total credit):
1. A win over Florida
Honestly, I almost listed this ten times because that’s how badly the program needs it. Florida’s 31-game winning streak is the longest in SEC Football history and the longest active winning streak in the country; it’s also downright embarrassing. Year after year, fans get their hopes up for just for the Gators to yank the football away like some cruel, reptilian Lucy. The number of close calls over the years makes the streak especially painful (THE PLAY CLOCK WAS AT ZERO!), and for Kentucky football to truly take the next step, it must be snapped.
Along those lines…
2. 11 Players on the Field
3. A quick resolution to the quarterback battle
Someone wise once said that if you have two quarterbacks, you have none, which is why the faster this quarterback battle between Gunner Hoak and Terry Touchdown Wilson wraps up, the better. Allowing the two to compete through fall camp is smart, but if a leader emerges within the first few games, Stoops should do himself a favor and name a starter for the team to rally behind as the season goes on.
4. An injury-free season for Benny Snell
Thankfully, whichever quarterback Stoops chooses will have Benny Snell by his side. Snell is set up for a monster year, which, if all goes well, will be his last at Kentucky. In my totally unbiased opinion, Snell is the best running back in the SEC and, if possible, would put the entire team on his back to drag them to success. Without him, Kentucky would be a very, very different team, so here’s hoping for an injury-free season. I’m all for making him wear a bubble wrap suit between games.
5. A big in-state recruiting win
The 2019 recruiting class in the state of Kentucky may be one of the best ever, but UK’s lost several of the top prospects to bigger name schools. Stoops needs to snag one of these recruits to keep Kentucky a viable option for in-state talent. Frankfort running back Wandale Robinson is the player the staff covets the most, but they’ll have to fend off Alabama, Michigan, and Ohio State to get him. Here’s looking at you, Vince Marrow.
6. A victory at Neyland Stadium
Stoops got his first win over Tennessee last year in Lexington, one of the highlights of the season. The Vols ditched Butch Jones for
Jon Gruden Mike Gundy Lane Kiffin David Cutcliffe Jeff Brohm Dave Doeren Jeremy Pruitt and are once again rebuilding, making this a prime opportunity to get a win at Neyland Stadium, something that’s only happened ten times in the history of the 113-game series.
7. Fewer distractions
After Marcus Walker’s arrest for drug trafficking, I think we can all agree that the last thing Stoops needs is more off-the-field noise.
8. Fewer trash cans on the sidelines
That was definitely a low point.
9. Multiple first round NFL Draft picks
Kentucky’s only had multiple first round draft picks one time in program history (Warren Bryant and Randy Burke in 1977). With Josh Allen, Mike Edwards and CJ Conrad returning for their senior seasons and Benny Snell expected to go pro after this year, Kentucky’s chances of having one or more players drafted in the early rounds is the best it’s been in years. The fact that the draft is taking place in nearby Nashville is an added bonus.
10. Another bowl game
With less ref drama, please.