The Kentucky football team is in rare territory.
Saturday they will face Georgia for a spot in the SEC Championship Game. The historic showdown follows a walk-off win at Missouri that will forever live in Kentucky football lore. Emotions will fill the Lexington air all week. Mark Stoops cannot ignore them.
“Hopefully it’ll give us a boost of energy this week as we prepare for a big game with Georgia,” UK’s head coach said at his weekly press conference.
“You can’t shy away from it…and that’s okay. They’re allowed to be excited. You hear me talk about it all the time. Whatever they need to do to help motivate them, that’s fine. The preparation needs to stay the exact same. We’ll be consistent in our approach and we’ll do the same things that we do every week.”
For outsiders, playing the balancing act appears to be difficult. How do you keep from getting overhyped? Show the team film of Georgia and remind them how they got here.
“I think they know the challenge that’s ahead of them. It’s really about getting our best preparation today and put ourselves in the best position to be successful. These situations, it is what it is. They worked hard to put themselves in this position, but we just gotta stay consistent and be the best version of ourselves we can be.”
Saturday night is a night many Kentucky fans never thought they’d see. History is on the line, but it’s not something Stoops will use to prepare his players.
“I don’t really talk about that much. When I have in years past, it’s kind of been counterproductive to me. It is what it is. This is this year’s football team. We are who we are. You are who you are on film.”
While fans dream big, history making dreams, Stoops just wants his players to keep doing what they’ve been doing all year long.
“There’s no getting around some of that. It’s going to be talked about,” Stoops said. “I don’t need to build them up on that. I probably more need to calm them down and go through the process of what we’ve done to put ourselves in this position and go about our business and have a normal week. That’s what we need to do is have a normal week.”
If the players can treat this wild week like normal, the results should speak for themselves.