Mark Stoops, Neal Brown, and DJ Eliot stopped by the Louisville tour stop this morning on their way to the UK Greater Louisville Alumni Kickoff Luncheon. While the fans swarmed them for autographs, all three had a chance to come up and talk to Matt about the upcoming season. Here are the highlights.
First up? The main man, Mark Stoops.
On his players:
“I feel very good about our players. They’ve worked extremely hard. I feel very good about our strength and conditioning staff. The players’ attitudes are terrific and their bodies are different–stronger, leaner.”
On the support from fans:
“Our players feel that, they feel the energy from coaching staff and the fan base. They want to go out and produce for you. We feel like we’re making strides here.”
On the importance of fan support:
“It was one of the reasons I believed we’d be successful here, and now I know it’s why we’ll be successful here. Without the support, you have no chance. Our players feel that, the recruits feel that, and the coaching staff feels that. You have to have that, you have to go somewhere where it’s important. I will say, the amount of excitement you guys are putting out there blows me away sometimes and I greatly appreciate that.”
On making the team “his guys”:
“They 100% are, they’re your team, and our team as a coaching staff. We’re working for this, Big Blue Nation. Those players deserve that. We want them to be successful. We want the seniors to go out on a good note.”
How about those new uniforms? “We’re not gonna go there.” Stoops was careful to say that the staff was just trying stuff out with the new combinations.
On the Western game:
“We’re excited. We’re going to embrace that. We know the Big Blue Nation will show up in force. We’re excited to put product on field. …As you go in to that game, it’s a new identity every year. It’s a good challenge. Our team will be up for it and ready to go.”
On the Louisville rivalry:
“It’s very important. Absolutely every day, we think about that. Every day.”
Stoops said that because of his coloring, he doesn’t like red anyways: “I don’t wear any red. With my color, red doesn’t look good. That’s easy,” he laughed.
Next up was offensive coordinator Neal Brown. The Danville native said he’s excited to see how much improvement the players have made since the spring game, and that they’re hearing nothing but great things from the strength and conditioning staff about their progress. Who are some freshmen we may see early one? Brown singled out the wide receivers as ones who have the best opportunity, specifically Jeff Badet, who he says “looks the part” walking through the building. Also, because of Josh Clemons’ injury, Brown says JoJo Kemp will be “thrown into the fire.”
What can you expect from the Air Raid offense? “One, we’re going to play fast. We’re going to play at a high tempo that gives us a great opportunity to compete. We’re definitely going to play fast. Two, are we going to look like we did at Texas Tech? Probably not. …We’re going to mold our offensive system to the players, not the players to the system.”
As far as the defense goes, DJ Eliot said that Avery Williamson has stepped up as a leader so far and the freshmen coming in will have the opportunity to compete for spots in the secondary.
I’ve got a “G” and I’m waiting on an “O”…