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Stoops fever spreads at the Women’s Clinic

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There’s no denying there’s something different in the air these days when it comes to Kentucky football. Eight months in to his first year, Mark Stoops has injected life into the UK football fan base, weary from years of bubble screens, blowouts, and botched opportunities. The slogan for this season couldn’t be more apt (albeit, a little grammatically awkward): “A Nation Awakes.”

I’ve experienced the excitement from behind a computer three hours from Lexington, but nothing could prepare me for what I saw on Saturday at the Women’s Clinic. Five hundred twenty-three women turned out for the event, up 400 from last year. That number is even more impressive when you consider that the athletics department didn’t even publicize the event. This was the first time the women’s clinic has ever sold out, a notion that seemed impossible to previous attendees. As one lady put it, “I was stunned to show up at registration and have to stand in a line. That’s never happened before.” That line was no joke, either; it wrapped Commonwealth with excitement.

I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription is more Stoops.

It’s been fun to watch Mark Stoops adjust to the head coaching spotlight. He’s come leaps and bounds from his nerves at SEC Media Days, improving with each public function and speaking engagement. From what I can tell, he’s not exactly humble (DJ Eliot joked that he was the cockiest guy in the room when they met eleven years ago), but at times, you can see how blown away he is by the BBN’s support thus far. I think the clip above illustrates that pretty well.

Stoops is the first to admit he’s been surprised by just how much the fan base has embraced him and his staff. Over the past month, he’s thanked fans over and over again for their support, calling their energy contagious. The crowd at the women’s clinic was no exception:

“I feel really good, it’s really nice,” Stoops told reporters. “It inspires us to come out here and see a packed house, whether it be a luncheon yesterday in Louisville, or the women’s clinic today, it’s great to see the energy and support.”

That infectious energy was most obvious in the players, who radiated positivity. Don’t get me wrong–in years past, players have enjoyed participating in the women’s clinic, especially the chance to strut their stuff in the fashion show. But this year, they were so excited they practically bounced around the concourse. Stoops said that confidence stems from the hard work they’ve put in this summer:

“You can be more confident when you put in the work. You can’t just go around talking about it. Just because the crowds are here and everybody’s excited, that alone is not going to prepare us and make us more confident. I think the players have worked extremely hard, and they should feel better about themselves.”

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If you look good, you feel good

Another confidence boost? The results the players have gotten from “Dr.” Erik Korem’s high performance program. Korem brought his sophisticated sports science program with him from Florida State, which is the only one of its kind in American football. I’ll be honest: science is not my thing. I’d much rather watch “Golden Girls” than “Mythbusters.” But, Korem’s program is so revolutionary that it captured my attention. Instead of training each player the same, Korem focuses on strength training for each position and each individual, which is what sets his program apart from the rest. For example, a wide receiver and a defensive lineman have very different functions. Why train them in the same manner? Korem and his staff tailor each regimen to each player based on their bodies. Even better, they monitor their results via heart rate and brainwave frequencies to see if it’s working. So far, the team as a whole has lost 560 pounds of fat and added 260 pounds of muscle.

The results, as you can see below, are pretty obvious.

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JoJo Kemp and Za’Darius Smith

On the left is running back JoJo Kemp, who savored the opportunity to show off his new body during the clinic’s fashion show. The confidence was particularly notable in the freshmen, who come into Kentucky without the stain of the former staff’s struggles. Right, Stoops?

“That’s the great thing about the freshmen. They have no preconceived notions of what happened here in the past. They’re confident and ready to come in and play.”

To use a phrase we treated like a rare gem during the past staff’s tenure, freshmen Jason Hatcher and JoJo Kemp looked “SEC ready.” In addition, Patrick Towles looked much leaner and stronger, and Za’Darius Smith…well, Za’Darius Smith is just a freaking manchild. He is so impressive in person that I left convinced he’s one of Thor’s distant relatives on Asgard.

And then there was Avery Williamson, who practically co-hosted the event with Jennifer Palumbo. I knew that the senior linebacker was a pro with the media from my time at Media Days, but he was in his element at the Women’s Clinic. I found his confidence especially encouraging since he’s an established leader on the team. It hasn’t been easy for the veteran players to immediately become “Stoops’ guys,” but Williamson has bought into the system and more. After a summer’s worth of hard work in the weight room, the veterans believe the staff will put them in the position they need to be in to succeed.

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Neal Brown is the Kentucky boy you’ve been waiting for

As a Danville native, I was anxious to meet offensive coordinator Neal Brown. Brown went to high school at Boyle County, a fact we good-naturedly bickered over, since I went to crosstown rival Danville (Go Ads!). Kentucky fans always love a Kentucky boy, and Neal Brown might as well be the poster child. He started his session with a Bluegrass stump speech, telling fans how he was able to recite the UK basketball starting lineup as a kid, bleeds blue and white, likes bourbon over whiskey (“And I know the difference”), and puts his hand over his heart during the playing of “My Old Kentucky Home.” State pride swelled over the room and brought the women to their feet for an ovation. If he had mentioned Ale-8-One or Rebecca Ruth candies, we might have passed out from the Kentucky-ness of it all.

Brown’s intro was just a warmup for his presentation on the Air Raid offense, which had these three simple tenets:

1) Play Fast
2) Throw First
3) Get the ball to playmakers in space

That may seem laughably obvious to some of you, but it’s the core foundation of Neal Brown’s offense, and Hal Mumme’s offense before him. The difference between the two? Brown says his offense will also focus on the rush attack and of course, be complimented by DJ Eliot’s 4-3 defense. However, it will be fast. Like 110 snaps per game fast. So fast it will hopefully catch defenses off guard to give the Cats the edge they so desperately need. As Coach “Pev-e-to” (inside joke for you fellow attendees) put it, “You give Neal Brown the ball inside the 50, it’s POINTS.”

What better way to cap the presentation off than the sweet sweet, Air Raid siren?

Chills.

Something to Prove

One thing that’s become very clear about this staff thus far is that they don’t do things in half measures. From bulk mailing recruits, to “Yahtzee,” to 50,000 fans at the spring game, this young staff is living up to their motto of “Attack Every Day.” The ball has yet to be snapped on Stoops’ first game, but the biggest difference I’ve seen between his staff and the previous staff is how aggressive they are. Instead of going through the motions and waiting for things to happen, they look for opportunities to make things happen. They’re active instead of passive. My favorite recent example of this is how they sent ESPN Radio host Colin Cowherd 50 recruiting letters after he mocked their bulk mailing method. This group has a chip on its shoulder, and plenty of things to prove. I asked Stoops about changing the national perception of Kentucky football:

“We’re just doing what we do. If that changes perception, then that’s great. We’re not setting out to do that, we’re setting out to do the best job we can each and every day and get our program on the map throughout this state and throughout the country.”

A pretty safe answer, but the first part sums it up: this group doesn’t do anything quietly. Part of that enthusiasm comes with youth. The average age on the coaching staff is 37, with Bradley Dale Peveto being the senior member at 50. (However, if you heard him speak, you’d swear he’s thirty years younger.)

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The man who stole Ohio

I was also eager to meet Vince Marrow, who strode into the clinic fresh off the road from–where else–Ohio. Physically, Marrow is huge, but his presence is enormous. The minute he stepped into the clinic, heads turned. It was pretty windy in Lexington yesterday, which caused the backdrop of curtains to teeter perilously in the background while Stoops was talking. After one particularly big sway, Stoops joked that “Big Vince must have walked into the room,” looking over at Marrow, who flexed a giant arm in response.

Although he may be physically intimidating, Marrow is nothing but charming once you start talking to him. It’s easy to see why he’s so good at his job. He could sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman in white gloves. I chatted with him for a bit and then we got our picture taken, after which I asked if he ever smiled in pictures. He laughed and said “Never.” He apparently doesn’t always look at the photographer either…

By the way, Marrow teased fans at the clinic that another Yahtzee was on the way. Turns out he was right–Garrett Johnson committed last night, and Brady Taylor and Nick Richardson are expected to roll the dice this week.

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The Hardest Job

One new feature of the women’s clinic this year was the Wives Panel. Various wives from the coaching staff, including Chantel Stoops, spoke to the audience and answered questions. Two things became obvious: they are all young, and have young children. All together, the coaching staff has 35 children (paging Kristen Geil!). Mrs. Stoops joked that they call the staff “The Romper Room Administration” because of the number of young kids, and because of that, there’s a huge emphasis on family in the program thus far.

As Tami Taylor taught us, being a coach’s wife is not easy. Chantel said that the time demands of being a head coach are extreme, but joked that the three weeks in the summer they do have his undivided attention is blissful. However, each wife said they are used to the lifestyle, and lean on each other for support. How do they deal with the criticism their husbands often receive when things get rough? Melissa Peveto joked that if you want to bash the coaches, do NOT sit in the coaches’ wives section. IMG_7932

We’re gonna need a bigger box…of buttons

I showed up to the clinic with a box of “Ladies of KSR” buttons to hand out to fans of the radio show and blog. Those things might as well have been made of gold. I know everyone loves free stuff, but 250 buttons ran out in 15 minutes, which meant I had some seriously disappointed KSR fans afterwards. One lady even tried to buy a button off another fan, who refused to sell it. To those of you who didn’t get a button but wanted one: have no fear! We are making more. Find me before the Western game in Nashville and I’ll hook you up.

A breeding ground of enthusiasm

This was the first football women’s clinic in which Mark Stoops had every participated, and after five minutes, he promised it wouldn’t be the last. Stoops, the rest of the staff, and the players repeatedly thanked the fans for coming and sharing in the excitement of a new era of Kentucky football. More so, the athletic department (Lisa Ellis in particular) went out of their way to accommodate the huge crowd. The ladies that came were more than ready for some football, a feeling that flowed between all parties throughout the day. By the end, it was a breeding ground of enthusiasm, the only downside being we’ve still got over a month ’til kickoff. I’m counting down the seconds.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

36 Comments for Stoops fever spreads at the Women’s Clinic



  1. KatCatFan
    11:21 pm July 28, 2013 Permalink

    Good summation of the clinic although there really aren’t enough words to say how great it was and how the energy was just sky high from everyone! Loved the swagger of the Coaches in terms of they are not writing off any game, going after each one as a potential win. I was one of the disappointed that didn’t get a button but, maybe when you visit the RoadCats at KOA I can get one there!



  2. mudcreekmark
    11:22 pm July 28, 2013 Permalink

    Actually it hasn’t been that long ago that the BBN was optimistic about our football program. We were finally competing and sometimes beating the best football teams in the country. Then Phillips took over and almost overnight turned the program back into the Bill Curry years all over again. We know what it feels like when we can compete and it sure feels good. I just cannot wait till we get back there. I truly believe that if we be patient that this is the staff that finally has us competing for SEC championships. Brooks had us on our way and now Stoops will get us there. In Stoops We Trust!!!



  3. Wow!
    11:26 pm July 28, 2013 Permalink

    Am I the only one that finds Mrs. Tyler incredibly hot?!? And the fact that she writes for KSR makes her even hotter!



  4. Warren T
    11:31 pm July 28, 2013 Permalink

    Funny headline…



  5. ukcats42301
    11:36 pm July 28, 2013 Permalink

    Great post and report on the clinic Tyler! Who knows, the excitement might eventually even spill over to the “I only support UK basketball” people one day. You know the ones that MAY show up at CWS if we’re having a semi-succesful season and the weather isn’t too cold, the game isn’t too late, it doesn’t conflict with Keeneland, can find a parking pass etc. The same ones who complain here about too many football posts because it limited the number of “where is Wiggins going” rumors.



  6. ukcats42301
    11:39 pm July 28, 2013 Permalink

    mudcreekmark I agree with you 100%!! Good post.



  7. SeaCat
    11:45 pm July 28, 2013 Permalink

    hmmmm…..
    Tyler is looking good, just sayin…



  8. Ridge Runner
    12:10 am July 29, 2013 Permalink

    I an read the excitement in your words Ms T! Simply awesome and yes, Coach & staff have ignited so many fires inside us and this is yet another example. Great stuff!



  9. Steady
    12:23 am July 29, 2013 Permalink

    Super report, and hmmmm T.T. 😉



  10. Ridge Runner
    12:27 am July 29, 2013 Permalink

    Up late and after looking at KSR, checked ESPN to find this from Andy Katz…

    North Carolina announces at 11:14 p.m. EST Sunday P.J. Hairston has been suspended indefinitely after a reckless driving charge Sunday.

    Wow, this kid is making it hard for ole Roy & the Heels



  11. Chaz
    12:36 am July 29, 2013 Permalink

    MTT, you are certainly earning your wings this summer. Your coverage of SEC media days was excellent and entertaining, and with this post, you’ve informed us all that UK football is on the rise with women as well as men. Especially glad you got to meet up with fellow Boyle County native Neal Brown.

    I’m going to add this bit of news, because it just broke on ESPN – it’s off topic for your post, but it’s another chapter in a story that’s captured attention on KSR and UKBB fans.

    “CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — North Carolina suspended leading scorer P.J. Hairston from the basketball team on Sunday night, hours after state police pulled him over for driving 93 mph in a 65 mph zone.

    Team spokesman Steve Kirschner announced the junior guard’s indefinite suspension in a three-sentence statement.”

    link:http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/9517684/unc-tar-heels-suspend-pj-hairston-traffic-citation

    no further comment.



  12. Mark
    12:41 am July 29, 2013 Permalink

    10, just saw that.

    11, you were a bit late.



  13. Chaz
    12:50 am July 29, 2013 Permalink

    12 – lol – no surprise,I’ve been late all my life.



  14. NotMattJones
    12:58 am July 29, 2013 Permalink

    TT, is fast becoming the First Lady of UK sports!



  15. Do whut?
    1:10 am July 29, 2013 Permalink

    Just wondering what the reaction would be if it were men ogling the women’s tennis team as the girls showed off a little leg instead of women leering at college football players showing off their abs. Funny how one is creepy and the other cute.



  16. Do whut?
    1:14 am July 29, 2013 Permalink

    #11 don’t worry about PJ. The Marshall Henderson / Johnny Manziel lovers that run the site will be along soon to tell us how much they love Hairston and how you’re just a hater. After all what does it matter how PJ acts off the court? Oh wait, that’s right. He plays for a rival so suddenly his off the court behavior does matter to them.



  17. Stoops Spreads
    1:33 am July 29, 2013 Permalink

    Might not be the best headline for this….



  18. @15
    1:43 am July 29, 2013 Permalink

    15 is wrong, ignint, and everything wrong with this country. Dont even recognize home grown talent when u see it.



  19. Buckets
    2:38 am July 29, 2013 Permalink

    If this staff can coach as well as its done everything else thus far, the future is incredibly bright. I saw Coach Marrow out and about over the weekend, said hello to him and he couldn’t have been nicer. I cannot wait to see Commonwealth rocking!! A NATION AWAKES, indeed.



  20. Jerns
    6:46 am July 29, 2013 Permalink

    I cannot help but find it hilarious that all of those buttons disappeared so quickly after having read about the expectations that there would be leftovers. Good read, I felt the enthusiasm from here.



  21. Bobbum man
    6:55 am July 29, 2013 Permalink

    So the pot, guns, impermissible benefits, and hanging with felons is ok, but speeding…. That’s where we draw the line. Good job UNC



  22. Drew Barker the recruiter
    7:13 am July 29, 2013 Permalink

    ESPN Monday will be wall-to-wall Bridgewater



  23. BFS
    7:26 am July 29, 2013 Permalink

    Watch out SEC!!!! This year the Cayuts are “bigger, faster, stronger!!!!”



  24. KentuckyHouse
    7:43 am July 29, 2013 Permalink

    TT, I’m not sure why you say the slogan for the season (A Nation Awakes) is a bit grammatically awkward. I’m assuming you’re saying “Awakens” would’ve been the less grammatically awkward choice, but actually, either is correct and one’s no better choice than the other. Just FYI.



  25. come on
    8:38 am July 29, 2013 Permalink

    Thanks Tyler,
    Haven’t sensed this energy about footbal since the Rick Norton, Roger Bird, Sam Ball and company team. Confidence builds success.
    Johnny Football doesn’t let hacks like Pat Ford
    get by with writing inneuendos and half truths and that’s good. Problem is Ford’s character is familiar with made up facts and can pull a novice into a war they get demonized and can ‘t
    shake the devils perception.



  26. Jonny
    8:51 am July 29, 2013 Permalink

    Yes Tyler I will marry you!



  27. Mrs. Tyler Thompson
    9:14 am July 29, 2013 Permalink

    24 – I realize it’s correct, it just sounds awkward to me.



  28. NotSatire
    9:40 am July 29, 2013 Permalink

    Superb, TT, superb!



  29. Ricky Pee
    9:52 am July 29, 2013 Permalink

    All this talk about fevers, breeding grounds, and women’s clinics sure does get me excited!



  30. TheWildcatsNuttsak
    10:02 am July 29, 2013 Permalink

    Them boys look Biiiiig!!! Now thats what I been shouting for the last 3 years. Its football, its all about strength, speed and more strength. Got this feeling we gonna shock some folks.



  31. 90% of UL fans in Louisville live in the projects and leech off the government
    10:29 am July 29, 2013 Permalink

    23) is yet another skeert ghetto u troll. You can smell it with every post they make on here LOL.



  32. All FB
    10:48 am July 29, 2013 Permalink

    The womens clinic was like a 6 hour pep rally! We loved every minute of it -GO CATS!!!



  33. LisaMarie
    12:43 pm July 29, 2013 Permalink

    great write up TT! the excitement and support for Stoops was off the charts. i am ALWAYS a hopeful member of the BBN but I am really buying into what these coaches are selling.

    i was getting my pic w/ Morrow and I said “i know you never smile for pics” and he replied “I’m smiling for this pic, just for you”. big liar lol!!



  34. Linda Taylor
    1:21 pm July 29, 2013 Permalink

    Great job as always Tyler. Also I just wanted to let people who may be having problems with pictures not displaying know that I was having the same problem with our new laptop which was running IE, so I downloaded Google and voila, no more problem. All pics and videos on KSR are now working fine.



  35. Bunny
    5:01 pm July 29, 2013 Permalink

    Looking good Mrs TT…looking good! Can I take you home with me?



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