Kentucky is beginning its game week preparations for Vanderbilt a little shorthanded. Today, Mark Stoops announced that three members of his offensive coaching staff are out. While he did not reveal the coaches’ names nor confirm that their absences are due to COVID, he shared the news when asked about the impact the pandemic has had on his team. It is worth mentioning that offensive line coach John Schlarman missed the last two games as he battles stage four cancer.
“We’re dealing with some situations here right now. I am down three offensive staff members right now who are not here, so we just have to deal with it the way it comes at us and do the best we can.”
“We’ve had issues,” Stoops said later when asked about the coronavirus. “I don’t think I’m allowed to get into specifics on that but yeah, we have issues with COVID. It’s not out of control. Let’s hope it stays that way.”
With three coaches out, Stoops said he will rely on grad assistants to help fill the void and get the team ready for Vanderbilt.
“Absolutely. You have to. We definitely will. They give you the flexibility to move guys up and give them the opportunity to coach on the field when you have issues like this. Yes, that will help us this week.”
At the end of his presser, Stoops admitted that COVID and all of the regulations have made it hard for his team to bond like they usually do, but they’re coping as best they can.
“I feel like we’re holding up fine. It is definitely different and I feel like the differences, again, are the work we put in with relationships with our players and we’re not able to do that as well. I’m not able to communicate in a small room with them as often as I normally would due to COVID restrictions and not wanting to spread the virus. I think that’s difficult. It’s also difficult, we’ve worked extremely hard in the past of spending time with our players. On Wednesdays, coaches have them over to their house, take them out to dinner, really try to spend quality time with the players. We’re not able to do that and so it’s tough. We’ve done that once normally where we would do that every Wednesday.
“So, I just feel like the unity of the team, the team bonding, the areas where we work exceptionally hard, we’re just not able to do that. I believe, I feel a difference in that. I do the best I can in overcoming that. I think our players do. I still feel very, very strong about this team and the way they care about each other but it is most certainly different.”