Florida will arrive in Lexington this Saturday with a 30-game winning streak against the Kentucky Wildcats, the longest active winning streak vs. one team in college football. Snapping the streak is all fans are talking about, but not Mark Stoops.
“Honestly, I haven’t addressed that before. It’s never been my approach. These guys haven’t been here for 30 years.”
Stoops said during today’s press conference that he is still unsure if he’ll acknowledge it all this week. Generally, he likes to stay away from talking points the media loves to cling to.
“We’ll see. I’ll go with my gut on how much we’ll talk about that, if at all. I generally don’t talk about [streaks], like last week beating South Carolina. Y’all asked me, but we don’t talk about the fact that we’ve beat them a couple years in a row. That doesn’t matter. Every year is a new year. This is a new team. That’s always been my approach. Every week is a new week.”
Even if he doesn’t address it, he’s not too naive to think his players won’t hear chatter about the streak leading into the Saturday night showdown.
“It’s not like you can hide it. They know what’s going on. Again, I have great confidence in our team that that won’t affect us at all. If it gives somebody a little bit of motivation, I hope it gives them motivation on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. I want them to get motivation to prepare. If that does something for ya, then good.”
One thing that should motivate the team is last year’s embarrassing 45-7 loss in The Swamp. Kentucky turned the ball over four times and was out-gained 564 to 149 yards of total offense.
“You can’t make the same mistakes again, so obviously we’ll have to watch that game film, which should be no problem with motivating us because we did not play very good.”
Before he was the Kentucky head coach, Stoops had no problems against Florida. At Miami and Florida State he was 5-1 against the Gators. His only loss was a 37-26 defeat in his final year at Florida State.
“At one time it was ridiculous how much on the winning end I was on that. I gotta get that going again here,” he said with a chuckle.
Even though he does not want to make Saturday’s game all about snapping a monumental streak, he knows what a win over Florida would mean for fans and former players, something he’s taking to heart.
“I do feel the importance of it and I’ve always accepted that,” he said. “I take it personally. I do. I care. I do care about the history, even if I wasn’t here. I want to make our people happy and supportive of our team and past players and all the tradition, the whole deal. It’s important, that’s part of what motivates you everyday to get up and do the best job you can.”