Not long ago, we heard Jimbo Fisher, Barry Odom and other head coaches talk about Mark Stoops’ Kentucky football program at SEC Media Days. They shared plenty of praise from the podium, but what do they really think?
Athlon Sports spoke to coaches around the conference who spoke more candidly under the veil of anonymity. Some may be surprised to see the private statements mirror the perception from public remarks. The coaches are lukewarm on the Cats and generally believe Stoops has done a good job in Lexington.
“They have gone .500 in the SEC two years in a row. Any time you can do that at Kentucky, you are doing something right. And they have a chance to be pretty good again this season.”
That comment could be seen as a backhanded slight at Kentucky, just like this remark about Stoops’ defense.
“Mark Stoops has done a nice job. His defenses play hard. I don’t know if they are that talented, but they play hard.”
A few shared their concerns about Kentucky’s uncertainties at quarterback
“Eddie Gran did a good job with the offense last year. Found the things that they were good at. Ran the Wildcat a bunch. It will be interesting to see how their offense evolves and adapts with a new quarterback.”
“I thought Stephen Johnson was one of the more underrated players in the league. I think he was really good. Made plays with his feet and his arm. You looked at his stats, and they were very consistent. They will miss him. And with Drew Barker no longer on the team, I’m not sure what they will do at quarterback.”
Others decided to shine a light on the program’s playmakers, Benny Snell and Lynn Bowden.
“Benny Snell is a workhorse. Anybody who can gain 1,000 yards in back-to-back years in the SEC deserves some recognition. I don’t put him in the same class as Nick Chubb and Sony Michel at Georgia or some of the backs at Alabama, but to me he is a tough player who runs hard and doesn’t just gain the yards the play is blocked for. He can gain above and beyond and get to the second and third level. When he was ejected from (Music City Bowl), that really hurt them. He’s a very confident player. A hard worker. He will be the featured player in the offense.”
“Lynn Bowden is an exciting young player. They did a lot of creative things to get him the ball. He will be a good player for that program, and he’s still really young.”
SEC coaches approve Stoops’ performance thus far. It’ll be interesting hear what they think after the 2018 season.