Last year’s Kentucky Football team was fueled by low expectations from the national media. With several stars departing and the experts expecting the Wildcats to take a step back, Mark Stoops said that chip on their shoulder is just getting sharper.
“They didn’t think anything of those guys last year,” Stoops said on today’s KSR. “They didn’t even mention those guys last preseason. So, why all of a sudden are they mentioning them? We weren’t in anybody’s preseason [rankings] last year. We were picked to win five games, picked to finish in the bottom of the SEC, picked nowhere in the top 25, so, what’s the difference? What’s the excuse now?”
After proving all of the experts wrong last season, Stoops said the team doesn’t need their validation.
“Absolutely but we also don’t need that. Know what I’m saying? We don’t need that. Nobody counted on us last year and we did what we had to do. And nobody’s counting on us this year and we’ll do what we have to do.”
Stoops said that priority number one after getting back from the Citrus Bowl was meeting with the returning players to make sure they were in the right mindset to carry that momentum into next season. Much to his delight, they were, a testament to the core principles his staff has put into place over the years.
“I’m very excited about this team because once we got to work after the bowl game, I was all over the coaches about intentionally meeting with our players for the future because I know the leadership that we lost, the good players that we lost, and immediately you just hit the reset button and you try to get ahead and get these guys motivated.
“Here’s what I’ve been pleasantly surprised about: they are ready to take it to another level. They are ready. They already learned it. That comes from the six years. That doesn’t just come from last year. That comes from the six years of things that we’ve been doing to put ourselves in a position to be successful and constantly and continuously grow the program and get better in all areas. That’s something you’ve heard me talk about from day one. Just putting your head down, going to work, doing the things that you can do, attack each and every day, and get better.
“We started that the moment we got back from the bowl game. We’ve been all over these guys with their assessments and about areas and blindspots that they have but here’s the thing: I see growth already and that excites me because they see the success we have. They see the success — what it took to get there, the ups and downs, the trial and tribulations and the things that it takes and the players persevering through those things and the grind that it takes and they’re embracing that and we’re attacking it right now. That’s what excites me.”
You can hear Stoops’ entire interview below: