Saturday morning the Kentucky football team strapped on shoulder pads for the first time in the 2020 preseason. An unusual preseason that features social distancing and masks, Stoops still did not see any apprehension once the players took the field.
“No I didn’t because the first play of team run I wasn’t too pleased because they ran the ball right down our throat,” he said of the defense. “First play with pads on and they hit it right downhill on us. I like to see that from an offensive standpoint. I did not like to see it from a defensive standpoint. But no, I don’t see nay difference in our players at all as far as practicing.
Drake Jackson echoed that sentiment.
“Of course, we’re all taking the virus every serious outside of football and I respect what’s going on with all that. But when we hit the football field, we’re football players and we’re going out there to play football. That’s what’s on our mind, going out there and practicing,” Jackson said. “Of course, when we’re gathered up, we’ve got our masks up and we’re conscious about it, but when we’re on the field I’m not thinking about anything other than the game.”
When they eventually take the field for games, will there be fans in the stands? Other SEC schools have announced plans to host fans at about a 25 percent capacity for this upcoming season. Kentucky has stated it intends and hopes to host fans at Kroger Field this fall but has not unveiled specific plans just yet. If UK must reverse course like Churchill Downs on Friday, Stoops would be disappointed.
“I’m confident in the Governor and his leadership,” Stoops said. “Really hope we do (have fans). That would be a severe disadvantage for us if the SEC is having fans, 25-30 percent whatever it is, and we’re not able to. You’re asking if I’d like it, of course not. Also, I’ll play by the rules they tell me to play by.”
Stoops discussed much more during his conversation with reporters via Zoom. He explained the significance of the depth in the secondary, the latest on what’s happening with the kickers and much more.