The criticism, the questions, the uncertainty — Mark Stoops’ Kentucky program is dealing with all three right now.
But the coach himself isn’t worried.
“I know right where we’re at,” Stoops said during his Monday press conference. “Not gonna flinch one second.”
Stoops’ confidence comes just days removed from Kentucky’s third straight loss, a 52-21 drubbing at the hands of Tennessee. The previous week, the Wildcats fell to Mississippi State 42-16, and before that Auburn slipped away with a 30-27 victory.
But what gives Stoops the peace of mind knowing that things could turn around is the attitude he’s seeing from his players. The coach admitted he was disappointed with “a couple guys that will be challenged today in the meeting” because a few of them “didn’t produce like we need them to” on one particular play.
Stoops was referring to the performance of a few players on Cameron Sutton’s 84-yard punt return, but he didn’t get into the names. Those players will be addressed Monday at practice, and Stoops made an effort to emphasize that he was only upset with their efforts on that one particular play, not as a whole.
The results haven’t been there, but in Stoops’ eyes the effort has. That is what’s giving the coach a reason to believe that things can turn around for his struggling Wildcats, and he’s hopeful the transition will begin with a much-needed win over UGA this week.
“After watching that [Tennessee] film, there’s not one bit of me that thinks guys’ hearts were not in it. Not at all,” he said. “Nobody’s proud when you give up 52 points …. I’m not trying to make any excuses at all — I deserve any criticism we get — but I know we can get things fixed.”