Mark Stoops came to Kentucky with a plan to revive the football program.
He’s improved the recruiting. He has the fan base more engaged. His team has been able to compete with more established programs.
The next step is to beat one them. A win against Missouri, currently ranked No. 25 in the AP poll and the defending SEC East champion, would certainly qualify.
“Sure. I’d be lying if I said they didn’t,” Stoops said when asked if “program-building” wins are important. “That is why people are upset about the Florida game. They are tired of hearing about the streak. We just need to win. It doesn’t matter to me if they’ve won 28 in a row or one. Each win is valuable. I know it matters to the fans and I appreciate that. This win, this week, it is our opportunity to prepare for a great team and try to get a victory at home.”
Kentucky improved from 2-10 in 2013 to 5-7 in Stoops’ second year. The Wildcats stayed with teams like Florida, Missouri and Louisville last season, but the best win was against a disappointing South Carolina squad.
The Wildcats couldn’t take the next step against the Gators this past week, dropping a 14-9 game that was there to be taken. They will try again Saturday when Missouri, with its own scuffling offense and strong defense, comes to Lexington.
“The good news is we are closing the gap,” Stoops said. “We are in a one-possession game and we are all upset. That is a good thing. The fans are upset and want better play and so do I.
“The good thing is, and I’m taking nothing from Florida because they had a lot to do with us not playing well, but we feel like we could play better. We’re in a one-possession game with an opportunity to win the game and didn’t get it done. There’s a lot to take from that that we will get better, and we will continue to improve on things.”