LEXINGTON Ky. — Mark Stoops sat behind the microphone Monday and his message went beyond a lack of depth on defense or the offensive collapse his team showed in the second half vs. Southern Miss on Saturday.
Stoops’ six-and-a-half-minute opening statement was about changing a culture that’s haunted his program.
“When things go wrong, we have guys that start rat trapping, doing some things that are inexcusable,” Stoops said. “And that’s gotta stop. That’s a losing mentality that we will not tolerate. And that’s gotta change because there are so many people doing so many good things and we cannot do that. Players have to make plays when things are going wrong.”
Apparently “rat trapping” is a phrase Stoops learned at Florida State under coach Jimbo Fisher. “Go back to bad habits,” is how Stoops defined it. “When pressure’s on the line you go back to bad habits.”
Whatever it’s called, UK has seen a lot of it lately, especially in its last two games.
On Saturday, the Wildcats led 35-10 with less than 30 seconds until halftime before giving up 34 unanswered points in the loss. And in the season finale last November, the Cats raced to a 21-0 lead over Louisville only to lose 38-24.
It’s something beyond strategy and scheme, seemingly ingrained in the culture. The plays and personnel didn’t change from one half to the next, and neither did the same demons Kentucky has faced before.
“We have to point out the issues,” Stoops said. “Again, we’re beyond dealing with fragile mentalities. They’ll be called out and showed in front of everybody the plays that we had the opportunity to make so everybody keeps the confidence and knows that everything was in place to win the game. And then eventually the players will start making them and then we’ll get over the hump.
“That’s the last thing left to do in this program is finding that winning attitude, that winning culture and ways to win games instead of losing them.”
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