Each Wednesday the SEC football coaches join a conference call with members of the media from around the Southeastern Conference. Mark Stoops and Billy Napier touched on quite a few topics before Florida travels to Kentucky for a noon kickoff at Kroger Field. Here’s some of the best of the best from that conversation.
Stoops Feels a Difference in Practice
The Wildcats said they’re getting more physical in practice ahead of the Florida game. Mark Stoops echoed that sentiment on Wednesday.
“I just have noticed the difference. I think our team early on, I think everybody wants everything to happen immediate. And now as you’re settling into the season, settling into our routine, I’ve seen our team really take the coaching and listen to us, talk about the details in the fundamentals and the basics that it takes,” said Stoops.
“You can’t grow tired of doing things right and doing the little things. If you constantly do that, good things are gonna happen, big things are gonna happen. When we’ve had good years before, good runs, it’s because we’ve had good days. And that’s that’s truly the concentration, like we got to have another great day today.”
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Napier on Kentucky Wide Receivers
Billy Napier is well aware that Dane Key had his coming out party against Florida. His 55-yard touchdown reception was unforgettable. Napier gearing up the Gators for a difficult challenge on Saturday.
“Yeah, no, I think they’ve got a good group. The two true sophomores from last that played in. They’ve taken a good step forward. You throw the Virginia Tech transfer in there, you know, they’ve got some speed and got some wiggle. And the quarterback can throw it all over the park, right? So, you know, I think they’re capable of run after catch plays, I think they can win one-on-one matchups. And then there is, you know, the vertical passing game, the shots, the movement passes. So, they do a good job of distributing the ball to all those guys. And I think they’re good players.”
Stoops is Happy there’s no more Streak talk
Veteran reporter Bob Holt asked Mark Stoops about The Streak quite a bit. Now that’s no longer the case. Kentucky’s head coach is happy the Wildcats have moved on and they’re focused on improving each and every week, regardless of the opponent.
“If you go back and look at my quote 11 years ago, I probably said I can’t be concerned about Florida until Kentucky gets better. We always, and still, concentrate on ourselves. I know you listen to all these coaches every week, and you think it’s coach speak, but it’s the truth.
“My concentration was on Kentucky and getting us better. And I said as we improve, we will have opportunities to win. I still feel that way. Last year has nothing to do with this year. I do admit, and I admitted it then when we were in the midst of that streak, it does get to be a little bit problematic because that’s all everybody talks about. Then your players start thinking about it. So that was a hurdle we had to overcome and we have. But we did it by becoming a better football team and a better program and we’re continuing to grow and we’re continuing to get better.”
How Florida has Improved on Defense
The Gators rank first in the SEC in total defense, allowing just 244.8 yards per game. Napier is attributing their success to continuity within the system.
“Well, we’re off to a good start. I do think we will continue to be challenged every week in our league. We played a good quality defense. I think the exciting thing, like you mentioned before, we are in year two of the system. All the coaches and all the second-tier parts of that side of the ball relative to the graduate assistants, the quality control, interns, analysts, everybody is in year two. I think we’re doing a better job making use of our time. Anticipating what’s next,” said Napier.
“The teacher is in year two, not just the student. I also think that we’ve added some really good pieces there from a personnel standpoint. Significant inside players. Some really good young players on the edges and in the secondary. A lot of new faces both from the portal and the true freshmen that are playing and contributing. Obviously, Austin Armstrong has done a tremendous job from a leadership and connection standpoint. I think they’re playing with confidence and I think that’s half the battle.