Mark Stoops preparing UK for “big opportunity” against Florida


Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops runs on to the field before the University of Kentucky vs. South Carolina football game on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina. UK won 16-10. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Hunter Shelton

Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops is excited to prepare for UK’s “big opportunity” as they welcome No10 Florida to Kroger Field this Saturday, Oct. 2. at 6 p.m. E.T. 

“We’re looking forward to that challenge,” Stoops said. “Florida is always an extremely talented football team, very well coached. We will have our hands full.” 

UK’s 16-10 victory over South Carolina was conference win No. 26 for Stoops as head coach of Kentucky, the most in program history, passing Fran Curci’s record.  

While Stoops is eclipsing Kentucky coaching records on a consistent basis, he is more concerned about the ways his team are winning games: 

“The end result is what it is, but it’s always fun preparing and overcoming obstacles, you never know what’s going to come at you,” Stoops said. “We certainly didn’t anticipate fumbling two possessions in a row, but we had the ability to overcome it and I felt a great deal of gratitude to our players for responding.” 

Kentucky’s one-score win was the third consecutive victory by seven points or less for the Wildcats, a UK team had not accomplished that feat since 1933.  

Although Stoops would rather win by a larger margin, he understands that all he can control is preparing his team to play the best football possible: 

“I love the group and we talked about it a lot last week about really trying to put it together for us. I’m not saying we went into it thinking we were ever going to beat anybody by a lot, that’s not the goal, the goal is to just play your best football,” Stoops said. 

While Kentucky may not have played their best football this season thus far, they stand at 4-0. They now face their toughest test to date, a top-10 opponent that has not lost in Lexington in 35 years.  

“We are preparing for a really talented Florida team,” Stoops said. “Dan Mullen calling the plays offensively, always is a great playcallerVery talented players as usual, very physical run game, rushing for over 300 yards a game is extremely impressive. 

Florida heads to Lexington following a 38-14 drumming of Tennessee. Just two weeks ago, the Gators gave No. 1 Alabama everything they could handle, coming up just short, losing by two points.  

“It will be a real challenge because this is one of the most physical teams in the country, there’s no question,” Stoops said. “You sit and look at them (Florida) and Alabama going at it, you got to have a lot of respect for those two teams, and they played them to an incredible game. You don’t do that unless you’re very well coached anvery good in all areas.” 

Mark Stoops, while prepared for a daunting challenge on Saturday, knows that his men will be prepared, alongside a sold-out Kroger Field: 

“All in all, a very good team, it will be a great challenge, really looking forward to having a great home atmosphere here this weekend,” Stoops said.